CPA and Housing in Metro West

Boxborough recently became the 17th community in our target area to pass the Community Preservation Act (CPA). Because of the shortage of federal and state funding for the production of affordable housing, CPA has become an important source of funding for new housing production. CPA funds are used to support not only affordable housing, but also historic preservation, open space preservation and recreation. Each CPA community must spend 10% of its CPA funds on each of housing, open space and historic preservation, with the remaining 70% to be spent on any of the eligible categories.

17 of our 21 towns have approved CPA funding, which has led to $41,496,996 in housing investment.[1] Wayland, Wellesley, and Lincoln are doing admirably at devoting CPA funds towards housing. In Wayland, over $1 million of their CPA money was spent on Oxbow Meadows, a 17 unit project that also included open space and recreational facilities. In addition to funding a few individual projects with CPA funds, Wellesley contributes money to the Wellesley Housing Development Corporation most years, including every year between 2009 and 2013. In those 5 years, CPA has contributed $1.73 million to the WHDC. They also funded a Cluster Zoning Bylaw Study, and spent approximately $700,000 for renovations to 12 Housing Authority units. Lincoln has taken a similar route, contributing funds toward its affordable housing trust, as well as specific projects as they arise.  This strategy works because it puts money into a flexible vehicle for responding to affordable housing opportunities when they arise. By allowing funds to accumulate for a few years, CPA funds can support a large scale project that would otherwise not be feasible.

CPA is a great resource for funding housing development, among its other uses. Conversations are brewing in Natick and Watertown around possible CPA campaigns. We hope to continue to see towns in Metro West use the resources for affordable housing support and development.  Look forward to working with many of these communities to implement projects and programs that maximize the value of their CPA funds and increase their affordable housing inventory!

 



[1] Recently, the Boston Business Journal wrote an article about the use of CPA funds for housing. It included data on the allocation towards housing of each town with CPA. The article can be found here: http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/real_estate/2014/09/despite-900m-in-cpa-outlays-many-mass-towns-fail.html?ana=e_bost_real&s=newsletter&ed=2014-09-

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