Approximately 2.4 percent of the year-round housing in Truro is classified as affordable. This translates to 27 homes or apartments that are affordable for residents earning up to 80 percent of the area median income — far short of the 110 affordable units prescribed by the state.
These numbers are important because they represent 83 families who struggle to live here. Who are these families? They are your neighbors. They work for the town, take care of your property, bag your groceries, and provide critical home care services to our seniors and people with disabilities. They pay more than half of their income for rent, living in illegal and unsafe basements, and participating in the “Cape Cod shuffle,” going from winter rentals to campgrounds to friends’ couches.
Critiques of the Cloverleaf development have been plagued by misconceptions and misinformation. The Cloverleaf property was given to the town with the condition that it be used solely for housing. At least 25 percent of that housing must meet affordability guidelines. The property cannot be used for a public works facility.
The town received two proposals from developers, one from a nonprofit, and the other from the for-profit Community Housing Resource (CHR). The proposal from the nonprofit developer was approximately $1 million more expensive; it anticipated approximately $1.2 million in assistance from the town. CHR expected it would need approximately $500,000. Any profit earned by the developer is capped, using a formula imposed by the funding sources. CHR has a proven history of successfully developing affordable housing projects on Cape Cod, including Sally’s Way in Truro.
There was never a playground stipulated in the original request for proposals. The building with 15 units was anticipated in discussions before the release of the RFP as an ideal configuration for seniors wishing to downsize, age in place, and retain some proximity to their neighbors. There is no rental space in Truro that meets the needs of this growing demographic group.
Initially, preference will be given for 70 percent of the units to applicants who currently live or work in Truro or have children attending the Truro Central School. If Truro residents are not selected in the initial lottery, their application goes into the second general lottery. Recent lotteries in Provincetown and Eastham demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of applicants currently live on the Outer Cape.
Approximately half the units will be designated for families who make up to 60 percent of area median income (AMI). Six units will be for income levels of 60 to 80 percent of AMI, and six units up to 110 percent of AMI. The remainder will be market rate, with no income restrictions. This income mix reflects the needs of a healthy and diverse community.
As for nitrates and wastewater, the Cape Cod Commission states that “the wastewater plan is consistent with the Regional Policy Plan’s water resources objective and sufficiently addresses the potential impacts to drinking water resources.” I think we can put that issue to bed now.
The zoning board of appeals has had countless hours of public meetings on this application, has reviewed many documents, and has heard from the applicant and his staff, third-party technical consultants, and a large number of members of the public. Throughout this process the applicant has demonstrated patience, flexibility, and a willingness to work collaboratively to ensure the best possible outcome. I think that is to be commended.
Kevin Grunwald is chair of the Truro Housing Authority.