WILLIAMSTOWN -- A consultant contracted to study the town's affordable housing needs will present his progress at Tuesday's Affordable Housing Committee meeting.
At Wednesday night's Affordable Housing Trust (AHT) meeting, trustee Catherine Yamamoto, who is also chair of the Affordable Housing Committee (AHC), told fellow trustees that they are invited to learn about the consultant's progress.
"We will be discussing with him what direction and shape the final report should take," Yamamoto said.
The AHC accepted the bid of John Ryan, of Amherst-based Development Cycles, at its Dec. 20, 2012 meeting. Ryan will conduct a housing needs assessment for $8,500, a cost that is being split between the AHC and AHT.
During a conference call at the AHC's meeting on Jan. 2, Ryan said the final report will address the levels of need that exist in the town, the different types of housing that are needed and the different groups of potential residents.
"That info provides a meaningful profile of the kind of need that exists in the community, and a sense of how that need is going to change over time," Ryan said during the call.
In an Oct. 13, 2012 Transcript article, Yamamoto said information in the needs assessment is required by developers and agencies that provide funding for housing projects.
Ryan will work with the latest federal census and the American Community Survey. He also said he would work with the town assessor to research current conditions and value of properties that could potentially have affordable housing units.
Yamamoto said she expects Ryan to present the final report in early April.
In other business, the AHT deferred to the AHC in applying for a mini-technical assistance grant. But Yamamoto said an AHC member could propose a project at the committee's meeting on Tuesday.
The nonprofit organization Citizens Housing and Planning Association is offering three to five grants of $2,500 to energize and mobilize local support for affordable housing, or to create affordable-housing opportunities. However, the application deadline of Wednesday, Feb. 13 is before the trust's next scheduled meeting, and trustees could not come to a consensus on to seek with their application.
AHT Chair Stanley Parese said he was more than happy for an AHC member to make a proposal for a grant application at the committee's Tuesday, Feb. 12 meeting.
The trust was also updated on environmental remediation at 59 Water St. Yamamoto said the environmental engineering firm O'Reilly, Talbot and Okun is proposing to remove contaminated soil at a cost of $15,000 within six weeks of the proposal being accepted. In October, the AHC voted to accept the same firm's proposal of $13,000 to investigate how to address the contamination from two underground fuel tanks that had leaked.
Parese said since the AHC has taken the lead on this, he would suggest the trust not become involved at this point.
"If your committee declines to assume this cost, and if that causes some immediate problem relative to larger affordable housing goals, we can respond to that," he said.
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