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Select Board Mulls Using CPC Funds To Help Renters

by Connie Sartini
According to Select Board member Becky Pine the state has authorized Community Preservation Committee (CPC) funds set aside for affordable housing to be used for people who are renting during the current pandemic.
     She suggested that in Groton, to implement this program, the Affordable Housing Trust could apply to the CPC and then have the funds turned over to the Affordable Housing Trust for administering.
     Town Manager Mark Haddad advised that if there were to be an additional CPC article on the Spring Town Meeting Warrant, it would have to be done through a Special Town Meeting, and that meeting would have to be opened and closed on Friday. He cautioned, “One issue with a Special Town Meeting is that there is a quorum requirement.”
     Town Clerk Michael Bouchard said that not only does the Special Town Meeting have to be posted, it also has to be published 14 days in advance in the newspapers. Selectman Josh Degen added that for a Special Town Meeting within a regular town meeting would require 157 voters for a
     Pine said there was some “assistance to people already in need. We have no data on who needs it. Do we do it now or hold off until the fall?”
     Select Board Chairman Alison Manugian said she was “a little uncomfortable with a Special Town Meeting.” She asked, “Why is the Affordable Housing Trust doing this because we have the Commissioners of Trust Funds that do this?”
     Pine responded, “The Commissioners of Trust Funds do have funds for housing and helping people pay rent,” but Trust Funds are not set up to use CPC money.”
     Groton’s Affordable Housing Coordinator Fran Stanley said the ability to use CPC funds for this use has existed since 2012, noting that this can be done under law. She went on to say, “Our Affordable Housing Trust is a natural applicant. The aim of this is for present Groton renters and to assist Groton landlords to maintain their property. It benefits both.”
     Stanley said, “This program is for renters only, who are not in income sensitive locations. Those with vouchers are not eligible. These are for market rate rentals and payment is made to the landlord.”
     When asked if this was bounded by a timeframe and how much money is needed, Pine said, “It has not officially been decided. The Affordable Housing Trust will need to decide. There are pitfalls in moving ahead on this too quickly. I’m not sure we have enough time.”
     Stanley advised,“This is designed for emergency, temporary assistance for four months.” Depending upon the number of bedrooms, the maximum would be $4000 per household. “It is eminently doable. When it gets to Town Meeting, we don’t want it voted down.”
     Select Board member John Giger said that the Commissioners of Trust Funds help people in the short term. He cautioned, “The administration of this is not a small puppy.” He added, “If you try to take this to a Special Town Meeting, people will say ‘no’. It needs to have a lot of discussion before it goes to Town Meeting.”
     Following further discussion, the Select Board agreed to put the CPC item off to Fall Town Meeting.
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