NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — Three New Bedford city councilors are proposing a plan to purchase dilapidated nursing homes in the city and turn them into properties used for new housing developments.

Councilors at Large Ian Abreu and Noami Carney, along with Ward 3 Councilor Shawn Oliver, introduced a motion to the city council during Thursday night's meeting that asks Mayor Jon Mitchell’s administration to look into leasing or purchasing the nursing home facilities in the city that are closed, such as the former Hallmark Nursing Home on Rockdale Avenue and the former Sassaquin Nursing Home on Acushnet Avenue.

The council voted 10-0 to refer the motion to the Special Committee on Affordable Housing and Homeless Affairs for further conversation. Ward 2 Councilor Maria Giesta was absent from the meeting due to illness.

According to Councilor Abreu, purchasing these buildings would lead to a refurbishment effort to place them back on the market. Private investors and developers would then buy said buildings and create housing units. Abreu added if a developer does buy the property, the City of New Bedford would earn a net profit from its purchase.

"Any time the City can find surplus inventories in the private sector that are dilapidated, I think it would be unwise for us to not engage in some discussion with property owners," Abreu said. "We would buy the property, put out a Request for Proposal for developers, have them buy the property from the City, which then makes us a profit because we developed it."

The proposal from the councilors comes a day after Mitchell vetoed a non-binding ballot resolution asking voters if they would like to see the City create a rent stabilization plan. Mitchell has not commented on the proposed purchasing. The council expects to attempt an override of this veto in a future meeting.

Councilor Oliver voted against the rent stabilization question and Abreu said he plans to sustain the veto. Despite their opposition, both councilors acknowledged the City must address its lack of housing stock and rising rent rates.

"We can walk and chew gum at the same time," Abreu said. "The reality is, there is a need for housing, whether its development, affordable, workforce and market rate. With more housing, people are going to come here, get jobs, and start new families."

Councilor at Large Shane Burgo, who proposed the rent stabilization question, said he was open to the idea from the trio. He said, however, that he wants to ensure the buildings are bought by a private developer.

"We don't want this off the tax rolls," he said "We don't want it to be owned by the City forever."

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