P.O. Box 324
Truro MA, 02666

Select Board proposes new Muni Housing Trust

Originally proposed for the May 15 Select Board Agenda, this item may be considered tonight by the Select Board.  We hope it is delayed until a new Board is in place and until MUCH additional community discussion happens.

At ATM 2022, voters adopted two articles that were complex and long –  meaning Lilley not read to understood.  Both called for different kinds of Affordable Housing Trusts.

At the time, TPRTA Board Members read these articles with alarm –  they gave the Town wise authority to create Boards to govern these trusts that would essentially be out of the voters’ control thereafter, and possibly even the Select Boards’ control.  In the meanwhile, the Town has directed multiple finding streams into these Trusts, giving these Boards, if established, something to work with.

We asked two law firms to review these articles and advise us on the scope and impact of these articles.  These reviews confirmed our concerns are legitimate.

The proposed action would establish a Municipal Affordable Housing Trust board of trustees with the power to appropriate trust funds from multiple taxpayer-supported revenue streams.  They could seek other mechanisms and sources to fund affordable housing projects. They would also have broad discretion over use of Town land – and could engage in capital purchases of land, decide on uses of Town land or buildings; on borrowing, leasing, and many more functions, without Town Meeting, that is, without the voters.  In fact, this Board will not be required to hold public hearings and there is no appeal of their decisions, if they are established.

We urge the Select Board to delay this decision and to seek a fuller understanding of these articles in the context of the proposed action. Truro voters should  understand what they appear to have agreed to –  to make sure this makes sense.  All taxpayers deserve  a clear reckoning of that this means for taxes and spending –  municipal housing agencies require a lot of funding for development, management services and enforcement.