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FALL RIVER, MA-A controversial bill to raze a 100-unit state-aided public housing project passed the Senate after it passed the House last week. It is now up to Governor Jane Swift to either pass or veto the home rule petition.

“We thought we were doing something reasonable but it’s created a firestorm for us,” Eric Poulin, project manager for city Mayor Edward Lambert tells GlobeSt.com. At a time when the state is scrambling to create additional affordable housing a measure to reduce that count is going to garner attention from state housing advocates. But Poulin points out that Fall River is over the state’s required 10% affordable housing with 10.56%, a designation it shares with only 26 of the state’s 351 communities. He notes that the city hired a consultant to study the city’s housing situation and it indicates that the city actually has 17.3% of its housing stock that could be considered affordable.

It was the oversupply that convinced the mayor to look at the state-aided housing projects–of which the city has three–more closely. Watuppa Heights, the smallest of the projects, is an eyesore with a soaring crime rate, according to Poulin. The state offered the city $6 million to renovate Watuppa Heights but Poulin says that even if the project could be fixed up “it won’t help the crime rate. To have all those poor people shoved into one place” is not what the city wants.

Poulin says the 89 families currently residing in the project will be relocated while 26 affordable housing single family homes are built on the site. An additional 74 affordable rental units will be developed off site. “The extra units will be integrated into neighborhoods rather than segregated,” says Poulin. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction among public housing advocates to oppose taking down units but we’re putting units right back up. This neighborhood needs to be revitalized and we felt this was the way to go. We are trying to create a better quality of life for everyone.”

Critics of the plan note that the offsite units have been planned for a few years already but Poulin responds that “we are being penalized for putting things together early.”

The bill passed 99 to 45 in the House and 25 to 14 in the Senate. The governor’s director of housing recently came out against the plan, so it is unclear whether the governor will veto the bill. Poulin believes that the bill has enough support for an override, but if Swift vetoes the bill after this legislative the session, the process will have to start all over again after Thanksgiving. If the bill does pass, Poulin says that city will put out requests for developers “right away.”

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