Easton’s Affordable Housing Trust and South Shore Habitat for Humanity Complete Property Transfer, Construction To Begin This Spring
Easton, Massachusetts, March 20, 2019: Over four years of planning by Easton’s Affordable Housing Trust came to a successful conclusion March 13th with the recording of a deed transferring land on Electric Avenue to South Shore Habitat for Humanity.
At a well-attended community meeting at Frothingham Hall in Easton on March 11th, South Shore Habitat’s Executive Director Martine Taylor said site work should begin by May and the public is invited to help with the building project over the summer and fall. Habitat offers a “hand-up, not a hand-out,” Taylor said.
“Habitat does not build these homes; the local communities do. We are so very grateful to the Town of Easton and to the Affordable Housing Trust for their commitment to partnering and supporting our mission,” she said. This will be the fourth affordable home built by South Shore Habitat for Humanity in Easton.
The Affordable Housing Trust’s mission is to develop housing opportunities for a broad range of income levels and promote housing choice in Easton. In 2015 the Trust evaluated dozens of small undeveloped parcels entering the “tax title” process where the Town takes ownership of properties for unpaid real estate taxes. This process takes several years and the few properties which proceed through Land Court for ultimate Town ownership are usually very small undeveloped parcels with unclear ownership.
The Trust worked with real estate attorneys and site engineers to move a small parcel on Electric Avenue through the two-year tax title process, map off-site wetlands and design a septic system, and combine the parcel with another small abutting undeveloped tax title property owned by the Town since the 1980s.
In 2017 Easton Town Meeting approved conveying the property for affordable housing. The Trust issued a Request for Proposals and in late 2017 the Board of Selectmen approved conveying the property to South Shore Habitat for Humanity to build an affordable single-family home for an income-qualified household. The Trust and Town departments worked with Habitat through 2018 on permitting the project and the real estate transfer was completed in March 2019.
In addition to the Town providing the buildable land, the Trust is contributing a $30,000 grant for site work and construction costs. Habitat relies on financial and materials donations and volunteer labor for each project, with the new owners contributing 500 hours of “sweat equity” to build their new home.
Affordable Housing Trust Chair Nikki Dostoomian said there are few easily developable parcels left in Easton and each project the Trust takes on has to navigate a complicated set of regulations and financing challenges. “Habitat has been a pleasure to work with and we’re just so glad this project is ready to begin construction,” Dostoomian said. “We can’t wait to help with the build and welcome a new family to the community.”