Housing Coordinator for the Town of Falmouth
Location: Town Hall
Applicant: Town of Falmouth
Year/Article: November 2016, A31and A15
In November 2016, Town Meeting voted to create a Housing Coordinator position for the Town of Falmouth and appropriated $300,000 from the CPFund to the Falmouth Affordable Housing Fund, as recommended by the Community Preservation Committee, to cover the salary and benefits for approximately 80 percent of that position for three years. At the time, the significant shortage of affordable housing in Falmouth was being widely recognized by town government, the Chamber of Commerce, civic groups, churches and other Falmouth residents for the ways such a shortage limited and blocked the Town’s economic, cultural, and social vitality. Moreover, developers of affordable housing both local and from elsewhere were requesting that the town provide more friendly, transparent, and streamlined support for the development process, including planning, permitting, and funding. Some felt that the absence of such support and process efficiency was keeping 40B developers away from working in Falmouth, a loss because 40B developments include affordable units and all of each development’s units count toward the town’s affordable housing inventory. Should a town reach the 10 percent goal for affordable housing, the town acquires the authority to reject an unwelcome 40B project without appeal to the Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee.
The Department of Housing and Community Development had been encouraging Massachusetts towns – almost all of which were failing to meet their housing needs – to implement plans for achieving an affordable housing rate of at least ten percent of total housing. However, in 2016, less than six percent of Falmouth housing was affordable, a difficulty greatly amplified by the high proportion of seasonal homes and apartments. To meet the ten percent goal, Falmouth would have needed to add seventy-three units per year since 2009, but from 2011 to 2016 only twenty-two additional units had been developed, all by local developers: Falmouth Housing Corporation (11), Falmouth Housing Trust (7), and The Resource Inc. (TRI) (3).
The work of a housing coordinator includes multiple approaches to increasing and maintaining a town’s affordable housing by coordinating town responsibilities and functions, supporting developers, and taking proactive measures to increase affordable housing. These approaches include the following:
- Identify housing needs by income cohort and housing type.
- Identify and facilitate the use of town property for affordable housing.
- Identify and promote the adaptive re-use of existing structures for affordable housing.
- Administer the Falmouth Affordable Housing Fund.
- Support developers through the affordable housing planning, permitting, and funding process.
- Identify homes for buy-down purchase, rehabilitation, and resale as affordable in perpetuity.
- Monitor, renew as necessary, and enforce restrictions on current affordable homes and apartments.
- Develop additional sources of funding for affordable housing.
- Provide rental assistance to income qualified individuals and families to ensure affordability of units.
Town Management planned for the housing coordinator to be part of the newly formed Community Development Department, a department designed to increase the efficiency of town government, especially in response to developers’ requests for a town government more supportive of and proactive for Falmouth economic development. The housing coordinator would be the first person hired for the Department, a department expected to be fully operative during Fiscal Year 2018.