To the editor: Enough is enough. Barrington has exceeded its affordable housing 10 percent target guideline with 160 “approved” units in place and 490 “affordable” home sales since the 2004 Rhode Island’s Low and Moderate Income Housing Act.
The town needs to take action now to ensure that home sales since 2004 that have sold below the $210,000 threshold at Walker Farm Lane should be counted towards Barrington’s affordable housing goal. A moratorium should be placed immediately on any proposed or new affordable housing projects.
In 2004, the General Assembly passed the Housing Act to encourage more affordable housing stock in RI. Since then, 490 home sales with prices between $100,000 and $250,000 (average price $198,821) should have been counted towards Barrington’s goal of 10 percent affordable housing.
Affordable housing, according to RI state law is “residential housing that has a sales price or rental amount that is within the means of a household that is moderate income or less.” In fact, 210 of these 490 homes sold for less than $199,900 (average price $160,578).
The affordable housing calculations are based on up to 100 percent of the median income in Barrington: $72,100 for a family of four. The monthly payment on a 30-year, $160,578 mortgage with a 4 percent interest rate would be about $764/month or 10.6 percent of gross income which would be considered very affordable where people expect to pay 25 and 30 percent of gross income on housing.
Actually these 210 home sales were MORE AFFORDABLE than the 9 single family home sales at Walker Farm Lane since 2011 at prices between $169,000 and $210,000 (average price $185,899).
Currently there are 3 homes for sale at “affordable” Walker Farm Lane for $204,900 while 9 homes throughout the town are now for sale at prices between $147,900 and $199,900.
The town planner’s focus should not be to uncover every blade of green grass and earmark it for affordable housing. The role of the leadership of this town should be based on what is best for the taxpayers. It does not appear that an ill-conceived 9 year-old housing law is in the best interest of our town, taxpayers or future taxpayers.
The town council, town manager, town planner, town solicitor, Barrington Land Trust and taxpayers need to band together with the various stakeholders in the other 15 cities and town’s within this state whose suggested 10 percent goal is not feasible unless all “affordable” home sales count.
We need to collectively inform the General Assembly that the Housing Act needs to be amended — NOW.
John D. Cregan