Westport will receive $8.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Over $750,000 had already been approved for public health, tree trimming, network protection, bus shelters and COVID-related expenses.
This week the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) approved $1.3 million for the Burying Hill Beach jetty, and $200,000 for 12 local arts non-profits. In the pipeline: downtown enhancements.
Next Wednesday (February 9, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), the Board of Finance will consider a request for $150,000. The funds would support pre-development activities for low-density affordable housing at Post Road East, by West Parish Road. The request includies architectural fees, engineering site work, surveys, and traffic and environmental studies.
The parcel is on state Department of Transportation land, adjacent to Walgreens. Vehicles and equipment are stored there now.
The request comes from Westport’s Department of Human Services. It describes “approximately 20 or more multi-family housing units in a desirable location, without high-density 8-30g project proposals from the private sector, which would typically include and additional 80+ market-rate units.”
DHS says the ARPA funds would help Westport gain moratorium points “to curtail 8-30g applications, which often result in dense housing and zoning battles.”
The proposal adds that “access to quality, affordable housing creates jobs, enhances economic development opportunities, and helps address the long history of segregated communities in (Connecticut) by creating viable options for new families to live in Westport.”
Under state law, only 3.6% of the town’s housin stock currently qualifies as “affordable.”
The DHS proposal links the funding request with ARPA’s aim — to support state, local and tribal governments’ responses to, and recovery from, the pandemic — by noting that the higher-income households have weathered COVID “without significant income losses, low-interest rates, and housing supply constraints”; in fact, it says, home values have soared.
Meanwhile, “many low-income renters and homeowners struggle with lost employment and income and are behind on their housing payments.”
The Human Services report concludes, “it is challenging to fund this development through traditional HUD and CAFA sources because it is so small in scale. Without assistance from the Town — via ARPA or other funds — a project of this scale isn’t feasible.
“Today, we have an opportunity to create the type of housing needed in Westport — quality, affordable housing for families that is centrally located with access to transportation resources and meets our community’s needs.”
(The February 9 Board of Finance meeting will be livestreamed, for those unable to be at Town Hall. Go to http://www.westportct.gov; select the “How Do I?”” heading, then “Watch Town Meetings.” It will also be shown on Optimum Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020. Comments to be read during the public comment period may be emailed to BOFcomments@westportct.gov, with full name and address. Click here for the full agenda.)
This seems like a much better plan than whatever it is they were discussing to do with the Westport Inn. Does anyone know whether a project like this would actually make a dent in 8-30g requirements?
The American Rescue Plan was advertised by President Biden & passed by our legislature as providing emergency grants, lending and investments for hard hit small businesses so they can retrain and rehire workers and purchase Covid related PPE to sustain their operations. I fail to see 1) why Westport is only now determining how to use its funding given the bill was passed in February 2021?, and 2) how anything included in Dan’s blog aligns with what the public was told regarding how it’s $ would be applied?
Very saddened yet unsurprised at the hypocrisy of our pols in Washington. Good reason why the BBB proposal failed. Too many lofty promises tied to large sums of our $ without oversight.
This project deserves support since it aims to build 100% affordable units as opposed to the typical 8-30g development. The Greens Farms Association and local neighbors agree this is a good project taking advantage of unused state land at that site. It would be great to see ARPA funds approved to get it moving along.
Greens Farms Association
What caught my eye was bus shelters! Finally. Talk about doing something for low income, working people who are our essential workers. it’s kind of disgraceful such a wealthy town has not provided even the slightest convenience or protection for folks who travel on the public buses to come here.
I couldn’t agree more. The folks who take the bus to work in Westport keep this town running. It’s shameful!
Why is the meeting being held in Town Hall Rm 309? If it is a go to hold meetings in person, we should shoot for spaces that are in keeping with preventing covid spread. Rm 309 is not that space. Please rethink and move the meeting to the Auditorium so that those who wish to attend may do so in the safest possible way.
Thanks, Marla. The meeting will be held in the Town Hall auditorium – not Room 309. That smaller room is the site for the executive session prior to the public meeting only.