Wareham Selectman wants to see action on changing affordable housing rents

By Meghan Neely | Jun 12, 2018
Photo by: Meghan Neely Selectmen discuss the possibility of changing housing markets during Tuesday's meeting.

The cost of affordable housing in Wareham, as determined by the state, is still an expensive option, Selectman Patrick Tropeano said Tuesday. In a bid to bring those rents down, he asked about researching how to move the town out of the Boston market and into the New Bedford one.

The discussion occurred after talk on an affordable housing property at 35 Swifts Beach Road. That property had failed to sell at an affordable rate. According to Director of Planning & Community Development Ken Buckland, the owners now want to sell the property at market price, which is higher than the affordable rate.

As it stands, Wareham is considered a part of Boston’s housing market despite being closer and far more similar economically to New Bedford. Under state housing guidelines, Massachusetts is carved up into several different markets based on federal population data, each with its own set of affordable rates.

In Boston, the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment is well over $2,000 a month. In New Bedford, the price is half that.

“Two thousand dollars a month is a lot of money,” said Selectman Patrick Tropeano said. “It’s a lot of money for me, and I know it’s a lot of money for other people.”

The inflated cost of housing in Wareham has been a long standing problem, with only 7.7 percent of residences considered affordable. This puts Wareham at odds with the state’s affordable housing law, 40B. Under 40B, local zoning regulations are relaxed for housing projects where less than 10 percent of homes or apartments are considered affordable.

“I know a lot of people won’t agree with me,” said Town Administrator Derek Sullivan. “But it’s not the taxes that are high in Wareham, it’s the housing. It drives everything.”

At this moment, it is unclear what steps Wareham must take to move into the New Bedford market.

“We’ll be going to the federal level,” Tropeano said. “That’s for sure.”

Comments (24)
Posted by: WWareham resident | Jun 13, 2018 07:45

Inflated cost of housing are you kidding me?? Our home still hasn't come back to the value we paid for it in 2005 and yesterday someone comes by to verify measurements for property tax reassessment ..... We already pay far too much for absolutely no services. If our taxes go up someone in town hall is going hear from not only me but every one of our neighbors who agree we already pay too much for nothing.

What is wrong with these people in Town Management ? ? Infuriating ...



Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 13, 2018 09:32

Comment #1

 

It is hard to comprehend that so many intelligent officials from our town could consider something so counterintuitive.  They want to lower the bar!  Look in this issue of Wareham Week.  There are three current articles depicting the kind of people that the Town of Wareham is known for.  We already attract enough degenerates!  Why welcome in more by lowering rent?

 

When I go fishing in my boat for desirable game fish I use expensive lures and high quality live bait.  If we don't catch any desirable game fish and the kids are starting to get bored we switch the bait to worms.  We lower the bar.  Worms always catch bottom feeders.  Is that what Wareham is doing?  Lowering the rent to attract more bottom feeders.  Wareham has enough bottom feeders.  Just read this issue of Wareham Week if you don't believe me.  Stop the insanity!



Posted by: cranky pants | Jun 13, 2018 09:59

Lmao, complaining about taxes going up ? Wait until they push that new school down your throat.



Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 13, 2018 10:12

Comment #2

 

Let's talk about 35 Swifts Beach Road.  If they couldn't sell that 40B dump at affordable rate, they sure as heck aren't going to sell it at market rate!

 

Who knows the story of 35 Swifts Beach Road?  Once upon a time, one little farmhouse sat there.  It was sort of a cottage, it needed some work, it had a good sized yard for a single house.  It would have been a perfect starter home/fixer upper for a young family with a dream.  That ain't what happened!  Someone bought it, tore it down, and build 6 substandard houses; 4 capes and 2 colonials.  35 Swifts Beach Road is one of them.  Like sardines in a can, a 40B was born!  Four of the houses face Swifts Beach Road the correct way and two are set-back sideways so they fit.  Odd shaped yards are chopped up by haphazard fences and driveways.  It's dense, it's ugly, and it's out of place.

 

If it couldn't get any worse, out of the 6 houses, 35 Swifts Beach Road has been the giant white head on the forehead of that 40B.  It currently sits run-down and vacant at the time.  The occupants of  35 Swifts Beach Road have all been undesirable at best.  They had a big bust a few years ago involving drugs & guns.  Search it.  It was in Wareham Week.  (https://wareham-ma.villagesoup.com/p/wareham-police-nab-another-alleged-drug-dealer/165293#165368).  Police were always there.  The front door was reinforced with 2x4s after being kicked down.  At any given time there was a revolving door of cars and sleazy individuals out front.  Inconsiderate drivers blocked the road.  It was a classic hang-out house, like something out of an urban gangsta type movie. Weeds grew from the gutters,  Weeds and brush grew where bushes should have. The tiny front lawn was parked on and was nothing more than a dust bowl/mud puddle. Window screens were missing allowing towels used as shades to flap in the wind.  A broken down, dented car with broken windows sat in the driveway for a year.  Furniture, litter, trash, and junk was everywhere.  Finally a dumpster sat festering for a few months after they left.  The next door neighbor just put up a hate-fence.  It's a nice place.  No wonder why nobody wants to buy it...

