PUTNEY >> The Affordable Housing Committee met Feb. 1 to discuss a proposed affordable housing project for the Newman Hall lot.
The housing project is located between Depot Street and Putney Landing Road, south of Curtis' All American Barbecue. The project would include a mix of family and smaller apartments for a total of 18 units with a combination of townhouses and accessible flats. The site plan was first presented at the Dec. 15 meeting, which showed three structures in a U-shaped arrangement around a south-facing courtyard. The Feb. 1 meeting was attended by Connie Snow, Executive Director of Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Bob Stevens of Stevens and Associates, who is the project civil engineer.
"We're really excited about what seems to be an opportunity to meet the needs of affordable housing in Putney" said Snow during a January interview.
The project is nearing the end of the preliminary design phase, and is considered "feasible," and a project information sheet was provided at the Feb. 1 meeting. Snow referenced a market study for the project by Doug Kennedy Advisors, which is focused on providing research, analyses and strategies to their clients' real estate issues.
The study indicates that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment with utilities in Putney is $940 per month. The rent with utilities for the proposed project is $525 to $600 per month for subsidized housing. A market rate unit would also be included with a rent and utilities at $697 per month. The proposed project rent for a two bedroom apartment would be $875 and for a three bedroom, $900. According to the study, the current average Putney rent for a two bedroom is $1,020 and $1,570 for a three bedroom.
WWHT develops affordable apartments throughout Windham and Windsor counties, and provides property management services and supportive services that seek to ensure long-term resident stability. WWHT recently completed the $2.4 million renovation of the Planz House, 27 Depot Road, into affordable apartments.
It has been proposed by the committee and WHHT that access would come from Putney Landing Road, not Depot Street, and that Newman Hall would be removed. Another feature that has been highlighted is that town water and sewer are available and the site is within walking distance of the village. The project may be "bundled" with the purchase of the structure of the Noyes House, which would operate as affordable housing. The Noyes House would be configured with four one-bedroom units in the main house, and three single-room occupancy units in an existing wing. According to Snow, WWHT has owned the Noyes House land for about 20 years and the building is owned by Putney Cares. No drawings of the Noyes House were presented at the meeting at the December or Feb. 1 meeting.
As stated in the Feb. 1 meeting minutes, Snow said Elizabeth Bridgewater, WWHT Director of Home Ownership, would visit with Vermont Affordable Housing Committee at a later date to discuss home ownership programs and support.
Project funding was briefly discussed at the meeting, which included a "likely" Community Development Block Grant that would require Selectboard approval, possibly in late Feb., for submittal in March. The timing of a CDBG grant application, a public information meeting, and a subsequent Selectboard hearing was reviewed and Snow agreed to provide Lyssa Papazian, AHC member, with proposed dates for CDBG grant deadlines ASAP to begin planning for public meetings and hearings. It was suggested at the meeting that Feb. 16 could be a possible public information presentation date.
Committee appointments were discussed and board member, Becky Coffey offered her resignation and was thanked by Committee for her involvement. Lyssa Papazian was elected chair and no clerk was selected.
Papazian suggested a Committee mission statement: "To promote the affordability of housing in Putney," and presented preliminary information about actions the Town may take in addition to promoting affordable rental units, such as accessory apartment programs, home repair and weatherization loans and grants, and possible pilot programs around affordability issues and home ownership. The discussion is to be continued at the next meeting on March 7.