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  • Writer's pictureleighdavis991

A Big Piece of a Bigger Puzzle

Updated: Apr 1

One of the things I love most about public service is finding practical solutions to address complex challenges. I’ve found that my background in film editing (my first career) gives me an advantage in seeing how small details fit into a bigger picture. For example, I see housing as one piece of a much bigger puzzle, like those outer edge pieces that frame the rest of the scene. Without those in place, it’s hard to know where to start.


Fast-forward to my current roles as a 1Berkshire Board Director and appointed member of the Berkshire Blueprint Advisory Council, which offer me strategic insight across all business sectors in the Berkshires. Through this lens, consider a few of the creative approaches I’ve taken with others to address the shortage of affordable and workforce housing in the Berkshires:


Construct's acquisition of The Windflower Inn created a new model for workforce housing.
  • As Director of Development of Eagle Mill Redevelopment, I helped secure over $30 million in federal and state funds and tax credits to repurpose one of Lee's historic paper mills into 120 affordable housing units.  

  • As chair of the Great Barrington Selectboard & Planning Board Housing Subcommittee, I wrote a successful bylaw regulating short-term rentals to free up long-term housing and bring costs down for full-time residents.  

  • As Construct's Development Director (the largest affordable housing nonprofit in South County), I was instrumental in helping the organization acquire The Windflower Inn in Egremont and convert it into much-needed workforce housing.  

  • I’ve taken my focus and determination all the way to the State House, where I’ve testified before the Joint Committee on Revenue and the Joint Committee on Housing in support of Governor Healey's $4 billion Housing Bond Bill. Because of my leadership skills, decision-makers have recognized me as an authority in housing.  

  • Governor Healey invited me to meet with her when she visited Pittsfield in October, 2023 to announce her administration's Affordable Homes Act, and she included my comments in her statewide press release. 

Leigh helped land over $30 mil from federal and state sources for affordable housing at Eagle Mill.

The housing crisis hurts every single one of us. It hurts our businesses that can't find staff. It hurts our seniors, who can't age in place. It hurts our healthcare providers and other essential service providers, who are now few and far between. It hurts our youth, who live in stress when their families are housing insecure. It disproportionally hurts people of color, people on low incomes, and people with disabilities. 


Housing is a foundational right. Housing creates stability, increases wealth for individuals and the community as a whole, and offers security and access to education and career opportunities.


Housing is a driver of economic development. Access to affordable housing allows businesses to have a reliable workforce and can support a talent attraction strategy.  


Housing is health care. Access to safe, quality, affordable housing provides the foundation for our mental and physical health. People who are safely housed feel more stable, make better decisions, and can set and achieve goals—a critical element in succeeding in life. When our neighbors thrive, our communities thrive.

 

"The ache for home lives in all of us."

 — Maya Angelou



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