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Berkshires Show Lack of Low-Income Housing

According to Massachusetts’ Affordable Housing Law, every community in the Commonwealth has an obligation to develop ways to provide 10% of their housing stock available to moderate and low income families. Many areas of Berkshire County are well below that goal.

Leaders in Williamstown are currently working in ways to provide that housing. In a meetingscheduled for tomorrow evening the town’s Affordable Housing Committee, the Williamstown Housing Authority, the Williamstown League of Women Voters, and Higher Ground will be come together and invite town residents to share information on community housing solutions.

Catherine Yamamoto, executive director of the Affordable Housing Committee says that one goal of the meeting is to focus efforts on creating a community affordable housing trust…

Williamstown currently participates in the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act, under which town residents pay a 2% real estate tax that goes directly towards efforts like preserving open space, creating recreational use land, historical preservation, or developing affordable housing.

Adding to the need for publicly supported affordable housing in Williamstownwas the August destruction of the Spruces mobile home park. Higher Ground, non-profit focused on finding replacement housing for flood victims, is also co-hosting the housing meeting. Robin Lenz, Coordinator for Higher Ground, said that even months after the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Irene, less than a third of residents at the Spruces have been able to reclaim their homes.

Southern Berkshire County also has its own problems providing affordable housing. Tim Geller, executive director of the Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire explains…

CDC South Bershire is a nonprofit that coordinates efforts with state and local governments to develop affordable housing and look for ways to promote good paying permanent jobs.

Geller says that the economy of Southern Berkshire County is divided.

Last month, Governor Deval Patrick signed House Bill 3963, “An Act Relative to Community Housing and Services.” The legislation will promote supportive housing for the homeless, elderly, and individuals with disabilities. The law would work to create up to 1,000 unites of supportive housing by the end of 2015 across the state.

The meeting will be held at the Williams Inn on Tuesday, April 3 at 7pm.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.