Selectors are working to quickly approve the rental/mortgage assistance program

Last night the Board of Selectmen approved a proposal to provide relief to Southborough residents financially affected by the pandemic. The program will leverage the CARES Act to help meet rent or mortgage payments.

Breeders hope the scheme will be in place in time for applications to be accepted from November 1 (this Sunday) on December 1.

Coach Lisa Braccio noted that many cities already offer the service. Many even provide matching assistance from their Community Preservation Act funds. Currently, elected officials only intend to provide funds for which they can seek reimbursement from the federal government.

Current plans call for up to $25,000 for the program. The money will be donated from the city’s general fund. The Dec. 1 deadline would give the city accountant time to file a claim for reimbursement under CARES before it expires at the end of this month. It also allows time to reassess the amount if requests indicate there is a greater need.

The program is not yet fully authorized. There are two more approvals in the works, including a second vote (mostly from the same group) on Friday.

The Affordable Housing Trust Fund Committee will meet at midday this Friday to discuss the plan and vote. Braccio said she would seek permission to use the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to support the program if there is a repayment problem. She is also seeking fellow Selectman Chelsea Malinowski to be allowed to serve as an additional ‘control’ in the process.

Five of the seven AHTFC members are/will be elected. * Thus, adoption of the plans is likely, although modifications may be made.

The draft documents were modeled from Ashland’s documents. The elected officials’ vote last night approved the process described by Braccio and the materials (with the revisions described). Their vote depended on the review and approval of the city council. Selectman Sam Stivers also planned to review the documents before Friday’s meeting to ensure that the wording is consistent across all documents.

The draft requires applicants to have reduced income attributed to Covid-19. They must not already be receiving government-funded housing assistance. And, they must have resided in Southborough for at least six months.

Qualified applicants would be eligible for up to two months of rental or mortgage assistance (subject to available funding):

  • $1200/month for efficiency/studio
  • $1400/month for a 1 bedroom
  • $1600/month for a 2 bedroom
  • $2000/month for a 3+ bedroom

The aid could be used to make overdue payments since April 1. Mortgage assistance could not be applied to escrow or home insurance.

To qualify, the total household income for people over 18 must not exceed 80% of the area median income for the greater Boston area adjusted for family size. (Household members pursuing full-time post-secondary education are exempt from being included in total household income.) A table specified:

Applications will be reviewed by members of the Southborough Emergency Fund. Braccio explained that the group already has procedures in place for other programs helping residents in need. The members are the Director of Youth and Family Services, the Director and Outreach Coordinator of the Senior Center and the Southborough Food Pantry Coordinator.

The group will review applications to ensure they are eligible and complete. To ease the burden on the city accountant, eligible requests will be redacted (for confidentiality reasons) and forwarded to Malinowski. She will verify that the applications are complete with all the required documents. Applications deemed complete will be forwarded to the city accountant for processing. She will then ask for refunds.

To view the draft documents discussed at last night’s meeting, click here. Stay tuned for news on the final vote and approved versions of the documents.

*Technically, four of the five coaches serve on the 7-person AHTFC. The city’s website still lists former Selectman Dan Kolenda as a member instead of Malinowski who was elected to that seat this summer. This will be fixed in a moment BOS meeting just before the midday meeting. The other two members appointed by the Council are William Boland and Doriann Jasinski.