 

That story, my friends, is the story of a 40B!

 

How is anybody supposed to accept that anything good comes from a 40B when we have this real experience and this proof of 35 Swifts Beach Road?

 

And our trusted officials have the nerve to use it as an example in their meeting!

 

Take off the rose colored glasses!  Take your heads out of the sand!  Where were you all when the movie Boyz in Da Hood was being reenacted in front of  35 Swifts Beach Road on a regular basis?



Posted by: yourmonkeysuncle | Jun 13, 2018 12:34

This whole 40B concept needs to be revisited. It's intention is good but for the state to deny the not so mobile home parks including manufactured homes affordable housing is clearly wrong. Does anyone think that living in those homes is by choice ? It's because it's AFFORDABLE. plain and simple. Wareham needs to network with other towns and file a class action against the state looking for relief to include them as they truly should be.



Posted by: Swifts_Sheriff | Jun 13, 2018 13:30

WBTS , you forgot about the woman that use to sit on the Stoop whose Butt was a Big as a Greyhound Bus , because she sat around and collected a check



Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 13, 2018 18:10

Oh yea Swifts, how could anybody have missed her!  Too funny.  Like that song Milkshake by Kelis.  It was the metaphoric milkshake in the song!

 

[Chorus]

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard
And they're like, it's better than yours
Damn right it's better than yours
I can teach you, but I have to charge
My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard
And they're like, it's better than yours
Damn right it's better than yours
I can teach you, but I have to charge

[Verse 1]
I know you want it
The thing that makes me
What the guys go crazy for
They lose their minds
The way I wind
I think its time

 

Incase you dont know that song:

 

Kelis’s 2003 smash “Milkshake” is about a special female quality that men find irresistible. Kelis told Blues & Soul: “To me, a milkshake itself represents the essence of a woman. It’s that thing that men are drawn to about women and what separates one sex from the other.” She also suggested not overthinking the song: “It’s sorta cheeky—not to be taken too seriously—a fun, chanty kind of thing.”

 

btw, I copied this from online.  I'm not this well versed in pop music...lol!  I just recalled it was a catchy tune from 15 years ago.



Posted by: greycat | Jun 13, 2018 21:54

I was going to mention the property rights violating zoning and conservation bylaws, the corporate cronyism self -dealing building and safety codes, condo-creating rent control schemes, job destroying minimum wage anti-contract nonsense confiscatory total taxation as possible contributing factors regarding low income housing, but I won't because we all know it's just greedy landlords and greedy developers that is the cause of an affordable housing shortage.  What else could it possibly be?  Social Engineering?



Posted by: bruce gannon | Jun 14, 2018 06:32

so much to address..  first the person who's home hasn't recovered .. it was over inflated to begin with .. not your fault it's what real estate is .. or was and for the most part what the subject is, is RENTAL property. Wareham is part of the Boston market by virtue of the fact we are in that congressional district, that kind of change isn't simple and would have to be done at the state level to redraw districts ... there would need to be a lot of work done to determine how any redistricting would effect current and future housing costs ... as to the rest and the 40B .. Pricing for a one bedroom apartment that is part of a 40B in Wareham is currently over $1200 a month. Now not all housing is the same. Some units will rent at a fixed below market price such as the one I mentioned, others are priced based on your income usually about 30% of what you earn, I know that many of you won't care but THAT is the concession the developer makes in exchange for being able to build higher density housing he will accept below market rents and usually only 20-25% of the total (the new project 174 units 35 -42 units will be affordable over 100 of them will be at full market value) and then others are commonly referred to as section 8 where the state actually pays 90% directly to the landlord. I would guess that more than one of you fine folks if you were to try an move to Wareham today looking for a nice two bedroom apartment for your young family to start a new life you'd be hard pressed to find something you could afford. Now like any program designed to help people housing does get abused, and like most accusations of abuse they get over blown by the notoriety of offenses. But I also suspect that you'd be amazed to know that there are a lot of people living in "affordable" housing that contribute to the quality of life in this community by virtue of the jobs they have, or the volunteering they do, or the contributions they make to community organizations. The miscreants aren't the only ones that give a community it's reputation.



Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 14, 2018 10:09

Bruce - well stated and well written.  Your facts and statistics are informative.  Here are a couple of thoughts that come to mind that I do not intend as a challenge.  They are just facts that must go into the mix.

