Housing Trust Votes to Award Winterberry Way Project to Habitat for Humanity

July 24, 2023

If all goes according to plan, Bedford residents may soon have an opportunity to work alongside Habitat for Humanity to rehabilitate the town-owned home at 23 Winterberry Way.

At the July 19 meeting of the Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, the Trust voted to award the project to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell.

In a second vote, the Trust agreed to approve Habitat’s funding request for $25,000 for additional energy efficiency upgrades to the property, including energy-efficient windows, replacement of current heating, new air conditioning, and an assessment by MassSave. The Trust voted to authorize town staff to begin negotiations with Habitat.  

The next step would be to execute a purchase and sale agreement. Habitat will purchase the property, renovate it, and when completed, the home becomes available to eligible buyers via a lottery administered by the Regional Services Housing Office.

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Economic Director Jeff King reported he had received an email from Habitat stating they are excited to get going on the project. Liz Rust, RHSO, commented that Habitat will be a great partner and “they are ready to go.” They are noted for helping first-time homeowners.

A major feature of any Habitat project is the “sweat equity” input from potential buyers and from community volunteers. Chair Christina Wilgren noted that she is hoping for a good turnout of Bedford residents to take part in the work, as many did during the construction of Carter Way, an earlier Habitat project. She herself is “excited to go swing a hammer and do what I can do there.”

Liz Rust noted that there are many opportunities for people to help; often groups of people get together to make up a shift for work; others can join in individually as time allows.

23 Winterberry Way is one of the few town-owned affordable three-bedroom homes. When the previous owners left Bedford in the fall of 2022, the Housing Trust wasted no time in voting to acquire the property and seeking a partner for the renovation. 

In December 2022, the Trust purchased the home from the original owner for $271,350.  At that time, the Trust had slightly more than $1 million for purposes such as this: to acquire property to be retained in the town’s affordable stock. Currently, there is approximately $737,000 in the Trust fund. Member Paul Mortenson asked about other uses of the fund: one such is the use of Trust funds to “buy down” a unit in a new development to make it more affordable.

For background on the Winterberry Way story, here are earlier Citizen articles: https://thebedfordcitizen.org/2022/09/housing-trust-moves-quickly-to-acquire-23-winterberry-way and https://thebedfordcitizen.org/2022/12/municipal-affordable-housing-trust-acquires-23-winterberry-way.

Note: there are now three vacancies on the seven-member Housing Trust. Current members are: Interim Town Manager, Colleen Doyle, Select Board members Paul Mortenson and Shawn Hanegan, and Christina Wilgren, representing the Bedford Housing Partnership. If you are interested in serving on this board, please contact the Volunteer Coordinating Committee.

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Gretchen Kind
July 24, 2023 9:10 pm

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