Construction Costs for Housing Project Pending

NORFOLK—The Foundation for Norfolk Living group is still working toward construction of 10 net-zero homes. It has now installed the road to Haystack Woods, site of its new affordable housing development at the base of Haystack Mountain, and a new street sign has gone up, but final construction costs are pending.

The next steps will be assembling the construction bids and applying for a construction loan.

Foundation President Kate Briggs Johnson said the houses are designed to be highly energy efficient and to meet affordability standards. 

She said there is a new housing assessment toolkit available to communities as they assess their housing needs. The toolkit was developed in part by the Litchfield County Center for Housing Opportunity.

Among other things, it shows that Norfolk has 109 households (15.8 percent) that they pay more than 50 percent of their income in housing-related expenses. The recommended cap for housing expenses is 30 percent. 

By this standard, in 2023, a family of four earning $90,000 would be making less than 80 percent of the area median income and should pay only up to $27,000 a year for housing. Housing expenses include rent or mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities and any homeowner association fees. 

This fact underscores the importance of developing more housing options that are affordable, Johnson says.

Funding will come from three sources: a federally funded Community Development Block Grant that flows through the state Department of Housing to the Town of Norfolk and thence to the foundation; a construction mortgage based on the sale prices of the houses, and a $1,800,000 Department of Housing grant.

The last grant is meant to cover the gap between the cost of construction and the price the foundation can sell the houses for as they will be deed restricted to keep them affordable. Buyers will own their houses, but the foundation will continue to own the land beneath them.

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