Go to the Affordable Housing Meeting. Seriously.

Remember when the collective of people who think the sky is falling in at the slightest whiff of change in the air totally shit their bermuda shorts at the thought of a windowless green building being erected in the spot where the putrid hulking corpse of Cameron’s is?

I’ve had a handful of people come up to me at various bars, sidewalk bazaars, and downtown block parties to say “those posts were great. I’m glad someone is calling people out on their concern trolling and NIMBYism.” This actually happened. I had thought since we were crazy busy with Snotbot and took some time off that people had perhaps forgotten your beloved the Clam existed, but I guess you people had longer attention spans than we thought. Weird. 

Well, tonight is the next community meeting about the space (spoiler alert: the building has fucking windows and won’t look like a sad space station). While there are reasonable people attending who have reasonable concerns and questions and want to be part of a collaborative conversation to move the project forward in a favorable manner, there are some who aren’t so reasonable. And you, as Clam readers, should show up to outnumber them. Why support this thing? Well, here:

  • Residences on Main Street aren’t a bad thing. There have been a lot of comments that housing should be kept off Main Street. I’m not sure why – while we have a great thriving Main Street, something other towns aren’t as lucky to have, we have more retail space than businesses wanting to fill it, and that problem is exacerbated with the recent closing of businesses like Palazola’s, Island Art and Hobby, La Trattoria, etc. When housing units are added to Main Street, businesses have more local clients, and local workers. There is already a good amount of housing stock on Main Street as it is – I have friends who live there, I almost rented an apartment above Stones (but felt my liver wouldn’t survive the year-long lease). We don’t have an excess of housing stock – in fact, it’s incredibly hard to find a reasonably priced apartment in this town, because so many places are summer rentals.
  • Thinly-veiled classism couched in faux-concern for residents is rampant already with this project. “How can kids live downtown without a yard?” Uh, ask every family in Manhattan or any other urban area of which our country has many. Turns out kids survive just fine if they have to undertake a short walk to the nearest playground, and the YMCA is around the corner. “How will they park?” Newsflash, middle-class hand-wringers: not everyone has a car, and the developers have made sure there’s parking for each unit.
  • There’s also just outright selfish judgement about the project. “People from scary Lynn could move here!” “It’s a tax on the school system!” “Low-income housing might lower my property values!” “Wow, a brand new downtown residence? How come I don’t get one and THOSE PEOPLE do?” And more I can’t even really repeat because it’s gross and I don’t feel like barfing right now. There are people who literally think these bullshit reasons should preclude other humans from having a needed downtown living space.

What downtown Gloucester will look like, apparently.


Low-income residents aren’t garbage people. They’re not. They’re our neighbors, sons, daughters, mothers, grandparents, best friends. We have to stop treating them like weird aliens that have come to destroy our idyllic city with their crime and their terrible work ethic. Newsfuckingflash: It’s hard to get low-income housing but incredibly easy to have a low income in 2015. Section 8 is a slog of a process with an interminably long waiting list during which time a lot of people lose whatever savings they had. Why are we making it harder for people to survive? Why is that the America some people want?

Go to the meeting. It’s at 6 PM at the Rose Baker Senior Center. Bring your questions and your reasonable brains.


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  1. Oh, boy, where do I start – I live in Dover NH. It is a small city that used to be industrial back in the day, therefore, there are several old brick mills which have been converted, not torn down. We have small retail businesses, cafes, and resident housing with parking.
    It all seems to be working fairly well – tell those naysayers to shut up.

  2. Thank you!! For the record, if I were single I would fit into the mold of who could live here. I hope to see people there. Thank you again for writing truth instead of fear.

  3. Donna Poirier Connerty

    Actually, as a resident on Main/Elm Street, it’s not that I don’t want affordable housing – it’s the size of the structure. Let’s see tonight what the changes they’ve made to the original drawings.

  4. Thank you!

    I AM in the mold of someone who could live there. And yes I work.

  5. I don’t think anyone is arguing the fact that we need affordable housing. The concern is that some developer from outside our community will be making big bucks on “his mission” to provide affordable housing and then leave the city. The owners of the property just dumped it for a cool 300,000 plus profit!

    We will have to live with this project everyday. Don’t you want a say in how it looks? Wouldn’t it be great to see people from Gloucester that need a leg up get the chance? The community has struggling artists. What about a true “Art Haven”?

    Lets make sure this serves all the people and not just a hit and run developer!

  6. Donna Poirier Connerty

    Where is the comment I made earlier?

  7. I too am a resident of Main Street, right next to Cameron’s. Yes, it is an eyesore. But, this project as a whole is short-sighted. While it will benefit those who will reside in the new building and certainly be an improvement to the existing structure, the underlying motivation is not fueled by humanity, rather limited to a quick profitable win for the select few involved. My concern rests with the lack of overall vision in the expansion and economic growth of such a wonderful city. Frankly, I’d rather see commercial space be created; this would attract new people to our community, provide jobs for current residents(including those who live in affordable housing!), and stimulate the existing local economy. Analyzed as a stand-alone project, I can understand the variety of opinions. But, the broader issue is that the city has exemplified the importance in formulating a long-term strategy to make Gloucester a more progressive, desirable, and economically self-sustainable community that everyone will benefit from.

