The City Council is continuing to look at ways Chelsea can increase affordable home ownership opportunities for its residents.
At Monday night’s meeting, District 8 Councilor Calvin Brown introduced a motion requesting City Manager Tom Ambrosino identify potential parcels in Chelsea for use by the Affordable Housing Trust Board for affordable home ownership, including parcels in tax titles that are bank owned.
“We’ve had conversations over the past summer about ways of how we can find and get affordable housing,” said Brown. “As we start to exit from this pandemic, it is time for us to start looking into some really, serious, doable ways of finding some parcels and properties that have had foreclosures that the city can go after.”
Brown said the city could potentially use some of these properties to create home ownership opportunities through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
“Some of the conversations that we have had have run into some roadblocks, so I thought we should start looking at some parcels potentially that we have a lot of control over … and we can use them for some home opportunities,” said Brown.
With the uncertainty of the pandemic and skyrocketing rent and home prices, Brown said it is a stressful time for many Chelsea residents.
“If we find some properties or parcels, we can be first at the table and make something happen with our affordable home program here in Chelsea,” said Brown.
Council President Roy Avellaneda, a big proponent of affordable home ownership, said he welcomes all ideas from his fellow councilors that could help increase affordable ownership opportunities in the city. However, he said that working strictly through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund can be a long and arduous process.
“This Council has already gone ahead and voted a home rule petition allowing the city to take properties that are in tax title to not put them to auction,” said Avellaneda. “Any properties that are in tax title and fall into receivership in the city immediately go to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and there are probably, in my discussions with the City Manager, about three or four properties that are in the pipeline already that will be coming to the city. The problem with that is that the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, for as good as it does, is actually limited in how fast it can take a land and then build homes.”
The Council President said the process will create, at best, in the next several years four or five homes that will come on the market.
“I ask my colleagues, are we simply going to accept that that’s the pace and that is our answer to the home ownership crisis that is facing our community,” said Avellaneda. “That the best thing that we can do is maybe four homes at a time in four years, or are we going to do more. And if we are going to do more, I ask my colleagues, I am not alone in this, be creative, tell me what we can do.
“Just thinking that we are going to hand possible properties to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund … four years, four homes. Meanwhile we are one, losing people to other communities, and two, forcing our residents to have no choice but to pay rent.”
Avellandeda pointed to the City’s residency requirements for municipal jobs and noted that because of the lack of affordable home ownership opportunities in Chelsea, the city would be forcing employees to rent for years with little opportunity to buy a home.
“I’m not satisfied with just thinking that we leave it to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, because quite frankly in my eyes, and I think many will agree, that is just not enough,” Avellaneda said.