City Council Approves Community Preservation Committee recommendations

The latest round of Community Preservation Act funding approved by the City Council will improve affordable housing opportunities, provide rental assistance for residents, and help preserve a historic landmark.

Monday night, the council approved recommendations from the Community Preservation Committee to fund three projects through CPA funds.

Those projects included $100,000 for the Chelsea Restoration Corporation, $30,000 for Communidades Enraizades/Community Land Trust, $100,000 for Housing Families, and $246,000 for Temple Emmanuel.

“Communidades Enraizades is a community land trust where we work together to build community, secure land, and create opportunities for residents facing displacement to rent or buy properties at an affordable price,” said John Valinch of Communidades Enraizades. “We do this by separating the ownership of the land from the ownership of the property, where the land trust owns and manages the land and the resident rents or owns the property itself. In this way, across the country and across the world, land trusts preserve affordability in rapidly developing neighborhoods.”

Herb Selesnick of Temple Emmanuel said the historic temple is in desperate need of a new roof.

“Since 1859, the historic building we occupy has housed three different congregations,” he said. “In March of 2021, the Chelsea Historical Commission declared our building a historically significant asset for the city of Chelsea. So naturally, this designation highlighted our determination to do everything possible to preserve the structure, but the property is now at a crucial crossroads.”

A study showed that there is severe water infiltration into the building from the 150 year old slate roof, and that it is critical to repair the roof as soon as possible before there is further damage.

“Rehabilitation of the roof will allow the Temple to preserve this building and continue hosting food security and clothing assistance programs, health and wellness events and cultural enrichment experiences that improve Chelsea’s most vulnerable population’s living standards and personal resilience,” said Selesnick.

Jayna Stafford, the director of homelessness prevention and legal services at Housing Families said her organization is seeking $100,000 to prevent homelessness and disruption for Chelsea residents.

“We are looking for funds for rental assistance and startup costs, security deposits, anything that can help people into a home or prevent them from being forced out of their home.”

In the 2016 general election, Chelsea voters voted to adopt the Community Preservation Act and impose a 1.5 percent surcharge on residential and commercial properties with exemptions for low- and moderate-income homeowners. Per the Preservation Plan, 25 percent of the fiscal year funds are allocated to both open space/recreation and historic preservation, while 40 percent is allocated to affordable housing. The remaining 10 percent is utilized as administrative and undesignated funds.

“This is very telling of what our needs are in the community,” said Councilor-at-Large Damali Vidot. “We need to preserve the historic buildings we have here, and we need to invest in housing, so I’m glad this is what we are doing.”

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