City to Begin New Program to Develop Affordable Housing on Vacant Property

City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) is taking a novel step this month in entering into the development game – a new initiative championed by City Manager Tom Ambrosino and recently advanced by the AHTF for a property on Orange Street.

To create more density and to improve the affordable housing stock, Ambrosino proposed the new program in his State of the City Address last month. On Monday, AHTF Chair Gary DeYoung, of Winnisimmet Street, was on hand to explain the program and ask for a Committee meeting to get the ball rolling.

“We need more affordable housing, and this is likely the most direct and quick ways to develop affordable housing – that being to allow us to develop it on our (City) property and allow us to do so if we have the opportunity,” he said. “We also understand at this time we’re proposing to do something new.”

The proposal would be to take the vacant, City-owned land at 41-43 Orange St. and develop it into an all-affordable building using funds from the AHTF.

In anticipation of the new idea, the AHTF has decided after a number of meetings on the matter to have a robust community outreach process. That will start at the Council, DeYoung said, but will fan out to the community as well. If they are successful, he said they would like to repeat the effort again and again.

“We understand this will be our first development of property if you were to transfer this property to us and we want it to go well and last a long time in the community,” he said. “The best way to do that is in partnership with you.”

The matter was referred to Committee, and there is a meeting now scheduled on the matter for March 18.

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