The board of the Revere Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) held its regular monthly meeting last Wednesday, November 8, in Revere City Hall. On hand for the session were chair Joe Gravellese and fellow members Jan Dumas, Laila Pietri, Anayo Osueke, Claire Inzerillo, Deb Frank, and Dean Harris. City Councillor Mark Silvestri and Tom Skwierawski and Lorena Escolero from the city’s Dept. of Planning and Community Development also were on hand and spoke briefly to the board.
The meeting began with Osueke, the board’s treasurer, presenting his monthly update. He said the board has a balance in its account of $864,063.90, which reflects the interest that is being earned on the funds in the account. (The AHTF had $860,125 in its account in October).
Skwierawski presented an update from the Housing Production Plan working group. He said the group met the previous week and is in the process of drawing up a community involvement checklist, with a meeting scheduled for January 10 to receive input from Revere residents as to how best to proceed to create affordable housing in the city. He said that the group has set a goal of late winter of 2024 for the development of the plan.
Harris noted that at least 50% of Revere residents fall within the income range to qualify for affordable housing. Harris then presented an update regarding the potential for partnerships between the AHTF and the Revere Housing Authority (of which Harris is the Executive Director), with Harris noting that the RHA is in the “infancy stage of the process of repositioning our entire portfolio.”
The members then heard updates regarding two of the initiatives that the AHTF has undertaken during the past year. The first was an announcement by Gravallese that the City Council has approved the necessary permits for the Salem St. condo project that will contain an increased number of deed-restricted affordable housing units for which the AHTF provided financial support at its October meeting.
In a separate matter, Escolero reported that the city is in the process of setting up a line item for a first-time homebuyer assistance program pursuant to a $25,000 grant that the city has received from the state for which five, first-time home buyers will be eligible for grants of $5000 each to help them with the down payment for the purchase of a home.
Speaking about the progress and future of the AHTF, Silvestri said, “This (the AHTF) is a huge step in the right direction of creating affordable housing in our city, but we have a bit of a way to go as a community in hitting the marks and the targets set by the state. Any support you need, I’m there and will be a part of.”
Gravallese concluded the meeting by citing some of the items to be accomplished in the near future by the AHTF, including: the creation of a Mission Statement; the next steps toward the production of an affordable housing plan; applying for funds from the $18 million program being conducted by Mass. General Hospital to increase affordable housing in Suffolk County; updates from Habitat for Humanity about the potential for projects in the city; and updates about the development pipeline in the city with an eye toward how new projects may be affecting whether the city is meeting the requirements of c. 40B, the state law that requires communities to have 10% of its housing stock be affordable or face the risk of a development that can bypass local zoning regulations. The board then adjourned until its next meeting, which tentatively is set for December 13.