Williamstown Set to Vote on Affordable Housing Measures

May 11, 2012

Next week, the people of Williamstown will vote on municipal efforts to expand and begin the process of developing new state funded Affordable Housing in the Northern Berkshire town. According to Massachusetts’ Affordable Housing Law, every community in the Commonwealth has an obligation to develop ways to provide 10% of their housing stock available to moderate and low income families. Many Berkshire communities are well below that goal, including Williamstown.

Last August, Tropical Storm Irene destroyed the Spruces mobile home park. Of the over 200 mobile homes in the park, only 65 have been reclaimed since the storm. Robin Lenz, Coordinator for Higher Ground, a non-profit dedicated to assisting flood victims with finding housing, said that many former residents have still found permanent or affordable housing.

 Up for vote on May 15th is the creation of an affordable housing trust fund. Catherine Yamamoto, chairwoman of the town’s Affordable Housing Committee, spoke with WAMC last month. She said that the fund would exist to help the town establish new housing with public and private resources.

 In addition to creating the housing trust fund, three initiatives up for vote would decide on allocation of the town’s Community Preservation Act funds. The Community Preservation Committee oversees the funds, which are provided by the people of Williamstown. Catherine Yamamoto explains…

Elton Ogden, President of the Berkshire Housing Development Corporation, says one initiative would provide funds to the organization to take preliminary steps towards developing new affordable housing on a suitable site in Williamstown.

 Ogden mentioned that the lack of funding is the biggest challenge and the trust fund could help speed the process of acquiring necessary dollars for preliminary work, before an application for state aid can even be completed.

 The Affordable Housing Committee is requesting $107,500 to help identify more sites for potential housing. $200,000 is being requested to help establish the trust fund.