Chair, Concord Housing Development Corp., volunteer nonprofit created by the town to increase affordable housing
Over the years, the Concord Housing Development Corp. has pursued many projects in support of its mission to help the town maintain and increase housing for people of diverse incomes.
After many years of concerted effort by our state legislators and others, a 12-acre land parcel behind MCI Concord was transferred from the state to our corporation. Deed restrictions require the land to be used only for affordable housing or open space. In light of this limitation, we solicited interest from affordable housing developers and obtained 12 proposals.
After public input, the corporation recommended an affordable assisted living project be pursued on the land. Since the Junction Village Affordable Assisted Living Project was proposed in 2014, it has been the subject of numerous public meetings. The proposal – to create 83 assisted living apartments for seniors of low and moderate incomes – will come before Town Meeting this spring with a request for a local commitment of “free cash” and Community Preservation Act funds. At recent Finance Committee hearings, information was provided that Concord’s contribution to the project was well within its financial means.
Junction Village is an integral part of Concord’s commitment to keep the town affordable for seniors. In particular, it would meet a need for affordable assisted living. Concord has more than 3,500 residents over 65 today, and the number is projected to rise to 6,100 by 2030. Currently, more than 600 Concord residents over 65 would qualify for affordable housing.
Additionally, Junction Village will ensure that through 2030 the town does not fall below the state standard of having at least 10 percent of its housing included in the town’s “subsidized housing inventory.” Should the town fail to meet that threshold, residential developers could seek to override its zoning and land use rules.
The town’s track record of expanding affordable housing earned it a “housing hero” award from the Massachusetts Housing Partnership in 2016. However, the town cannot sit on its laurels and expect that state will bend the rules if it does not continue to meet its goals. Junction Village promises to be a win, win, win. Our corporation looks forward to making sure and steady progress toward its approval.
Longtime Concord resident
Concord supports affordable housing. Only about 50 of Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns have achieved the state standard of having 10 percent of their housing affordable. Concord is proud to be one of them. What follows is not about affordable housing. It is about fiscal and community responsibility.
Junction Village, which would be built and owned by the for-profit Grantham Group working in cooperation with Concord Housing Development Corporation, does not deserve Concord’s 2017 Town Meeting financial support for five reasons:
1. This affordable assisted living project was initiated and planned in closed meetings without public input.
2. Town Meeting is asked to appropriate $1 million of Concord funds to this development plus $350,000 of its 2017 Community Preservation Act funds, and with the expectation that $650,000 additional CPA funds would go toward this project in the next two years. This makes a total contribution of $2 million in addition to land already contributed for the facility. Is this the last request for money? No one knows.
3. Grantham is committing $800,000 in cash equity to a similar development in Scituate. There will be no Grantham cash equity in Concord’s Junction Village. While Grantham will receive revenue and limited profits from Junction Village, there is no financial benefit to Concord.
4. It is unclear if there will be any preference for Concord residents since state permission is required. And any preference could be for only the initial rental round. That is all.
5. Town officials claim a main benefit to Concord will be meeting its 10 percent affordable housing requirement through 2030, and would thus not be vulnerable during those years to an “unfriendly 40B.” Other towns view a 40B as an opportunity for discussion and negotiation. Concord officials react in near panic. State real estate statistics show this fear of 40B projects to be overblown.
Junction Village would provide no air conditioning for residents’ rooms and would offer only a dispiriting view of the back of a state prison and an industrial park. Is this what you would want for your aging seniors? Is this the best that Concord can do?
Last week’s Argument: Should the state adopt legislation banning the use of Native-American symbols for mascots?
Yes: 88.41 percent (61 votes)
No: 11.59 percent (8 votes)
As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at email@example.com.