Olympia Oaks 42 units now count towards town's Subsidized Housing Index
Amherst town officials can now breath a sigh of relief over our Subsidized Housing Index score. A letter from Department of Housing and Community Development to Assistant Town Manager Dave Ziomek brought the good news:
After inclusion of Olympia Oaks 42 units, our SHI stands at 11.18%, up from the last official count of 10.8%.
When a municipality falls below 10% they are subject to the dreaded Chapter 40B, meaning a developer can ride in on a bulldozer and build pretty much whatever housing they wish, as long as 25% of the units are "affordable."
Last spring Town Meeting threw $1.25 million (using Community Preservation Act money) at the problem by giving the money to Beacon Communities to help purchase Rolling Green Apartments for $30.25 million, thereby preserving 41 of 204 units as affordable.
But a quirk in the bureaucracy allows all 204 Rolling Green units to be counted as "affordable" even though only 41 are.
That alone is what saved the town from falling below the magic 10% threshold, because even with Olympia Oaks 42 new units, the loss of 204 Rolling Green units would have brought the town down to only 9%.
Town Manager John Musante recently stated, "Affordable housing is one of the community's highest priorities for this coming Town Meeting."
Of course now that the threat of a Ch40B development is buried, it will be interesting to see if affordable housing maintains its place as a "highest priority."