Watertown Housing Plan. The Town Council approved a new Housing Plan on March 23, 2021. The Council's Committees on Economic Development & Planning and Human Services will review proposals to implement the Plan's recommended strategies. The Watertown Housing Partnership developed the Plan, which covers the years 2021 through 2025.
Fair Housing Complaints. Federal and state law prohibit housing discrimination based on membership in a protected class such as race, gender, and familial status. The Town of Watertown does not have the resources or expertise to directly investigate, mediate or settle complaints for fair housing in the community. Nevertheless, the Town would like to assist aggrieved parties in addressing any discrimination in the Town and would like to gather information on complaints brought to its attention. If you have a fair housing complaint, you can file the complaint at the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination. The Town also encourages you to provide information to us so that we can note any patterns of discrimination and determine, if possible, how the complaint has been resolved. Providing information on this form is purely voluntary.
Fair Housing Plan: The WestMetro HOME Consortium (described below) released its Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing for public comment on November 24, 2020. The plan can be read here. There was a public hearing on December 7 in Newton and a 30-day comment period. The Consortium is currently evaluating the comments to determine whether to make changes and, if so, how the plan should change. The Consortium expects to issue a final report in winter 2021.
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 2020 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 held February 17
Forty five affordable rental units at 485 Arsenal Street were available through a lottery heldn February 17, 2021. 485 Arsenal Street is Blvd and Bond, part of the mixed-use Arsenal Yards development. Fifteen of the units will be occupied by 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:
ABOUT THE WATERTOWN PLANNING OFFICE
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
Metro West Collaborative Development
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.
Metro West Collaborative Housing Clinics: MWCD offers housing clinics on filling out applications, information on new vacancies, and the overall affordable housing process. Click here for the flyer.