By: Rep. Linda Dean Campbell
As we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, there remains a tremendous need for food assistance in Massachusetts, as our economy has been particularly hard hit and unemployment numbers are through the roof. If you are in need of food assistance, the Project Bread Hotline can connect you to resources: 1-800-645-8333. If you are able to provide support, visit the Merrimack Valley Food Bank’s website at www.mvfb.org/how-to-help/, or use the Greater Boston Food Bank’s food pantry map to find a local organization to support: www.gbfb.org/need-food/.
On Beacon Hill
In November, I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass a state budget that will carry us until next July. This budget addresses immediate needs of many that are directly affected by this pandemic. It focuses on providing food and temporary shelter for those in need, as well as supporting our cities and towns with the increased challenges they face with providing services and public education. We did this by providing level funding from last year in most areas and increasing spending slightly on the areas identified above. We also used a portion of our rainy-day fund to compensate for revenue declines resulting from the pandemic. This targeted use of funds allowed us to pass a budget without raising taxes.
As Chair of the Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, I am proud that the House budget allocated over $149 million for programs administered by the Department of Veterans’ Services and our two Soldiers’ Homes – an increase of $1.3 million over last year. The increased funding focuses on social services, housing services, and mental health care. Notably, the House budget includes $750,000 for Home Base, a program of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation that is working to expand gold-standard Veterans’ mental health services across Massachusetts.
In the District
Methuen and Haverhill have both received state MassWorks grants to carry out major infrastructure projects that will promote economic development. Methuen has received $990,000 to redesign the intersection of Charles Street and Lawrence Street, including a new retaining wall, 14 new on-street parking spaces, an expanded parking lot, roadway safety modifications, and new sidewalks and crosswalks for ADA accessibility. This project will make the downtown area safer and more convenient and support other development projects that will bring in new housing and businesses.
Haverhill has received $1,950,000 to go toward a mixed-use development at the site of the former Ornsteen Heel factory in Bradford. The development will include 290 market-rate housing units, 10,000 square feet for retail businesses and restaurants, 33,000 square feet of parks and playgrounds, public amenities such as an amphitheater and a kayak launch, and roadway improvements by the Comeau Bridge. This project is expected to generate significant revenue for the City ($19 million over 20 years), as well as create jobs, for which Haverhill residents will be given priority.
Hard work and teamwork paid off with the $200,000 I was able to obtain in last year’s state budget to resurface the Methuen track! The new track is now completed and open for use by students and the community. My House colleagues all helped to bring this to Methuen – so thank you, Reps. Minicucci and Moran! The City of Methuen, particularly Bill Buckley, our Community Development Director, and Superintendent Kwong, worked closely with the Baker Administration to get this done. Our community deserves a track that students are proud of and our community can use for many purposes.
State Representative Linda Dean Campbell represents the cities of Methuen and Haverhill in the State Legislature and serves as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at Linda.Campbell@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2380. ◊