Bending the Arc Toward Needed Housing: the Story of East Gables

By Connie Kruger

You may have spotted the new three-story building on Route 9 next to Amherst College’s Pratt Field. East Gables provides affordable housing and on-site services for people who have been homeless or are at risk of homelessness. It opened in October and is now fully occupied, with 28 residents. Although this type of building has been a missing part of Amherst’s housing supply, community resistance threatened to block its development.

There was similar opposition to such housing across the state. This article explores some of the points of opposition to East Gables and some factors that led to its successful completion.

About East Gables

Initially, the Town of Amherst had requested and funded the efforts of the Valley Community Development (“Valley”) to find a site for this type of housing. Securing the land adjacent to the Amherst College playing fields culminated a two-year search.

The building provides 28 studio-style apartments, each with its own bathroom and kitchen, as well as community gathering and office spaces. East Gables is designed to rigorous Passive House standards and uses no fossil fuels to power the building.

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