Orange hopeful for $24K grant to fund housing production plan

  • Downtown Orange. With the Selectboard’s approval, Orange Planning and Community Development Director Alec Wade intends to apply for a state grant to complete a housing production plan that will gauge the capacity for, and need for, housing growth in town. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 5/7/2021 3:15:41 PM

ORANGE — The Selectboard voted unanimously on Wednesday to authorize the town’s planning and community development director to apply for a state grant to complete a housing production plan that will gauge the capacity for, and need for, housing growth in town.

Alec Wade will apply for $24,000 through Community One Stop for Growth, which he explained is a new platform in which the state condensed various grant programs into one portal for “a much more streamlined approach.” If the grant is awarded to Orange, he said the money would be used for community engagement and outreach to complete a housing production plan.

The planning is led by the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), which designated $6,000 in District Local Technical Assistance money to start the project.

“I know that there often is a fair amount of discontent in every community over the concept of low- to moderate-income housing. It can be a difficult discussion to have, and right off the bat people often think (it’s) a burden on the tax base or (of) challenges with the aesthetic of housing,” Wade said at Wednesday’s Selectboard meeting held via the online video conferencing platform Zoom. “But when you produce a housing production plan, you can plan appropriately and better accommodate low- to moderate-income housing while still keeping a community’s aesthetic and ensuring your tax base isn’t negatively impacted.

“I think it’s a no-brainer for the community to do a housing production plan such as this,” he added.

Wade mentioned applying for this grant will also open the town up to greater grant opportunities in the future. The deadline to apply is June 4 and awards will be announced in October or November.

Selectboard Vice Chair Jane Peirce asked Wade to provide context to the notion there is not enough housing in Orange. She said she feels housing is abundant in town whenever she looks at the housing units on East River Street. In response, Wade explained there is much greater need for housing in the town’s rental market. He also said many homes in Orange are “not in what would be considered ‘living or ideal conditions.’”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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