HUD Official Tours As Wampanoag Housing Nears Completion
The frames of several soon-to-be completed buildings stood amid plots of dirt and construction as General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Dominique Blom toured the site of First Light Wampanoag Homes last month.
Led by members of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and the tribe’s housing department, the tour was an early look at the 42 units that will soon provide affordable housing for tribal members on reservation land along Meetinghouse Road.
“The houses will provide a dramatic need for the community given the high rental prices on the Cape,” Ms. Blom said. “The tribe should be proud.”
Michelle Tobey, the tribe’s housing director, said the project will help address the problem of homelessness facing many of the tribe’s members.
“The dream is to help as many homeless tribal members as possible,” Ms. Tobey said.
She said that while the project provides a start to addressing homelessness within the tribe, it “barely touches the surface of the problem.”
More than 200 people filed applications to live at the First Light Wampanoag Homes. In April, the tribe held a lottery to decide who would receive the housing.
Tribal members selected in the lottery could begin to move in as soon as mid-October, said Marcelle Vigneau, program assistant with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Housing Department.
She said that the applications chosen through the lottery are being reviewed to ensure that applicants qualify for the low-income housing.
Under blue skies, Ms. Blom and the group of tribal members and press meandered along the road which will connect the housing units and stepped inside a wall-less duplex which was among the approximately 10 structures that have been constructed on the site so far.
“The potential is palpable,” Ms. Blom said, “the houses will look beautiful in just a few months.”
Subsidized by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Economic Development, the development will consist of eight duplexes with 16 units and 26 two- and three-bedroom homes.
Rather than being built to face the road, the houses have been built to face the sun to maximize the potential for solar panels, which could be installed at a later stage, Ms. Tobey said.
In 2017, the project received a $1 million grant from the state. The project was also awarded state and federal low-income housing tax credits totaling nearly $11 million in equity by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.
An additional 10 lots will be developed in a later stage of the project, Ms. Tobey said. A variety of housing options are being considered for those plots, she said.
The construction of a community center, hopefully to be completed a year, is also planned at the location along Meetinghouse Road, Ms. Tobey said.
Located on Mashpee Wampanoag tribal lands, the Wampanoag Village community will provide a location for the tribe to practice the “different cultural things that sometimes the general public doesn’t understand,” including traditions such as drumming and the burning of sage, Ms. Tobey said.
At the end of the tour, tribal members presented Ms. Blom with a snack of quahog and oysters grown on the tribe’s shellfish farm. The Housing and Urban Development official kept the shellfish shells as a memento.
In the week since the tour, roofing and walls have been added to several of the structures as the future homes near completion.
By Ryan Spencer – Mashpee Enterprise