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Affordable Housing Trust Fund considers outside help for affordable home ownership program

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  The board of the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) is considering teaming up with Habitat for Humanity to launch an affordable home ownership program.

  At their last meeting, Board Treasurer Anayo Osueke reported that the trust fund now has $849,783 primarily from two allocations of free cash. As for charitable donations, Osueke said, “Now that we have the mission statement together, that’s next on my agenda.”

  Board Chairman Joe Gravellese then jumped into the affordable home ownership project. “I think there’s a strong consensus it’s an actionable thing and something we want to pursue,” he said. “But how do we make the rubber hit the road? I’m not sure it’s best to do everything in-house.”

  Gravellese said he and other board members have had a discussion with the regional director of Habitat for Humanity. While many people know Habitat for Humanity as an organization that comes in and builds new homes, Gravellese said they also rebuild and renovate houses. Gravellese stressed Habitat has the experience and expertise to get the actual work done and they have a reputation that attracts donors and volunteers.

  “The way it would work is the AHTF would put up funds to purchase a property and turn it over to Habitat to manage it,” said Gravellese, adding that there are pros and cons with that arrangement. “We wouldn’t be in complete control; we would have to use Habitat’s guidelines for eligibility, which are based on fair housing law,” he said.

  But there are pros that outweigh that limitation. “These guys are professionals with a lot of experience,” said Gravellese.

  Habitat’s regional director is scheduled to speak at the next AHTF meeting to share more details of how a partnership would work. Affordable home ownership is just one project the board intends to move forward. Deed restrictions to keep rent affordable and funds for essential home repairs are among the other projects high on their list.

  Like many in the city, the AHTF board had Friday and Mayor Brian Arrigo’s resignation on their minds. Gravellese noted that the board was holding their last meeting under the Arrigo administration and thanked the mayor for working to establish the ordinance that created the trust fund and for ensuring funding to allow trustees to begin the work.

  “In Revere, we pride ourselves in having a strong community based on helping one another,” said Arrigo last summer when the ordinance was passed. “I am proud of this historic new ordinance, established in close partnership with our community partners and colleagues in government…giving us a new tool to ensure that every resident has the opportunity to work, live and raise their family in our great city.”

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