Housing Trust Discusses Franklin Ridge Funding, Possible "Fixer-Upper" Buy


Above, Christopher Vericker chairing via Zoom.

The Municipal Affordable Housing Trust was brought to order Tuesday morning at 10 via Zoom by Chair, Christopher Vericker.

After approving minutes and briefly reviewing finances, staff member Maxine Kinhart reviewed the affordable housing situation in town and the long wait lists. “I hear people say we don’t need more apartments in town, but that’s not really true,” she said. In particular, she has been contacting all of the owners of housing with “affordable” units included to verify current rent and number of units. The results were shared in a report to the Board Members. 

The unaffordability of affordable units was also discussed. Member Judy Pfeffer mentioned someone she knows who has lived in the same apartment complex for a decade but rents have just gone up, beyond what she can afford on a fixed income, so she is being evicted and will likely have to move out of town.

The Board then engaged in a more wide-ranging discussion about hoousing-related topics.

For example, the chair and others discussed whether the current funds of the Trust might be sufficient to purchase a “fixer-upper,” ideally a three-family, that could be donated to the Franklin Housing Authority. Member Chris Feeley, who also sits on the Housing Authority Board and the Community Preservation Committee, said the former would likely be delighted with such a gift.

And that led to a discussion about Community Preservation Funds, a minimum of 10 percent of which are mandated for housing purposes annually. Feeley reported on the estimated state funds going to the Community Preservation Committee and speculated that the total budget available in the next fiscal year could be in excess of $1 million.

The housing portion of that funding, of course, is largely being aimed toward the Franklin Ridge project – a substantial new affordable senior-oriented housing being planned for “behind” the high school.

Although actual groundbreaking remains in the distant future, the town has applied for money to design a water line and pumping station for the project that is being implemented right now. That part of the project is at 75% design and it is hoped that the grant will pay for a substantial amount of the actual construction of the pump station and water lines.

Before the meeting closed, members voted to ask Kinhart to speak with the town attorney and develop an amendment to  bylaws to create an election process for officers. Kinhart was also asked to see if the Trust could be given an update on Franklin Ridge at a future meeting.

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