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Councillor Martins pushes for affordable housing accountability

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  As housing developments continue to emerge throughout Everett, Ward 2 Councillor Stephanie Martins has called attention to the number of affordable housing units, particularly in the smaller developments. “Affordable units are so precious right now; we really need to make sure that we track them,” she said during the April 14 meeting of the City Council’s Government Operations Committee.

  Under the city’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, developments with more than 10 units are required to have a minimum of 10 percent affordable housing.

  However, Martins wanted to know how the Ordinance is enforced after a development has been approved by the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. “How are we keeping track of it?” she asked. “Are they continuing to build and waiting to see what happens, if they’re going to get caught or not?”

  Martins also asked if a tutorial could be available to assist developers who have smaller projects. In addition, she suggested creating a page on the city’s website where developers can advertise their affordable housing units and lottery information. “I haven’t heard of any affordable housing lotteries,” said Martins.

  She also recommended partnering with Metro West Collaborative Development in Newton to provide further assistance with the implementation of affordable housing.

  In response, Erin Deveney, chief of staff for Mayor Carlo DeMaria, said the Planning Department always informs new developers of the city’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. “We’ve had conversations with developers to make sure that they understand the number of units that they’re required to do,” she said, adding that there have been no major violations. “We haven’t had any pushback when they understand what that is going to be.”

  In terms of enforcement, Deveney said the Inspectional Services Department is responsible for monitoring each property to ensure that the affordable housing requirement is fulfilled. “The goal is to encourage smart development in the city,” she said.

  In addition, she said the city is looking to hire an affordable housing coordinator by the end of the month. Deveneysaid that individual will be responsible for working with state officials and nonprofit organizations to find funding sources for affordable housing.

  “We have an organization that is going before the Planning Board right now because they want to do 100 percent affordable development,” said Deveney, adding that such a project is a prime example of how affordable housing funds could be used.

  Regarding lottery information, Deveney said the lottery for the Townhomes at St. Therese has ended. However, she said the lottery for The 600 Apartment Complex will be held in the coming months. “I’m not aware of any other lotteries going on right now,” she said.

  The committee voted unanimously to refer the matter to the Mayor’s Office.

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