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Trustees Brought Up to Speed on Affordable Housing in Barrington

Barrington has 160 units of affordable housing -- about a quarter of the way to the 10 percent mandate imposed by Rhode Island; 5 homes in project remain up for sale.

The Housing Board of Trustees was brought up to speed last week on the state of affordable housing and one project, in particular, in Barrington.

“We have 160 units of affordable housing in Barrington,” said Steve Martin, chairman of the housing board.

“That’s about 2.5 percent of the available dwellings to meet the state mandate,” he said. “We’re about a quarter of the way.”

Martin described the town's effort to meet the 10 percent state mandate as “coming a long way in a short period of time.” The mandate was set in 2004.

Only six municipalities have met their individual mandates, Martin said. The rest have not.

Anthony DePetro, the new chief operating officer at West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation in Providence, brought the trustees up to date on Walker Farm Lane – a project developed by the housing board with RI Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation and West Elmwood.

“Six of the homes have been sold,” Martin said. “Five remain up for sale.”

Three of those homes --1, 3 and 5 Walker Farm Lane -- sit right along Wampanoag Trail and now show for-sale signs by Coldwell Banker realty, he said. West Elmwood has turned over the sale of the homes to the private realtor.

The two other homes in the development that remain for sale, 17 and 19 Walker Farm Lane, are the properties that suffered from groundwater in the basements.

One of those homes was bought back by Rhode Island Housing from an owner who moved out because of water and mold damage. See the Patch story.  The adjacent home had not been sold.

The damage in both homes has been cleaned up and “they are ready for resale,” Martin said the board was told by DePetro.

A goal of next spring has been set for the sale of all five properties, Martin said.

To keep a closer eye on projects such as Walker Farm Lane and new projects in the planning pipeline, Martin said, the housing board has decided to assign “members to each project.”

“They will the eyes and ears for the board,” he said.

Bluemead Farm off of Chachapacassett Road is one of the projects in the pipeline. The Rumstick subdivision includes nine lots, two of them affordable homes, on 13.6 acres that tilt and slope toward Narragansett Bay along Beach Road.

The 10-lot subdivision at the former Lavin’s Marina, which has been approved for development, includes homes on the corner of Woodbine and Narragansett avenues in Bay Spring.

“It has two affordable homes that we’ll keep an eye on,” said Martin.

A small subdivision on South Street, just off Maple Avenue across the street from Holy Angels church, said Martin, also will have an affordable home. A board member is be assigned to keep an eye on that project.

Chris12 October 22, 2012 at 11:01 AM
With all the inventory on the market why are more housing plats being built?
Gary Morse October 22, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Unfortunately, the affordable statistics are not correct! Mr Martin's statement that “We’re about a quarter of the way.” is based on a fabricated number from the Comprehensive Community Plan. None of the current home ownership projects have 100% affordable homes in the planning (Lavins Marina has only 2 out of 10, Bluemead, 2 out of 10, Nockum Hill, 2 out of ?.) The numbers Mr. Martin is applying are from the Comprehensive Community Plan which assumes every project from here on is built with 100% affordable homes. That's not happening, nor will it happen. At a rate of 2 affordable homes for every 8 new homes (the 20% town ordinance rule), it would mathematically require up to 4,000 new homes to finally make the 10% affordable crossover. This is because the target keeps moving further out as new homes are built. That is hardly 1/4 of the way there. Further, without huge property tax subsidies paid for by Barrington residents (as will have to be approved by the next town council) the rental developments (e.g. Sowams) will be in financial jeopardy. The affordable rhetoric is to make Barrington residents think that the problem is under control. It's not. We need some truthful numbers to get an honest debate going.
Gary Morse October 22, 2012 at 01:09 PM
It's unfortunate that the RI Supreme Court understands the math of this problem better than our own town officials. Judges are often math challenged. The RI Supreme Court heard the East Greenwich case of affordable "fee-in-lieu of affordable development" in 2011 and ruled it illegal (i.e. paying money to avoid affordable development requirements) On the affordable count, they said: "When a developer constructs new non-affordable housing units, it increases the overall number of housing units in a municipality without adding any affordable units. As a result, there is a decrease in the percentage of affordable housing in that municipality; that fact necessitates the development of even more affordable housing units (than would have been required before such development) for the municipality to be able to meet the 10 percent affordable housing threshold mandated by the LMIHA." http://www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/SupremeCourt/OpinionsOrders/opinions/09-93.pdf It's unfortunate that we are paying for a full time Town Planner, and still have problems with the affordable math.
Ignorance is not bliss October 22, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Barrington is not alone in this..... http://news.providencejournal.com/letters-to-the-editor/2012/10/george-tremblay-no-to-housing-bonds.html
Gary Morse October 22, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Thanks for the post! It's not just the loss in tax dollars, it's that the impact is regressive against those existing residents least able to pay for the resulting impact.
Gary Morse October 23, 2012 at 10:36 AM
"On Nov. 6, Rhode Islanders will be asked to vote on a $25 million state bond issue to support affordable housing. If that money is spent as allowed by current law, more than half of all households could end up paying to build housing for people wealthier than they are. If that makes no sense to you, now is the time to make your voice heard. For years, there has been a movement to try to get the legislature to revise the law to meet the requirements of the needy, and not the greedy. But the legislature hasn't been listening. Your vote on Nov 6 could make them sit up and take notice. Vote "no" on Question 7." Excerpt from the previous Projo link; LTE from George Tremblay, Charlestown, who is a member of the Charlestown Planning Commission and a candidate for Charlestown Town Council.

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