Council Approves Program for First-Time Homebuyers

Chelsea residents looking to buy their first home in the city may soon be able to get some financial help from the City.

Monday night, the City Council approved moving $1.5 million from the City’s general stabilization account to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund account. The order, introduced by Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson, will help provide funds to support affordable home-ownership initiatives.

The affordable housing funds would be eligible for those making 65 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) to purchase one-, two-, or three-family homes or condominiums, according to Council President Roy Avellaneda.

“Anything beyond that would be considered commercial property,” he said.

Councillor-At-Large Damali Vidot said the move is a great opportunity to increase home ownership in the city. During debates over affordable housing rental projects in the city, the lack of affordable ownership opportunities is an issue that has often been raised.

“This is an awesome opportunity for us to be able to support homeownership in the City of Chelsea, especially for those who are not able to afford it,” said Vidot.

The AMI for the Boston area for a family of four is currently about $113,000.

•In other business, District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero introduced an order asking City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to look into providing $300,000 in Free Cash funds to a general housing rehabilitation program. 

The order was moved to a second reading at the next City Council meeting, where Recupero said he would further expand on the motion.

After the council meeting, Recupero said the money is essentially half of the annual Massport mitigation payment. Recupero has been among the councillors who pushed to use $300,000 for a soundproofing program for residents impacted by air traffic from Logan Airport.

After Monday night’s relatively speedy 30-minute meeting, Recupero said the money for the housing rehabilitation program would be available to all Chelsea homeowners, provided they earn no more than 100 percent of the AMI.

While there are similar government programs through Housing and Urban Development for lower-income homeowners, Recupero said if his order is passed in Chelsea for a more general swath of the population, it would be a first.

“That’s a good thing,” he said.

•The council also received a request for an approval of a union contract with United Steelworkers, Local 9427. The union represents middle management in the City.

The total cost of wage increases over the three years of the agreement, which would date back to July 1 of last year if approved, totals $335,402, with essentially three percent raises per year.

The new contract would also limit the accumulation of compensatory time for employees, a key desire of the City, according to Ambrosino.

•Avellaneda introduced an order seeking to amend the zoning map that would change the zoning district of several parcels on Washington Avenue to Retail Business 2. Several businesses already occupy the parcels, and the changes would make it easier for new businesses to operate in the area down the line. The proposed change will now move to the Planning Department before coming back to the Council for final approval.

•Robinson requested that there be a subcommittee meeting to discuss the expansion of an arts and recreation department for the city.

•District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez urged residents to use the City-provided trash barrels.

•Monday night was the last meeting for Council Administrative Assistant Ledia Koco, who will be moving on to a position with the Police Department. Several councillors praised Koco for her diligent and hard work over the years.

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