Village Council

Village Council—Affordable housing project is a multi-stage process

Village Council’s process for a recently proposed small affordable housing project will involve several stages, according to Council President Judith Hempfling at Council’s Oct. 18 meeting. If Council approves entering into a Memorandum of Agreement, or MOA, with Home, Inc., that agreement is only the first stage and does not commit Council to approving the final project, working with Home, Inc., or transferring Village-owned land.

The project, proposed at Council’s Oct. 4 meeting by Hempfling and Lori Askeland, would use a half-acre of Village-owned land on Cemetery Street to build about four or five single family dwellings using a land trust model. Council continued the previous discussion at the Oct. 18 meeting but did not vote on the MOA, which is the first step of the process, because Karen Wintrow was absent for health reasons. Hempfling said she hopes to vote on the MOA at Council’s next meeting, which is Nov. 1.

Hempfling outlined the stages involved at Monday’s Council meeting in order to address some confusion around the process, she said. Hempfling identified three stages to the process, as clarified by Village Solicitor John Chambers in a recent memo.

In the first stage, Council will vote on a motion which authorizes the Council president to negotiate an MOA with Home, Inc. for the affordable housing project. The MOA allows for the development of a plan between Council and Home, Inc.

In the second step, the plan that has been developed will be presented to Council for approval. This step may or may not include the selection of a developer for the project, according to Chambers.

In the third step, Council will decide the conditions under which Village land will be transferred. Options include selling the land to the developer at market price, at a reduced price or giving the land for the project. Any transfer of land will require Council’s approval, according to the Chambers memo.

The need for affordable housing in the village has been an ongoing concern of this Village Council, and the majority of Council members were elected on a platform that included affordable housing, Hempfling said at the Oct. 4 meeting, stating that it was time to move forward on the issue.

In comments from citizens, Linda Rudawski urged Council to create a housing coalition in Yellow Springs before moving ahead with the project. As the county coordinator for homelessness in Champaign County, Rudawski said she has experienced such coalitions as effective groups to address housing issues.

“If you had a coalition, they would do the work for you,” she said. “You don’t have to do all the legwork you’re doing.”

A coalition would also ensure a collaborative process, Rudawski said.

In response to a concern from Chuck Buster, who asked whether lending institutions are familiar with the land trust concept, Home, Inc. director Marianne MacQueen stated that, “In the current climate getting a mortgage for anyone is difficult.” However, she said, Home, Inc. works with three lending institutions currently and recently approached US Bank for potential partnering.

“We work extensively with home buyers,” MacQueen said, stating that support offered to potential home buyers includes pre-purchase counseling and help with finding a lender. MacQueen also said that Home, Inc. will present information at an upcoming Council meeting clarifying specifics of the Home, Inc. process.

More information on the Oct. 18 Council meeting will be in next week’s News.

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