    • Yes…because there is such a dearth of “commercial space” in Gloucester.

      • I see plenty of office space in Gloucester that is appealing to entrepreneurial companies that attract outside and local talent, which will in turn help local economy… Not.

  8. Thank you for your smack-upside-the-head commonsense about you, damn it! I went to the meeting and people still needed to be educated that affordable housing does not mean the slums are moving into town. Rather the approach they are taking is the basic principle that people deserve high quality housing. This place is going to above the charts LEED certified (ie the building industry has the LEED program to certify new construction that meets the highest standard of environmental efficiencies). Instead of spending money on high end kitchen cabinets and countertops, they are investing in high efficiency infrastructure. This building is light years ahead of any structure anywhere in Gloucester.
    And yet people are worried there will be too many kids living downtown without a playground or terrace? As if 23-30 more children living downtown will have a hardship, when they can walk to the YMCA, Library, Art Haven and more! And they are not spending hours a day being driven around in the mom-taxi….Parking? Talk to the hand

    • Odd too how the concern often doesn’t seem to extend to the kids already living right close by.

      • Donna Poirier Connerty

        Peter, the children that live on Elm Street do have a bit of yard space. Plus this is adding potentially 23 (plus?) children at one location on a very dangerous corner.

        • What I was getting at is that concern for children is often selectively deployed as an argument by people who otherwise aren’t losing any sleep over whether, for example, children in the neighborhood aren’t getting proper nutrition. The most egregious examples, of course, are from self-styled “pro-life” advocates, whose concern for the life of the unborn sometimes stops at birth.

  9. Wait wait , this is bull , people living on Elm Street and the downtown core are surrounded already with subsidized housing , the Action Shelter ,a Wellspring House and plenty of section 8 and other outreach housing projects, on that street, around the corner and all over. The core downtown is not remotely a bermuda short shitting enclave ,laughable propaganda by the righteous ,falling over themselves to seem” inclusive” ,citizens sounding off here .
    It was pretty clear watching the Action director pass the mike around at the first meeting that she was dismissive of the already diverse and generous spirited downtown residents with “concerns”.
    The project looks to me like a done deal, Melissa Cox on board and all .The powers that be are going to be making a profit and the projected taxes look like these blurred Public/Private investors won the lottery.
    Could it be possible to talk about this project with actual facts about the number of subsidized housing units in the downtown core vs the # of rental and owner occupants not subsidized and compare those #’s to other neighborhoods and other towns and see who is actually having their neighborhood change ?
    That would be a conversation that will never happen….too sane.

  10. Mary Beth Pereira

    Cameron Hale. You’re talky! To sum up, as a preschool teacher (a job that I am highly skilled at and energetic about!), I fall directly into this housing type…and I educate and keep children alive! Where on the economic scale could that even possibly be?!?
    I am here to tell you all work is valuable, if you serve food of any kind, if you care for elders or children, or if you clean houses. Each is a valid and underpaid service and those workers deserve more respect about their housing choices than closet size apartments with kitchen cabinetry that will only hold two or three boxes of surplus cornflakes.
    Please bring as many interesting housing choices as possible to Gloucester! It will only increase the quality and varied nature of the shops that will follow!
    Thank you.

    • Brava, Mary Beth.

      ALL neighbourhoods change — boo to the people who somehow want Gloucester to remain in aspic as if it were 1960. Who are, exactly the mysterious “powers that be” who will profit? …that just sounds likes equal propagandizing from the other side.

      • well its a for profit project, its been made clear about that .There are a group of investors. Its a mix of private and public money that includes CPA money from our city for one, the Action people are the source for that info. although that would not name those investors when asked at the first meeting so I don’t know who that are by name.
        The power is on the side of state laws that circumvent the normal permitting process and codes with special exemptions for projects like this , that is the power. Its about the 10% thing that is quite an iffy # as so much subsidized housing in not counted in that number.
        Neighborhoods of course change and the people living in them should have a voice in that , its called democracy. Rather than trying to bait a class war that does not exist why not be civil and listen to committed neighbors who actually live in the area.
        Who are the “middle class hand wringers” , who are the
        “bermuda short” incontinents and who are the folks that think the poor are “Garbage”? Thats propaganda .

        • Martin Del Vecchio

          This is *not* a for-profit project.

          This is a project undertaken by two *non-profit* agencies, Action and the North Shore Community Development Coalition.

          I think you might be confused by the fact that they will be forming a separate agency to own and operate the building, and that that agency chooses to pay property tax to the city. As a non-profit, they are not obligated to do so, but they have chosen to do so.

          So it’s a non-profit project that helps low-income people afford to live in Gloucester, and it will generate twice the property tax revenue that the Cameron’s building currently does.

