Comment period open for Amherst SRO project

Want to help shelter the homeless in Amherst? The Town of Amherst has created a web site for the project at 132 Northampton Road (Rte 9) at www.amherstma.gov/3520. A comment period is now open, specifically to address the project’s eligibility for state funding. This site also includes documents and supporting information for this project.

Background Information

The League supported this project for Single Room Occupancy apartments last summer; the project now needs individual statements of support to be sent for state funding.

You can submit comments

  • from the town’s website, under the "Project Eligibility" section;
  • by sending an email to the Planning Department, or
  • on paper, addressed to Christine Brestrup, Planning Director, Town of Amherst, 4 Boltwood Avenue, Amherst, MA 01002.

The Valley Community Development Corporation (the developer of the project) has applied under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program for preliminary approval of the proposed Studio Apartment Supportive Housing at 132 Northampton Road project in Amherst. The Department of Housing and Community Development must solicit comments from the public during a 30-day period. That comment period began on January 31.

Helpful Information

The statement below was the one the League presented in favor of this project in May of 2019. Please feel free to adapt this with your own thoughts.

I am writing on behalf of the League of Women Voters to urge your positive support for the $500,000 earmarked by the CPAC for the project at 132 Northampton Road at your May 23 meeting.

The League of Women Voters has a long history of supporting policies and legislation that provide provisions for low-and-moderate income housing and a suitable living environment affordable for all. LWV of Amherst has carefully followed the development of this particular proposal. After several years of public meetings and forums, and an intense search for a suitable mixed-use location, we believe that the Valley Community Development Corporation’s project to create 28 studio-size units with related services, to provide stability of place to our lowest income individuals, the working poor, as a positive direction for local housing needs heretofore unavailable in Amherst. Further, the League supports the renovation of existing houses whenever possible, another component of the VCDC’s project.

Your positive vote on the CPAC's funding will demonstrate a significant investment in our Town’s needed affordable housing, as well as moving this proposal to the next steps in the process: determinations by the ZBA and the public hearings to follow.

[Signed by Adrienne Terrizzi for the League of Women Voters of Amherst.]

See also this background article prepared by League member Elisa Campbell last summer. To summarize from that article:

We have long known that housing has become prohibitively expensive for many people in the country, our state, and our community. Recent studies have put numbers on how bad the discrepancy between incomes and housing costs have become. In Massachusetts, the fair market rent for a one bedroom apartment is $1,425 a month; someone working at minimum wage ($12 an hour) would have to work 91 hours a week to afford that rent. Or somehow earn $27.41 an hour. Fair market rent for a studio apartment is $1,272; that tenant needs to earn $24.46 an hour. Those hourly wages mean annual incomes of $57,000 or $51,000 respectively. We all know there are many many people who do not earn anywhere near that amount. The estimated median income for renter households in Massachusetts is $45,209.

Elisa is the League's liaison with the Amherst Affordable Housing Coalition.

Information from the Town's Website

The Department of Housing and Community Development notified the Town of Amherst on Friday, January 31st that Valley Community Development Corporation had applied under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program for preliminary approval of the proposed Studio Apartment Supportive Housing at 132 Northampton Road project in Amherst. The project will include 28 small studio apartments affordable to extremely low to low income individuals, with support services provided on site.

The 30-day review period began Friday, January 31, 2020. Any comments made during this time will be considered by the Department of Housing and Community Development prior to their issuance of a project eligibility determination.

There is also a list of the eligibility criteria to be considered under the eligibility tab.

Tags: