Monday, June 2, 2014
Sophie's (Housing) Choice
Having grown up in Amherst, on the wrong side of the tracks, in a single parent household, where my Irish mother had to rent out over half our home, I appreciate the monthly struggle to makes ends meet.
Amherst was not an easy place to afford back in the Kennedy era. And it's far worse now.
So I sympathize with the tenants of 41 apartments at Rolling Green who face annual rent increases until all the subsidized units hit "market rate." Which in Amherst only takes one word to describe: expensive.
But I'm just not sure throwing $1.25 million in public money at the problem is the best solution.
Amherst Town Meeting will be asked to chip in that amount so that a unnamed "highly reputable affordable housing developer" can buy the entire complex -- all 204 units -- just to keep the 41 units forever affordable.
Kind of like the affordable tail wagging the market rate dog.
Two weeks ago Town Meeting approved the Amherst Affordable Housing Trust Fund as a repository for funds to be used to help put together public/private partnerships to jump start affordable housing building projects.
Might that $1.25 million be better spent enticing a brand new development in town rather than helping to purchase units that over 50 years old?
Because what Amherst really needs is more housing -- and LOTS of it.