 

  • 174 units of housing, regardless of it's status, is just too much for that location.
  • The system you describe above, specifically the part about how 100 will be at full market and 74 will be affordable just won't work in reality.  It doesn't work in other similar situations.  The full market units are negatively affected.  It is not an elitist thought process, it's a thought process of fairness.  Why would someone willingly pay $2000+ a month when the neighbor pays a fraction of that?  I wouldn't.  The subsidized neighbors could be the nicest kindest family.  That's not the point.  It just doesn't work.
  • Your word, not mine:  miscreants will be a problem.  I learned a new word today :)  The kinder gentler proponents can try to sell 40B and subsidized housing all day long, but we don't need any more miscreants.  A few bad apples is all it takes!  Wareham has orchards of bad apples already!  I'll be damned if anyone is willingly going to pay $2000+ a month when Welfare Wanda and her kids and freeloading boyfriends live next door for free.  Sorry for a little bit of my WBTS rhetoric in this last bullet.   I just can't explain it any better any other way.

 



Posted by: bruce gannon | Jun 14, 2018 13:00

WBTS you may have a valid point about 174 units just flat out being too many for the location. As fat as the number of units that are "affordably priced" the percentage is established by the rules of 40B. The regulation demands 20 percent, some builders may and have opted to build as many as 25%. Typically the "affordable units are clustered together so as to avoid having a market rate unit sharing a corridor with a 40B unit. Your point on that was valid and the builders have a way to mitigate the potential problems. It's anecdotal but many years ago when 40B was relatively new a developer wanted to build a neighborhood of single family homes on smaller than what local zoning laws required lots. The solution was 40B. It worked very well. now putting 40 homes where there should have only been 20 isn't the 174 apartment units but the concept is proven and does work. The management company is critical to the success however and unfortunately that expertise varies widely.



Posted by: Swifts_Sheriff | Jun 14, 2018 14:37

WBTS,  I know someone who was an acquaintance of them. I guess they came into a large amount of unexpected money and went through quicker than a Gallon of Boxed Wine on Swifts Neck



Posted by: Doctor Deekas | Jun 14, 2018 15:36

Bruce, the 40B law is that 25% will be affordable units out of the project, not less. However, the 75% that is added as market rate to our existing market rate inventory ensures that we will never get to the 10% that the State requires to get out from under 40B. We are several hundred homes short of our 10% threshold. And since our State representation has no interest in helping our mobile home dilemma work into an acceptable affordable situation, we are only left with regular construction to solve our problem. ALL of the 174 units would have to be affordable 40b and we still will be hundreds shy of our 10% 'mandate'. The issue is not what the rentals charge in the Boston market versus the New Bedford....that is superficial to the cause....the real concept here is that builders locate in Wareham precisely because they know they can get the $2000/month to help offset their project costs. Getting Wareham into the New Bedford market reduces the rental rates, yes, but it also ensures less profits for developers and, thus, less of a flood of 40b to Wareham.



Posted by: bruce gannon | Jun 14, 2018 15:59

I'll only address the very last line of your comment, you might be right. With lower market rates there may be less motivation to do 40B housing. But I think the idea of seeing a reduction in rental prices because we are in the New Bedford market is a bit like putting toothpaste back in the tube. That ship has sailed, the horse is out of the barn … I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for rental prices to go down



Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 14, 2018 17:52

Bruce- thanks for the info.  I was glad to hear that they cluster the affordable units  seperate from the market priced units.  That makes logical sense but I'm surprised that the illogical feelings flock allows segregation in this day and age.  I mean heck, the feelings flock has it so all kids get free public school lunch nowadays as to not draw attention to the ones that qualify.  I figured public housing would be the same.

 

 

 



Posted by: bruce gannon | Jun 14, 2018 18:04

see it's not public housing.. public housing is state / or city run where affordable housing is private sector working with the state to … in Boston you've heard about the famous housing projects.. those are city run "public" housing .. it's a confusing issue



Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jun 14, 2018 18:55

The city nor the State should be building, supplying , subsidizing or organizing any housing period. Thats not governments job. The state and cities getting involved with housing is what causes the problems in the first place.



Posted by: bruce gannon | Jun 14, 2018 19:09

public housing has been around a long time and the concept of 40B is the response to the very issue you raise, the government shouldn't be doing it … pick your poison



Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 15, 2018 10:39

Bruce - I have another question.

 

Thank you for explaining that the affordable apartments can be clustered away from the market units.  That makes sense.  Lets steer away from 40B apartment units and talk about 40B single family houses.  That's what 35 Swifts Beach Road is part of.  (Anyone new to this comment thread can feel free to scroll up to my report on 35 Swifts Beach Road).

 

When similar (sometimes identical) houses are jammed into a small lot under 40B, how are the affordable ones differentiated?  Why would anyone in their right mind buy a house for market price when the identical house next door is deemed affordable and sold for much less?  It's not an elitist thought process to question this.  It is common sense.

