State Program Overview: Massachusetts
EPA-New England first launched an urban pilot program in Boston, MA in 1994 when the Urban Environmental Initiative began. Since formalization in 2002, the Urban Environmental Program (UEP) has expanded its targeted programs to the urban communities of Chelsea, Holyoke, Springfield, and Worcester.
The Massachusetts Urban Environmental Program is designed to improve the urban environment, address environmental health concerns, and enhance the quality of life for urban residents. The overarching goals of the MA UEP are (1) community-based environmental decision making using the UEP model to coordinate and integrate stakeholder activities in the prevention, protection, and/or restoration of the urban environment, and (2) improve local capacity to protect urban environmental resources.
UEP’s approach in Massachusetts has focused on working with local stakeholders to identify and assess priority environmental & public health concerns, facilitate partnership development, build the communities awareness and technical capability to address current and emerging environmental health challenges and to restore and revitalize the urban environment.
The UEP’s primary focus is on the top tier of cities across the state which yields the highest point total from the following data categories:
- Lowest Median Household Income
- Lowest Per Capita Income
- Highest % of Population in Poverty
- Highest % of Population in Poverty With Related Children Under 18 years
- Highest % of Families in Poverty
- Highest % of Housing Built Before 1970
- Highest Unemployment Rates
- Largest Non-white Population including Two or More Races
- Highest Density Per Square Mile
- Highest Housing Density Per Square Mile
- Lead Poisoning (Children entering Kindergarten in 2003 – used when available)
Based on the priorities identified above, the following cities emerged as top consideration for potential activities and outreach in the state of Massachusetts:
- New Bedford
- Fall River
The Urban Environmental Program obtains input from our internal and external partners to insure that our programs design and geographic focus continues to resonate with community needs, support agency priorities and achieves measurable results. The UEP is committed to addressing the magnitude and complexity of urban environmental problems in a way that engages, informs and responds to Massachusetts residents' needs.