The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 4, 2008

Affordable apartment bylaw hits glitch

The initial positive feedback from the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) regarding Carlisle’s proposed affordable accessory apartment (AAA) bylaw has been replaced by new concerns about handicapped access and fair housing, according to Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett. She reported recent developments at the joint meeting of the Carlisle Housing Authority and Affordable Housing Trust on June 26. A lawyer for the DHCD has asked if Carlisle would fund handicapped access, an expense that had not been anticipated. In addition, the lawyer has requested the town to advertise for the tenants within a 20-mile radius, “a very high standard,” and has asked for feedback on “what kinds of felons the town is willing to accept.” Barnett responded by asking for guidelines regarding “what kinds of felons make good affordable housing tenants?”

Lehotsky said, “We do not want to get into that at all,” adding the committee does not have the authority to do full CORI checks and it would be up to the landlord to make whatever inquiries are needed. It was noted that the Boston Housing Authority does not allow felons in affordable housing, and neither federal nor state laws require handicapped access in small-unit sized housing.

Eugenia Harris asked, “I wonder if we should be pursuing this at all?” Barnett said she has already drafted a letter responding to the points raised, “The I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed as far as what they wanted to see.” There are people within DHCD excited by the Carlisle proposal, said Barnett. Carlisle is the first town to propose an AAA bylaw, and some DHCD managers have noted with approval that AAAs disperse affordable housing throughout town so tenants “become part of the neighborhood” in a way they might not in a single development. She will continue to pursue approval. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito