Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan.
Haverhill city councilors agreed Tuesday night to take $57,000 from a housing developer in lieu of a requirement the builder sell two homes to low-income families.
Attorney Michael J. Migliori said Hale’s Landing received permission to build 26 single-family homes in 2005 on the condition two homes be sold at reduced prices to qualified families. However, current banking rules make it difficult to finance eligible, low-income families, he said.
“The policy doesn’t make sense any longer. It just doesn’t work,” Migliori said. Selling the two remaining homes at market prices will allow the developer to complete the project and allow the city to accept the street off Groveland Road. Lacking acceptance of the street, current residents must pay for their own snowplowing and trash disposal.
“The economy turned terribly downward,” Migliori said, after the 2005 permitting of the project. It took 11 years to sell 24 units, he added. He said other developers have received waivers without giving the city in exchange. He said his client also donated land to the city’s trail network and has pledged to make further open space improvements.
Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan, who is also a real estate attorney, agreed there is no longer a market for this kind of reduced price home programs.
“They couldn’t find people who qualify,” Sullivan said. Programs that work today use grants and tax credits, he explained. He proposed, and his colleagues accepted, the creation of a new affordable housing fund paid by developers. Sullivan called the fund “seed money for a new account.”
Councilor William J. Macek hailed the solution as “a new way to pay for affordable housing.”