Morgan Woods conducts first lottery round
The process was long and tiresome, but about 25 people waited patiently and anxiously Monday in the selectmen's hearing room of Edgartown Town Hall for the outcome of the Morgan Woods affordable housing lottery drawing.
The wait was an hour and 15 minutes to find out what their chances are for getting one of the 60 apartments in the new complex off Edgartown Road at South 12th Street, which is expected to be ready for some of its tenants in May. After the drawing of all the numbers for the 238 housing applicants, the applicants present stood in line to find out where they placed on the lists.
One young man was unhappy to learn that he was No. 19 on the waiting list beyond the first 60 numbers. A young woman, waiting anxiously for her own placement, congratulated a woman ahead of her who was told she was No. 4 on the first-round list.
Representatives of The Community Builders (TCB) and the Edgartown Homesite Committee conducted a lottery drawing Monday at Edgartown Town Hall for the prospective tenants of Edgartown's new affordable housing complex, Morgan Woods. They are (from left) Nancy Salvia, assistant director of property management for TCB, Dawn Bryant, administrative assistant for TCB's Northeast region, and Marilyn Wortman, administrative assistant to the Edgartown resident homesite committee. Ms. Wortman drew the numbers of the 238 applicants from paper bags in various categories for an hour and 15 minutes while about 25 prospective tenants anxiously looked on. Every applicant was then assigned a priority number in the categories for which they qualified for the 60 rental units available. Photo by Susan Vaughn
"You'll be getting a letter soon," Laurel Wood, senior property manager for The Community Builders (TCB), told the No. 4 woman. Ms. Wood was one of six people, five from TCB, the general contractor and management company for Morgan Woods, who conducted the complicated lottery process. Marilyn Wortman, administrative assistant for the town's affordable housing committee, drew the numbers randomly one by one out of small brown paper bags marked for each "pool," based on income level, residency status and number of bedrooms per unit.
At one point Nancy Salvia, TCB assistant director of property management, apologized to her anxious audience for the tedious process. "I know it's boring," she said, explaining that the lottery drawing must be done according to state and federal housing guidelines. The $15.7 million complex has been funded by state grants, federal housing subsidies and tax credits as well as by private investors.
The drawing actually went more quickly than the TCB representatives and Ms. Wortman thought it would. "I reserved the room until 3," Ms. Wortman said when the drawing finished about 12:30 pm. She also noted it was almost 10 years since the Island's first municipal affordable rental housing project got under way. She has been involved in the project for the last four years or so since she helped send out the first requests for proposals on the project.
No one was more relieved to finish the drawing than the TCB employees, who spent 14 hours on Sunday organizing the drawing. It was a complicated process that involved putting all the numbers initially assigned to applicants into the paper bags for each pool for which they qualified according to their income tier, local or non-local residency status, and requested apartment size.
Some registration numbers, which were assigned initially to all prospective tenants, were drawn several times from the various pools for which they qualified. They were placed on the master list in the order in which they were drawn.
Morgan Woods has apartments allocated to four income tiers, from those with less than 30 percent of the county's 2006 median income of $68,300 to those with up to 140 percent of the median, an income range from $15,050 for one person to $110,900 for a family of six. Thirty-six units are reserved for applicants who earn less than 60 percent of the median income, nine are for individuals or families whose incomes do not exceed 100 percent of the median, and 15 are reserved for those with incomes not exceeding 140 percent of the median.
Seventy percent of the units are allotted to people who live or work in Edgartown. The rest are open to anyone who applied, whether on or off Island.
Ms. Wortman said there were many disappointed people who didn't get a high placement number. Seventy-eight people were trying for nine one-bedroom units, she said, "so that's where the need is."
The rents at Morgan Woods will range from $299 for a two-bedroom apartment in the lowest income tier to $1,893 for a three-bedroom unit in the highest tier.
The next step in the process is to start screening the first 60 applications. TCB will verify all information on the applications by third party and preferably in writing, Ms. Salvia said.
Melissa Nichols, senior property manager for TCB, who was sorting out the lists on her computer Tuesday, said she will send letters very soon to everyone who applied to let them know their placement number, and then make appointments with the first 60 on the list at a place on the Vineyard to be determined.
Ms. Nichols said she will meet in person with the first group to verify all the information on their applications. She will check applicants for their ability to pay rent and for credit and criminal history. Former landlords will be contacted and all income figures will be re-tabulated, she said. The process could take several weeks.
Even though a person did not get one of the first 60 numbers, Ms. Nichols said some applicants will drop out of the process or won't qualify after the screening is done, which will open up spots for other applicants. The deadline for applications was last Wednesday, Feb. 21.
TCB, based in Boston, is the country's largest non-profit affordable housing developer, and has built 275 projects in 14 states. It currently manages 7,000 units in more than 90 complexes.
Ms. Wortman said Morgan Woods will be well managed by an on-site rental agent and a maintenance person. At least one section of Morgan Woods should be open in May, Ms. Wortman said, but it hasn't been determined which of three sections will be completed first. The buildings, modular units shipped from Maine, have been assembled, but utilities are still being installed.