A Boston-based nonprofit is working with Sandwich officials to build a new 30-unit affordable housing development off Quaker Meeting House Road.
The Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development doesn't just build houses, though; the group also installs a suite of services to help the people who will live in the units.
WCAI's Kathryn Eident talked with Gabrielle Geller, Senior Development Manager at the Women's Institute, to learn more about what her organization is planning.
Eident: What brought your organization to Sandwich, of all the towns on the Cape?
Geller: We know that Cape Cod is a place where affordable housing is really at a premium, and that it's becoming much harder for just regular people to live. The location of Sandwich being on the Upper Cape is really convenient to getting off-Cape to employment opportunities. It really just had a lot of physical characteristics working for it, as well as that critical need.
Eident: What are these units going to look like? And I understand they're situated in an area off Quaker Meeting House Road in Sandwich?
Geller: We did think a lot that contextually—a multi-storey multi-family building doesn't make sense here. So, what it's going to look like is really sort of like a community green. We're going to have nine buildings built in a circular drive, with three to four units per building, featuring a community building. We wanted to try to minimize paving as much as possible. There's a lot of public recreation space, so there'll be community gardens, the site abuts a national heritage site, and it's also directly adjacent to another affordable housing site.
Eident: What kinds of people are you hoping to draw?
Geller: We're anticipating that primarily most of these residents are already in Sandwich or immediately around Sandwich; people that maybe are having a hard time figuring out how to stay in Sandwich or stay on the Cape.
But, there could be opportunities for people directly off-Cape who might want to come on, or further on the Lower Cape. But the need just in and around Sandwich is acute enough to fill this development times three.
Eident: Your organization works with individuals who live in these types of developments to offer them services. What kinds of services would you be offering?
Geller: What we have targeted for this project would be assistance with daycare, job training, financial planning, and budgeting. Even home ownership readiness. What we will do, is hire our resident services coordinator, and the job of that person is really to suss out which of these services they might need. And, if we haven't hit what the services they need how can we link them?
Eident: How the units be filled? Will you have a lottery or application process?
Geller: We're required to have a lottery. We'll have eight opportunities for rental vouchers for very low-income persons. We will have three units that are community-based housing, which will be for folks that are current clients of the Department of Mental Health. We have six one-bedroom apartments, 20 two-bedroom apartments, and four three-bedroom apartments, and those are really targeted at persons up to 30 percent of the median family income and 50 percent of the median family income. And, the remaining 14 will be 60 percent of the median family income.
Eident: How are the rent structure work for folks like this?
Geller: So, the idea is that no one should be rent-burdened, which means that people should be paying no more than 30 percent of their gross monthly income on their housing payment, and a rental voucher would cover the rest.
Eident: Well, thanks so much for talking with us Gabby. That's Gabrielle Geller of the Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development.
Geller: Thank you. I appreciate you guys; great talking to you.
*This transcript was lightly edited for grammar and clarity.