Click here to watch the educational forum on Financing Affordable Housing and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing in Newton, held on September 12, 2012 .The focus of the program was on the principal components of creating affordable housing and ensuring fair and equal opportunity to all housing in Newton, two interrelated and vital elements that ensures Newton continues to be a welcoming community for all persons.
Newton annually receives approximately $1.4 million in federal CDBG and HOME funds, which it utilizes to create, develop and preserve affordable housing developments. Newton is the lead city of the WestMetro HOME Consortium which provides funding and technical assistance to 12 municipalities, assisting member communities in meeting both their own and regional housing goals. In addition to Newton, the HOME Consortium communities include Bedford, Belmont, Brookline, Framingham, Lexington, Lincoln, Natick, Needham, Sudbury, Waltham and Watertown. Over the last 31 years, HOME and CDBG funds have been used in the development of 457 units of long-term, deed-restricted affordable housing, including units developed for people with special needs, families and the elderly.
Since FY06 began on July 1, 2005, the City has allocated $520,585 in CDBG and HOME program funds for three affordable housing development projects. The City provided Citizens for Affordable Housing in Newton Development Organization, Inc. (CAN-DO), Newton’s only Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO), with a total of $325,000 for these projects, which will add six affordable units to the community. The Falmouth and Jackson Road projects, now complete and fully occupied, are both two-family homes that have been rehabilitated to create affordable rental units. The Cambria Road project is also a two-family property that is being developed as two units of affordable rental housing. The project received $200,000 in CDBG funds to help CAN-DO acquire the property. All three projects were funded as part of the City’s 1-4 Family Purchase/Rehabilitation Program, which allows developers to go through a streamlined approval process and, therefore, access funding assistance in a more timely manner.
The Barry L. Price Rehabilitation Center received $178,050 in HOME funds to acquire two group homes to provide housing for nine low- and moderate-income individuals with severe mental retardation and physical disabilities.
The Pelham Housing project, which was developed by Community Living Network, Inc. (CLN), involved the acquisition and rehabilitation of the property at 45 Pelham Street to create ten affordable rental units for up to 12 low-income elders. Although the project was completed in FY05, $17,535 in FY06 HOME funds was allocated to the project to help fund an initial operating deficit reserve.
Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds are a resource for housing developers who produce affordable housing opportunities to persons at or below 100 percent of Boston area median income. During FY06, the Community Preservation Committee recommended $1.9 million in funding for three community housing projects that were approved and allocated funding by the Board of Aldermen. The projects—Covenant Residences, 11-13 Cambria Road and the Accessory Apartment Incentive Program—will result in the creation of 20 new housing units (15 homeownership and five rental units). Since enactment of the CPA, a total of $7.59 million has been allocated for community housing, resulting in more than 100 units created and/or in the planning and construction stages.
There are a number of legal and financial mechanisms that promote the construction of affordable housing. Newton was one of the first cities in the Commonwealth to enact an inclusionary zoning ordinance to require residential developers building six or more units to set aside a certain number as affordable to those earning no more than 80 percent of area median income. Since its adoption, the ordinance has resulted in the creation of 216 new affordable units, 82 of which, with only temporary use restrictions, have since been lost as affordable housing through conversion to market-rate units.
The ordinance was revised in 2003 to make it a more effective housing development tool. The revised inclusionary zoning ordinance, which was enacted in April 2003, increases the required percentage of affordable units from 10 percent to 15 percent in developments requiring a special permit. Under the new ordinance, inclusionary units may be either for rental or homeownership. Depending on the number and type of inclusionary units in a development, the area median income of qualifying households may range from 80 percent or less for rental to up to 120 percent for homeownership. Oxford House (391 Walnut Street), the city’s first inclusionary zoning project under the revised ordinance, has two homeownership units reserved for income-eligible first-time homebuyers.
For information on the inclusionary zoning ordinance and affordability, contact Elizabeth Valenta in the Housing Division at (617) 796-1145. The inclusionary zoning ordinance can be accessed through the link below.
Based on information published by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development on May 2, 2008, 7.6 percent of Newton’s Subsidized Housing Inventory is affordable to low- and moderate-income individuals and families. The Subsidized Housing Inventory is used to measure a community's stock of low-or moderate-income housing for the purposes of M.G.L. Chapter 40B, the Comprehensive Permit Law. State statue Chapter 40B Sections 20-23 requires cities and towns to have at least ten percent of all housing set aside as affordable. Chapter 40B provides a streamlined zoning review process for proposed housing developments in communities with less than ten percent affordable housing on the condition that 25 percent or more of the proposed units are reserved for low- or moderate-income households and are protected by long-term affordability restrictions. Non-compliance with Chapter 40B makes a community vulnerable to developments that may not conform to the community’s larger land use goals. Compliance with 40B through the provision of affordable housing allows a community to regain control of its planning function. While housing developed under Chapter 40B is eligible for inclusion on the inventory, many other types of housing also qualify to count toward a community's affordable housing stock. The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development updates the Subsidized Housing Inventory monthly. Go to http://www.mass.gov/Ehed/docs/dhcd/hd/shi/shiinventory.htm for the latest percentage.
For more information on Chapter 40B, contact the Planning and Development Department at (617) 796-1120.
The Newton Housing Authority manages more than 35 projects in Newton, containing 481 units of affordable housing. The Housing Authority has also been a catalyst for developments such as the Crescent Street development, which created eight first-time homebuyer units, as well as four affordable units for survivors of domestic violence. In 2005, the Housing Authority and CASCAP, Inc. completed work on an affordable housing development that created 34 units of affordable elderly housing. The Housing Authority also administers several hundred Section 8 housing vouchers which subsidize rental payments for eligible low-income individuals and families.
For more information, contact the Newton Housing Authority at 617-552-5501.