Over the next two years, the Falmouth Housing Corporation hopes to add 20 single-bedroom units of workforce housing on Gifford Street, with consulting from Affirmative Investments. The units will be rented at affordable rates. Small, affordable units for local workers have been a consistent need in the town of Falmouth. The board of Selectmen Chairwoman Susan Moran called the proposal “a great move forward for Falmouth.” The project will be built in two phases, and monthly rents will range from $808 to $1,150, depending on the applicants income. All utilities are included in the rent. FHC submitted an application to the Department of Housing and Community Development seeking funding for Phase 1, which calls for 10 units in two buildings and is estimated to cost $2.5 million. The selectmen and Community Preservation Committee agreed to pitch in $650,000 from the town’s affordable housing fund last week. The board acts as the fund’s trustees. infrastructure for the whole project, including a septic system. Phase 2 is expected to cost less.
NEWS & VIEWS
Little Pond Place will bring 40 affordable housing units to town.
FALMOUTH — State officials praised the community for its strong commitment to providing affordable housing during a Tuesday tour of the construction site for a 40-unit project slated to open next year.
“It takes incredible collaboration of state, local, nonprofit organizations and developers,” said Michael Kennealy, Massachusetts secretary of economic development.
Located on Spring Bars Road, Little Pond Place will offer 15 one-bedroom, 21 two-bedroom and four three-bedroom units, spread across four buildings on land to the west of Little Pond.
The area is on town water and sewer lines and situated near Falmouth’s commercial center.
All 40 units will be affordable, with most of them rented to those whose yearly salaries are less than 60 percent of the area’s median income — or a maximum of $54,900 for a family of four — according to figures from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Four units will be restricted to those whose incomes fall below 30 percent of the area’s median, or $27,450 for a family of four.
Housing is hard to find on the Cape, said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who noted that second homes gobble up a large percentage of the region’s available stock.
“With the second-home dynamic, it makes it far more challenging to find workforce housing,” Polito said.
Falmouth has two affordable housing initiatives underway.
The Little Pond Place project, along with plans for 10 new affordable units on Gifford Street, “serves as an example of what we need throughout the commonwealth,” Polito said.
Getting Little Pond Place to where it is today was not an easy task.
Selectman Samuel Patterson said it remains a challenge to overcome prejudices related to such housing. The phrase “affordable housing” still draws to mind the image of massive high-rises, and sometimes still results in “not in my backyard” backlash.
“Every time a project comes before the zoning board, there’s a huge uproar,” Patterson said. “We have to work on that.”
Debate over the Spring Bars Road property has been going on since 2006, when the land was privately owned. A developer had proposed a 168-unit rental project under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing laws, but the plan did not get local support.
In 2010, the property owner agreed to sell the 21 acres to the town for $3 million. Much of the cost was covered by Community Preservation Act funding and a state grant.
Under Community Preservation Act restrictions, the site would be used for affordable housing and open space. A little over 11 of the 21 acres has been designated for housing.
The Community Preservation Committee led a planning process that included community input and a site study by the Cape Cod Commission.
After inviting proposals from developers, the town in 2016 selected Boston-based Affirmative Investments and the nonprofit Falmouth Housing Corp.
Concerns from the planning department over the site’s proximity to a nearby flood plain was addressed by the addition of tons of fill to elevate the property.
Tara Mizrahi, vice president of Affirmative Investments, said her company is no stranger to Falmouth, nor to its partner on the Little Pond Place project.
“This is our sixth project with the Falmouth Housing Corp.,” she said.
The town will enter into a land lease with Falmouth Housing Corp., which will manage the site once it is built.
Construction on the 10 units on Gifford Street, which also will be managed by Falmouth Housing Corp., is set to begin in September. Construction of an additional 10 units will begin when the first phase is built.