Dukes County Health Council
Healthy Aging Task Force
Housing Work Group
January 15, 2014
Present: Cathlin Baker, Christine Flynn, Esther Hopkins, Philippe Jordi, Marina Lent, Mark London, Paddy Moore, Abe Seaman, Richard Toole, David Vigneault, Ann Wallace
Absent: Leon Brathwaite, Peter Temple
• Update on Conveners
• Review of Charge and Priorities for Workplan
• Workplan Development
II. Convener Update:
Paddy reported that Leon Brathwaite was unable to commit to being a co-convener due to press of other commitments.
She also reported that the question had been raised as to whether it would make sense for the HATF Housing Workgroup to merge with the Joint Affordable Housing Taskforce. Discussion on this issue followed:
• Some people felt that a merger would make sense because of the shared goals and agendas; would expand the knowledge base, assure that the work was time-efficient, and avoid possible competition between the groups.
• Others were not convinced that a merger is the answer; might be better to coordinate the work but keep the groups separate. Christine expressed some concern about staff coverage if the groups were merged, and also noted that the HATF Workgroup is bound by the open meeting law, which the Joint Affordable Housing group is not.
• Ann noted that the current agendas of the two groups overlap, but are not completely the same. Areas of congruity are:
1) Efforts to implement Universal Design in new housing, and in retrofits wherever possible; This will require zoning changes, and will probably take two years.
2) Expanding town Accessory Unit By-laws to permit more mother-in-law apartments (or even tiny houses and pods, as suggested by Marina);
3) Persuading towns to change zoning By-laws to permit more multi-family housing arrangements to include seniors.
• In answer to a question, Philippe indicated that IHT is focused on the production of new rental units, community education, and fundraising for construction; they are also interviewing staff for two new positions. He thinks the MVC Housing Needs Assessment Report is good, but needs to be clarified and language made more accessible for good community education.
• Ann and Christine agreed that streamlined information needs to get to all Planning Boards and Town Housing Committees, and Christine has scheduled or made meetings and presentations to all those groups, and provided them with a 4-page summary of the Needs Assessment..
• David thinks the building community will oppose the visit-ability (UD) initiative., on the grounds that they perceive it to be more expensive. He says this is not accurate, but is a common perception. He thinks that the pressure of the new population data and the Healthy Aging initiative is really important, and can provide a much stronger constituency for several of the Affordable Housing priorities. He clarified that the new “visit=ability” components do not have to be the ADA standards, but can be restricted to: at least one zero-step entrance with an accessible
route; a downstairs bath; wide passage doors; additional lever doors. But some architects say this kind of building may require a different kind of foundation, and the resistant mentality is the first - and major - barrier to be overcome.
• Richard suggested that towns could use the Green Communities Act, get money.
• Marina suggested finding models in other communities that we and other interested folks from Vineyard could go see.
• Paddy suggested that the two groups could develop a shared political strategy and be mutually supportive, without deciding at this time to merge. We can share data, develop a shared “elevator speech” about why the three changes are needed.
• Mark suggested that such a speech could be a Handout for town meetings, identifying why these changes are important; what kinds of housing possibilities can result; what groups are supporting these initiatives; describing the priority actions needed.
Group agreed that the next meeting will be the third Wednesday in February - February 19th, at 3:00 p.m. at MVC conference room.