Amherst Affordable Housing

asked all candidates to answer the four questions below.  My answers are highlighted in yellow.

1. During the past year the Select Board included the following in its priorities for long range planning for the Town Manager: “Supporting the preservation, maintenance and creation of housing that is safe, decent, and affordable for low- and moderate-income individuals and families”.

Do you support continuing to make this a Town priority?

Yes I would support this priority.  The difficulty will be to measure this priority relative the numerous other town wide priorities.  My record at Town Meeting will show that my support for social service priorities in general has exceeded that of the town and prior Select Boards.  It is important that the Town Manager and town staff are devoting an appropriate amount of their time researching and attending to these needs.  Primary guidance and coordination will come from the Amherst Affordable Housing Trust.

2. The Trust anticipates needing the support and/or approval of the Town Council in the following three areas during the coming calendar year:

  • Release of an RFP to allow a small, affordable housing development on the site of the East Street School, which would require that the Town sell the property to a successful bidder at nominal cost.

  • Support for the development of studio apartments for low income individuals (less than 80% AMI), some of whom would be homeless.

  • Development of a 40R district within Amherst that would allow for denser development than is otherwise now allowed by Town zoning bylaws.

If you are elected to the Town Council, do you believe that you could support these initiatives? What reservations might you have about these?

Yes I would support these three ideas.  As always there will be some tension deciding on an appropriate level of support given numerous worthy competing needs.  Cost benefit considerations must always be carefully scrutinized.  What can the town afford and how can that money be used to maximize beneficial outcomes.  Care must also be taken to insure that affordable units are well integrated into the fabric of the community in a way that tends to benefit all.

3.  The Amherst seasonal shelter under the management of Craig’s Doors has frequently experienced threats to its funding in the past few years. As a member of Town Council, what could you do to assure future funding, and what other efforts to assist individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness do you think the Town should support?

The town’s government and numerous agencies such as the Survival Center, Craig’s Doors and Amherst Community Connections are currently doing a good deal to support people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  It is important to keep the goal of finding permanent housing as a top priority.  Housing people in shelters leaves them homeless the majority of the time.  The cost is almost as much as the cost of permanent housing.  Shelters are a necessary but temporary treatment.  Support services must be an essential part of the support provided.  These issues are complex and vexing.  Over simplification can lead to practices that perpetuate or exacerbate distraught situations.  Amherst cannot address these problems alone.  A coordinated regional response is additionally important.  Wise, clever and well coordinates initiative will be as important as finding money to support the initiatives.

Robert Greeney

Town Council

Councilor at Large