Falmouth Community Preservation Committee is considering how best to fund affordable housing.
Community preservation money is used to fund the Falmouth Affordable Housing Fund. Committee member Michael Stone asked if the town considered using other sources to bolster this fund.
“The fund itself does not seek revenue sources,” housing coordinator Carla L. Feroni said at the Thursday, June 13, community preservation committee meeting. “We welcome any other entity that would seek that kind of fundraising on our behalf.”
Committee member Sandra L. Cuny said the town should contribute to the fund.
“They don’t seek funding from any other source right now, but I would propose the Town of Falmouth match whatever we put in, and with them putting it in too, they will have double the funds,” Ms. Cuny said. “This town should be helping the affordable housing fund.”
Committee member Paul C. Glynn said the Falmouth Affordable Housing Fund working group needs a process for vetting applications for funding.
“Now that the private sector is involved, there will be a flood of applications,” Mr. Glynn said. “There is no doubt we can spend any amount of money that we allocate. We have to be very careful about that.”
He said the working group cannot simply spend down the fund as applications come in and need to consider future projects coming down the pipeline.
“I’d like to see them work on a process of how this is going to happen, which would give us the level of confidence to give more money to it,” Mr. Glynn said.
The working group is limited by how the fund is supported, committee member, John L. Druley said.
“One of the concerns of the working group is know how much money will be available and when,” Mr. Druley said. “We don’t want to take applications and have to wait eight or nine months to know if funding will be available.”
He said the working group needs to figure out how to vet multiple applications and determine which are funding priorities for the town.
The type of housing is also a factor. Citing a Wall Street Journal article, Mr. Stone said 25 percent of households are single-person households, but single bedroom units are not available.
“I would recommend that there be funding for single-bedroom units to accommodate that need, which is significant,” he said. “There are a lot of single-family detached homes on the Cape, but we don’t have a lot of housing for young people or retired people at the other end of the spectrum.”
Committee member Robert Brown noted the town needs funding for two and three-bedroom units as well. He said the town should consider purchasing land for affordable housing purposes.
“Would the town consider raising money through bonds to purchase large tracts of land for affordable housing to meet the needs of the community?” he asked.
Mr. Druley noted that the housing coordinator position plays a major role in this discussion.
“As this process grows, the housing coordinator will need to become a permanent position, and will likely need additional staff positions,” he said.
Currently, the housing coordinator position is funded with community preservation funds. Ms. Feroni’s three-year contract is slated to end in November 2020.
He noted that conversations about affordable housing need to consider more than just money.
“Housing is really complex, because it is not just about the money,” Mr. Druley said. “If it were just about money, we could solve it overnight, but it is about the density, it is about the locations, it is about the septic systems, it is about the nitrates. Lots of people want housing, but they don’t want it right next to them.”
The community preservation committee will discuss affordable housing further at its July 11 meeting.