          Win-win-win, right?

          • well thanks for that , I do get confused , I read the “Investors ” need it to be 4 stories or they don’t make a profit ,in answer to a question about height and I heard at the first meeting that they need to charge regular market rates for the retail part because the” investors” needed a profit. This was the answer to a question about the retail space also being “affordable ” something folks felt was needed . I also heard at the first meeting Action was not named on the deed . Perhaps this has changed or I also misheard. As for the taxes , they were projected to be under 20,000,which seems low for an apartment building with 30 units,some with rents as high as $1400 per month (affordable?),as well as market rate retail space. that seems out of wack for what myself and my neighbors in the area are paying in taxes. Again , thanks for trying to help with my confusion.

          • Donna Poirier Connerty

            Kathy, I believe you are correct in your facts. I too heard at the first meeting the reason why they have to have a minimum of 30 units, 4 stories, AND the retail has to be profitable. I think the taxes is low as well. The 11 condo units next door pay a combined $50,000 in taxes.

          • Donna Poirier Connerty

            The two non-profit agencies formed a company, an LLC, that is FOR PROFIT.

          • Donna Poirier Connerty

            You are incorrect Martin. This is a for profit LLC company that was formed. Please see my post below with the link to the GDT article. They have to pay taxes.

  11. “who are the folks that think the poor are “Garbage”?”

    The ones all over Good Morning Gloucester and Cape Ann Online, for two — and god forbid what was being written on Cape Ann Connection. (You’d need a shower after spending 10 minutes there…)

  12. …and, of course neighbours should have a voice. No argument, there.

  13. Donna Poirier Connerty


    Quote from GDT:

    206 Main Street GP LLC —

    Mickey Northcutt, the North Shore Community Development CEO, who’s been serving as frontman for the project, said Monday his group and Action Inc. — partnering to build the housing units as a for-profit entity under federal affordable housing income guidelines…


    • Martin Del Vecchio

      I stand corrected…four times.

      Let me rephrase it: the two non-profit agencies could have built this project as non-profits, and thus could have skipped paying property taxes to the city.

      Instead, they chose to structure it in such a way that they do pay property taxes to the city. And Peggy Hegarty-Steck of Action said that they anticipate those payments to be double what the current property pays.

      And yes, condos would likely produce more tax revenue than this project. But Cameron’s has been empty and for sale for years, and nobody stepped up. These people have stepped up, and in a way that helps the city.

  14. Just to add something here – the project itself is for-profit. Most of these are. That simply implies that their intent is for the project to stand on its own and earn back somewhat more money than the project cost to build (in other words, pay the debt service with some money left for management and maintenance).

    This isn’t Donald Trump building a 70-story condo tower.

    The CDC and other groups then use their profits to help fund the operations of the nonprofit core operations, as opposed to taking it all out of the community.

    • Thanks Councilor Turiel for mentioning Trump,who has inherited and made a fortune partnering with government housing projects to amass his wealth and avoid taxes. His more recent adventures in the economy are also less understood as he did not go bankrupt but was given a bailout by the banks.

      • This is starting to be a real stretch here. You’re comparing our local nonprofits to Trump?

        • no , only saying he didn’t make his money building condo towers which was implied I think , could be wrong.

          • Martin Del Vecchio

            This article explains Trump’s conversion from builder-of-affordable-housing to builder-of-horrifyingly-opulent-castles-for-the-1%.

            The reason he did it: he couldn’t make enough money building affordable housing.


          • I wasn’t quite going there, but close enough. Trump got rich by having a rich dad and being in Manhattan real estate at the right time. But what I was mainly referring to was the “for profit” model that a Trump luxury condo tower (it’ll be yooooge) has versus the “for profit” model that this project will have. Trump is looking to make a ton of cash in building a property. The company formed to develop and operate this will be looking to make a small markup on costs that then can be rolled mainly into other projects and programs that the nonprofits operate.

            The programs that Action Inc. and the North Shore CDC run are funded in part by these profits.

  15. sorry i was talking about the initial millions from his Father and found it Ironic as the Dad made his money from building “affordable housing” after the depression and then again in ww2 US military housing. This inheritance is and was Donalds “money talks bullshit walks” way into being the player he is. The bailout he got from 27 banks shows the power of sleaze .

  16. People just don’t want reggins moving into their neighborhood. Maybe we should arrange an outdoor showing of Show Me a Hero from HBO on that big screen at I4C2?

    • Donna Poirier Connerty

      Peter, what are “reggins”

      • An expression I heard for, as I understand it, people who aren’t like us – from a different social or economic class.

    • There is also a book called Forest Hills Diary, it was written by Mario Cuomo who, as an attorney in NYC in the early 70’s before he was an elected official, was asked by the Mayor to mediate a dispute about the building of a low income housing project in the Forest Hills neighborhood. Jimmy Breslin wrote the preface – as I recall, a good summary of what often runs below the surface of these disputes.

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