Friday, March 20, 2009
Housing Authority reviews Benfield project
The Benfield senior affordable housing project topped the agenda when the Housing Authority met on March 12. The Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) has presented plans to construct a building with 17 one-bedroom units and nine two-bedroom units on a portion of the town-owned Benfield property on South Street. (See “Plans unveiled for Benfield senior affordable housing,” Mosquito, March 6.) The waiting list stands at 59 people who have expressed interest in the 26 units.
The Planning Board addressed the project at their March 9 meeting, where a concern was raised that the one-bedroom units are only 500 square feet, in contrast with the Village Court units that are 525 square feet. However, an analysis of the useable space shows that it is almost identical. (See also article at right.)
An artist’s rendering of the Benfield building from South Street shows that the trees behind the building are taller than the building itself, alleviating the fear that the building will look monolithic. There is also concern over the placement of the septic system in relation to nearby wells. The Housing Authority said that the placement could be reviewed once perk tests are performed.
The Planning Board is now waiting for a letter of intent from NOAH and a letter of interest from the Board of Selectman. Once these are in hand, they are to be signed and sent to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). After review, it is expected that DHCD will notify the Selectman that there is a pending 40B project in town. The town will have 30 days to respond and begin the permitting process.
Families in economic distress
Another important item on the agenda was a review of the “Dealing with Unexpected Distress” program held on January 26. As part of that program, Housing Authority representatives described the resources available in town for people affected by the economic downturn. A five-page list of such resources was handed out and is available at Town Hall.
The authority feels that there are at least a dozen families in town who have significant economic problems to contend with. They may have missed three or four mortgage payments, or they may not have enough money for proper food and nutrition. There are approximately 30 people living at the poverty level and receiving tax exemptions. The Housing Authority is fearful that these numbers will increase before the economy recovers. ∆
© 2009 The