Chelmsford Housing Authority stakeholder comments


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Chelmsford Housing Authority
David Hedison's letter to the Oak Hill Study Committee - 5/24/12

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Chelmsford Housing Authority stakeholder comments

  1. 1. Chelmsford Housing Authority 10 Wilson Street Chelmsford, Massachusetts 01824 –3160 DAVID J. HEDISON Executive Director LISA SINGLETON Office AdministratorMay 24, 2012Oak Hill Study CommitteeTown of Chelmsford50 Billerica RoadChelmsford, MA 01824Re: Input from the Chelmsford Housing AuthorityDear Members:I have prepared this letter in the event that I am not able to attend this evenings meeting. I have been caringfor my mother-in-law that is in her final days of hospice. I would like to offer the following information toyour committee based upon my understanding of some of the concerns and questions raised by thecommunity.Interest by the Chelmsford Housing AuthorityFor the record, the Chelmsford Housing Authority has no plans for the Oak Hill Site or any adjacentproperties. This decision was based on the results of a feasibility study conducted through the Town ofChelmsford in conjunction with the Mass Housing Partnership. Absent additional studies or information,our organization has no interest. Beyond this, as a member of the Community Preservation Committee, Iwas made aware that two home owners submitted letters to the Town about two years ago indicating a desireto sell their property. The two addresses were 3 and 10 Oak Hill Road. To my knowledge, nothing hastranspired with their requests.Developments by the CHA and CHOICE Inc. and Tax RevenueThe Chelmsford Housing Authority does not pay any property taxes on the units owned by the CHA. Nordoes that Chelmsford Housing Authority receive any local funds for the operations of those units. All unitsdeveloped through our non-profit are tax exempt and do not pay any property taxes.Tax Revenue and Infrastructure Costs for Privately Developed UnitsAffordable housing is also built by private developers that are subject to property tax. For example,Kensington and Princeton Commons have developed affordable housing in Chelmsford. Kensington isassessed at $17,000,000 and Princeton Commons is assessed at $12,500,000. Any development constructed TEL# 978-256-7425 x16 TDD# 978-256-7425 FAX# 978-256-1895 Email:
  2. 2. by a private developer would be subject to paying property taxes based upon the assessment by the Town.The costs for infrastructure improvements are typically the responsibility of the developer.Disposition of Units at Pickwick EstatesSome questions have been raised by members of the community as to why the Chelmsford HousingAuthority sold five condominiums at Pickwick Estates if the is such a demand for housing. These five unitswere State Public Housing units designated for elderly or disabled individuals. These were all two bedroomsand lacked any accessibility for elders or individuals with disabilities. All of them had stairs and were notdesigned for that targeted population. The average rent was below $300 a month and the high condo feecoupled with the utility bills and on-going maintenance needs we taking valuable State Housing Resourcesaway from our three elderly developments. The Chelmsford Housing Authority replaced these five units atPickwick Estates with five handicapped accessible units at the CHOICE Center in N. Chelmsford. We didnot eliminate units – we replaced them with units that were appropriate for the population they weredesigned to serve. The MA Department of Housing and Community Development has committed theproceeds from the sale of these five units to the new veterans housing on Manahan Street. At the end of theday, we have created five units for seniors that are accessible and will also have eight new units for veterans.The five condominiums have returned to the tax roll of the Town.Need for Affordable Housing in ChelmsfordThe Affordable Housing Master Plan identified over 25% of the Chelmsford Residents earning less than 50%of median income and over 20% of the renters paying more than 50% of their income towards rent. Basedupon the high cost of housing in Chelmsford and the rent burden on Chelmsford Residents, additionalaffordable housing options are needed. Currently we have over 1,000 applicants waiting for rental subsidiesclaiming a Chelmsford preference – either living or working in Chelmsford. In addition, we have over 100Chelmsford Seniors waiting for elderly housing. The average wait for a Chelmsford senior is one to threeyears.Exploring OptionsIf a community is considering the potential of developing housing on a parcel of land, there is exists aprocess to determine if it may be a viable option. The Town of Chelmsford could draft a Request forProposals (RFP) indicating that there is an area of land that the town may consider developing for housing.The town may clearly define the parameters of the RFP. The town could state that private developers maysubmit a proposal for the development of units in which all infrastructure costs are borne 100% by thedeveloper. The town would have the right to reject any proposals if they feel the responses do not meet thecriteria outlined. The RFP could state that no more than 15% of the land may be developed with theremainder being placed in conservation or for recreational use. This option may allow a third party to buildparking to improve access to conservation land without using Town funds. Conversely, this process mayshow that there is no viable housing option on the site.Land SwapThe Chelmsford Housing Authority is aware of some preliminary discussions regarding a land swap. Again,the Chelmsford Housing Authority and our non-profit affiliate CHOICE, Inc. has no plans to develop on OakHill or any land adjacent to Oak Hill. However, if a land swap provides an option that has fewer limitationsand impediments, it may make sense for this to be considered. If the Town was to receive a more accessibleparcel, an RFP process could then take place.The Chelmsford Housing Authority recognizes the needs for affordable housing in Chelmsford to serve thefamilies, seniors and disabled residents that call this community home. We are committed to working with TEL# 978-256-7425 x16 TDD# 978-256-7425 FAX# 978-256-1895 Email:
  3. 3. the Town and the residents in meeting the needs of a diverse community. We have not sought any easementsor options to purchase land adjacent to Oak Hill. We remain committed to the Town and the Oak HillCommittee to decide on what they believe to be the best use of the property.Thank you for allowing me to provide this information to you. If you would like any additional informationyou may email me at or contact my office.Sincerely yours,David J. HedisonExecutive Director TEL# 978-256-7425 x16 TDD# 978-256-7425 FAX# 978-256-1895 Email: