Thursday, October 1, 2015

Almost There

Amherst Office Park's new 30,000 square foot mixed-use building, an exciting new addition to the South Amherst Village Center will open November 1st, joining Kendrick Place and Presidential Apartments as providers of additional, badly needed housing in town.

In this case 17 total units -- the vast majority of them one-bedroom (15) and the remaining two, two-bedroom.  The residential portion of the building occupies the upper two floors and are now fully rented, while the ground floor commercial space is 75% leased.

Balconies offer scenic views to the east and west

Mixed-use buildings like this are a blessing to nearby local small businesses by providing a bevy of potential customers, all within walking distance.


Anonymous said...

Looks nice too.

Kevin said...

Wahoo! Nineteen beds, out of 2,000 needed by 2020. Wahoo!

Anonymous said...

Are there 2,000 students wandering around Amherst without any place to stay? Where do people get these numbers?

Anonymous said...

There are enough numbers in the post.

All rented prior to opening. Excess demand for housing, even overpriced housing. This has been going on for 1/4 century, coinciding with town government taking over and regulating everything.

The main barrier to housing is regulation and excess oversight, people cannot find homes because the government will not allow them to be built or overburden those that would so they go elsewhere.

Also the post of 2000 students was in 2020, so you would need to wait 5 years and then look around town for the wondering students. The reality is that they just find other places to live and go to school because Amherst is not welcoming them, Amherst vilifies them even though they pay Amherst's bills...well their parents do.

This is the future of housing in Amherst by design, just like the over-regulation of all small businesses, you are left with big business on purpose as the alternative, so much worse for the community, but so much easier to control by the overseers that are in charge, which is really the most important thing, making the job easier for those in government at the community's expense. Amherst has shown they will pay almost anything to make the jobs easier for those in government. That is what the community is there for, to support those in government because they are not capable of doing so on their own....or they would.

Here is a joke. A guy that used to work for the town went to get a private sector job and he thought his town job experience would help him get the job.

Here is a truth. Many people hoping to get elected brag about their private sector experience and what they can bring to the public sector as a result.

This is why you have a lack of housing, it is overpriced and new housing is only being provided in big projects. It is by design.

Anonymous said...

It's not students wandering around, it's our workforce. At the risk of feeding Troll 10:43, the numbers come from the recent Housing Market Study and Housing Production Plan. According to those studies, 2,000+ students are renting places that are needed by low and moderate income workers that would otherwise reside in Amherst, and are forced to live elsewhere. That is also why rents are twice what they would be otherwise. Part of the problem is resistance to allowing multi-unit housing (as detailed by multiple panelists at this week's affordable housing forum).

Dr. Ed said...

No 11:53AM, it is the Section 8 Housing Vouchers which have made "rents are twice what they would be otherwise" -- I'm both a qualitative researcher and spent five years working in the program -- it is Section 8 that is doing this.

First, unlike many other college-town housing authorities, the Amherst Housing Authority refuses to assist students with housing -- even though they constitute the "low income" Amherst demographic that causes the AHA to receive so much Federal money for housing, and so many Section 8 Vouchers in the first place. (And Larry, Amherst wouldn't get the Cherry Sheet it does were it not for the students lowering the per-capita income of Amherst.)

Now HUD intends this money to go to housing low income people -- which the UMass students are -- HUD has the 80%/20% rule, 80% of the vouchers have to go to people who are at/below 20% of the poverty rate. Remember that subsidized school lunches and such kick in around 200% of the poverty rate, and this is 20%.

One-fifth of what the government considers necessary to live on.

These are not low-income people, these are no-income people -- low and moderate income workers don't qualify as if you have almost any job at all, even if you are way below the poverty rate, you are over 20% of it.

And the SJC ruled that the "service area" of every Massachusetts Housing Authority is the entire Commonwealth. What this means is that the Section 8 Vouchers issued by the Amherst Housing Authority, intended for the super-low-income residents of Amherst (the UM students) instead go to people from Sprngfield, Boston, & Lowell. I saw thus happening.

