Chatham Housing Officials Collaborate To Sell Affordable Units

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Affordable housing

Two affordable units in this condominium development at 1070 Main St. in Chatham have remained unsold for several years. Housing officials are working together to try to find qualified buyers. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – Local and state housing officials are collaborating to try to find a way get qualified buyers into two affordable condominiums along Route 28.

The two-bedroom units at Main Street Village at 1070 Main St., marketed at $135,000 each, have been vacant for a number of years, and two attempts to hold lotteries failed to find buyers who met income limits and could qualify for mortgages.

A few potential buyers have come forward in recent weeks. Housing officials say they hope they can find occupants for the units by mid July.

“We need to reboot this to get some people into these units,” said Allen Maury, chairman of the town's housing authority.

Gael Kelleher of the Housing Assistance Corporation, which is marketing the units, said people have had trouble qualifying for a mortgage because the income limits on the units are so low.

The project, approved under a Chapter 40B comprehensive permit, was built by developer Mark Bulman and includes a total of 10 units. Because only two, or 20 percent, were affordable, the income limit was set at or below 50 percent of the median income for Barnstable County; that translates to $29,750 for one person to $42,450 for a four-person household. Kelleher said most 40B projects have 25 percent affordable units and an income limit of 80 percent of the median income, which is $47,550 for a single person and $67,900 for a family of four.

Buyers must also have a downpayment of 3 percent, half of which can be a gift, as well as closing costs. For the Chatham units, that means a total of between $4,000 and $6,000, Kelleher said.

Jack Kelleher, a member of the board of Chatham's Affordable Housing Trust Fund, said he will request a meeting of the group to provide $25,000 to assist with downpayments and/or help subsidize the cost of the two units. The money can be provided as a zero percent interest loan that could be forgiven in the future, he said.

Greg Watson of MassHousing said the agency can help by reaching out to local lenders to work to qualify potential buyers for mortgages. The agency also has other tools that could help potential buyers qualify for the units, he said.

“I feel like there probably is a workable solution for finding someone to get into these units,” he said via telephone hookup at the meeting, held last Friday at the housing authority office on Crowell Road.

The units are currently being marketed on the HAC website and on Facebook, said Gael Kelleher. She said it would help find a buyer who can qualify for a mortgage if the income level was higher, but Watson said the levels are dictated by the Chapter 40B statute and any change would have to be approved by the zoning board of appeals and the state department of housing and community development.

Because two attempts at holding a lottery have already been made, the units are now available on a first come, first served basis to buyers who can meet all of the qualifications, said the HAC's Kelleher. Applicants must be first-time homebuyers, have assets of less than $75,000, and be able to meet the usual mortgage requirements.

The community development department recently had a person inquire about whether a single person could qualify for the units, said Acting Director Katie Donovan. Kelleher said household size only becomes a criteria with a lottery, and is not an issue here. There is also no local preference; any who can qualify financially is eligible to apply.

Housing Authority Executive Director John Stewart also said he's had one person inquire about the units.

Those involved in last week's meeting were confident that by working together they could find a qualified buyer for the two affordable units.

“Our objective is to get this done, accomplish it by July 15,” said Jack Kelleher.

Anyone interested in more information about the units or obtaining an application can contact the Housing Assistance Corporation at 508-771-5400, ext. 285, or email ccre@haconcapecod.org.