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The Housing Goals May Be Better Met With Smaller Projects

The revised proposal for the Gateway Lofts housing project to be housed in the Gateway Center on Water Street seems to be a much better proposal than the 2018 iteration that was eventually voted down by the Jamestown Planning Commission.

The new proposal discussed recently by Planning Commission members removes a proposed jail diversion section that would have had low-income single parent families working with the YWCA and some area residents with disabilities living in the building with people accused of crimes and diverted into treatment programs rather than spending time in jail. Updates also include adding 30 more housing units for a total of 110, acquiring nearby property for a playground and additional green space.

One question isn’t answered, however, despite the discussion of a mitigation plan that is required when significant amounts of housing are to be added into a new housing market. Just how necessary are the 110 new units to the city’s housing mix? Would the Gateway Lofts proposal fill a gap that exists in housing for low-income or disabled people? If there truly isn’t enough of this type of housing in Jamestown, how much is needed to fill the gap?

A 20XX Impediments To Fair Housing study in Jamestown doesn’t answer those questions,

Another question that should be answered before public money is spent is whether or not the Gateway Lofts money is better spent rehabilitating existing housing in the city or rehabilitating the former Chautauqua Hardware building into an apartment building. There are many who feel scattered site development for low-income single parents or those with disabilities is preferable to concentrating low-income housing in one area.

There are tax benefits to the city if the Gateway Lofts building is built, and having someone on the hook for 21 free housing demolitions surely sounds good to city officials. But the money for the Gateway Lofts project is going to be largely publicly provided through state grants or state and federal tax credits. City officials should be sure that the housing being built is needed in the community and, if it is needed, that it is built in the most cost-effective way possible. The goals of the Gateway Lofts building may be accomplished just as well with 100 small projects as they are with one big shiny building project.

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