Housing Authority says the wait may be shorter than you think

The Congregate Housing on Prospect Ridge has 34 one-bedroom units, and provides a meal a day.

A major chunk of the town’s affordable housing is run by the Housing Authority, a state agency whose volunteer members are appointed by the Board of Selectmen.

In addition to the income restrictions that all of the units have, some are reserved for the elderly and handicapped.

Most of the units are subsidized and there are few vacancies, though they do come up.

Bob Hebert, chairman of the Housing Authority, said he doesn’t want people to be discouraged from applying.

“I have heard ‘Oh yeah, there’s like a two year waiting list,’” Mr. Hebert said. “That may or may not be true. It really depends.

“Quite often we put somebody on the waiting list [but when they are contacted] they’ve found something else. Sometimes we go through a waiting list rather quickly.”

Additionally, prospective renters “may think that the only option is going over to Ballard, but then when we qualify them, they qualify for a unit over at the Congregate or at Prospect Ridge,” Mr. Hebert said, referring to the Housing Authority’s other housing campuses.

Ballard Green, just off Gilbert Street, is for the elderly and handicapped, and it’s fully booked. There were two recent vacancies but they were filled with tenants from the waiting list.

To qualify for one of the 60 subsidized units, renters must be 62 or older or have a disability that requires the units’ accessibility. And since it’s affordable housing, there is an income requirement: Renters have to make 50% of the area median income for most units.

Rent is 30% of the renter’s adjusted income — with medical expenses taken into account as “deductions” —so it varies from tenant to tenant, and it’s capped at $1,010.

There are 12 unsubsidized units for people who make 60% of the area median income or less.

“The Housing Authority also owns two houses” at edges of the Gilbert Street campus, said Rachel Spencer, the Winn Residential property manager for the Housing Authority.  They are on either side of the entrance to Ballard Green.

One house has two one bedroom apartments, and the other is a single-family three-bedroom.

The two one-bedroom units are for people earning 50% of the area median income or less.

“The three-bedroom is a market apartment so there’s no sort of income requirement,” Ms. Spencer said.

Two units recently changed hands, but because there was a waiting list they were filled right away.

There’s more senior housing on Prospect Ridge at the Housing Authority’s Congregate Housing complex.

There, two units recently came available, one with a tenant lined up already, leaving the other one open for now.

There are 34 one-bedroom units there. The requirements and rents are the same as Ballard Green, but there are additional costs that again vary based on income for extra services provided there.

That complex has a staff member on the campus at all times in case of an emergency, provides one hot meal per day, and an hour of maid service per week.

But, Mr. Hebert said, tenants or families of tenants should understand that the modest resident services at Congregate Housing don’t make it a nursing home.

“It is housing. We’re not licensed, we’re not trained, we don’t have the skillset to provide assisted living,” he said.

The Housing Authority also runs a complex called the Meadows, which has no age or handicap requirement.

“These are the units that are about four years old. They’re very new, very nice,” Ms. Spencer said.

The Meadows has 20 two- and three-bedroom units with different income requirements — some are reserved for people earning less than 50% of area median income and some for those earning less than 80%. There are two units currently empty, with one application being processed.

There are minimum and maximum income requirements for Meadows units.

“If one person meets the income requirement and it’s a two bedroom apartment, it should be fine,” Ms. Spencer said.

A two-bedroom for someone earning 50% of the median income would go for $1,014. A three-bedroom rents for $1,145.

The same units for 80% earners would be $1,216 and $1,370.

“There’s some income requirements in that there’s a minimum income for the household,” Ms. Spencer said. “Depending on how many folks” live in the unit.

For a family of four for example, the 50% income level is $53,800. The 80% level is about $67,450.

Fortunately, there is no requirement that tenants have a deep knowledge of all these qualifications and restrictions.

“What I tell people is, if you think you may have an interest, go over and talk to our property manager, fill out an application,” Mr. Hebert said.

Ms. Spencer can be contacted at [email protected] or by calling Ballard Green, 438-9845, or Prospect Ridge, 431-9943, locations, where she splits her time.

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