Help on the Way: Council Approves Funding for Homeowner Stabilization Fund

Help is on the way for homeowners that find themselves with increasing tax bills, as the City Council on Monday voted 10-0 to transfer $750,000 to the Homeowner Stabilization Program to help some owner-occupants with tax increases.

The Homeowner Stabilization Fund had been in existence and had a $250,000 balance this fall, but after the tax rate was set and it was discovered many people were going to get his with tax increases – particularly two-family and three-family homeowners – it was proposed to be expanded. The program combined will have $1 million in funding and will be available to those making under $119,000 as a household.

Councillors were in agreement on the program, but Councillor Giovanni Recupero wanted clarification and wanted to send it to committee.

“I want homeowners to get it, but I want to know how they’ll be disbursed,” he said. “Will it be one sum of money for everyone under $119,000? If it’s one amount for everyone, I’m for it. But if its not, then we need to talk about it.”

His motion for committee was defeated 1-9.

Council President Roy Avellaneda explained that the Council had gone over the program in detail for more than an hour before the last meeting with Planner Alex Train.

The matter was moved to a vote and approved 10-0.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he believed the program would roll out for taxpayers in January following the issuance of the first tax bills.

•CARES Act

The City Council approved its second CARES Act payment on Monday night of $4.029 million – money that comes from the federal government for COVID-19 related expenses.

Ambrosino said the amount was $3 million above the previous allotment provided by Gov. Charlie Baker. The money will be used to fund all of the COVID relief since July 1. That includes the Chelsea Legal Clinic, Rental Assistance Round 2, Chelsea Eats and the Food Pantry program.

Census Was a Dud in Chelsea

It was reported on Monday night that early indications appear that Chelsea, at least officially, will have a smaller population in the 2020 number than it did in the 2010 number – a number that was entirely too low back then.

It was bad news for all facets of government in the City, from simply having a good count of residents to losing out on millions in federal funding.

“Unfortunately, due mostly to the COVID-19 pandemic, our outreach efforts were constrained,” said Ambrosino. “As a result, our self-response rate was lower than hoped for and worse than in 2010.”

The self-response rate is made up of those that sent in their Census forms or filled it out online earlier this year. It doesn’t include those that were counted last summer and fall in door-to-door efforts.

State data for the Census 2020 is expected in early 2021, and data for cities like Chelsea is expected to come in the spring.

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