KENT–Kent Affordable Housing has only a matter of weeks to find a suitable parcel on which to build an affordable single-family home, according to Bill Bachrach, a member of the KAH Board of Directors.
KAH has already developed 37 rental units in town and is planning 10 more on a parcel adjacent to South Commons, its original housing complex.
The single-family home would be in addition to the rental stock and could lead to home ownership for a family locked out of the pricey Litchfield County real estate market.
The house would be a modular unit placed on a lot owned by KAH.
Because the underlying land would not be part of the mortgage, the home would be more affordable. If the structure is ever sold, affordability would be maintained because the owners can only claim a cost-of-living increase in the price.
Bachrach said it is hoped the house would cost an eligible family about $250,000.
Eligible buyers would have income at 80 percent or less of the median income in Litchfield County.
According to the website point2homes.com, the average annual household income in Litchfield County is $133,595, while the median household income sits at $94,422 per year.
Zillow says the average Connecticut home value is $381,620, up 9.8 percent over the past year and that listings go to “pending” in around eight days.
“We’re looking for a way to participate in a state program that would allow us to create an affordable house on a parcel of land that would be donated or sold to KAH at a bargain price,” said Bachrach.
“This would be only our second home ownership project despite all our successes with building and managing rental units in Kent,” he said. “If we can gain an option on a small, buildable lot we can probably gain state funding to build and make available a home much below market value.”
The state has dedicated $6 billion in its budget for the creation of affordable housing and Jocelyn Ayers, director of the Litchfield County Center for Housing Opportunity, has devised a plan for Litchfield County to build 10 independent homes.
“Jocelyn has been talking regularly with the Commissioner of the Department of Housing,” Bachrach said. “They have agreed on an approach where she will submit an application on behalf of five towns for a total of 10 houses, but there is a real time factor in being part of the submission.”
“Cornwall has a building a site, as does Norfolk and Washington—Kent does not,” he said. “It would boost our parcel program, taking us from one home to two, and maybe allow us to have four in a couple of years.”
Cornwall already has 11 parcel homes. “They have received a number of gifts of land and have really been our role model,” Bachrach said.
KAH first introduced the concept of a parcel program in the early 2000s, when it asked substantial landowners to donate lots for homes.
Only one donor stepped up and the successful applicants were able to get a mortgage, design and build their own home.
“It’s been a terrific success for the family,” said Bachrach.
“Now, we’re looking for a small piece of vacant land, two acres more or less,” hee said. “There is a provision in town zoning that allows less than two acres if the parcel passes muster for septic.”
He said applicants for the two-to-three-bedroom house would be thoroughly screened and would have to be able to qualify for a bank mortgage.
“It will be attractive and will look like Kent,” Bachrach promised.
Anyone interested in helping KAH find a suitable parcel is asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re very eager to be part of this State of Connecticut pilot program,” he said.