John Page: Supports East Street School project

  • The East Street School in Amherst. TOWN OF AMHERST

Friday, April 05, 2019

There is a well-demonstrated need for housing production, and specifically affordable housing, in Amherst. While the population of Amherst rose dramatically over the past 40 years, neither on- nor off-campus housing production has kept pace. In fact, the number of housing units in Amherst remained nearly static from 1980-2010.

Increasing demand paired with sluggish growth in housing supply dramatically inflated housing prices, making Amherst an increasingly unaffordable place to live. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 57 percent of renter-households are cost-burdened or severely cost-burdened, meaning they spend greater than 30 percent and 50 percent of their income on housing, respectively.

The East Street School affordable housing project is just one piece of the puzzle to address this problem. With at least 15 units affordable to households at 60 percent AMI (area-median-income) and at least 10 percent of units affordable to households at 30 percent AMI, this development will begin to address the housing crisis we face.

The location of the project, in the East Amherst Village Center, is walkable, connected to public transportation, close to schools, shopping, and places of worship. It is ideally situated to ensure the greatest access and quality of life to future tenants.

Town Meeting supported this project. Town residents support this project. Many town councilors expressed support for this project during their campaigns. Now the council must do its part to move the project forward.

The proposal, created by the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust through professional consultants, has already been vetted by the planning department, town manager, procurement office, and town attorneys. Delaying this project increases costs and reduces the likelihood of the project being realized. Therefore, I implore the council to display leadership by supporting this project and sending the strong message that affordable housing is an important priority in our community.

John Page