WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Voters will have the chance to take a big step forward to creating more and affordable housing at this year's town meeting.
On May 15, they will decide questions to award $107,500 in Community Preservation Act funds for technical services to evaluate sites in Williamstown for affordable housing; to establish an Affordable Housing Trust; to award an additional $200,000 in CPA funds as initial funding of the trust; and to award $80,000 in CPA funds for predevelopment work by Berkshire Housing Development Corp., which seeks to add 20-25 units of senior housing at Proprietors Fields.
A public information meeting to examine how those articles could increase affordable housing will take place at the Williams Inn on Tuesday, April 3, from 7 to 8 p.m.
The meeting is being sponsored by the Williamstown Affordable Housing Committee, the Williamstown Housing Authority, the Williamstown League of Women Voters and Higher Ground, a non-profit organization created last fall to aid those affected by Tropical Storm Irene and to work toward community housing solutions.
Additionally, the Planning Board is asking for bylaw revisions to allow properties zoned for single-family use to be adapted to accommodate a second household.
All Williamstown residents are encouraged to attend.
Before the flooding caused by Irene, half of the approximate 450 low-cost homes in Williamstown were in The Spruces Mobile Home Park, which had been created decades ago as a private retirement community. Up to 160 of 225 homes at The Spruces are now permanently uninhabitable. The remaining 65 continue to be at risk of flooding.
Community housing is housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income individuals and families — working, disabled or retired — through a variety of housing options. Homes may be single-family or multifamily, with construction costs subsidized by public funds so that rents and purchase prices can be affordable.
Area affordable housing communities are fully occupied, with waiting lists equal to the number of existing units and waiting times as long as three to five years. The most recent housing project was the renovation of the former St. Raphael's Church and rectory on Cole Avenue into apartments but another mixed-rental project, Cable Mills, has been stalled for several years.
Refreshments will be provided by Junior Girl Scout Troop 40036. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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