HARVARD — The Harvard Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Fund (MAHTF) disclosed last week that it has pledged $11,600 to help a volunteer-led organization that’s facing foreclosure on two properties it owns.
The four-unit Harvard Inn and five-unit Great Elms constitute the town’s sole affordable family rental projects.
On Dec. 5, the MAHTF voted in executive session to intercede in a short-term foreclosure solution without revealing the amount pledged to Victor Normand, president of the Harvard Trust Nonprofit Properties Corp., which owns the two properties. Once the MAHTF resumed open-session deliberations, the group demurred on providing the exact sum pledged.
But more details were released by week’s end.
MAHTF member and Selectman Ron Ricci said the sum will help “delay the foreclosure on the inn and Elms to give time to relocate the two tenants currently living in the inn and to cover relocation expenses for the tenants.”
Ricci revealed that was a foregone conclusion by Friday — the bank had agreed to postpone, but not cancel, the back-to-back foreclosure auctions that were scheduled for Dec. 8.
“After the tenants in the inn have been relocated, it will be auctioned at foreclosure,” said Ricci. “Upon foreclosure, the affordability restrictions on the inn will be lifted. For at least the near term, the Elms will continue to remain as affordable rental housing.”
A written agreement memorializing the bailout terms is being drafted by North Middlesex Savings Bank, the Harvard Trust Nonprofit Properties and the Harvard Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Ricci said the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has been involved in helping with a solution. Ricci also noted that two other Harvard residents “have been actively helping out.”
Ricci said once the terms were ironed out and reviewed by town counsel, and the agreement was signed, it will be made available for public review.
“The Harvard MAHTF will work DHCD to replace the affordable units lost at the inn, on a resolution as to what to do with the Elms and development of affordable family housing in Harvard,” he said.
The MHATF is funded by the Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharges on town real-estate bills.
In addition to the $277,000 loan from North Middlesex Savings Bank, Normand said there is a $325,000 loan made by DHCD for building repairs made 10 years ago that is in a second lien position and suspended from repayments as long as the property is maintained as affordable housing.
Normand has noted that affordable-housing projects — especially in centuries-old structures such as the inn and Elms — cannot work without public financial support.
“Whether it comes from the town or the DHCD, federal funds, state funds — whatever,” Normand said.