The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 24, 2000


Fifty affordable housing units in next decade is housing authority goal

Housing Authority chair Marty Galligan summarized the possible options being considered by the authority for building up to 50 affordable housing units in Carlisle over the next decade in a report to the Special Town meeting on November 14. His report is reprinted below.

Housing Authority Report

The Carlisle Housing Authority has been working on a plan to create more affordable housing in Carlisle. A draft copy of the plan is available at the Town Clerk's office. In the next few months we will be reviewing the plan with the various town boards and committees, and we would welcome input from interested town citizens at any future housing authority meetings.

The gist of the plan is as follows. There is an assumption that providing affordable housing, at some expense to the town, is a good thing to do. Such housing could provide for children of Carlisle families starting new families, lower income Carlisle families, families who work in Carlisle, and senior citizens. Another issue is that the larger community of greater Boston is where the vast majority of us earn our living, and it is our responsibility to bear the burdens of that larger community. A third reason is that many of us would prefer that the town have a more diverse population ­ that we are not simply a town made of 4500 people selected from the most affluent 1% of Massachusetts residents. Lastly, the state has mandated, under the threat of withholding of discretionary funds, that every town in the Commonwealth proceed with diligence to create or maintain 10% of their housing stock as affordable.

Building options

When we look for ways of providing affordable housing, there are four main methods we focus on:

The first is to modify our existing subdivision zoning bylaw so as to encourage or require the creation of affordable housing as part of any new subdivision built in Carlisle.

The second is to convert inexpensive single family houses into affordable housing. "Inexpensive single family houses" in Carlisle currently cost about $350,000, so this is one of the most expensive and time consuming methods of creating affordable housing, on a per unit basis. We will opportunistically pursue individual small houses that become available but do not expect these to contribute significantly to the need.

The third method is to pursue development of five-to-ten unit townhouse developments in town. This would cost the town about half as much, per unit, as the single-family conversions.

The last method is to pursue development of larger affordable housing developments. While the direct financial cost to the town would be negligible, the impact on the town, from a visual and population point of view, would be so great that we recommend that this not be pursued at this time.

Opportunities may arise for a dual use land purchase, such as a large lot with a small house. This might be ideal for recreation and housing, or housing and conservation, to buy together. It is our intent to take advantage of such chances as they arise.

Small developments preferred

After a reviewing these alternatives and considering past town input, the CHA would prefer to focus on small 5-10 unit developments spread throughout the town. This approach is best suited to preserve Carlisle's character. It does, however, bring with it a need for outside subsidies. The plan identifies four sources of funds to provide this subsidy. These include fundraising, state and federal grants, developer requirements, and the Town of Carlisle.

Finally, a specific goal to increase affordable housing to 50 units over the next 5-10 years is identified along with the action plan to finally result in progress in meeting affordable housing needs in Carlisle.

Again - your ideas, comments, and input would be welcome. Please come to a Housing Authority meeting this winter, and be prepared to vote to endorse an Affordable Housing Plan in the spring!

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito