WILLIAMSTOWN -- A proposed senior housing project is closer to securing funding that would allow it to break ground in the fall of 2014.
On Wednesday, the town's Affordable Housing Trust (AHT) unanimously voted to commit $150,000 to the 40-unit Highland Woods project on Southworth Street.
"We have the amazing opportunity in Williamstown to meet an emergency need and do it in a very accelerated timeline," Mollye Wollahan, deputy director of the Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development, told members.
The entity is one of four developers involved in the project on four acres donated by Williams College.
Selectmen have already committed $2.6 million of the town's $6.13 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant, awarded to relocate Spruces Mobile Home Park residents. Other funding sources would include affordable housing tax credits.
Wollahan initially requested $100,000 on Dec. 4 on behalf of developer, Berkshire Housing Development Corporation, which will manage the property. Trust members tabled the request until more members could attend.
Wollahan explained Wednesday that the developers had also planned to apply for Community Preservation Act funds, funded through a 2 percent property tax surcharge. But the developers must have committed funds when applying for the tax credits this winter, she explained. CPA funds, if approved by the Community Preservation Committee and then at the annual town meeting, would not be available until the fall.
"We can't show it as committed," she said. "Originally we had discussed $150,000 from the trust $150,000 would be a wonderful opportunity, versus making an application at all to the CPC."
Trust members debated the merits of fully funding the accelerated program. The trust's reserves are approximately $394,000, and members have discussed funding other potential programs to increase the town's affordable housing stock.
"I tend to favor something real standing before us versus something we're thinking about doing down the road," member Cathy Yamamoto said.
A motion by member Stanley Parese, to fund the $150,000 request, was unanimous.
In other business, members discussed their own applications to the CPC.
One request of $75,000 would establish a revolving fund for the purchase and rehabilitation of homes for affordable housing. Another $75,000 request would be to replenish the trust's reserves.