TRURO — Four committees — the town’s select board, planning board, housing authority, and conservation commission — all got a look at a draft version of Truro’s Five Year Housing Production Plan at a joint meeting on Dec. 5.
The town’s planning consultant on the project, Jenn Goldson, has been working with the five members of the housing authority since March to create the plan, which must also be approved by the state.
The plan lays out strategies for the town to reach compliance with the state’s Chapter 40B, which requires that 10 percent of every town’s year-round housing stock be affordable. Truro’s subsidized housing inventory currently stands at 2.29 percent, Goldson said — a total of 25 units. The town would need 109 more affordable units to meet the 10-percent goal.
“Having a housing plan,” Goldson said, “helps you have a road map for what to do each year.”
The presentation put some numbers on the extent of the crisis in market-rate housing. The median household income in Truro is $68,914 — an amount that is considered sufficient to afford a home that costs $255,000. But the median sale price of a single-family home in Truro is $1,387,500 — more than five times what a household with the median income in Truro could afford, Goldson reported.
As recently as 2016, median sale prices for a single-family home in Truro were holding steady at around $600,000, according to data from the Cape Cod and Islands Association of Realtors. Prices have almost doubled just since January 2021.
When Goldson and the housing authority asked people attending community focus groups in May, June, and September of this year to summarize the housing situation in Truro in one word, some of the most common responses were “Crisis,” “Nonexistent,” “Inadequate,” “Challenging,” and “NIMBY-ism,” Goldson told the boards.
Truro needs to add 260 year-round housing units by 2035 to meet community needs, according to Goldson. This should include 175 rental apartments and 85 home ownership units, she said.
Anne Greenbaum, chair of the planning board, asked for a clearer timeline on housing development. “I’d like to see it stated in the document a little more clearly that that’s the goal for 2035,” Greenbaum said, “not what we expect to do by 2027.”
The draft of the housing plan emphasizes the potential of the Walsh property, a 69.9-acre plot that the town acquired for $5.1 million in 2019. Tighe & Bond, the town’s consultants on the property, presented last month a list of four possible development scenarios for a 28.5-acre area on the property’s southwest corner. The options range from 57 to 210 housing units, with the fourth option also including 26,800 square feet of commercial space.
Goldson’s draft also proposes working with the Truro Conservation Trust to develop affordable housing, either through construction or conversion of existing buildings.
Larry Lown, a former conservation trust member, said that because “the Truro Conservation Trust is dedicated to the preservation of open land,” he didn’t see “how they could be of any help to this effort.”
Goldson responded that many conservation groups collaborate with nonprofit housing developers.
Lown also asked how the town could be sure that any newly developed affordable housing stays affordable. Goldson replied that affordable housing deed restrictions can be placed on the units.
Jack Riemer, the planning board clerk, suggested “refining the housing need to critical versus noncritical workers.” Local health-care workers are struggling to secure housing, he said.
Goldson said during the meeting that, following feedback and revisions, the draft would be submitted for select board and planning board approval. The state Dept. of Housing and Community Development requires that any plan be approved locally before it is submitted to the state.
Goldson’s timeline aimed to have the plan approved by mid-December or January.