Affordable Housing Trust Contributes To Rental Assistance Program

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Housing and homelessness

Harwich news.

HARWICH — The affordable housing trust will contribute $37,800 to the housing authority's rental assistance program to ensure funding is available as the new fiscal year begins.

The housing authority is seeking $200,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for the program in the annual town meeting. Because the session was put off until Sept. 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the funds won't be available until the fall.

Two weeks ago trust members discussed utilizing some of the $800,000 it has available to assist with the rental assistance program. There was some confusion at the time as to whether the use of the funds would be through a loan. Affordable Housing Trust Chairman Donald Howell told trust members last week he was not considering it as a loan but rather “something to get them across the finish line.”

Trust member Larry Brophy, who had identified the use of the funds as a loan in the earlier meeting, said the amount proposed was modest and backed the trust making the contribution to the rental assistance program.

The funds provide assistance for the housing authority's voucher program. Howell said the housing authority needs to have $12,600 per client committed for the three-year program. Members of the trust wrestled with the housing authority rules relating to the voucher system.

There are seven clients in the program. Each requires a $350 a month contribution for the three years, for a total of $88,200. Howell said he was not sure the trust was into providing that kind of money.

Brophy suggested $37,800 for three clients be provided. Trust members wanted to make a contribution that would be spread out for all seven clients, but given the regulations under which the housing authority, a state entity, functions, there were issues about that approach. Brophy said the rules under which the housing authority are required to function are “a little arcane.” He said he had hoped the funds would get them through the year. But the funds must be available for the three-year cycle for a client to qualify for the voucher.

Howell said the trust could authorize disbursement of the $37,800 and suggest it be spread out to the seven clients.

The trust approved a motion providing $37,800 to cover three rental subsidies for three years. Members also agreed to write the housing authority a letter asking that it consider partial funding for all seven clients, so the authority can pick up the funding after the community preservation committee article is taken up in the Sept. 28 town meeting.