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Letter: A modest proposal to create more affordable housing

To the editor: Units of affordable housing in Berkshire County need not be created with a one-size-fits-all mindset. Affordable for whom? Often, affordable housing is costly, even excessively so for its creators or municipalities.

Here are some ground rules for a modest proposal taking these issues into consideration. First, not all units have to be built or completed at once. They can be put into place and built over a number of years, as budgets permit. Infrastructure costs should be kept low by using nearby, existing infrastructure.

Contract with a company like offsite B&B Manufacturing of Adams (a builder of "tiny houses") to build these affordable units, negotiating favorable prices based on volume and other cost-saving methods.

These units will permanently be on wheels and tethered. They will have a downstairs bedroom and a second-floor loft. Suitable for a younger single person or young couple without children. Two-year leases could be made between the municipality and tenant based on tenants’ incomes, resources and family size. The municipality will map out lots and install all the site’s hookups utilities at one time. New units can be added over several years.

Where? In Williamstown, the Spruces property with two or three rows directly along Route 2. I recall that an RV park was an allowable use of the property, and along the highway was outside the floodplain. However, the units could be moved during unlikely major flooding because they're on wheels. Units could even be color-coordinated for a stunning effect.

Towns could even rent a few units for top-dollar rents during tourist season to subsidize the other unit costs.

Another possible Williamstown site: Paul Harsch’s vacant Main Street lot, or both.

This will serve as a national affordable housing showcase.

I think this will be a more cost-effective affordable housing project, compared to many other proposals. This is the basic idea.

Ken Swiatek, Williamstown

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