Residents seeking affordable housing in the city received a big boostfollowing the Council’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 Subcommittees’ favorable recommendation. The Council later voted to approve Mayor Brian Arrigo’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.
“I’m a big proponent of this,” said Marc Silvestri, the city’s director of veterans’ services. “I 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 they’re struggling to afford to live here. I believe we need to do something moving forward to make this happen.”
Pam Ross of Lantern Road told the Subcommittee members, “We definitely need housing because a lot of people can’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 I’m one of them.”
Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe said the Affordable Trust Fund is being established “so we can work on these projects throughout the city and we can make sure that people are equally being represented, but also that there’s someone on your side championing for change in the city to keep Revere affordable, but to make Revere affordable.”
Keefe said his daughter [Adrianna] will soon begin college and aspires to be a schoolteacher. “Hopefully in four-six years, she [completes her college studies] and she wants to come back and be a teacher in Revere. I don’t know that she’ll be able to afford a house on a teacher’s salary and that’s the problem that a lot of younger residents are facing.”
Keefe said the Affordable Housing Trust Fund will be overseen by a board of trustees. “I’m excited for it. I think it’s long overdue. And I hope that we can set some real goals for the future of Revere.”
Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo said the Fund was “clearly needed.”
“This Trust Fund will help in the sense of one aspect of affordable housing, but the other issue has to be affordable rentals,” said Rotondo. “We have many properties that are being built in this community and are under 100 units and there’s really not much that can be done, but when you have a company that’s putting in 100-1,000 units, asking for 15 percent of those houses to be affordable, it’s not a heavy lift. So this is a great place to start, but there’s more to be done.”
Valentina Moreno, Revere’s housing stability officer, said the lack of affordable housing in a community can negatively affect a person’s health and well-being.
“Without housing, it’s affecting people’s education, their ability to get work – it’s tearing people’s communities apart and it’s affecting all the determinants of health,” said Moreno. “We need affordable housing. It’s urgent. It’s affecting people in all aspects. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is what me and many people here tonight stand for – it will allow us to keep a balance so Revere can have more affordable housing.”
Lifelong resident David DeMattia, a U.S. Navy veteran, stated his support for rental assistance for residents. “I’m 100 percent behind this and I appreciate your help,” said DeMattia.
Waverly Avenue resident Manuel Carrero told the Council, “This 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 I’m someone that is a proponent for this Trust Fund. It’s something that I feel is very important to the City.”
Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky said the affordable housing stock in Revere is “very low, almost zero.”
“Other 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 – the stock is very low,” said Novoselsky.
While voicing his support for the Fund, the councillor added that “what we’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.”
Novoselsky expressed his concern about the criteria by which the Fund’s committee will determine the eligibility of applicants for housing assistance and first-time home ownership.
“I hope everybody realizes that not every single person that applies for housing assistance is going to be approved by this committee,” said Novoselsky.
Councillor-at-Large Gerry Visconti asked for information about how city funds will be directed to the Fund, the composition of the Fund’s board of trustees, and whether votes will be majority or super-majority in making decisions about housing assistance.
“I’d like to see a real estate attorney as one of the members [of the board] as well,” 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.
“There will be guidelines and you [residents] will be able to give your feedback,” said Morabito.
Keefe said the Council’s vote was about “establishing 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.”
After the vote, Morabito thanked residents for participating in the process. “Your voice does matter to all of us,” said Morabito.