Great Barrington needs to adopt affordable housing items at town meeting

Don’t put these much-needed projects at risk. Please DO NOT vote to “pass over” or “take no action” on this CPA funding request, and please DO vote to approve Article #19, items 1 and 2.

To the editor:

I am writing to make everyone aware of a couple of important items that we will be voting on at the Town Meeting, Monday evening, June 22, at 6 p.m..

The two warrant items (#19 and #20) have the potential to make a real difference in the lack of affordable housing in town. Article #19 includes CPA funding for two Affordable Housing projects.

The first project is the CDCSB’s new affordable rental project on South Main Street and the other is to fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund’s purchase of a property on North Plain Road — in order to create permanently affordable, home ownership homes.   This is a link to Trust’s proposal.

The Affordable Housing Trust Fund has committed to close on the property on July 7th, 2020. The owners of the property have generously allowed the Trust to wait for CPC and Town Meeting approval to close on the sale.

The purchase price is $175,000 (less than $25,000 per acre), for 7.25 acres of completely developable land (see engineering report) on North Plain Road. (An additional $10,000 was included in this request for closing costs and any unforeseen contingencies.)

Habitat for Humanity has stated their interest in developing the property by building 14 units of new, permanently affordable, home ownership houses. The development would be clustered in the center of the acreage, leaving a buffer of trees/open space between the new homes and abutters.

It is likely that there will be a call to “pass over” or “take no action” on this project (and/or other CPA funded projects) and move it to a future Special Town Meeting.

If Town Meeting votes to “pass over” this item, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund will miss the closing deadline (July 7th) and, given the current real estate market, could quite possibly lose their option on the property entirely.

Here’s my request:

Don’t put these much-needed projects at risk. Please DO NOT vote to “pass over” or “take no action” on this CPA funding request, and please DO vote to approve Article #19, items 1 and 2.

Also, please vote to approve Warrant Article #20 which will make available an additional $100,000 of existing AHTF’s CPA funds for CONSTRUCT’s Covid-19 Rental Assistance Program. We really can’t afford to wait on that one either.

Bill Cooke

Great Barrington

The writer is chair of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and a Selectboard member.