Erving Selectboard approves $15.6M senior housing proposal

Rural Development Inc.’s design for Erving’s multi-generational housing on Care Drive.

Rural Development Inc.’s design for Erving’s multi-generational housing on Care Drive. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE/AUSTIN DESIGN COOPERATIVE

Rural Development Inc.’s design for Erving’s senior housing on Care Drive.

Rural Development Inc.’s design for Erving’s senior housing on Care Drive. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE/AUSTIN DESIGN COOPERATIVE

By LIESEL NYGARD

For the Recorder

Published: 01-01-2024 5:01 PM

ERVING — The Selectboard has unanimously supported moving forward with a $15.6 million senior housing proposal from Rural Development Inc. (RDI) in hopes of completing the project by 2028.

The project is composed of three separate energy-efficient buildings located on 6 acres of land on Care Drive, which lies north of the library and the Erving Senior & Community Center. RDI’s proposal involves building 26 units of housing, including age-restricted senior housing for those 62 and up, while also providing multi-generational workforce housing in two other buildings.

“It really is kind of the perfect location for housing,” said Town Planner Mariah Kurtz. “And while in Boston 26 units might not be a lot, in Franklin County it’s gonna make a substantial impact while we’re looking at the housing crisis.”

There would be 18 senior housing units for those who earn a maximum of 60% of Franklin County area median income, according to RDI’s proposal. The apartments will be 600 square feet and are designed for residents to “age in place” by including kitchens with removable base cabinets for easy accessibility modifications and bathrooms that allow the addition of grab bars with a walk-in or roll-in shower. The apartments would also have a washer and dryer.

Across from the senior housing, RDI has suggested constructing two buildings — each with four units — for multi-generational workforce housing that would include a mix of six fully accessible, two-bedroom apartments between 800 and 1,000 square feet in size and two three-bedroom apartments, which are 1,200 square feet, with a bedroom and a full bathroom featuring a walk-in shower on the first floor.

Walkways and sidewalks would be connected to Care Drive for easy accessibility while other features, like covered bicycle parking, a play space in view of all the apartments, a community garden space, parking lots and storage sheds for residents will be available.

Although the total for the housing project is more than $15.68 million, Erving would be responsible for an estimated $448,188 and would likely use grants to pay for it, according to Kurtz. The town also has $149,000 leftover from a sewer extension the state Department of Transportation created down Route 63 several years ago, which could be moved to extend from Route 63 to Care Drive.

“There will be a lot of grant applications both on RDI’s part and the town’s part in association with this project,” Kurtz said. “There’s no portion of funding the town will need to pay. There are some existing accounts for projects that we could potentially use money from.”

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RDI is a nonprofit created by the Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority. Alyssa Larose, housing development director for the housing authority and RDI, said the estimated remaining balance for the project would be covered by various sources, including a combination of state and federal sources, tax credits and $600,000 in permanent debt on the property.

“As a region we have older housing stock. We tend to kind of lack some of the higher-quality housing that’s needed right now,” Larose said. “We think the location is fabulous. … It’s a really great opportunity to provide some affordable, quality housing for residents.”

Around three months before the apartments are ready for occupancy, a housing lottery will be held where Erving will seek local preference for 70% of the eligible apartments. Preference will go to those who are either a current town resident, a municipal or local business employee, or a household with children attending local schools. After the first year of funding, Kurtz said the housing would have no local preference.

The housing project could reach completion by 2028, but steps still need to be made, including amendments to Care Drive’s layout, a proposal for new property lines and an Approval Not Required (ANR) plan that will appear before the Planning Board. Two future Town Meeting articles will ask residents to improve the disposition of the parcel through a 99-year land lease.

“People have been talking about this for 25 years,” Kurtz said. “The Senior Housing Committee is thrilled that this is moving forward. They’ve been working on this for a really long time and this has been a project that has been requested by residents for a long time.”