AHTF Is Moving Ahead on Many Projects

The board of the Revere Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) held its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 8, in the City Council Chamber and via Zoom. Chair Joe Gravallese, vice-chair Claire Inzerillo, treasurer Anayo Osueke, and members Laila Pietri, Lori Manzo, Matthew Wolfer, and Dean Harris were in attendance for the session. Lorena Escolero from the Department of Planning & Development also was on hand for the meeting.

After Osueke reported that AHTF’s available funds stand at $1,153,850.04, the first matter taken up was an update presented by Gravallese regarding the inclusion of the two units that the AHTF will be purchasing at the 133 Salem St. condominium project in the upcoming affordable housing lottery with the other 18 affordable units in the project.

The AHTF allocated $100,000 last fall in order to access state funds that created 18 affordable condo units at the 133 Salem St. development.

The board subsequently decided, after a meeting with the real estate brokers for the project in March, to commit to the purchase of two more units, at market rates, and then reselling them at the affordable rates, thereby increasing to 20 the number of affordable units in the project.

The discussion at last week’s meeting centered around the deed restriction for the two units and their inclusion in the general lottery with the other 18 units.

“The best way to go about things is for the deed restriction for our two units to mirror the Commonwealth Builder program, which calls for a 15-year deed restriction (which requires the resale by the original buyer, if within 15-years, to another low-income purchaser),” said Gravallese.

He also pointed out that it would make sense to have the two units being purchased by the AHTF to be included with the lottery process with the other 18 units. By doing so, the sale will be monitored by the Citizens’ Housing & Planning Association (CHAPA), which is conducting the lottery for the other 18 units, at no cost to the AHTF.

Gravallese said 14 of the 20 units will be set aside for local preference, which includes additional preferences for Revere seniors and veterans. As for the remaining six units, there will be a general lottery pool for all Massachusetts residents, for which Revere residents also will be eligible to participate.

Gravallese said the anticipated timeline is for the application process for the lottery to be completed by July 31 with the lottery to be conducted in August.

“Hopefully, the lottery winners will be able to move into their units in the fall and we can celebrate helping two families access home ownership in our community,” said Gravallese.

The board then voted unanimously to approve a motion by Gravallese to include the two additional units in the Commonwealth Builder program and to have CHAPA handle the lottery process.

The board next discussed the proposal from Habitat for Humanity regarding a senior home repair program. Gravallese suggested that the board form a subcommittee of four persons to explore all options for home repair programs, including Habitat’s, and the board voted to do so.

Escolero presented a request for the AHTF to contribute $25,000 to the state’s pilot program for down payment assistance to new homeowners who are Revere residents. The state has contributed $25,000 to the local program and Escolero asked the AHTF to chip in another $25,000. The board voted unanimously to do so.

Escolero then updated the board regarding the potential for tax title properties in the city to be utilized for affordable housing. She said that five of the six properties recently taken by the city could be suitable for small-scale projects. She said that the city soon will be soliciting bids via a request for proposals (RFP) for the construction of affordable one or two-family homes on the lots. She said the planning department is aiming to have the RFPs go out at the end of May or in early June.

The last item on the agenda was a discussion by Gravallese to send out a press release detailing the many initiatives that the AHTF has undertaken in the past few months.

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