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Rivier University connects with community leaders for positive change

By Staff | Jun 16, 2024

Dr. Mark Meehan, associate professor at Rivier University, led a group of strategic management students to evaluate the impact that Monahan Manor has had on the city's housing shortage. Courtesy photo/Rivier University

NASHUA – In January, a coalition of community leaders, the Nashua Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Rivier University Strategic Management students collaborated to assess the role and impact of the newly-opened Monahan Manor Apartments.

Monahan Manor is a 216-unit affordable housing development built to alleviate Nashua’s housing shortage.

Working with their community partners and the development’s residents, Rivier business students evaluated the impact of the development on the residents and the local community. The initiative identified crucial issues that can be strategically revised and improved at Monahan Manor today and applied in future residential developments.

“At the heart of this project is a commitment to assist the city of Nashua and its residents by tackling the challenge of affordable urban housing head-on,” said Associate Professor Dr. Mark Meehan. “Through strategic assessment and collaboration, Rivier business students identified opportunities for improvement that will positively impact the lives of Nashua residents and gained invaluable real-world learning experience.”

The study focused on several key areas for evaluation, including transportation, sense of security and safety, connection with the city of Nashua, and child development. Transportation-related assessments included evaluating grocery store locations and their distance from Monahan Manor, the cost of transportation in relation to housing expenses, parking availability, public transportation access, and the time required to navigate transportation to and from the development. Ensuring a sense of security and safety for residents is another critical focus area, with input taken on the presence of cameras, lighting, general security measures, and access to medical care.

Through surveys, interviews and focus groups with Monahan Manor residents, children, and Nashua community leaders, Rivier business students identified three areas for improvement: communication, infrastructure and incorporation of the lived experience in the planning process. Specific recommendations include intentionally engaging fire and police departments, Nashua housing leaders, and key nonprofits that support subsidized housing in the planning process; greater focus on residents’ parking needs, recreational space for children and families, and augmented bus services; and increased support for residents’ councils as they work to build community within their developments

“The students were remarkable, professional, bright and focused,” said Thomas Monahan, CEO of Monahan Companies. “Their work was a great help to our board and will have a lasting impact on how subsidized housing is done in Nashua.”

Community leaders involved in this initiative include Pastor Matthew Beattie of Crossway Church; Nashua Fire Chief Stephen Buxton; Jennifer Franco, property manager at Monahan Manor; Jessica Hagg, director of the Arlington Street Community Center; Chas Miller, principal at Ledge Street School; Shaun Nelson, executive director of Nashua PAL; Matthew Sullivan, director of Community Development and Planning and Dr. Amir Toosi, dean of the Division of Business and Security Studies at Rivier University.

The Housing and Redevelopment Authority will be using the content of the presentation as they continue to assess current housing and plan new subsidized units in Nashua. According to Meehan, the project “is a tremendous example of the mutual benefits of Rivier University students collaborating with the city of Nashua and community leaders. The students grow in their real-life application of learning, while the city benefits from their hard work and insights.”

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