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What is the advantage to creating a local housing trust when we already have the Danvers Housing Authority (DHA)?

The Danvers Housing Authority (DHA) is a state controlled entity. It is funded and managed by the State and while it works in partnership with the Town, the DHA does not derive funding from any Town source, nor does it act at the direction of the Town management.  The use of the title “Danvers” is the States method of delineating the community the Housing Authority serves, not unlike the former identification of the “Danvers State Hospital”.

As identified by the DHA Director Cindy Dunn, the mission and agenda of the DHA’s is different than the Town’s.  The DHA operates under State statute, and is regulated through the Department of Housing and Community Development.  It is not part of DHA’s mandate to buy and sell real estate, although they are able to acquire and hold property on a self-supporting basis.  DHA can purchase real property but cannot sell property unless a legislative act is proposed and approved.  DHA has very limited financial home ownership opportunities through its voucher program – DHA supports its tenants on a rental basis. 

DHA is regulated by DHCD and HUD and rental opportunities under most circumstances will mirror those regulations.  The Trust could be more flexible in its rental structures.

A local housing trust can, for example, acquire property, partner with Habitat for Humanity, and eventually sell the completed units to income-qualified individuals to expand home ownership opportunities in Danvers.   This type of project could not be conducted by the Housing Authority.

Contributions from the new Multi-Family Affordability Provision (made as payment-in-lieu of units) directed to the trust can be used in a variety of ways – for example, funds could be used to “buy down” market-rate housing and, with a deed restriction, keep the unit permanently affordable to all subsequent owners.  Again, such a process would be outside the scope of the Housing Authority.

The housing trust does work cooperatively with the DHA, however, and there might well be opportunities to collaborate on a range of rental projects through tenant selection, project management and exploration of joint funding options.  Each entity could serve complementary functions in working to expand the supply of affordable housing in Danvers. DHA may well be an applicant for trust funds but could not adequately distribute funds without also creating another trust entity.

A final note:  the DHA Director, Cindy Dunn, sat on the subcommittee that drafted the Trust warrant article – the DHA looks forward to working with the trustees on increasing housing opportunities for Danvers residents and enthusiastically supports the effort to create a Trust.


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