PROVINCETOWN — Providing affordable rental housing here for one underserved income group — those making 60 to 80 percent of the area median — is going to be a challenge.
At the third community forum on housing at the VFW site on Jerome Smith Road, held on Nov. 13, planning consultant JM Goldson presented a plan with only two units for tenants in that income bracket, even though that is the group citizens have named as most neglected in the current market.
Goldson explained that state and federal funding is mostly earmarked for those making less than 60 percent of area median income. Providing more units for higher-income residents would require additional funding sources.
The Nov. 13 meeting focused on how developers might respond to the directives the town will lay out in an upcoming request for proposals, and what the resulting proposals might look like. Goldson was careful to say she was presenting a concept of what might happen, and that the request for proposals itself will ultimately determine what developers submit.
The model she walked the group through was similar in physical design to those at earlier meetings but had a different mix of affordable and market-rate units.
Before the meeting Provincetown Community Housing Specialist Michelle Jarusiewicz explained to the Independent that affordable and community housing projects generally rely on a broad mix of funding sources, each with different strings attached. One bucket of funding might support eight lower-income apartments, while another bucket supports 10 community-rate apartments, and yet another pays for ADA-accessible or “workforce-rate” housing, she said. If the rents plus subsidies aren’t enough to cover costs, then market-rate units can be added, or the town itself can step in and offer its own alternative funding sources.
“Local Community Preservation Act money, for example, can be used for units at a higher income level than most state or federal money will cover,” said Jarusiewicz. “Essentially you’re putting together a puzzle, and the mix of funding sources you decide to use helps determine what you get at the end.”
One Way to Do It
The model that Goldson described at the most recent meeting was designed to keep the local contribution to the project as low as possible. It would require about a half-million-dollar contribution from the town, out of a total budget of around $11 million. (Specifically, the town would put in $785,000 and then recoup $250,000 by selling part of the lot for market-rate condos.)
The model includes one apartment building and a cluster of triplexes, in line with the scale and density preferences expressed at the first and second public forums. It offers 38 affordable rental apartments, all for tenants making less than 60 percent of area median income ($38,000 for a single person, $55,000 for a family of four). It also has four affordable deed-restricted condos, and five market-rate condos. Each unit would have one parking space.
Because it relies almost entirely on nonlocal funding, though, it has only two deed-restricted ownership condos for those making between 60 and 100 percent of area median income, and no rental housing for that bracket at all. (Area median income is $64,000 for a single person, $91,500 for a family of four.)
The market-rate condos, meanwhile, were added to this model chiefly to help make the overall numbers work, Goldson explained. Market-rate condos were not much discussed at the previous meetings.
“We were trying to keep the local funds down as much as we could,” said Goldson. “We wanted to maximize how much we could get from state and federal tax credits, and so we needed to keep [the units] at 60 percent. You could have more [higher-income units]; it just means it’s going to push the local funds up.
“When the town writes its request for proposals,” she added, “it’s going to be important to clarify, what are you really looking for on this site? How would you rank the proposals? You can shape the RFP to say lots of different things.”
The Underserved Bracket
All three of the forums have also included discussion of an eventual housing plan on the site of the current police station at 26 Shank Painter Road.
Goldson presented a model for that property as well, with 26 units of rental housing, all for persons making less than 60 percent of area median income.
Responses from the public to Goldson’s presentation varied.
At least two neighbors were concerned that the apartment building at the VFW site was too large for the neighborhood. A third citizen wanted more of an urban feel by reorienting the apartment building to face the street. A fourth was concerned that neighbors’ voices weren’t being heard.
Jarusiewicz repeated her concern about the lack of units for people in the 80 to 100 percent of median range. “I have an issue with that,” she said. “They need to be somewhere, if not in both projects.”
Select Board Chair Dave Abramson agreed. “Eighty to 100 percent is an underserved area in terms of housing, and I want to see more of that,” he said.