Five Options for Structuring MAHTs

In a recent research project for the Town of Wenham, I identified various ways that eight MA towns have structured their Municipal Affordable Housing Trust (per MGL c.44 Section 55C).  Housing trusts are not a new concept, but since this legislation is fairly new (Jan 2005) it has been especially interesting to see what powers towns have given to their trust.   In January 2009, I presented the results of my findings to the Wenham Board of Selectmen. 



In general there are five frameworks for structuring a MAHT:

  1. Unlimited powers - all of the powers per the statute are given to the Trust with no other layers of approval required through the local bylaws. 
  2. Limited powers without additional oversight - local bylaw gives more limited powers to the Trust than allowed per the statute.
  3. BOS approval for all disbursements- bylaw restricts Trust from making any disbursements without Board of Selectmen approval. 
  4. Town Meeting approval for some borrowing - local bylaw restricts the Trust's power of borrowing by requiring Town Meeting approval. 
  5. Combination of BOS and Town Meeting approval - tiered structure where some Trust powers do not need any other approvals, and other powers require either Board of Selectmen and/or Town Meeting approval. 

My summary categorizes each of the eight case studies within one of these five frameworks and describes how each MAHT is structured.  The case studies were the MAHTs in Andover, Ashland, Lincoln, Norwell, Plymouth, Southborough, Sudbury, and Westford.   I'd be happy to provide more information for those who are interested.