Orleans Affordable Housing Project May Require Revision

ORLEANS – The plans for a proposed affordable housing development in Orleans will most likely need to be changed in order to be financed.

The town is seeking to build the housing complex using the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank operations center off West Road.

The Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board and Affordable Housing Committee were looking at building 50 units with half being one-bedroom.

Laura Shufelt, the assistant director of community assistance for the Massachusetts Housing Partnership informed the town that a project with more two-bedroom units would have a better chance of getting developed.

A housing study in Orleans led to higher percentage of one-bedroom units, but the Department of Housing and Community Development supports projects with around 55 percent two-bedroom units.

Although the town’s study indicated the project should include more one-bedroom units, Shufelt said there are funding realities.

“In order to fund any affordable housing projects above 28 units a developer needs to use federal low-income housing tax credits,” Shufelt said.

The tax credits are allocated every year by the DHCD through federal funding.

“Most projects wait two-to-three rounds to get funded,” Shufelt said.

To apply for the tax credits, the project must be fully permitted.

Shufelt said the wait is generally up to three years.

“It’s a lengthy process but it’s about the only way to subsidize the housing so that you can have affordable housing,” Shufelt said.

The DHCD also provides “soft money” for the projects from a variety of sources.

“It usually adds about $1-$2 Million to a project of this size,” she said.

A new option being considered by officials for the project would to have just over 40 total units, with 24 including two-bedrooms.

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