Candidates weigh in on affordable housing and homelessness

Mar 12, 2024

From how they would address homelessness to their thoughts on affordable housing, candidates for the April election faced a range of questions at Town Hall on Tuesday, March 12. 

The full meeting can be viewed on Dartmouth Community Media’s YouTube channel.

There are three candidates running for two open seats on the Select Board. John Sousa, who currently serves on the Finance Committee, is running against Planning Board Chair Christoper O’Neil for Frank Gracie’s seat that expires this year. 

Incumbent Chairperson David Tatelbaum is running unopposed for what he said will be his third and final term on Select Board. John Sousa was unable to attend the candidates night. 

Tatelbaum and O’Neil were aligned on numerous issues. Both expressed their support for increasing affordable housing in Dartmouth. 

As a member of the Planning Board, O’Neil said he supports allowing homeowners to convert or build additional dwellings on their properties. He said expanding affordable housing in this way increases property values and drives demand for building permits that raise revenue for the town. 

As a member of the Planning Board, O’Neil is looking into changing a bylaw to increase the square footage of these additions, known as accessory dwelling units. Property owners can then use these spaces as long-term rentals to earn extra income, O’Neil said. 

“It helps on the housing crunch that we have,” O’Neil said.

Tatelbaum agreed that affordable housing is needed in Dartmouth.

“I’m 100% in favor for increased housing opportunities across town,” Tatelbaum said. “It’s going to take a town-wide effort.”

O’Neil and Tatelbaum shared their thoughts on the former police station on Russells Mills Road. The police station was abandoned in 2014 after legionella bacteria was discovered in the plumbing. There’s been debate over whether to demolish or repurpose the property. 

Tatelbaum and O’Neil said the market should decide. O’Neil said that before the town spends the money it would cost to tear the building down, the town should explore selling it to an interested buyer. 

Tatelbaum said the Select Board has no right to decide the fate of the old police station and that the decision should be made in Town Meeting. Like O’Neil, he would prefer to see the police station reused rather than torn down. 

“I’m very hopeful that the marketplace will say it’s a viable building that can be converted,” Tatelbaum said.