Friday, June 8, 2007
Affordable apartments going nowhere
On May 31, the Carlisle Housing Authority (CHA) reviewed a letter from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) concerning stipulations for the town's Affordable Accessory Apartment (AAA) bylaw. The state wants a 15-year minimum commitment on apartments that will be affordably rented, regardless of whether the property changes ownership during that time. In addition, the state wants any newly constructed affordable accessory apartments to be rented for a minimum of 30 years. Housing Authority member Susan Stamps wondered if these restrictions were binding. Chairman Alan Lehotsky thought they were guidelines. No one on the CHA thought either restriction was reasonable for Carlisle.
Carlisle Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett has checked with surrounding towns to see how they are doing with the DHCD requirements. She said, "Lincoln is fed up with the DHCD. They are walking away from [so many] unreasonable requests. Harvard is also fed up." Chatham, which is on Cape Cod, has a larger summer population. Barnett said, "They are very frustrated with the DHCD." She said, "Newton has $90,000 for loans and grants [for affordable housing] — no biters. It looks great on paper." In an effort to increase the town's stock of affordable housing, May of 2006 Carlisle's Town Meeting approved bylaw changes to create the designation of affordable accessory apartments and authorized up to $90,000 in incentives for property owners to participate.
The stipulation is that the apartments built with these incentives must remain affordable for "perpetuity." Stamps said, "We want the state to be more flexible."
Resident David Ziehler, who wants to rent an apartment under the Affordable Accessory Apartment bylaw has been in touch with various state officials to work out details. He felt a lot of people in town have been put a lot of time into this to try to make it work. "The only people holding us up are the state."
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