The Windham community was invited to two public information sessions regarding affordable housing for Windham residents. These sessions occurred on Tuesday, March 10 at 2 p.m. and again on Thursday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Windham Town Hall Council Chamber rooms. The discussions were led by Chris LaRoche, Executive Director of the Westbrook Housing Authority and Dick Begin of the Westbrook Development Corporation (WDC).
|Chris LaRoche and Dick Begin talk to Windham citizens
about affordable housing
WHA and WDC have been working in collaboration with Age Friendly Windham, the Town of Windham’s Planning Director, Amanda Lessard and Windham Economic Development Corporation Director, Tom Bartell.
“A goal of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan is to encourage and support the efforts of the regional housing coalitions in addressing affordable and workforce housing needs,” Lessard stated. “WDC’s listening sessions last week was a step in addressing that goal. Another of the recommendations of the Comp Plan is to conduct a more formal housing market analysis to learn more about what it would take to make homes in Windham more affordable to those who work in Windham. We haven’t completed a housing assessment since 2003.”
LaRoche stated that as a result of the listening sessions and talking to community members he has a sense there is awareness for the promotion of affordable housing in Windham. “There appears to be a stated need for elderly apartments, home ownership that is designed as neighborhoods with neighborhood amenities versus subdivisions that feel like isolated sprawl, apartments for families as well as preferences for condos and townhouses,” LaRoche said. “There is strong support for these types of housing to be built both in North and South Windham, and that infrastructure such as the proposed sewer system would benefit the town and affordable housing”.
Bartell pointed out that these listening sessions are the first steps in a line of many. “It will take about four to five years before the affordable housing we foresee becomes a reality. We plan to keep moving forward.”
The next step is taking this information back to the Windham Town Council and present the findings at a meeting in the near future. The process of how affordable housing is moved forward will be determined by the direction of the Council.
Until affordable housing becomes a reality in Windham, there are a few options one can consider through WHA and the Housing Voucher Program. “The Voucher Program is for households who are at or below 80% of HUD area median income,” stated LaRoche. “The voucher helps the family pay that amount of rent payment that is above 30% of the household income. For example, 80% of AMI (Area Medium Income) for a family of four in Windham is $74,400 (that is the maximum qualifying income – most are below). Thirty percent of that income is $1836 per month; HUD Fair Market Rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in Cumberland County is $1982; therefore, the difference of $146 per month would be paid by the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) for the family’s rent. About one third of the persons on the HCV program are elderly, one third are disabled persons/families and most disabled households are working, and the remaining working households mostly comprised of single head of households.”
Any person 18 and above can qualify for affordable housing. However, for elderly affordable housing there are two types of housing, one is for people age 55 and older; the other is for people age 62 plus.
Depending upon the type of property, the present waitlist for this housing is from six to eight months and up to three years. Recessions and economic downturns increase the waitlist timeframes.
For more information about the Westbrook Housing Authority or the Windham Development Corporation, call (207) 854-9779, email at email@example.com or peruse their website at www.westbrookhousing.org.