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Opinions being gathered on affordable housing options

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN Does the town of Hampden need more affordable housing?

D & V Associates, a firm based in South Attleboro, Mass., is attempting to find the answer to that question by asking residents what they need. Richard Leco, a managing partner with the firm, met with seniors at the Senior Center last Tuesday to discover what they want when it comes to affordable housing.

Leco explained that there are generally three definitions for what people consider to be affordable housing low-income housing, what is considered affordable for a specific town or city and senior housing.

"Just providing shelter for those of low or limited income is not a solution," Leco said. "We need to find out the affordability of the people of Hampden, who may find it difficult to buy a house in the hometown. We need to look at programs to make that happen."

He added that the best way to find out what option was best for Hampden was to talk directly to the people who need affordable housing the most -- those gathered at the Senior Center.

"What range is considered affordable?" one man asked.

"That hasn't been determined yet," Leco replied. "We want to find out your needs first. There's no sense in building housing if no one wanted it or could afford it."

One couple said they'd like to sell their home and use that money to rent a new residence, but they can't move into a home in the Tall Pines active adult community because it's too expensive. Leco noted that a lot of people were looking for more accessible units and larger units when it comes to senior housing.

Others said they would like to rent properties that wouldn't require a lot of tenant maintenance.

"There's no one single correct answer, no one single program that will solve these issues," Leco said.

That's why D & V Associates are sending out a survey with the senior center's December newsletter to every household in Hampden, to determine what every resident is looking for when it comes to affordable housing.

The firm, which has been working on gathering data for the affordable housing study since August, aims to have all the surveys returned within a month of being sent out. Leco said he hopes to have different housing options ready for the town to consider by Feb. 1.