Sisitsky on Apartments & Housing in Framingham

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SOURCE emailed all three mayoral candidates on July 29 and asked each a series of questions on housing, apartments, and the current apartment moratorium. The questions included:

Housing is a hot issue in Framingham. The City of Framingham is coming out of an apartment moratorium soon. Single-Family homes are selling above asking price. Affordable housing and workforce housing are hard to come by in Framingham. Even with so many residents unhappy with all the apartment, many of the new complex are more than 75% rented, but the rents are not affordable. The Framingham Housing Authority has a wait list. What is your plan for housing for the City of Framingham? Be specific. What zoning changes would you request? What developments would you support? Did you support the moratorium? Why or Why not? What type of housing is missing in Framingham? What can you do to keep Framingham affordable for the low and middle class? At the end of your term in December 2023, what will housing in Framingham look like?

The Sisitsky campaign campaign submitted their responses to the digital news outlet at 1:18 p.m. SOURCE had requested all candidates respond no later than 9 p.m. on July 31.

Below is the response:


FRAMINGHAM – Housing is a challenging issue facing not only Framingham, but the entire Commonwealth and rest of our nation. With residential home prices skyrocketing and less
inventory available in the MetroWest area, it has become common to see bidding wars and
homes selling well above asking prices. While such an increase is beneficial to sellers, it creates
a challenge for first time homeowners to be able to purchase homes that they can afford. This is compounded by the fact that rents have also increased dramatically, and in some cases are
higher than what it would be to own a home and pay a mortgage.

We all know that the real estate market is cyclical and eventually home prices will stabilize and
more inventory will become available. The question then is, what can the City of Framingham do to continue to attract buyers and stay competitive with its neighboring communities? The answer is this, Framingham needs a Mayor that can look at the issue holistically. Someone who
understands that there are many peripheral issues that relate to housing that need to be
addressed simultaneously.


As Mayor, I will immediately focus on the following issues, so that
we can strategically rethink housing in Framingham:

Education

Ask any family searching for a home what they look for in a community, and undoubtedly the
answer will likely be, “Good Schools.” Framingham has a long tradition of providing quality
education to its students, but we need to ensure that this level of excellence remains in place.
As Mayor, I will push for proper funding of our schools, and will work collaboratively with the
School Committee to maintain and enhance the educational programs that the City offers to our children. This effort will reach across all areas of our City, making sure that every child in
Framingham receives the quality education that they deserve.

Public Safety
The safety of a community is also a strong determining factor when deciding on where to live.
The bottom line is this, residents and businesses need to feel safe and protected in order for
them to thrive and invest in the City of Framingham. With incredible public safety departments
staffed with courageous and dedicated men and women that protect our City every day, they
need the support and resources required to maintain a safe community. One where people want to live, work and play in and feel safe doing so. As Mayor, I will work closely with our police and fire leaders to improve our public safety efforts and reduce crime rates. I will also dig deeper into the community itself through outreach to residents for feedback on how we as a City can work closer with community members to keep Framingham safe.

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Affordability
Residents need to be able to afford living in our great City. The enormous tax increases and
huge increases in water and sewer bills that have occurred under the current Administration
need to be addressed immediately. Our citizens will no longer be able to afford their homes if
these unsustainable increases continue. As Mayor, I will work collaboratively with the City
Council on a comprehensive financial strategy and plan to stabilize taxes and fees that have
become overwhelming for our homeowners and businesses. I will also focus heavily on
maintaining and growing business in Framingham so that we can preserve an affordable tax
rate. This is especially important in a post pandemic economy where most businesses have
completely restructured how their employees will continue to work. We need to be creative and provide incentives to businesses so that they stay in Framingham or chose to locate in our great City. We also need to provide quality affordable housing to our Seniors and to our workforce employees that help our community thrive.

Partnerships with Framingham Housing Authority
Framingham is fortunate to have an outstanding public housing Authority. Although the
Framingham Housing Authority (FHA) is an independent government agency and not a
department of the City, the FHA is an excellent resource which provides a variety of tools to
better manage public housing in the City and also secure more funding from the federal
government.

