Monday, June 2, 2014

Affordable Housing Deal is Done




UPDATE:  Tuesday afternoon

Town Officials want it made clear that Amherst currently is not below the 10% threshold for a CH40B development.  The state did a survey about a month ago and the results should be known late summer early fall, where the official number we have to live with will be announced.  

It was agreed, however, that Rolling Green alone could be a deciding factor depending on whether the state allows us to keep all 204 units on the SHI or just credits us the 41.


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Original post (from the floor of Town Meeting no less)

Even though one of the better selling points of the town entering into a private deal -- with a $1.25 million entry fee -- to preserve 41 affordable units of housing at Rolling Green Apartments  evaporated like morning mist on a hot summer day, Town Meeting still voted near unanimously to do the deal. 

Let me explain:

For the past generation Rolling Green has accounted for 204 units on our Subsidized Housing Index, a state formula that requires cities and towns to maintain a minimum of 10% of its housing stock as "affordable," or be subject to a developer using Ch40B as a trump card for a mega-development (as long as 25% of the units are "affordable.")

 Even though only 41 of the Rolling Green units were actually affordable, because of a clause in the federal loan agreement used by a developer to finance the facility, all 204 units were counted.  Equity Residential, the current owner, paid off that loan in September, so now that provision is gone. 

With all 204 units counted Amherst stood at 10.8% on the SHI index. With only 41 of the units counting Amherst will register 9% and with all the units lost, 8.5%.  In other words Amherst is now below the minimum SHI index required to stave off a Ch40B development from happening.

But Town Manager John Musante pulled a stunt that would have made P.T. Barnum proud, by announcing that an "offer had been accepted" by the current owner, Equity Residential, from affordable housing developer Beacon Communities.  An offer that required $1.25 million of Amherst tax money that was not yet appropriated.  

Town Meeting then took the bait and voted overwhelmingly to do the deal.

Thus the good news for affordable housing proponents is those 41 Rolling Green units are preserved (although town officials are not sure how many of them are the larger 3 or 4 bedroom units).

The even better news is now that we're (unofficially) below the 10% SHI another affordable housing developer will soon come calling, holding a "build-whatever-you-want" card courtesy of Ch40B

Jim Oldham:  $1.25 million is a "little bit of money."

video

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

This seems like an incredible waste of tax-payer money. A desperate attempt to hold onto something that is slipping away. And I thought the schools held the gold standard for wasteful spending. Looks like they now have still competition with town meeting.

Anonymous said...

What a shame, waste our tax money on chasing a buck.

Anonymous said...

Not only is this a cost effective way of restoring lost affordable housing, it's also quick and doesn't gobble up more land. And, who says this is all that will be done to raise the percentage above the threshold? This is only one step, not the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

It's fascinating that Amherst is well aware of this CH40B situation and protects itself against errant developers, but Pelham has less than 1% affordable housing.

Once the sewer goes up Main St. into the center of Pelham, what's going to stop development there? I know it's not in the Republic, but...

Anonymous said...

An elegant solution! Rather than taking 5 years and numerous NIMY protests, we've now got 41 units of affordable housing. If only the rest of Amherst's housing needs were this easy.

Anonymous said...

what's up with the Vince-no show? We spent nearly 3 hours discussing his articles that he didn't even bother to show up for. Why does this joker get respect from his cult followers? I suspect he didn't show because he was embarrassed...if he is capable of such emotion.

Anonymous said...

How is it legal for tax dollars to be literally given to a private individual (or corporation)?

Anonymous said...

Tax dollars pay for all kinds of goods and services from private companies. Instead of paying for asphalt they're paying for affordable housing. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Will somone pay my taxes, so I can have affordable housing too? Where do I sign up for the free ride in this town? There seems to be plenty good hearted souls here, Ha-Ha...

Anonymous said...

Seriously? I bust my a$$ to have what I do and pay taxes up the wazooo. Why? To get better schools cops and firemen? Nah..to let the free loading scabs have "affordable housing". NUTS!!

BTW I grew up in E hartford..no picnic and NO HANDOUTS! we were not poor but we had enough. We learned to do with what we had or do without. Made me realize that hard a$$ work gets you out of these neighborhoods…not hand outs. You want to live in a community like Amherst? WORK FOR IT

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:42 - Exactly. Vince is a primadonna who can't stand to be called on his s***. Last night was the height of disrespect for the process, for the town meeting members, and for the town itself. It is truly unbelievable that Vince continues to be given a forum for his crackpot ideas. He will not be happy until we all look like him - living a subsidized life; driving a 30 year old s***box van, and convincing scared little old ladies that they need to afraid - very afraid of ANY type of change.

I'm sure Vince was happily watching on (subsidized) ACTV and cackling Bwahaha at the time wasted.

Time for a new charter.

Anonymous said...

whether the state allows us to keep all 204 units on the SHI or just credits us the 41.

I can't see why the Commonwealth possibly could credit more than just the 41. And then you gotta account for the four units destroyed in the fire 16 months ago.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sure Vince was happily watching on (subsidized) ACTV..."

Powered by subsidized electricity -- the "R02" rate versus the "R01" rate the rest of us pay.

The difference is such that electric heat is the cheapest form of heat if you have the "R02" rate -- and we pay for this with our higher "R01" rate.

And then there are the "Obamaphones" -- free cell phone with 250 free minutes per month -- that WE all pay for...

Need I really say more???

Anonymous said...

Instead of paying for asphalt they're paying for affordable housing

This is like tax dollars going to pave WalMart's parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Larry, you know that regardless of how this plays out, a couple hundred units at the Retreat are going to push the numbers the other way...

Larry Kelley said...

Yes they are.

But Amherst needs housing and lots of it. I'm actually not worried at all about a CH40B development.

Bring 'em on.

Anonymous said...

The Lifeline program originated in 1984, during the administration of Ronald Reagan; it was expanded in 1996, during the administration of Bill Clinton; and its first cellular provider service (SafeLink Wireless) was launched by TracFone in 2008, during the administration of George W. Bush. All of these milestones were passed prior to the advent of the Obama administration.
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/politics/taxes/cellphone.asp#88OxybTUQyu5hkHo.99

Anonymous said...

OBAMAPHONE

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the deal that California made with Enron - and how they were forced to purchase way-above-market electricity for a long time afterwards.

Not to worry, not unlike a parasite that kills its host, Amherst has destroyed the "college experience" for most UMass students -- and when they are gone, folks like Vince will be like the natives on the islands in the Pacific, waiting for the American airplanes that no longer arrive...

Anonymous said...

Pope Center says higher ed imploding

http://www.popecenter.org/commentaries/article.html?id=3021#.U4-nK3aSUwq