As of this week, Chilmark has taken a step to make its affordable housing more accessible.
In their regular meeting Tuesday night, Chilmark selectmen unanimously voted to adopt new implementation guidelines created by the Chilmark housing committee for homesite and rental properties in the town.
The new guidelines increase by $50,000 the net worth an applicant can have to be considered for a homesite lot or a rental unit. Previously, applicants needed a net worth of $40,000, the base price of land, to be eligible. The new guidelines allow an applicant to have a net worth of $50,000 above the base land price, or a total net worth of $90,000, to be considered, broadening the range of who can qualify for affordable housing in the town.
The new guidelines also streamline the application process for both homesite lots and rental units in the town.
Under the old guidelines, applicants filed an application and relevant financial information, then remained on a waiting list regardless of housing availability. Christina Soulagnet, administrative assistant to the housing committee and the planning board, said this week the list had about 30 names. The list had long existed, however, and she said those on it could have left the Island, received other housing, or seen their financial information significantly change.
Housing committee chairman Andy Goldman said: “We had people going through an elaborate procedure of qualifying. It was disappointing to people participating and ultimately not helpful. It didn’t save time or effort.”
Under the new guidelines, applications will be accepted only when a lot or unit is available. “Hopefully we’ve made it a little easier to follow all the way around and more consistent,” Mr. Goldman said.
The housing committee expects to use the new guidelines in the near future. Town boards are working on three projects which would make available a total of 17 affordable housing units. They include six rental units and six homesite housing lots planned as part of the Middle Line Affordable Housing project, four homesite lots for lease through the recently arranged Hillman land swap, and a 2.1-acre homesite lot off Old Farm Road. Mr. Goldman said the Old Farm Road parcel, called the Bussink lot, is the most imminent.
“The fruits and results of all of this effort is starting to come together and I am hopeful that 2008 will be a fruitful year for affordable housing,” Mr. Goldman said. “We have quite a few units for a little town like ours.”