Barrington’s housing board agreed on Tuesday evening, Oct. 15, to come up with a plan for affordable housing that could get the town into the real estate business.
The plan revolves around acquiring existing Barrington homes that would become deed-restricted affordable homes. Or working with homeowners who would get some type of subsidy or tax benefit that could be used to fix up a home needing repairs if they agree to a deed restriction that turns the property into an affordable home.
The plan might also involve working with a nonprofit in a public-private partnership, with the nonprofit
“I wanted to throw the idea on the table,” said Steve Martin, chairman of the Housing Board of Trustees.
“Partnerships have occurred in other communities,” said trustee Richard Staples, who agreed to create a draft plan with trustee Molly Lee by the board’s November meeting after a host of ideas and trial balloons were floated around for about 90 minutes.
Working capital for the real estate venture would definitely be needed, said Martin.
“It could require a fair amount of money,” he said. “And we might have to be the bank with a guarantee from the Town Council. A local subsidy actually gives us a lot more control.”
Working capital could also come from the Spencer Trust that was given to the town to help those in need to help or federal community development block grants that would be set up as a revolving fund. That money would come back to the town when a house sells.
“We might have to be the bank,” said Martin, “with the guarantee of the Town Council. A local subsidy gives us a lot more control.”
One of the concepts tossed around Tuesday night was a “land-lease” option – the town would own the land and lease it to a homeowner so land is taken out of the sale price.
Among the targets for these affordable homes would be renters.
“We could move them into home ownership,” said Martin.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Lee. “But why buy the homes?”
“Maybe we could restructure ownership in a home that is lived in with a tax benefit,” said Staples.