Watertown Draft Housing Plan. The Watertown Housing Partnership approved the substance of a new housing plan on December 15, 2020. The final text is being prepared for submission to the Town Council. The draft plan was the subject of a December 3 special meeting to obtain public comment. The notice for this special meeting (here) contains a link to the draft plan and meeting presentation.
Fair Housing: The WestMetro HOME Consortium (described below) has released its Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing for public comment. The plan can be read here. On Monday, December 7, 2020 at 7:00 pm, the City of Newton and WestMetro HOME Consortium are holding a public hearing to solicit feedback on the full draft report. Watertown residents are encouraged to participate, as set forth in this notice, as Watertown is one of the 13 Consortium members. The Consortium expects to issue a final report in late January 2021. Federal and state law prohibit housing discrimination based on membership in a protected class such as race, gender, and familial status.
Emergency rental assistance available for income-qualified Watertown renters
The Watertown Housing Partnership has set up an Emergency Rental Assistance Program for Watertown renters who have lost income and are having trouble paying rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This assistance is temporary and will provide assistance to eligible Watertown renters earning below 80% of Area Median Income. Assistance is for up to $750 for a 1-bedroom apartment, $950 for a 2-bedroom apartment, and $1,150 for a 3-bedroom apartment. Anyone interested in applying should contact Robyn Rufo at Metro West Collaborative directly for an application (firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-923-3505 ext. 5). Eligible renters are being accepted by Metro West Collaborative on a first come-first serve basis while funds are available. Program materials are being revised. For the old materials, see this flyer and the program guidelines.
MA Attorney General issues January 7, 2021 advisory on rights of tenants facing eviction. https://www.mass.gov/news/ag-healey-issues-advisory-to-inform-tenants-of-their-rights-during-the-covid-19-pandemic
December Update on State’s new Eviction Diversion Initiative: The Baker-Polito Administration announced October 12 that it was replacing the Commonwealth’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium, which expired October 17, with a combination of new rental assistance money, mediation and other measures to keep tenants in their homes. The Administration committed $112 million in new funding through June 30, 2021, while the trial court modified its usual eviction procedure to provide for a “two tier process” to mediate disputes first. On December 9, the State announced further information on free legal help and community mediation. Through the COVID-19 Eviction Legal Help Project (CELHP), a substantial expansion of free legal help for low-income tenants as well as low-income owner-occupants of 2-3 family properties navigating the eviction process has started. These services can be used before the eviction process begins, as well as once a notice has been received, and can be used in coordination with the mediation services already rolled out. For more information: https://evictionlegalhelp.org/. Households can also call 2-1-1, and learn more at www.mass.gov/CovidHousingHelp. Eligible tenants and landlords should seek help as soon as possible, before a court filing occurs.
Foreclosure Prevention Counseling Services available: Watertown partners with Cambridge Neighborhood Apartment Housing Services, Inc. (CNAHS) to provide foreclosure prevention counseling services to Watertown residents. If you are struggling to pay your mortgage, call CNAHS at 617-491-1545.
Shelter Directory: Click here to see a list of shelters for men, women, families and youth as produced by Health Care Without Walls, a charitable organization based in Wellesley, MA.
Affordable Unit Lottery for New Arsenal Yards units
Forty five affordable rental units at 485 Arsenal Street will be available through a lottery process up through February 3, 2021. The public info session will be December 29, the application deadline February 3, and the lottery on February 17.
485 Arsenal Street is Blvd and Bond, part of the mixed-use Arsenal Yards development.
Fifteen of the units will be available to households at or below 65% of area median income (AMI) and thirty units at or below 80% of AMI. Below is a listing of the income limits for varying household sizes:
80% AMI Units MAXIMUM Household Income Limits:
$67,400 (1 person), $77,000 (2 people), $86,650 (3 people),
$96,250 (4 people), $103,950 (5 people), $111,650 (6 people)
65% AMI Units MAXIMUM Household Income Limits:
$58,240 (1 person), $66,560 (2 people), $74,880 (3 people),
$83,135 (4 people), $89,830 (5 people), $96,460 (6 people)
For more information, including access to the public info session and application forms, or for reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities, go to https://sebhousing.com/property/blvd-bond/ or call (617) 782-6900x1 and leave a message or postal mail SEB Housing, 257 Hillside Ave, Needham MA 02494. For TTY Services dial 711. Free translation available. Traducción gratuita disponible.
Income/asset-restricted condo for sale: A Riverbank Lofts (290 Pleasant Street) “affordable” unit is for sale to purchasers who meet income/asset and other requirements. The unit is 941 square feet and has two deeded parking spaces. To qualify, you must be a first-time home buyer, have a maximum gross income of $67,400 if one-person household or $77,000 if two-person, $86,650 if 3-person; maximum liquid assets $75,000. Application and pre-approval required. For more information:https://www.watertown-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/30908/290-Pleasant-Unit-310-resale-flyer
The Planning Office is charged with overseeing the Town’s Affordable Housing Requirements (section 5.07 of the Watertown Zoning Ordinance), administering the HOME Investment Partnership Program funds, providing staff support to the Watertown Housing Partnership, and coordinating other housing-related projects and programs.
Affordable Set Aside Percentage: Watertown’s affordable set-aside percentage for private residential development projects that create 6 or more units or more than 5 lots is 15.0%, with affordability in two parts. Click here (PDF) to see the Town Council approved zoning text.
To learn more about the Town’s Affordable Housing Requirements, download this explanatory guide (PDF).
The WestMetro HOME Consortium
The WestMetro HOME Consortium provides funding and technical assistance to its 14 member communities to support local and regional affordable housing goals. In addition to Watertown, the HOME Consortium communities include Newton (lead member), Bedford, Belmont, Brookline, Concord, Framingham, Lexington, Lincoln, Natick, Needham, Sudbury, Waltham, and Wayland.
Since 1992, the Consortium has provided grants and loans of HOME funds to for-and non-profit developers and directly to low-income households to create over 550 units of affordable housing within the Consortium member communities.
HOME Program Plans:
Revised Citizen Participation Plan (PDF): The Citizen Participation Plan for the Annual Action Plan and Consolidated Plan.
2014 HOME Project: St. Joseph Hall
Housing Production Plan
The Town, MetroWest Collaborative Development, Inc., and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council worked in 2013 to develop a Housing Production Plan funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities Program and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development Priority Development Fund.
What is a Housing Production Plan?
A “Housing Production Plan” is a document that is approved by the Department of Housing and Community Development and includes the following elements:
- An assessment of our community's housing needs based on an understanding of population trends and regional growth factors
- A numerical goal of units to produce annually
- An appropriate mix of housing types
- Steps for meeting our goals
Watertown works closely with Metro West Collaborative Development, a private, non-profit located at 79-B Chapel Street, Newton, MA 02458 to develop affordable housing. To learn more about their affordable housing programs, visit the MWCD website.