2: All of this means three things. First, the finite supply of rental housing in Amherst, already not enough to meet the needs of both the students and the low/moderate income workers, is gobbled up by single mothers on various forms of public assistance. In addition to increasing the types of expenses that Larry complains about the students raising (e.g. police), they not only bring children to the schools but the social needs of super-low-income children. (This is part of where you are getting your increased SPED count from.)

Second, the large management companies prefer to rent Section 8 for a bunch of reasons, including assurance of getting their rent, and hence it becomes more difficult for someone paying for his/her/its own apartment to get one.

Third, as the Section 8 tenant is neither going to find a cheaper (to the tenant) rental elsewhere, nor care if the rent increases -- the tenant pays a flat 30% of income regardless -- there is no longer competition in the market. As long as they stay under two limits -- the AHA's limit and HUD's limit -- they can raise their rents as much as they want. The AHA routinely accepts whatever the apartment complexes raise their rents to each year, and I saw countless smaller landlords openly request that the next year's rent (for a renewal of a Section 8 tenancy) be increased the maximum amount permissible.

Furthermore, as the tenants themselves aren't paying the increase, there is not the usual demand that an increase in price be matched by an increase in quality. There is no incentive to put money into either repair or capitol improvement. (E.g. fire alarm systems...)

3: HUD considers Amherst to be part of the Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area - it has determined what it considers to be the maximum reasonable amount for an apartment of various sizes in the area. The AHA received approval to pay first 10% above that, and then to pay 20% above that.

This raises all the rents to at least 120% of what they would otherwise be.

Dr. Ed said...

Let me restate that: Because of the Section 8 Vouchers (and because the AHA refuses to permit them to house UM students, for whom HUD intended them), three things are happening in Amherst:

1: Rents are at least 120% of what they otherwise would be -- HUD looks at both the landlord's costs and tenant incomes, and everything else -- these are legitimate statistics.

2: While the number of rental units available is finite, the number of people seeking them is not -- because of the portable Section 8 vouchers, people from outside the community compete with those already here for a limited and quite finite number of available apartments. This creates a shortage which raises prices, Economics 101, and this ripples upward throughout the entire housing market. This is why your cops, firefighters, and teachers -- people at or above the median family income level (particularly if they have a working spouse) -- can't afford to live in town anymore.

3: As the people being brought in by Section 8 are super-low-income (>20% of poverty), and as it is cheaper to buy in Belchertown (etc.) than to rent in Amherst -- and has been for more than 20 years now -- Amherst increasingly is becoming a community of the very rich and the very poor. This is reflected in K-12 and why I argue it is a mistake to look at the subsidized lunch statistic because the vast majority of the low income children are VERY low income children, and an increasing percentage of those above the subsidized lunch threshold are WAY above it.

Throw in the corresponding racial distinction between the two social classes of children, both real and perceived, and you have an explanation for some of the things which have been happening recently, do you not?

Dr. Ed said...

low and moderate income workers that would otherwise reside in Amherst, and are forced to live elsewhere.

As are students as well -- I spent a year commuting from Deerfield.

As being a student is like working multiple split-shifts, the non-financial costs of a longer commute are far greater and hence a greater willingness to pay more to avoid it, but please don't think that the students are in any situation different from the "low and moderate income workers" that keep being mentioned.

For that matter, most of the UM students ARE "low income workers" as well - many with 2-3-4 different jobs. This is why having a car is not an option for them, their employers want them there at the decreed time, decrees of other employers notwithstanding....

It also goes without saying that lots of folk who would like to live in town but can't afford to is going to contribute to traffic congestion, does it not?

Anonymous said...

What makes 10:43 a 'troll' and you, 11:53 not one?

Anonymous said...

I can tell that Dr Ed does not use Twitter!

Anonymous said...

No he's free to use as many characters as he likes.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else notice the Friday Boston Globe article that UMass Boston is going to let a private developer build 2,000 units on it, rent it out and pay UMass Boston to lease the land? Chancellor Marty Meehan is all for it.