Wareham Selectman wants to see action on changing affordable housing rents

Jun 13, 2018

The cost of affordable housing in Wareham, as determined by the state, is still an expensive option, Selectman Patrick Tropeano said Tuesday. In a bid to bring those rents down, he asked about researching how to move the town out of the Boston market and into the New Bedford one.

The discussion occurred after talk on an affordable housing property at 35 Swifts Beach Road. That property had failed to sell at an affordable rate. According to Director of Planning & Community Development Ken Buckland, the owners now want to sell the property at market price, which is higher than the affordable rate.

As it stands, Wareham is considered a part of Boston’s housing market despite being closer and far more similar economically to New Bedford. Under state housing guidelines, Massachusetts is carved up into several different markets based on federal population data, each with its own set of affordable rates.

In Boston, the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment is well over $2,000 a month. In New Bedford, the price is half that.

“Two thousand dollars a month is a lot of money,” said Selectman Patrick Tropeano said. “It’s a lot of money for me, and I know it’s a lot of money for other people.”

The inflated cost of housing in Wareham has been a long standing problem, with only 7.7 percent of residences considered affordable. This puts Wareham at odds with the state’s affordable housing law, 40B. Under 40B, local zoning regulations are relaxed for housing projects where less than 10 percent of homes or apartments are considered affordable.

“I know a lot of people won’t agree with me,” said Town Administrator Derek Sullivan. “But it’s not the taxes that are high in Wareham, it’s the housing. It drives everything.”

At this moment, it is unclear what steps Wareham must take to move into the New Bedford market.

“We’ll be going to the federal level,” Tropeano said. “That’s for sure.”