Residents share where affordable housing should go in Westport


WESTPORT — Turning offices into affordable housing and keeping affordable units on site for multi-family projects are some of the things residents hope to see in the city. affordable housing project.

Residents recently shared their feedback with the Affordable Housing Subcommittee ahead of the plan’s passage, which is required by the state. The meeting was held via Zoom rather than in person in an effort to allow greater accessibility for viewers to read and comment on the plansaid Danielle Dobin, chair of the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission and Affordable Housing Subcommittee.

It was also the last community conversation about the plan.

Resident Ellie Lowenstein said she didn’t like the idea of ​​the affordable units being placed off the project site, but the creation of affordable housing in the Baron’s South and Longshore structures is a wonderful idea.

Another resident, Larry Weisman, said he would like to see offices turned into affordable housing.

“It seems like a no-brainer,” he said. “There is already an infrastructure in place. There is a lot of vacant office space and I think the focus needs to be on the adaptive reuse of this resource.

Helen McAlinden, president and CEO of Homes with Hope, a group dedicated to providing affordable housing for families and individuals who were previously homeless, said affordable housing provides a great education in Westport for families.

“People go to college and have an opportunity that they normally wouldn’t have,” she said. “No matter where the person lives in Westport, they have access to a wonderful school system.”

McAlinden also said she would prefer affordable housing to be on-site, but when that can’t be done, off-site, when done right, is a good option.

Dobin also reviewed the plan’s history, adding that the Office of Policy and Management and the Department of Housing have acknowledged the plan’s timeline and confirmed that Westport has met its obligations under 830-j, a state law containing specific guidance on affordable housing plans.

She reminded viewers of a survey sent to residents about the plan and said they had received more than 1,000 responses.

Dobin also cleared up some misunderstandings based on the survey responses. Some thought the development was setting Westport back, but she said the plan made the town more 8-30d compliant. Some residents also believe that 8-30j points expire after seven years, which is not true. Restrictions on deeds last at least 40 years and points last that long.

Dobin reminded residents of expensive or demolished homes that were once considered affordable, but no longer are.

Other members of the commission were able to express themselves if they had comments to provide on the draft plan.

Planning and Zoning Commission Alternate Marcia Falk asked members to consider an additional element to the plan regarding sustainable building materials and construction and its relationship to climate change, such as drainage. She said it would add expense.

Dobin said that was a great point and said if they start adding green building technology to housing projects, it needs to be mainstreamed and encouraged.

The Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to consider adopting the plan on June 27.

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