Housing & Sheltering Comm Co-Chairs: Greg Stutsman left, Nancy Gregg to his left
On Wednesday morning the Housing & Sheltering Committee voted unanimously NOT to recommend to the Amherst Select Board they support passage of House Bill No. 2225 "An act relative to the definition of low and moderate income housing."
The bill if passed would essentially water down the requirements imposed on cites and towns to maintain a 10% ratio of "affordable" housing stock by allowing mobile homes to be counted as affordable.
Co-Chair Greg Stutsman told the committee he "couldn't recommend trying to create a loophole."
After hearing public comment from knowledgeable observer Walter Wolnik the committee agreed to take up discussion at their next meeting of spearheading a campaign to modify the Pacheco Rule, which currently restricts UMass from working with private developers to build student housing.
In a recent column in the Amherst Bulletin UMass Chancellor Subbaswamy cited UMass as "the third-largest residential campus in the nation," and went on to declare "the university is committed to exploring the feasibility of a legislative remedy that would allow us to pursue public-private partnerships to address our housing needs."
Due to the overwhelming influence of higher education, college students make up over half the town's population. And this demographic is inadequately served, as any large off campus housing proposal over the past 30 years must survive a gauntlet of well armed NIMBY opposition, which few have managed to do.
As a result single family homes dispersed throughout Amherst neighborhoods are snapped up by investors who subdivide the units into student rooming houses that sometimes mimic the antics of "Animal House".