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Conversation with Housing iLab Summer Fellows

  • COST

    Free and open to the public

How can systems, methods, and models for affordable housing change to create a more affordable Boston for all? This panel will highlight the work of the Housing Innovation Lab’s Summer Fellows, elaborating on the methods and processes which could have an impact on the affordability and accessibility of Boston’s housing stock.

The Housing Innovation Fellowship is an immersion into the Housing Innovation Lab’s methodology to explore, experiment, and expand new systems and models that can increase housing affordability in Boston. The Fellows learn by doing—each scoping and leading several projects that further the mission and vision of the Housing Innovation Lab (iLab) and its partner departments.

This year, Fellows are designing tools to improve knowledge of and access to affordable housing; developing the city’s compact policy; and planning for a design and build competition. They are exploring cooperative housing; finding new funding streams for affordable housing; and supporting new programs for first time buyers. This panel will showcase progress made by all four Fellows in all of these topic areas.



Marcy Ostberg—Housing Innovation Lab Director
As the Director of the Housing Innovation Lab, Marcy brings an eclectic background in civic innovation, urban policy, and education. She previously worked as a Strategic Project Manager advancing a question formulation strategy used for problem solving in innovation, critical thinking in education, and self-advocacy in social services. Additionally, Marcy worked as a high school biology teacher at the Boston Day and Evening Academy, a Boston Public School where she developed experiential education and personalized learning modules. Her experiences as an urban educator drove her to explore innovative solutions to systemic and complex problems that face Boston’s households. Marcy holds a MA in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University, and an MEd from Franklin Pierce University.


Claire Summers—2017 Housing Innovation Fellow
Claire is a Masters in Urban Planning candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Originally from Philadelphia, she previously worked in social impact real estate development at Bastogne Development Partners, as well as in economic development and retail attraction for Center City District, a downtown Philadelphia BID. She holds a BA in Urban Studies from Vassar College. This summer, Claire is thrilled to be a part of the iLab, collaborating across city departments and engaging directly with residents. Her projects include developing the city’s Additional Dwelling Unit Pilot Program as well as research into progressive approaches to increasing homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers.

Joe Backer—2017 Housing Innovation Fellow
Joe is a graduate student in the Public Policy program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Before that, he worked to help nonprofit organizations raise money and build grassroots activism online, plus a short stint with the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics helping to think about the future of car-sharing and pothole detection. At the iLab, Joe is exploring how the City can help promote and strengthen cooperative housing, as well as analyzing Boston's spending on affordable housing relative to other high-cost cities in the United States. He is thrilled to be taking on complex housing challenges with new ideas, in collaboration with the City officials and community advocates who have been on the front lines for years.

Monique Gibbs—2017 Housing Innovation Fellow
Monique Gibbs is Master’s of Public Administration student at Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. Originally from the Bronx, New York, Monique has worked as a political organizer for AFSCME, and in government and community affairs for the New York Public Library. This summer, Monique has been working on two exciting projects with the Housing iLab that will improve constituent access to affordable housing resources. One of her projects involves developing the framework for a universal affordable housing application system. She is also working on reframing the way affordable housing is communicated by creating informational resources and tools for Boston residents.

Riddhi Shah—2017 Housing Innovation Fellow
Riddhi Shah is currently pursuing a Masters in Urban Planning at MIT with a specialization in City Design and Development. Before joining MIT, Riddhi received a degree in architecture from Mumbai, India and worked for two years focusing on urban development. Currently, she is working on understanding the idea of compact living in Boston and developing a city-wide policy for compact units. Riddhi is also developing guidelines for promoting innovative design solutions to increase ownership without providing subsidies. She is excited about working on both the projects since she herself comes from Mumbai where she lived in a 300 sq.ft apartment with her family and relates to the challenge of compact living and affordability.