At their June 1 meeting members of the Municipal Affordable Housing Trust (the Trust) reviewed a proposal from Habitat for Humanity of Lowell to renovate the town-owned home at 23 Winterberry Way.
Following cleanup of the affordable property, which came on the market in the fall when the original owners moved away, the Trust issued an RFP (Request for Proposal) to prospective buyers. Liz Rust, Regional Housing Services Office, reported that Habitat for Humanity submitted an application of 40-plus pages outlining its plan for renovating the three-bedroom home and then re-selling it to an eligible buyer, with the proviso that the home remain affordable in perpetuity. In this way, the home would remain in the town’s inventory of affordable housing. It is an especially desirable affordable unit because of its size – three bedrooms, one and one -half bath, and garage.
The Trust members discussed major points of the proposal:
- that the town sell the home to Habitat for $1 (in addition to the $271,350 that the town paid for the property from Trust funds) and
- that the town (via the Trust) contribute $25,000 to Habitat for an energy conservation package.
Rust commented that “this is very much what the town is looking for – someone to come in and respond without asking for more money.”
She commented that she has worked with Habitat on three projects in other towns since the (Bedford) Carter Way housing that was completed in 2012 and they have never come back for more money. As in all such projects, Habitat purchases the materials and the labor component is voluntary. A number of Bedford residents participated in the Carter Way project by contributing labor and other support services.
The Trust members did not vote to accept the proposal on first reading but requested Economic Director Jeff King and Rust to set up an interview with Habitat, preferably on the site, to review it in detail. Members also wanted to see certain language changes if there is a final agreement between the town and Habitat. That meeting is expected to take place within a couple of weeks.
The Municipal Affordable Housing Trust was established in the General Laws of the Commonwealth and “exists for the purpose of creating and preserving affordable housing in Bedford for low and moderate income residents.” Members of the Trust are the Town Manager (Interim town Manager Colleen Doyle is currently serving); two members of the Select Board, Paul Mortenson and Shawn Hanegan; and two members of the Bedford Housing Partnership, Christina Wilgren and Alice Sun. There are two vacancies for “At Large” members. Anyone interested in joining is urged to speak with a member of the Volunteer Coordinating Committee.
Note: some material used in this report is from previous articles in The Citizen.