Residents seeking affordable housing in the city received a big boostfollowing the Councilâ€™s unanimous approval of an ordinance establishing the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF).
At the meeting Monday, several residents appeared with signs and applauded vigorously following the Legislative Affairs and Zoning Subcommitteesâ€™ favorable recommendation. The Council later voted to approve Mayor Brian Arrigoâ€™s request for $100,000 in seed money for the newly established Fund.
The members of the Legislative Affairs Subcommittee, chaired by Councillor-at-Large Steven Morabito, listened as residents voiced their overwhelming support of the measure.
â€œIâ€™m a big proponent of this,â€ said Marc Silvestri, the cityâ€™s director of veteransâ€™ services. â€œI think affordable housing is something that we need to put into the planning of our city. You speak to several of our own employees working for the city, and theyâ€™re struggling to afford to live here. I believe we need to do something moving forward to make this happen.â€
Pam Ross of Lantern Road told the Subcommittee members, â€œWe definitely need housing because a lot of people canâ€™t afford it, because the rents are constantly going up and through the pandemic a lot of people are still out of work. And a lot of people do want to stay in Revere and Iâ€™m one of them.â€
Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe said the Affordable Trust Fund is being established â€œso we can work on these projects throughout the city and we can make sure that people are equally being represented, but also that thereâ€™s someone on your side championing for change in the city to keep Revere affordable, but to make Revere affordable.â€
Keefe said his daughter [Adrianna] will soon begin college and aspires to be a schoolteacher. â€œHopefully in four-six years, she [completes her college studies] and she wants to come back and be a teacher in Revere. I donâ€™t know that sheâ€™ll be able to afford a house on a teacherâ€™s salary and thatâ€™s the problem that a lot of younger residents are facing.â€
Keefe said the Affordable Housing Trust Fund will be overseen by a board of trustees. â€œIâ€™m excited for it. I think itâ€™s long overdue. And I hope that we can set some real goals for the future of Revere.â€
Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo said the Fund was â€œclearly needed.â€
â€œThis Trust Fund will help in the sense of one aspect of affordable housing, but the other issue has to be affordable rentals,â€ said Rotondo. â€œWe have many properties that are being built in this community and are under 100 units and thereâ€™s really not much that can be done, but when you have a company thatâ€™s putting in 100-1,000 units, asking for 15 percent of those houses to be affordable, itâ€™s not a heavy lift. So this is a great place to start, but thereâ€™s more to be done.â€
Valentina Moreno, Revereâ€™s housing stability officer, said the lack of affordable housing in a community can negatively affect a personâ€™s health and well-being.
â€œWithout housing, itâ€™s affecting peopleâ€™s education, their ability to get work â€“ itâ€™s tearing peopleâ€™s communities apart and itâ€™s affecting all the determinants of health,â€ said Moreno. â€œWe need affordable housing. Itâ€™s urgent. Itâ€™s affecting people in all aspects. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is what me and many people here tonight stand for â€“ it will allow us to keep a balance so Revere can have more affordable housing.â€
Lifelong resident David DeMattia, a U.S. Navy veteran, stated his support for rental assistance for residents. â€œIâ€™m 100 percent behind this and I appreciate your help,â€ said DeMattia.
Waverly Avenue resident Manuel Carrero told the Council, â€œThis is something that is really personal to me as I was also someone who needed rental assistance. I feel that especially after last year, affordable housing has always been something that has been on our radar, an issue to the city, but after last year has been overinflated. So Iâ€™m someone that is a proponent for this Trust Fund. Itâ€™s something that I feel is very important to the City.â€
Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky said the affordable housing stock in Revere is â€œvery low, almost zero.â€
â€œOther than the Revere Housing Authority, which handles probably 100 percent, other than a few units from The Neighborhood Developers out of Chelsea that have some property in Revere â€“ the stock is very low,â€ said Novoselsky.
While voicing his support for the Fund, the councillor added that â€œwhat weâ€™re creating here, believe it or not, is another housing authority that is run by the city, rather than a quasi-organization like the Revere Housing Authority.â€
Novoselsky expressed his concern about the criteria by which the Fundâ€™s committee will determine the eligibility of applicants for housing assistance and first-time home ownership.
â€œI hope everybody realizes that not every single person that applies for housing assistance is going to be approved by this committee,â€ said Novoselsky.
Councillor-at-Large Gerry Visconti asked for information about how city funds will be directed to the Fund, the composition of the Fundâ€™s board of trustees, and whether votes will be majority or super-majority in making decisions about housing assistance.
â€œIâ€™d like to see a real estate attorney as one of the members [of the board] as well,â€ said Visconti, who has been in the mortgage business for 30 years.
Councillor Morabito said that Revere residents will have input in how the monies in the Fund will be spent.
â€œThere will be guidelines and you [residents] will be able to give your feedback,â€ said Morabito.
Keefe said the Councilâ€™s vote was about â€œestablishing the framework of the group and the Trust Fund, and the board, with input from residents and councillors, would be able to help shape the actual zoning changes that should come in to play thereafter.â€
After the vote, Morabito thanked residents for participating in the process. â€œYour voice does matter to all of us,â€ said Morabito.