Nancy Gregg: Candidates differ on affordable housing

Thursday, October 25, 2018
Candidates differ on affordable housing

Amherst has an affordable housing problem. Nearly every candidate running for Town Council says they support affordable housing. But we need councilors who won’t just talk the talk, but who will walk the walk and support real solutions. In District 4, where I live, there are very real differences between candidates in their support for affordable housing.

Consider the two strongest tools Amherst has to increase affordable housing. One is the inclusionary zoning bylaw, which requires large new housing developments to include affordable units. The second is the affordable housing property tax credit, which offers an incentive to developers to create affordable units and was responsible for the recent creation of 26 affordable units in north Amherst. These policies passed Town Meeting by large margins, and were supported by a range of groups from the Amherst Affordable Housing Trust Fund to the Amherst League of Women Voters.

As a Town Meeting member, Steve Schreiber supported both these policies. Evan Ross has spoken repeatedly of his support for them in person and on his website. But as a Town Meeting member Jacqueline Maidana voted against both of these policies. Looking at the Town Council election, it is hard for me to reconcile Jacqueline’s claim of supporting affordable housing with her opposition to two of Amherst’s best affordable housing tools. When it comes to candidates supporting real solutions on housing and not just offering platitudes, Steve Schreiber and Evan Ross have my vote.

Nancy Gregg