Authority Moves to Preserve Affordable Housing, Develop More Units

Thanks to a Special Town Meeting decision this past November, the Sandwich Housing Authority is moving ahead with plans to renovate public housing units and create new affordable units on George Fernandes Way.

On November 18, meeting voters revised a 2009 Annual Meeting decision. That decision had allocated $1.85 million in community preservation funds to build more affordable units on housing authority land along the street.

Last November, voters decided that up to $450,000 of the money could be used to provide matching funds in an effort to preserve the existing 12 units of public housing on George Fernandes Way.

Paula Schnepp, executive director of the housing authority, said yesterday that those units, whose rents are subsidized by the government, date from the late 1980s.

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The authority plans to use the $450,000 to match a sum of $450,000 received by the authority through the state’s High Leverage Asset Preservation Program, which is designed to help preserve existing affordable housing.

The combined $900,000 will be used to replace those roofs not already replaced; replace windows, siding and doors; improve drainage; and replace kitchens and bathrooms where needed.

Ms. Schnepp anticipates the work will be completed within a year.

She said the authority plans to put the remaining $1.4 million toward a renewed effort to build affordable housing units on George Fernandes Way. The authority wants to construct 24 units.
The authority’s initial plans to use the community preservation allocation for construction of more units were stymied by the advent of the recession, Ms. Schnepp said.

Like the existing units on George Fernandes Way, the new units will offer below-market rentals to eligible households.

But unlike the existing public units, where the rents are subsidized by the government, the new units will carry below-market rental rates for households taking in a fraction of the area median income.

The authority, which has received two responses to a request for proposals, likely will decide on a contractor by early summer.

Ms. Schnepp said that, given the pace of the process, the new units may not be finished for another two years.

She said that the authority wants to build more affordable units to address a need not being met by the private market.

Of Sandwich’s existing housing stock, Ms. Schnepp said, only about 6 percent would be considered affordable.
 

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