Affordable housing sought – Officials work on initiative for Goshen [Rep-Am]

July 21, 2014


LITCHFIELD — Goshen town officials, representatives of the Goshen Housing Trust and legislators met with officials from the state Department of Housing on Wednesday to discuss a plan to create affordable housing in town.

First Selectman Robert P. Valentine and housing trust President Christopher Sanders presented the plan to state Sen. Clark J. Chapin, R-New Milford, state Rep. Roberta B. Willis, D-Salisbury, and state Rep. Jay M. Case, R-Winchester, as well as Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne Kline during an hourlong meeting at Town Hall.

Goshen, where the median home price of $380,000 represents an 80 percent increase since 2000, has considered a need for affordable housing since 2010. The concept has been in the spotlight since the Goshen Housing Trust was formed in 2011.

Because of the high cost of home ownership, young people and families are forced to look for elsewhere, volunteers are harder to come by and the school population is declining, officials say.

The housing trust is prepared to start small by purchasing one house in Goshen at the market price, then fixing it up and selling it at a reduced price to a family that would qualify under income guidelines.

“We’re looking at it as a starter project that would show the town what our idea is, and we would build from there,” Sanders said. “This would be better than trying to create a large development of affordable housing.”

Money for the purchase and improvements, Sanders said, would be borrowed from a private source and would be paid back with grants from the Department of Housing and other sources along with proceeds from sale of the house.

One source of funding could be the town’s land acquisition fund, Sanders said. The fund has about $380,000 in it, but is limited for use by town agencies, not nonprofits such as the housing trust.

The Board of Selectmen earlier this year proposed making the fund available to nonprofits, but then backed off the proposal after encountering resistance from residents.

Sanders said be envisions purchase of a house this fall. A packet of information distributed during Wednesday’s meeting showed three properties for sale in Goshen for $215,000 or less.

Chapin and Case said they see themselves being involved in helping the town identify state funding sources and pursuing them.