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Town of Westport Affordable Housing Plan – 8-30J

Commentry from the Coalition for Westport on the Town of Westports draft Affordable Housing Plan.

June 12, 2022

To: The Affordable Housing Subcommittee and the Planning& Zoning Commission

From: The Coalition for Westport

The Coalition welcomes the opportunity to comment on the draft Affordable Housing Plan prepared by the subcommittee which, in our opinion, has done an admirable job of soliciting and responding to public comment and focusing on the task at hand.

The State has made it abundantly clear that affordable housing is a priority and that lack of sufficient affordable housing is a threat to local land use control, but even without a state mandate, affordable housing should be a primary goal of the Westport community. In our view there can never be too many housing choices or opportunities to welcome new arrivals.

Having said that, we offer the following thoughts and suggestions:

* We think the plan should insist that affordable housing be fairly and widely distributed throughout town, as individual units or in small clusters, rather than be aggregated and set apart in large developments which may be seen as exclusionary.

* While all housing built in Westport should be designed and constructed in a sustainable manner, it would not hurt to suggest that the same should be true of affordable housing.

* We would like the plan to emphasize adaptive reuse of existing structures for affordable housing and to welcome mixed use projects with first floor retail or offices and housing on upper floors. It is our perception that there is a great deal of vacant space which could be utilized to meet affordable housing goals.

* We enthusiastically support the housing trust fund concept.

* The draft plan uses the term « family ». Since people may differ over what constitutes a family, we would suggest substituting the word « household » to avoid confusion.

We view this as an important document – perhaps equal in importance to the POCD -and while it is by its very nature conceptual rather than detailed, it should set a high bar to be implemented by regulation.

We appreciate the work that the Committee has done thus far, and we look forward to continuing the dialog and to adoption of a meaningful plan.

Respectfully,

The Coalition for Westport

6.12.2022