A passion for equity drove Falmouth resident and chief operating officer for Mizar Imaging in Woods Hole, 32-year-old Onjale Scott Price, to join the affordable housing committee a year and a half ago.
“Accessible, safe and affordable housing is really about justice and equity, which I am very passionate about,” Ms. Price said. “I want to be part of making my community one where every person has a home that is safe, and meets their physical and financial abilities.”
At the end of last month, Ms. Price became the chairwoman of a new subcommittee of the affordable housing committee, which its eight members are calling a “revenue working group.”
This group is charged with finding more revenue for the affordable housing committee. Currently, she said, the group is evolving.
“This subcommittee is very new and we are working on how to move forward,” Ms. Price said. “What would a plan look like? How do we take what we know we need and turn that into an actual working plan?”
“We need to have a plan so that if we ask the town for money, or write grants, or ask for money from members of the community, they will know exactly how the money will be used,” she said.
Deciding upon appropriate housing sites and addressing zoning and water treatment issues, which are a “big deal in Falmouth,” must go with finding more revenue, she said.
The revenue working group’s intention is to follow the 2018 Town of Falmouth Housing Production Plan, a 200-page update to the 2009 version, outlining affordable housing needs and challenges, Ms. Price said.
“The document states how much housing needs to be created each year and we need to figure out how to do that,” she said.
“Falmouth now has to produce at least 74 affordable units annually to meet annual production goals, a formidable challenge,” the housing production plan states.
The affordable housing committee revenue working group is composed of several affordable housing committee members, in addition to others who represent a range in age and length of time residing in the area and including one developer, all of whom are interested in forming a committee to make this (affordable housing) a “real thing,” Ms. Price said.
“We have diverse voices in the group,” she said.
At this week’s meeting, the revenue working group will decide how to move forward. The group will create a skeleton outline of potential revenue sources for affordable housing and a list of potential parcels or ways to use old buildings, Ms. Price said.
The outline will take a look at what is feasible, and what a timeline would look like, she said.
“We will ask ourselves, ‘Can we feasibly do this? Or do we need to hire a consultant to form a plan for us?’” she said.
“This group’s goal is to create an implementation plan, building on our 2018 Housing Production Plan, to meet the housing need in our community,” she said. “By chairing this working committee group, I am being a part of making my hope for a more equitable and just Falmouth a reality.”
Affordable housing committee chairman W. Edward Curley weighed in on Ms. Price’s new role with the revenue working group.
“I was thrilled when Onji volunteered to chair the AHC’s working group to explore additional sources of income for the Falmouth Affordable Housing Fund. It is so important that our town build new workforce housing so that young families can afford to live where they work,” he said.
“Onji knows firsthand what a challenge this can be, and her dedication to helping improve the situation is both impressive and heartening for the future of our community.”