Friday, March 28, 2008
Carlisle gears up for the AAAs
Carlisle is almost ready to begin enrolling applicants in a new program that will allow accessory apartments to qualify under state guidelines for affordable housing. The town’s Affordable Accessory Apartments (AAA) bylaw has been approved by the state, the Planning Board has written permitting procedures and the Department of Health and Community Development (DHCD) has recently issued new guidelines and a model lease agreement. At their March 24 meeting, the Carlisle Affordable Housing Trust discussed implementation details with Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett, who will act as the AAA Local Project Administrator.
Barnett asked about the specifics of the AAA incentives authorized by Town Meeting in 2006. Housing Authority Chair Alan Lehotsky told the Trust members that the Town Meeting motion was vague and approved two options: either a $15,000 loan to landlords, to be “forgiven” at the rate of $1,000 per year, or a flat incentive payment of $1,000 per year for up to 15 years. A total of $90,000 was authorized to fund the program.
Lehotsky said that the Housing Authority preferred the yearly grant, unless a landlord needed the larger sum to renovate the apartment. Trust members agreed, because it was simpler and avoided the risk of the town losing money if a landlord sold the property before the 15-year term was over. Lehotsky suggested that placing a lien on the property would ensure repayment, and the Trust members felt this would be appropriate if an applicant requested the lump-sum incentive.
Under the AAA program, once an application is approved by DHCD, the apartment will count towards Carlisle’s 10% affordable housing goal. Barnett will maintain a list of interested renters, sorted by the number of bedrooms they would require. This “ready renter” list will be used to fill vacancies. However, Barnett said several details about the tenant selection process are still being clarified, such as how existing tenants would be handled. She noted that the AAA program is new not only in Carlisle, but state wide.
One Carlisle resident with an accessory apartment has expressed interest in signing up for the AAA program as soon as the final details are worked out. The Trust gave Barnett authorization to advertise for prospective tenants in area newspapers. ∆
© 2008 The