2017-08-10 / News

Town needs applicants for board vacancies; deadline is Monday

The town is encouraging residents to apply for three vacancies on the affordable housing committee before the deadline arrives at the end of business Monday.

Volunteers are needed to solve the problem, which plagues Jamestown more than most communities because of land restrictions and soaring property values. The seven-member committee is an advisory board to the town councilors that is tasked with reviewing potential housing projects that could increase the number of affordable units in town. According to state law, 10 percent of the housing stock in each municipality should be deemed “affordable.”

The panel also studies marketed properties that could be developed into affordable housing. Administered by the planning department, the board has a trust fund that receives $50,000 to $75,000 annually for these initiatives. The board meets between 6-12 times annually.

According to the 2010 census, there are 2,529 units in Jamestown, which means the town is required to have 253 homes that qualify as affordable housing. However, there are just 111 units, which is only 44 percent of the mandate. According to Town Planner Lisa Bryer, that number includes five units on Hammett Court for developmentally disabled residents, nine single-family homes, 66 elderly units on Pemberton Avenue, 11 units at group homes and a Section 8 complex with 20 units on Conanicus Avenue.

Since those numbers were tallied, however, new houses have been built. Affordable units also were made available at the Jamestown Terrace condominiums on the former Holy Ghost site. Bryer expects Rhode Island Housing to recalculate the figures in 2018.

To qualify as affordable, the household income must fall between 50 and 80 percent of the adjusted median income. For a homebuyer, the qualifying income is between $26,500 and $42,350. For a two-income household, they must earn no less than $30,250 and no more than $48,400. There are qualifying numbers for homes with up to eight incomes.

To rent in Jamestown, a one-bedroom unit is considered affordable if it costs no more than $790 per month. For two bedrooms, the cutoff is $910; three bedrooms, $1,087; and four bedrooms, $1,341.

Along with the housing board vacancies, the town has a seat open on the tree preservation committee. The board, which meets on the third Tuesday each month at the library, is tasked with working alongside the tree warden to conserve, plant and protect trees on public property.

Finally, the term limit for Rusty Sallee’s seat on the Discover Newport board of directors expires in September. The nonprofit organization, which is led by Jamestowner Evan Smith, is the official tourism agency for the City by the Sea and its eight surrounding towns in Newport and Bristol counties. Among the representatives on the 18-member board, each municipality should have a delegate of that community’s hospitality industry. Sallee, for example, owns the Lionel Champlin Guest House on Lincoln Street.

Seats on all three boards come with three-year terms. Qualified electors can drop off their applications at the clerk’s office, 93 Narragansett Ave. Forms can be downloaded from the town’s website. They also are available in hard copy at the library.

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