I am extremely grateful for the enterprising work that Executive Director, Paul Landers and his
team perform on behalf of our residents. Presently, the major project to completely rebuild the
Carlson and Pusan Road community has served as a much-needed stimulus to provide quality
and affordable family housing to our residents. As Mayor, I will do all I can to assist the FHA to
advance this development, as well as other projects like, our aging senior public housing to
ensure equitable housing for all.


Zoning Ordinances
It is paramount that we review our zoning ordinances; they play a major role in housing access
and affordability in our community. In a post pandemic world, it has become more and more
apparent that we need to examine what people want and how they want to live in our new world.

We need to examine whether or not consideration should be given to allowing Accessory
Dwelling Units (ADU) building in certain areas of our City. Families are finding a need for office
space as more people work from home and a need for additional space to accommodate
extended families within their homes. We need to be thinking about what type of amenities do
our residents want and need as they chose to live and work in Framingham. What type of small
businesses and outdoor spaces do people look for when they buy a home? What can we as a
City provide to continue to make Framingham a desirable community in which to live, work and enjoy. This includes our Downtown and our need to focus on leveraging our transportation
assets to encourage smart growth in the downtown that creates vitality, more pedestrian traffic, a sense of community.


Removing Blight and Maintaining Quality Housing
Another critical role that our local government plays in housing is that of our Inspectional
Services Department. This Office serves to enforce regulations of the City’s zoning ordinance,
sign ordinance, nuisance ordinance, and Massachusetts state building code. Framingham has a
robust program in place, and as Mayor, I would bolster it with more resources. We need to
ensure that people who are living in rental housing in Framingham, and paying a lot of money
for it are getting what they pay for! For example, absentee landlords who may not be performing the required upkeep and maintenance on the property impact the quality of life of their tenants and their neighbors. One way to both improve housing and the sanctity of our neighborhoods is to hold property owners accountable to their responsibilities, and to bring abandoned and derelict properties into compliance. Non-conforming “illegal businesses” spilling into residential neighborhoods is an issue I will take seriously. A robust housing inspection program is an initiative that will further the best interests of our residents and our community.



Reimagining Housing in Framingham
With nearly forty years of professional public administration leadership and planning experience, I will be prepared to take an active role in addressing some of the local aspects of the housing challenges we face.

We are in dire need for greater Mayoral oversight of the day-to-day operational functions of City Hall. Recent double-property tax bills, skyrocketing water and sewer bills, and continued bail-outs of the sewer and water enterprise funds are all clear signs of financial mismanagement by the current administration.

In my opinion, the complete lack of any coherent economic development plan by the Spicer Administration has made a temporary moratorium necessary to ensure the success of the overall goal of growing our local economy.

I believe that the moratorium was a wise move that would provide city officials time to
craft a comprehensive housing strategy. City leadership needs to create a housing strategy
designed to guide developers in bringing forward quality projects that Framingham needs.
Simply, we cannot reduce the housing prices without increasing supply.

As Mayor, I will work with our elected officials to comprehensively zone for more affordable housing city-wide, focusing on neighborhoods rich in transit, jobs, and schools. Through collaboration, my goal as Mayor is to devise a plan that will catalog the existing property, measure demand and determine the effect on municipal services, such as education and public safety.

To deal with housing in Framingham, the City must consider building new affordable housing
while protecting existing apartments everywhere. That means bold, aggressive measures that
are even more necessary now as we simultaneously fight a pandemic and an economic crisis.


Let’s reimagine our landscape!
The fact remains, Framingham is a city with high housing costs, and achieving affordability is
one of our greatest challenges. The rapid growth of our economy and population have placed
tremendous strain on rents and home prices. I will never stop fighting to make Framingham a
home for everyone, but one person cannot solve housing issues alone. It is only together that
we can take steps locally to help – steps that will broaden the appeal of our City and the
enjoyment of our residents.

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176