Westborough housing trust talks short term, long term plans

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By Dan Miller, Contributing Writer

Westborough town iconWESTBOROUGH – Westborough’s Affordable Housing Trust laid out several major initiatives it plans to tackle between now and fiscal year 2026 during a Select Board meeting last week.

Voters approved creating the trust during a special town meeting back in November 2020. 

The trust is funded not by tax dollars, but through money set aside for affordable housing coming to the town as part of development of the Del Webb Chauncy Lake project.

In November 2020, Voters also approved transferring nearly $650,000 from the Del Webb Chauncy Lake stabilization fund as seed money to launch the trust.

Trust runs rental assistance program, plans to acquire home

The trust created a COVID-19 emergency rental assistance program that has helped about 16 families in Westborough, trust Vice-Chair Hank Rauch told the Select Board on Jan. 11. The trust expects to spend about $90,000 in the program’s first year.

Going forward, the trust plans to renovate or replace an existing single-family ranch home at 3 Baylor Ave. The property would then be made available as affordable housing.

Westborough acquired that property after the owner died nearly 10 years ago. No taxes have been paid on the property since. The trust would reimburse the town for $48,000 in unpaid taxes if voters approve transferring the property to the trust at this year’s spring town meeting. 

The trust hopes the Baylor Avenue house can be ready for occupancy in 2023.

Trust plans affordable housing initiative

In another initiative, the trust plans to partner with the state in creating a first-time homebuyers pilot program. The trust is seeking to invest $165,000 in subsidies for low-interest or no-interest loans for qualifying moderate income first-time homebuyers, including Westborough employees.

The biggest project the trust plans to take on is developing up to 40 units of affordable housing for senior citizens 62 years of age and up at a property on Rogers Road.

In partnership with the Westborough Housing Authority, the trust would provide a subsidy totaling $1.2 million, or $30,000 per unit, to make the project financially viable to a private developer, said Select Board Chair Allen Edinberg.

Edinberg is also secretary of the Affordable Housing Trust. He is the trust’s representative on the Select Board.

Once the Rogers Road project is developed and sold, the trust will receive revenue from repayment of the mortgage, providing another source of money to the trust besides the stabilization fund, Rauch said.

In the meantime, the trust will be requesting the town approve transferring another $1.3 million from the Del Webb Chauncy Lake stabilization fund.

This “cash on hand” will allow the trust to move forward working with development partners on projects without having to go through a town meeting approval process every time, Rauch said.

Any large projects will require Select Board approval, providing for town oversight of the trust.

Trust projects will have no impact on the town’s tax levy, property taxes or the Westborough budget, Rauch noted.

The nearly $2 million going to the trust comes out of an anticipated $9 million the town expects to receive into the Del Webb Chauncy Lake stabilization fund.

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