The Commonwealth of Massachusetts housing trust statute (M.G.L. c.44 section 55C) establishes the formal purpose of trusts, which is: ... to provide for the creation and preservation of affordable housing in munipaliities for the benefit of low and moderate income households.
At its April1, 2017 Annual Town Meeting, Rockport adopted this statute and created this by-law:
Affordable Housing Trust Fund
There shall be a Rockport Affordable Housing Trust, the purpose of which shall be to provide for the preservation and creation of affordable housing in the Town Rockport for the benefit of low and moderate income households and for the funding of communityhousing as defined in and in accordance with the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 44B (“Chapter 44B”). The Trust shall be governed by a Board of Trustees in accordance withGeneral Laws Chapter 44, Section 55C (“Section 55C”), as revised from time to time, and the authority granted by Town Meeting.
A. Name of the Trust
The Trust shall be called the "Rockport Affordable Housing Trust", herein referred to as the Trust.
The purpose of the Trust shall be to provide for the preservation and creation of affordable housing in the Town of Rockport for the benefit of low and moderate income households and for the funding of community housing as defined in Chapter 44B.
C. Board of Trustees
There shall be a Board of Trustees (the “Board”) consisting of nine (9) Trustees who shall be appointed by the Board of Selectmen. The members of the Board shall be comprised of as follows:
one (1) member of the Board of Selectmen, or its designee;
one (1) member of the Community Development Office of Fair Housing or its designee;
one (1) member of the Planning Board or its designee;
one (1) Housing Authority member from the Community Preservation Committee or its designee; and
five (5) residents at large, who to the extent possible, shall have backgrounds or interests in affordable housing, and specifically those with financial, legal, real estate or development expertise.
Only residents of the Town of Rockport shall be eligible to hold the office of Trustee. Trustees shall serve for a term not to exceed two (2) years, with initial terms of the five resident members to be for two years and the other four members for one year. Any Trustee may resign by filing with the Town Clerk a written resignation, signed under the pains and penalties of perjury. Any vacancy in the office of Trustee shall be filled by the Board of Selectmen in writing for the remainder of the unexpired term. Upon the appointment of any Trustee and the filing of such appointment and Trustee’s acceptance with the Town Clerk, the title to the Trust estate shall thereupon and without the necessity of any conveyance be vested in such succeeding Trustee jointly with the remaining Trustees. Reference to the Trustee shall mean the Trustee or Trustees for the time being hereunder. Trustees may be removed by the Board of Selectmen at any time for cause following the opportunity for a hearing. For purposes of this bylaw, the term “cause” shall include, but not be limited to, violation of any local, state, or federal law; incapacity to perform the duties of a Trustee; and acts of a Trustee, that in the opinion of the Board of Selectmen, are negligent or detrimental to the Town of Rockport or the Trust.
D. Meetings of the Trust
The Board shall meet at least quarterly in the Town of Rockport at such time and at such place as the Trustees shall determine.
E. Powers of the Board
The Board shall have all of the powers and duties set forth in Section 55C, which powers and duties shall be carried out in accordance with and in furtherance of the provisions of said law. Notwithstanding the first sentence of this paragraph, however, the Board shall have no ability to borrow money, or mortgage or pledge Trust assets, purchase, sell, lease, exchange, transfer or convey any interest in real property, without the prior approval of the Rockport Board of Selectmen. Further, any borrowing by the Trust shall be pre-approved by a two-thirds vote at town meeting. The Board, an individual Trustee, or any agent or office of the Trust shall not have the authority to bind the Town of Rockport, except in the manner specifically authorized herein.
F. Acts of Trustees
Provided that a quorum of the Board is present, a majority of those Trustees present and voting may exercise any or all of the powers of the Board hereunder, except as otherwise provided, and such Trustees may execute on behalf of the Board any and all instruments with the same effect as though executed by all the Trustees. No Trustee shall be required to give bond. No license of court shall be required to confirm the validity of any transaction entered into by the Board with respect to the Trust Estate.
G. Status of Trust and Board of Trustees
The Trust is a public employer and the members of the Board are public employees for purposes of General Laws Chapter 258 relative to liability and indemnification. The Trust shall be deemed a municipal agency and the members of the Board of Trustees special municipal employees for purposes of General Laws Chapter 268A, the Conflict of Interest Law. The Trust is a governmental body for purposes of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 30A, §§18-25, the Open Meeting Law. The Trust is also a board of the Town for purposes of General Laws Chapter 30B, procurement, and General Laws Chapter 40, §15, abandonment of rights in realty, provided, however, that agreements and conveyances between the Trust and agencies, boards, commissions, authorities, departments and public instrumentalities of the Town shall be exempt from said chapter 30B.
H. Custodian of Funds
The Town of Rockport Treasurer shall be the custodian of the funds of the Trust. The books and records of the Trust shall be audited annually by an independent auditor in accordance with accepted accounting practices for municipalities. Cost associated with the independent audit shall be borne by the Trust.
I. Duration of the Trust
This Trust shall continue until terminated by a vote of the Rockport Town Meeting. Upon termination of the Trust, the Board, with the approval of the Board of Selectmen, may sell all or any portion of the Trust property, both real and personal, and, following the payment of all obligations and liabilities of the Trust and the Trustees, shall transfer to the Town the net assets of the Trust which shall be held by the Board of Selectmen for affordable housing purposes.
J. Compensation of Trustees
Trustees shall not receive a salary, stipend, bonus or other means of compensation for their service as a Trustee, nor shall they be eligible for any benefits from the Town of Rockport. Trustees may be compensated for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses for travel and other Trust-related expenses. All such out-of-pocket expenses shall be fully documented with receipts for expenses prior to payment by the Trust.
K. Annual Report
The Trustees shall prepare an annual report describing the activities of the Trust on a calendar year basis. The annual report shall be submitted to the Rockport Board of Selectmen by December 31st of each year as well as be included in the Town’s Annual Report. The annual report shall list all financial transactions conducted by the Trust including all revenues and costs, provide a balance sheet of liabilities and assets of the Trust, list an inventory of all affordable housing units created, sold, and/or managed by the Trust, and any other pertinent information related to the business of the Trust.
Board of Trustees