Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is "Housing Affordability"?

Housing affordability measures a households ability to pay for the total cost of housing, including rent or mortgage payments and utilities. As defined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), housing is affordable if the total cost of housing is 30% or less of household income.

2) What is "Affordable Housing"?

In Massachusetts, the term “Affordable Housing” is most commonly used to describe housing that is affordable to households with income of 80% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI). Housing that meets this criteria is often eligible as subsidized housing and may qualify as part of a town’s Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI).

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3) What is "Workforce Housing"?

Workforce Housing is generally considered to be housing that is affordable to households with total income between 60% and 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI). In Massachusetts, Workforce Housing programs exist for households with incomes up to 130% of AMI.

4) How does housing affordability impact the economy?

Greater tax generation, creation of jobs, opportunities for economic development, increased job retention and productivity, and the ability to address inequality — all are among the economic benefits of increased access to quality, affordable housing.

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  • Read a summary of the benefits published by Habitat for Humanity,
  • An in-depth report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University and the Center for Workforce Preparation at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

5) How does housing affordability impact communities?

Having an ample supply of affordable places to live fosters a host of economic benefits for communities and also serves to heighten civic participation, increase public safety and create a greater sense of community pride.

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6) Does affordable housing negatively impact nearby property values?

There is either a positive or neutral difference to surrounding property values from the development of affordable housing in a community.

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  • Trulia, a real estate site, published a study on the impact of affordable housing in the 20 most expensive housing markets over a 10 year period and found no impact on neighboring property values

7) What is an Affordable Housing Trust?

Under Massachusetts General Law, a Municipal Affordable Housing Trust is a real estate trust established to create, maintain, and preserve affordable housing within the community.

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8) What can an Affordable Housing Trust do?

Affordable Housing Trust has a broad range of capabilities. Trusts can act as a developer to build units; can function as a financing agency to help fund development projects; and can serve as a real estate management company to help operate affordable housing. A Trust can also partner with government agencies, private developers, and individuals to fulfill its mission.

9) Who Manages the Trust?

The Trust is managed by a board of Trustees, appointed by the Board of Selectmen for alternating two year terms.

10) Who Oversees the Trust?

Under Massachusetts General Law, Affordable Housing Trusts are independent legal and government entities. In creating the Declaration of Trusts, towns may modify the conditions of the Trust to provide oversight by the Board of Selectmen or Town Meeting. The Westborough Affordable Housing Trust will be created with a level of oversight that ensure sound fiscal management without impeding Trust operations.

11) How will the Trust be funded?

Affordable Housing Trusts are funded by the Town with monies from inclusionary zoning, development or zoning mitigation funds, Community Preservation Act funds, or other funds available from the town. Depending on the source, funds must be voted by Town Meeting. Affordable Housing Trusts may also raise funds through donations, gifts, grants, the sale or lease of assets, and interest earned on loans or mortgages. Trusts may also accept gifts or transfers of real property.

12) What is the difference between the Housing Trust, the Housing Partnership Committee, and the Housing Authority?

Each organization places a role in housing affordability in Westborough. The Westborough Housing Authority owns and manages 110 units of affordable rental housing under the guidelines set by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The Housing Partnership Committee works with developers to create affordable housing through the Local Initiative Program, by helping guide developers through the program and the permitting process. The committee can also assist with lotteries and compliance verification of affordable units being resold. The Westborough Affordable Housing Trust will use its funding to create, acquire, and preserve affordable housing units. The Trust can partner with developers, offer financial incentives to developers, create financial assistance programs for home buyers, and undertake other initiatives to further its mission. The Trust will work closely with the Housing Partnership Committee, the Westborough Housing Authority, and other stakeholders.