Affordable Housing Fund Article: Lacks Details
Last Wednesday, the Selectboard approved an article to be voted on by residents at the November election. The article re-establishes an affordable housing fund and such a fund has broad community support.
The Selectboard vote was not unanimous. Although she fully supports such a fund, Selectboard member Linda Cook voted against the proposal, citing a lack of detail in the article. See CATV (affordable housing fund discussion begins at approximately the 44 minute mark).
I think her concern is valid. The fund is to be "distributed and administered" by a process adopted by the Selectboard. That is a lot of leeway. The article passed by voters in 2012 was for "contracts to acquire land." *
There are no restrictions as to what organizations can apply or for what purposes the funds can be used. Eventually the Selectboard will set those parameters. Selectboard member Cook's suggestion was to make those details transparent before seeking an okay from voters.
There was not enough time to address details because the Selectboard was up against a hard deadline to warn the article for the November ballot. But, that time crunch seemed self-made. The Selectboard has known for a month that an article needed drafting. See Final Answer: Affordable Housing Fund Expired In 2017. The Selectboard did not address that delay at August 22 meeting.
Working from the 2012 article, one resident proposed expanding its scope to read:
Shall the voters of the Town of Norwich appropriate $45,000 [plus] accrued interest to recreate a revolving fund to help initiate contracts to acquire land suitable for affordable housing and to fund individual property septic studies, architectural work, engineering work, pay for permits and other work which the Selectboard shall consider reasonably necessary for the support of programs to benefit Town residents?