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GA Blog: Affordable

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11.6.19 Energy Efficient Affordable Housing Development in Gloucester Gets State Support

The North Shore CDC development project Harbor Village in Gloucester was awarded $120,000 today from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Passive House Design Challenge program.  The project was one of eight around the commonwealth to receive such funding due to their designed energy efficiency. 

The program also specifically focused on multi-unit affordable housing projects.  Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Janelle Chan said, “Today’s awards will advance eight affordable housing developments, which will provide more than 500 units for low and middle-income households. We are thrilled to be supporting housing development that is safe and affordable for families, and is built to Passive House standards, reducing carbon emissions and lowering households’ energy costs.”

Passive House is a green building certification where the building uses extremely low levels of energy to create a comfortable living environment year-round.

Back in July, the Harbor Village project was one of 28 projects awarded funds as part of the state's 2019 Rental Housing Awards.

You can read more about today’s announcement here.

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8.16.19 Salem Talks Affordability with Accessory Dwelling Units

Last night, the Salem City Council in conjunction with the Planning Board held their second public hearing on the topic of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

The main topic of the night was affordability and specifically if an affordability restriction should be added to the ordinance.  On the subject Mayor Driscoll remarked: “It’s going to be tough for us to put an affordability requirement on an ADU” adding further “the affordability restriction would frankly be difficult for the city to enforce” and the ADUs “don’t really lend themselves to super high rents.”  Public voices echoed these feelings as comments favoring an affordability restriction were in the minority opposed to the units being an avenue to create affordable housing in and of themselves.

Discussion also centered around the cost to create such a unit.  Residents with experience discussed how much it had cost them as well as our own David Friedberg who noted the availability of loans and the ability to generate wealth through equity because of the improvement in the property.

Christine Madore of Ward 2 said that by her count the public sentiment for the ordinance between the two meetings had been overwhelming positive at 77% speaking in favor.

The ordinance will now head to the Planning Board for their review.

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7.19.19 Governor Baker Announces 2019 Affordable Rental Housing Awards

On July 18th in Swampscott, the 2019 Affordable Rental Housing Awards where announced by Governor Baker.  The North Shore was very well represented with four local recipients. The awards in total consist of nearly $80 million in direct subsidies and $38 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits to fund the development, renovation, and preservation of housing opportunities throughout Massachusetts. 

 

The four local winners are:  Cabot Street in Beverly, which will construct 24 new units as well as rehabilitating 45 existing units.  All of these units will be restricted to individuals earning less than 60% of the area median income.  Harbor Village in Gloucester will be a mixed-use project consisting of a commercial ground level and 30 new units which will be restricted to 60% of area median income.  The Tannery in Peabody is a preservation project.  When the rehab is completed there will be 200 units reserved for those earning less than 60% of area median income and 35 units for those earning less than 30% of area median income.  Finally, The Senior Residences at The Machon in Swampscott is a redevelopment project of an elementary school for senior citizens.  There will be 38 units available for seniors earning less than 60% of the area median income and 8 more units for seniors earning less than 30% of the area median income.

 

You can find the state house’s official press release here.

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7.17.19 Peabody’s 25% Affordable Housing Requirement Lowered to 20%

 

In April, it was voted by City Council to create a requirement of 25% affordable housing units for large developments.  At the same time the building height allowance was also raised to 5 floors.

After just 12 weeks those numbers have been voted to come back down.  First, the building height allowance was taken to 4 floors instead of 5.  Then on July 11th the Industrial & Community Development Committee, a sub-committee of the City Council, unanimously voted to lower the affordable housing percentage from 25% to 20%.

Curt Bellavance, the Community Development director, is quoted as saying: “We are looking for a compromise to get it to 20 percent” referring to the original 15% sought by the city and the 25% decision of the council.

The revised rule will go to the Planning Board and then to a public hearing from there.

Read the full coverage of before and after this decision in the Item here and here.

 

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