WILLIAMSTOWN -- Town officials are looking for more ways to create housing affordable for residents through examining a variety of grant and mortgage programs.
Affordable Housing Committee (AHC) member Charles Bonenti said he, along with members Van Ellet and Leigh Short, have begun researching options for the committee, the Affordable Housing Trust (AHT) and residents.
"We've begun sifting through a number of government grant programs and mortgage programs that might benefit the affordable housing initiatives we might want to start," Bonenti said at Tuesday's meeting of the Affordable Housing Committee.
He added they have gotten some help from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and also contacted local banks to learn about lending programs.
"We're at a point where we have a workable list of programs," Bonenti said. "We're going to start delving a little deeper and get more information on eligibility for these programs, amounts of money that are available and other requirements."
He suggested these funds could help the AHT financially.
"I think it's ideal for them and also it brings in other sources of money, besides the Community Preservation Act funds," he said. The awarded funds would have different requirements, he added, making their use much more flexible.
Bonenti said one initiative he'd like to see Williamstown's AHT take up is a first-time home buyer assistance program. The AHT in Lenox
Chairwoman Cathy Yamamoto suggested Bonenti bring additional information, including literature about the specific programs, to the next meeting.
Some discussion also surrounded succession planning. As each member is appointed to the committee by the Selectmen for a one-year term, each member's term is up in July, Yamamoto said. She added current members should consider whether they will continue to serve, and whether the committee should be increased from a total of six members to seven.
Yamamoto added that after serving as chair for two years, she believes she should step down and give someone else a chance.
In other business, the committee approved $6,700 for removing contaminated soil at the former town garage site at 59 Water St., a site being considered for affordable housing.
The engineering firm hired to perform tests at the site, O'Reilly, Talbot and Okun Associates, requires a total of $15,850 to move forward, Yamamoto said. At a meeting on Feb. 12, the committee voted to approve $9,150, she explained, but never approved an additional $6,700 to cover the disposal of contaminated soil and a disposal fee imposed by the state's Department of Environmental Protection.
Committee members unanimously approved the funds for work, which Yamamoto said would be completed in a period of six weeks.
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