Town Meeting to weigh in on mobile homes and affordable housing

Apr 15, 2015

After years of failure trying to persuade state legislators to support the cause, town officials are trying a slightly different approach at getting mobile homes counted as affordable housing in Wareham.

A "home rule" petition will go before Town Meeting voters on April 27. If it passes Town Meeting it will then directly go to the state Legislature. Members of the Planning Board voted in support of the measure at last Monday's meeting, where Selectman Alan Slavin was on hand to discuss the bill.

"Since we've had no luck with our representatives getting it done we're going to do it on our own and see if we can get it done," Slavin said.

The item will ask the state Legislature to categorize manufactured homes in Wareham as “affordable housing” for Chapter 40B purposes, according to Slavin.

State law Chapter 40B, designed to encourage the development of housing affordable to low and moderate-income people, penalizes communities in which less than 10 percent of the housing stock is considered affordable -- by allowing developers to avoid local regulations if constructing affordable housing.

Because of Chapter 40B’s definition of affordable housing, Wareham has never met the 10 percent threshold. If the roughly 1,100 units in the town’s mobile home parks were to be considered affordable housing, the town would easily meet the 10 percent requirement.