The town has taken another step in its effort to gain more control over housing development in Wellesley by crafting a draft request for proposals for a Housing Production Plan. A spate of 40B proposals this summer to plop affordable and other housing units into various neighborhoods across town has prompted the action, which could give Wellesley the ability to shoot down unfriendly 40Bs by formally documenting that it is making progress on achieving state mandated affordable housing goals.
The draft RFP seeks to pay a consultant up to $35K for a plan, which ideally would be completed within 6 months of being awarded (various town approvals of the RFP are being sought this month, so it likely would be issued shortly thereafter). The plan presumably won’t impact current 40B proposals, but would put Wellesley in more control of its housing development destiny going forward. Wellesley’s Planning Department and Selectmen’s Office looked to Housing Production Plans from Brookline and Southborough, which are among the dozens of communities in the state that have such plans, for guidance in assembling its draft RFP.
Under the 40B statute, communities in Massachusetts that have less than 10% of their housing stock defined as affordable according to a formula based on median incomes in the area are largely at the mercy of the state when it comes to approval of projects that have at least 20% to 25% of their units deemed affordable. An overwhelming majority of such projects get OK’d by the state. Wellesley’s affordable housing hovers at just over 6% of its overall stock.
Wellesley is seeking to diversify its housing stock, which in turn would theoretically support a more economically, culturally, racially and age diverse population in town.