Vol. III No. 1 1/1/2022
Notes from the Housing Trust, December 15, Hybrid meeting
- Jay Bikofsky, Chair
- Tom Sharpe
- Mark Mills
- Nancy Socha
- Patrick White, Select Board
- Michael Canales, Town Administrator
- Minutes from the last meeting approved as written.
- Chair: opened discussion, what can a housing trust do?
- Financial support for affordable housing built by private developer
- Rehabilitation and repair of houses that could be converted to affordable housing (e.g., tax delinquent and/or deteriorating)
- Develop surplus land
- Grants to first-time home buyers for down payment (generally repaid when sold)
- Obstacles: real estate market in Stockbridge very high priced
- Canales said the median priced house is $489,000 — about double the cost of houses in other parts of the county.
- White said there was a "sweet spot"; Habitat for Humanity can build houses for about $250,000 and then the Trust can help first-time home buyers to purchase them.
- There was a suggestion to expand Pine Woods (an affordable housing development) –White said a change in federal policy requires such a development have 50 units to qualify for maintenance funding and Pine Woods has 32 units. White mentioned Pine Woods was surrounded by wetlands.
- Chair proposed that the committee invite representatives from the Bridge Street development in Great Barrington and the proposed Brushwood Development in Lenox to discuss obstacles and successes in affordable housing projects.
- Mills asked how many properties were available (unpaid taxes or deterioration) that Town could take over and develop. Canales answered — right now only Sammy's garage on Rte. 7 — "not much in residential areas".
- Mills feared no one wanted to build low-cost housing in this market. White again mentioned partnership with Habitat for Humanity and how they keep costs down with donated labor as well as donated and recycled materials
- Socha and Mills agreed 4-acre zoning may be a problem in developing lower cost housing.
- Canales said Stockbridge has the required 10% low-cost housing and so there is no mandate to develop more
- Chair suggested plan:
- Step one — identify possible building sites
- Step two — identify tax lien properties ("in tax title")
- Step three — consider possible bylaw to reduce acreage requirement to build lower cost housing
- Invite someone from Lenox to speak to committee about their experience
- Have a warrant item ready by April for May Town Meeting to set up the Housing Trust
Photo: Jay Rhind