WAKEFIELD — The town is considering the establishment of a “Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Fund,” (MAHT) under Massachusetts General Law C44 s55c. Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio provided an overview of the program at this week’s Town Council meeting. 

Enacted 2005, the Purpose of the MAHTF statute is to provide for the creation and preservation of affordable housing in municipalities for the benefit of low and moderate-income households including senior housing and for the funding of community housing, Maio explained.  Since 2005, 130 Municipalities have enacted an MAHTF. A community with an Affordable Housing Trust can use the trust’s powers for a number of purposes. An MAHT can be used to:  

  • provide financial support for the construction of affordable homes by private developers (non-profit and for profit) 
  • Rehabilitate existing homes to convert to affordable housing 
  • Increase affordability in new housing development projects 
  • Develop surplus municipal land or buildings for affordable housing 
  • Preserve properties faced with expiring affordability restrictions 
  • Support rent assistance and health and safety repairs for low and moderate-income households 
  • Create programs to assist low and moderate-income homebuyers, including down payment and closing cost assistance 
  • Educate and advocate to advance affordable housing initiatives  
  • Other powers are enumerated under MGL C44 S55c. 

 Maio outlined some of the possible funding sources for an MAHT. Those funding options include the resale of “affordable homes,” ARPA Funds, housing stabilization funds, private donations, inclusionary zoning payments, developer Fees, Tax Title sales, and other non-tax levy revenues and estate bequeaths. 

Maio stressed that no increase in the tax levy would be needed in order to establish an MAHT.  

He noted that there have been several prior recommendations for the establishment of an MAHT, including Wakefield’s 2015-2020 Housing Production Plan.  

Maio told the Town Council that currently there is $760,000 available from the resale of affordable units at market rates that could be used to begin funding a new local MAHT. He observed that the 2020-2030 Master Plan indicates that almost one-third of all Wakefield Households are cost burdened. The Master Plan also recommends implementing several of the Housing Production Plan recommendations including the MAHTF.  

Maio noted that Town Councilors Michael McLane and Robert Vincent have been doing a great deal of research into the possibility of Wakefield establishing a Municipal Affordable Housing Trust fund. 

Vincent said that there is a real need for affordable senior housing in Wakefield, although he stressed that the trust would be for the benefit of any low and moderate-income households, not just seniors. 

Town Councilor Ann Danehy wanted to know which nearby communities have MAHTs. It was noted that Stoneham, Reading and Lexington have established such trust funds. 

Maio said that the next steps could include Town Council support for the adoption of Mass General Laws Chapter 44 Section 55C as a Town Meeting article and a proposed MAHT bylaw for approval at the Annual Town Meeting in the spring of 2023.  

Vincent said that if the town did adopt the state provisions and create a local MAHT at the spring Town Meeting, several further steps would need to occur, including the appointment of a board of trustees to oversee the trust. Should all that happen, Vincent said, the town could be in a position by this time next year to help eligible local residents with housing issues. 

McLane said that further discussions with communities that have already adopted Municipal Affordable Housing Trusts could inform Wakefield as it moves forward through the process.