Council Debates Avenues for Affordable Housing Discussion

With the search for a new City Manager underway, the City Council debated the best way to address Chelsea’s affordable housing needs at its regular meeting on Monday night.

District 6 Councilor Giovanni Recupero introduced an order requesting a subcommittee meeting on affordable housing. Specifically, Recupero said he wanted numbers on the number of Chelsea residents who have obtained affordable housing units over the past several years.

“I’ve put this in before, and I have all the numbers and figures, but they are from 2010,” said Recupero. “They are 12 to 13 years behind, so I would like to know exactly how many Chelsea residents are actually getting these (affordable units). I believe that if we are going to give these corporations that come here a tax deferral, more Chelsea residents should be (in the units).”

Recupero said he understood state law limited how many affordable units could be set aside for Chelsea residents.

Councilor-at-Large Damali Vidot questioned whether Recupero’s request warranted a subcommittee meeting or if Recupero could be sent the information he requested from the city administration.

“I just respectfully feel like we have had this conversation so many times, and I feel like we know that people are kind of binded by the state law because it limits, it would be illegal for them to say it is only for Chelsea residents; we already know that,” said Vidot. “I just want to make sure that if we are going to a subcommittee, and I’m coming here on a Tuesday, that we are going to get somewhere, and I don’t know if we are actually going to do that with this order. I’m not going to say no to a subcommittee on conference if there is dialogue that needs to happen.”

Councilor-at-Large Brian Hatleberg said he believes there should be a discussion on affordable housing that includes the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board and other key stakeholders, but said that conversation should probably wait until after the city hires a new city manager.

District 5 Councilor Judith Garcia agreed that a deeper discussion about affordable housing should wait until there is a new city manager.

“We’re in the process of getting a city manager, and we need to understand that person’s leadership style, what their vision is, what their purpose of economic development is, and maybe then we can have that conversation,” said Garcia.

Recupero said he was open to any amendments or changes in his motion that would result in a discussion about affordable housing.

“The only thing that is important to me is that we get Chelsea people to live in Chelsea, that’s the bottom line,” he said.

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