Affordable housing in Deerfield well below state threshold
SOUTH DEERFIELD — Just 1½ percent of housing in Deerfield qualifies as affordable by state definitions, well below the 10 percent threshold sought by the state.
As a result, the town would be required to expedite low-income housing developments with one-stop permitting procedures under a state law called Chapter 40B, allowing developers an easier time building in town.
To gain more control over the future of housing in town, the Planning Board is working with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments to develop the town’s first housing production plan. On Tuesday, the board held a community workshop on the plan, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
The housing production plan identifies the housing needs of a community. The plan is good for five years, after which it must be updated and resubmitted to the state Department of Housing and Community Development for approval.
The process started earlier in the year when the Select Board recommended that the Planning Board determine the town’s housing priorities, Planning Board Chairman John Waite said.
Chapter 40B was enacted in 1969 to make affordable housing more available and encourages communities to maintain at least 10 percent of year-round housing stock as affordable under state guidelines, said Alyssa Larose, a land use planner for the regional council.
The state defines affordable as within reach of a household earning less than 80 percent of the area median income. About 37 percent of Deerfield households make less than 80 percent of that income level.
Towns which do not meet that 10 percent threshold, like Deerfield, must give developers zoning relief, through the comprehensive permit process, if at least 20 percent of the units in a development qualify as affordable, Larose said.
But a housing production plan gives towns such as Deerfield more control over the permit applications if they are making progress in producing affordable housing.
According to the regional council data, the estimated annual household income needed to buy a single-family home which costs $250,000 is $72,975. That drops to an estimated $58,420 in household income to afford a single-family home which costs $200,000.
The median price of a condo is about $197,000, requiring $55,155 in household income.
A two-bedroom rental cost of $925 per month requires $37,000 in household income, and a one-bedroom or studio rental cost of $700 per month needs $28,000 income.
The total number of housing units in town is 2,181 with 2,053 occupied. About 75 percent of those homes are owner-occupied, while 25 percent is rental stock, which has decreased by 82 units since 1990.
Over the last 12 years, 88 building permits were issued for new housing units, all of which are single family homes.
The town’s population is projected to grow by 405 people by 2035, according to Council of Governments data. To accommodate that growth, 250 new housing units are needed.
The town will also have to consider senior housing. Almost a quarter of Deerfield’s population is projected to be over the age of 65 by 2035.
As Deerfield looks to develop housing, one of the options it may consider is the 16-acre Oxford site off Jewett Avenue, Larose said. The town is working on an request for proposals to sell the property.