Council seeks affordable housing oversight

At West Side 20
Fri, 11/10/2017 - 8:45am

The New Shoreham Town Council is supporting the Block Island Economic Development Foundation’s efforts in asking the Homeowners Association for the West Side 20 to enforce its bylaws and address affordable housing units that are not occupied by their original owners. According to Councilor André Boudreau, BIED has sent a letter to the West Lane Homeowners Association asking the Association to enforce compliance of its bylaws.

Boudreau said the “units are not being used as originally intended,” during a discussion at the Town Council’s meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 1. The West Side 20 is an affordable housing program administered by the BIED Foundation, a non-profit group.

“All we’re asking the (Homeowners Association) to do is to enforce their own bylaws,” said Boudreau. “So we put it on the agenda to let the public know that we do recognize that there are families on the affordable housing waiting list. And we do know that some of these units aren’t being used as originally intended.”

Boudreau said the Town Council has been “talking about housing for a new Town Manager, and there are a bunch of families out there still waiting for affordable housing” on the island, “and it’s been well-known that there are two houses at the West Side 20 that aren’t occupied by the original owners.”

He said the affordable housing deed restrictions say that, “No leases of the Property shall be allowed under any circumstances. If the Buyer is called to active duty with the U.S. Armed Services, then the Buyer may lease the Property for the period of time that the Buyer is serving with the U.S. Armed Services and, is unable to to reside in the Town of New Shoreham.”

The restriction also notes that, “The property may be transferred by inheritance, gift or sale to a relative of the Buyer by blood, marriage or adoption who qualifies as a Low or Moderate Income Resident, or by sale to a prospective buyer who qualifies as a Low or Moderate Income Resident.”

“We realize that the town can’t do anything about this,” said Boudreau. “It’s up to the Homeowners Association over there to actually tackle the issue. As I understand BIED sent a letter this week to the Homeowners Association asking them to support the bylaws with respect to this. I think all of us at this table support the efforts of BIED — and will do anything that we can to assist with the resolution of the problem.”

Boudreau said the Town Council was expecting an update from BIED regarding the situation in December. “There’s nothing the Town Council can do about this,” he said. “And there is nothing BIED can do about it, either. It’s up to the Homeowners Association that runs the West Side 20.”

Claire McElderry, the President of the West Lane Homeowners Association, had not returned phone calls by press time.