Amherst Housing Authority Board of Commissioners
The Amherst Housing Authority Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 on Monday to set the HUD voucher payment standards for 2016 at 113% of Fair Market Rent for Amherst and 97% for Extended area which covers 388 total vouchers and gives all of them a few dollars more in monthly subsidies.
Commission member TracyLee Boutilier voted against the motion saying the Board should show "more compassion," pointing out a $10 month increase in payments for a family living in a three bedroom apartment is too little.
The problem is Housing and Urban Development is only giving the Amherst Housing Authority an extra $38,443 in 2016 going from the current $3,077,917 up to $3,116,360.
And with the approved payment standards for 2016 the 238 Amherst vouchers will cost an additional $25,812 and the balance of them another $10,260. To suddenly increase the subsidy any higher would mean defunding some vouchers to make up the difference.
If the AHA went to 120% of the Fair Market Rate for Amherst, Executive Director Denise LeDuc estimates 35-40 vouchers would need to be terminated to fund the increase in monthly payments to the other 200 or so Amherst recipients.
Last year the average cost paid out for all 388 vouchers came to $649/month or $7,788 annually.
The problem in Amherst is too little housing supply combined with too great a demand. Students who wish to live off campus pack themselves into sometimes sub-standard units and drive up the prices, forcing out families and blue collar workers who cannot compete.
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Although the recent passage of the town's Rental Registration Permit Bylaw and the successful completion of Kendrick Place, with more large mixed-use buildings on the immediate horizon, the future for affordable housing is starting to look a little brighter.
Five story mixed use Kendrick Place (mostly residential) opened September 1st