CDBGs for Affordable Housing Scored
Barrington's support of using federal HUD funds for affordable housing takes a hit at the first step taken last week with this year's application.
The first step was taken last week to win federal community development funds for Barrington this year. The step turned into a bit of a referendum on affordable housing here.
Town Planner Phil Hervey held a public session in Town Hall to air some of the applicants for Community Development Block Grants. It drew representatives from COD 02806, the citizens group opposing the proposed affordable housing development at Sowams Nursery, and other critics of applying for grants for use by developers of affordable housing.
In short, there appeared to be a consensus that developers like West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation of Providence, which built the Walker Farm Lane affordable housing development in Barrington, are taking most of the CDBG money away from other more appropriate projects in Barrington.
Hervey said the town usually gets no more than $200,000 in CDBG funds in competition with 33 other cities and towns in Rhode Island.
“It’s a very competitive process,” he said.
Among the applicants for the funds is West Elmwood, which is again asking Barrington to support a $123,000 grant that it can use to subsidize the three remaining homes left for sale in Walker Farm Lane.
Anthony DiPietro, chief operating officer at West Elmwood, said at last week’s session that the money would help to lower the sale prices from $210,000 to $169,000 for each home with the cash. He said the organization has had significant difficulty in selling the homes and has had some unexpected expenses involved with repairing water damage to several of the properties.
COD 02806 handed out a document at last week’s session that said Barrington supported last year a $125,000 CDBG grant for the East Bay Economic Development Corporation of Bristol to help develop the “Palmer Pointe” affordable housing project on Sowams Road.
That grant siphoned off 66.5 percent of the $200,000 grant received by Barrington even though an official application has not yet been made to the town, said Bill Lemoult, spokesman for COD 02806. Only a pre-application meeting has been held to date.
Hervey said a draft of Barrington’s application for CDBG funds will be available for public scrutiny on Thursday, March. 14. It will show that the Community Housing Land Trust, Cornerstone Adult Services and the East Bay Community Action Program (EBCAP) are among the applicants as well.
The CDBG application will then go to the Housing Board of Trustees for review on March 19. The same application will then be forwarded to the Barrington Planning Board for review at its April 2 meeting. The Town Council will put the application on its agenda for the April 9 meeting.
The town’s preferences for funds will then go to the state, which will rate each application, said Hervey.