Sep. 14—HAVERHILL — Concerned by the high rents in new housing developments, Mayor James Fiorentini has established a new Affordable Housing Task Force and appointed several members in a push to keep Haverhill housing prices affordable for working families and middle-income residents.
The mayor noted that rising home prices and rents are common problems in many prospering communities that are experiencing growth.
"As Haverhill has become more attractive, as our city and our schools have become better, and as people are moving out of Boston, companies and individuals are choosing Haverhill as their destination," Fiorentini said. "The influx of new people and new luxury apartment developments has caused an increase in rents. And while we are still more affordable than many surrounding communities, I am concerned that the average Haverhill resident and their children will not be able to afford to live in many of these new developments.
"We need to keep our city affordable so the average Haverhill resident and our children and grandchildren can afford to live here," he added.
In August, Fiorentini proposed the creation of a new ordinance that would require 10% of housing units built in Haverhill be affordable.
The Planning Board held a public hearing on the ordinance during its Aug. 11 meeting. The board's role is to make a recommendation to the city council, city officials said.
A city council subcommittee has also been studying the proposed ordinance, which is expected to undergo revisions. The full council is scheduled to review the ordinance at its Sept. 21 meeting.
Generally, Fiorentini said, affordable housing is defined as housing in which the occupant is paying no more than 30% of gross income for housing and utility costs.
City planners and members of the mayor's new task force will work together to research best practices, new ideas and what other cities are doing to make sure a portion of new housing is available to low- and middle-income people.
"This task force will advise me and advise the city on the best ways of providing housing includes providing affordable units in future development," Fiorentini said. "We will be studying the inclusionary zoning plans of other cities and following the best practices of those communities."
Task force members include:
William Pillsbury (Chairman) Economic Development and Planning Director
Andrew Herlihy, Community Development Director
Matthew Hennigan, Community Development Block Grants manager
Kerry Perry, Community Action Inc. Executive Director
Manny Matias, Haverhill Latino Coalition
Jeanine Murphy, Executive Director of Emmaus Inc.
Lucinda Nolet, Community Representative