Housing has been identified as a very important topic to be discussed within the Master Plan. This section includes an assessment of current housing stock and identifies the types of housing and housing initiatives that will be needed in the future. Single family homes predominate in Charlemont and make up approximately 68% of the total housing units in the town. The majority of homes were built before 1939 (45%) and after 1970 (36%). Many homes constructed prior to 1939 still have vestiges of lead paint that might be hazardous, especially for children. The occupancy rate in Charlemont demonstrates seasonal patterns due to the inflow of tourists in the summer. The town has low activity in home sales. The average median value of Charlemont homes in 1995 was fluctuating insignificantly at a level of $95,000. Currently the situation is changing as a result of a growing demand for housing from incoming seasonal occupants, who are attracted into the community by the efforts of the three large rafting companies operating in Charlemont.
According to Ch.40 B Subsidized Housing Inventory (DHCD, 10.01.2001) only nine housing units, approximately 1.6%, are considered as long-term affordable housing. This number has not changed since 1993. However, this inventory doesn't list all subsidized, low- or moderate-income housing in the community. Tenant-based assisted units are not included in the inventory because Ch.40 B serves as an indication of the effort a community has made to provide affordable housing. Charlemont has a very high share of mobile homes and trailers that comprise 13% of total housing units. Their potential to contribute to long-term affordable housing has not yet been taken into account.
Since 1982, the Massachusetts Executive Order 215 has directed that every town should offer 10% of housing stock for low and moderate-income households. In the past decade, federal and state support for housing programs has diminished in an attempt to control budget deficits. However, the need for affordable housing remains. The housing is considered affordable when households spend 30% or less of their gross income on housing costs. Housing in Charlemont may be considered as generally affordable, since median gross rent or mortgage payments don't exceed 23%. For the past ten years the median gross rent in Charlemont has been lower than the state average but higher than that of Franklin County.
Charlemont has no public housing designated for the elderly, though a diverse housing stock with a wide range of costs is a necessary component of the social and economic health of any town. Young families and the elderly often need assistance to continue to reside in the town in which they grew up. These are often the demographic sections with lower or fixed incomes. Affordability thus is lower for these groups. The high cost of land and development makes it difficult for the private housing market to provide an adequate number of affordable rental and home ownership opportunities. General demographic trends across the country suggest that the elderly, couples who are just starting out, and single persons are all seeking housing with less space and fewer maintenance responsibilities than single family homes.
Charlemont, therefore, has an urgent need for a wider variety of housing types beyond the traditional single-family house. With more diverse housing, Charlemont could effectively retain more of its youth and elderly populations.
GOAL: Provide adequate and acceptable housing for Charlemont residents of all ages and income levels
Objective 1: Identify housing needs of Charlemont (size, cost, accessibility).
1.1 Identify existing housing that meets the state's affordable housing definition.
1.2 Inventory housing stock in Charlemont.
1.3 Identify the town's spokespersons/representatives for housing issues.
Objective 2: Preserve existing affordable housing and promote its opportunities.
2.1 Discuss strategies for creating and maintaining affordable housing that meets the town's needs.
2.2 Assess to what degree local zoning regulations constitute barriers to the provision of adequate housing.
2.3 Work with the FRCOG on Regional Housing certification under Executive Order 418 to enable Charlemont to apply for state funding for housing rehabilitation, Community Development Block Grants and other discretionary state funding.
Objective 3: Assess elderly housing needs in Charlemont
3.1 Identify suitable areas within the village for future elderly housing opportunities.
3.2 Encourage private developers to develop more affordable housing in Charlemont that meets identified needs.
3.3 Work with the Regional Housing Authority to assess and project elderly housing needs.
Objective 4: Encourage a development pattern that preserves open space and the rural character of the town.
4.1 Review or revise local zoning to allow for future open space conservation subdivisions.
4.2 Encourage the concentration of new residential growth within existing village centers.