 

Look at the situation with the 40B that 35 Swifts Beach Road is a part of.  I'd imagine that 4 of those houses are market and 2 are affordable.  It's no doubt the 35 Swifts Beach Road was one of the affordable ones.  There's the problem.  Although it's wrong to generalize, past history and observation indicates that the stereotype is true.  When the good families in the market houses were going to work, raising their families, and keeping up their properties, the people in that affordable 35 Swifts Beach Road were selling drugs, getting raided, hanging around all day, and letting the property go to hell.

 

That's where the bad taste in everybody's mouth comes from regarding 40B.  Policing and preventing the undesirable riff raff from moving in is the only way to change the consensus.



Posted by: Andrea Smith | Jun 15, 2018 12:35

WBTS - Regarding your above statement, "That's where the bad taste in everybody's mouth comes from regarding 40B." Not everyone has a bad taste in their mouth regarding 40B; don't assume you have the right to put words (or a taste) into "everyone's mouth."

 

That said, I'm not denying that the 35 Swifts Beach Road 40B which you have referenced is problematic. I'm saying that not all 40 B developments reflect the problems you associate with 35 Swifts Beach Road. Not all 40B developments should be condemned based upon 35 Swifts Beach Road.

 

Regarding your questions about 40B single family houses, the link below will provide you with an example of how 40B single family houses and 40B in general work, when the town in which they are located approaches the 40B issue with a combination of common sense and proactive effort.

 

"https://sippican.villagesoup.com/p/sippican-woods-developer-seeks-funding-for-3-affordable-homes/1755596



Posted by: OnsetTogether | Jun 15, 2018 19:14

Very little about the actual article above is accurate. Bruce already pointed out much of it. This will be another Tropeano kerfluffle, like the shopping cart legislation imposed on Wareham businesses without any discussion with the business owners. HUD FMR (fair market rent) for our area for 2018 is $ 1,740, not $2,000, for a 2BR. This only applies to rental units. This makes Wareham tough for renters but good for investors. CHAPA is a good resource for most housing questions https://www.chapa.org/. Ben Carson, MD, is the head of HUD. Give him a call Mr. Tropeano, I'm pretty sure he knows zilch about our FMR concerns.

 



Posted by: OnsetTogether | Jun 15, 2018 19:19

I'm pretty sure ugly paint is not a "social engineering" issue. The current owner paid $250,000 for a house now assessed at $225,000. She overpaid in the first place.

https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/35-Swifts-Beach-Rd_Wareham_MA_02571_M37710-76684#photo0

 



Posted by: Andrea Smith | Jun 19, 2018 14:48

wwareham resident - Heard from someone who had an assessor visit to their home Monday that they were told the assessment is done in all Massachusetts towns every ten years.



Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 19, 2018 15:48

Andrea- your last post just popped up and reminded me that I never got back to you on this one

 

Yes, you are right.  "Everyone" is an awful lot of people.  I should have said "many" or "several" but I went and painted with that broad brush of mine because it's one of those topics.  Not all 40Bs are bad and the majority of the people that live in them are great people.  I understand.

 

The top of Swifts Beach Road just happens to be a bad location for a bad 40B.  Many people that understand 40Bs opposed that one and now are all like "I told you so".  Many people that are unfamiliar with 40Bs just think it's an odd little group of houses with a couple that look like hell.  Either case, it's just been out in the open for thousands to drive by and form an opinion.  It's a high visibility location.  Unfortunately, it doesn't do much justice for the good ones.  That's really what I'm saying.  It's that bad apple scenario again.

 

Now, regarding the link you provided to the article on the 40B in Marion.  Thanks, I read it.  The apartments are built and and the houses are not.  My focus was on the houses more that the apartments.  Bruce explained how the affordable apartments are clustered, etc.  I have more questions about the houses.  I just picture myself or any other average home buyer looking to buy a home at market.  I just don't understand how market and affordable houses can fairly be sold next to each other.  Nothing to do with the people.  That's not what I'm saying.  People with money in a market house can be nasty, noisy slobs where as a family in an affordable can be quiet and neat.  I understand.  It's just not a side by side kind of thing.

 

One more thing.  An affordable house in Marion is an oxymoron that's akin to an affordable Cadillac at a Cadillac Dealership.  I compared the demographics and wish I didn't.  Family income is Marion is $104K.  Family income in Wareham is $45,000.  You know me and what I say sometimes about stuff like that.  That difference amazed me!  I would have thought Wareham was about 2/3 of Marion, but it isn't even 1/2...good grief.  Peeking at the per capita and household incomes resulted in the same disparity.  I obviously feel comfortable telling you that the Marion 40B comparison to a Wareham 40B is certainly an apples to oranges type thing.



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