Based on a strong belief that economic diversity is an important contributor to vital and livable communities, Andover Community Trust advocates for and develops permanently affordable homes in the Andover community.
A Community Land Trust helps qualified buyers purchase the house alone and lease the land at a nominal fee. This reduces the mortgage, down payment and closing costs when buying a home.
The goal of Andover Community Trust is to complete at least one permanently affordable home each year, thereby increasing the number of affordable homes in the Andover community with units that can be held perpetually affordable for future generations.
Andover Community Trust (ACT) is a Massachusetts non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, organized in 1992 and dedicated to developing and promoting permanently affordable housing in the Town of Andover. ACT believes strongly that economic diversity will enhance the lives of the residents of Andover and is an important contributor to vital and livable communities. ACT encourages home ownership for the benefit of persons of low and moderate income within Andover. It promotes rehabilitation of housing to counteract community deterioration, to protect the natural environment and to develop the community. ACT works to convey decent, affordable housing to persons who might otherwise be denied such opportunities because of limited financial resources. ACT operates with an active, dedicated 13-member Board of Directors.
Based on the workings of a community land trust, ACT acquires land and builds modest three-bedroom homes to meet the needs of eligible households whose income is below 80 percent of the area median income (as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development annually) and are first-time home buyers. Chapter 40B of the Massachusetts State Statutes General Laws allows local Zoning Boards of Appeals to approve ACT’s development of non-conforming lots to provide long-term affordable housing (M.G.L. Chapter 40B Comprehensive Permit Projects - Subsidized Housing Inventory). ACT retains ownership of the land and leases the parcel to the owner at a nominal rate. ACT also retains an option to repurchase the house at the price determined by a resale formula tied to the increase in the area median income, thereby keeping the housing unit affordable if the owner decides to move. An open owner selection process is held, and ACT encourages applications by households with school-age children and by those with a member who works or lives in Andover. The ground lease is for 99 years, and the home’s price is set to be affordable by the Department of Housing and Community Development Local Initiative Project program. Currently all of the ACT homes remain occupied by their original owners, and there have been no resales.
ACT completed its first permanently affordable, single-family, owner-occupied home on Haverhill Street in 2001, in partnership with the Greater Lawrence Technical School’s (GLTS) Construction Technologies Academy. The land was donated by Andover real estate developer Willard Perkins. The GLTS students, under the supervision of their teachers, also built ACT’s second home on Heather Drive, completed in 2006, and ACT’s sixth home on Andover Street, completed in 2013. The collaboration with GLTS provides real-life experience for the students, encourages employers to retain and create local job opportunities, particularly for young people, and although on a longer timeline due to the school term, also reduces the home’s building cost.
ACT receives community support through donation of buildable land parcels, reduced rates from private builders, and fee waivers from the Town of Andover. The Town Assessors department, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Housing Partnership Committee, and Board of Selectman have all supported the projects of ACT. Andover prides itself historically as a socially conscious and equitable place to live. One of its goals is to remain economically diverse with a diverse housing stock.
In the past 10 years, ACT has secured six land parcels through purchase or gift. Five houses have been built, and one has been renovated, to add a total of six units to Andover’s affordable home inventory. The development costs for the homes have ranged from $70,000 to $300,000. In addition, pro bono services averaging more than $32,000 per house have been donated by the architect, attorney and civil engineer for each house. The operations of ACT include property and site selection, building design and construction, communications and public relations, finance and administration, owner selection and owner relations. These are carried out by the Executive Director and the Board, which, in addition to the three professionals mentioned above, also includes a banker, realtor, communications professional, non-profit professional, web developer and home owners. This organization represents the various interests of the Andover community, as it secures land and develops permanently affordable homes at the rate of approximately one every 18 months.
In addition to the pro bono professional services from local professionals, ACT has received community support through gifts from the Abbot and Dorothy H. Stevens Foundation and Nathaniel and Elizabeth P. Stevens Foundation, Webster Family Foundation, Essex County Community Foundation, Smith Purdon Fund, The Rotary Club of Andover, UNICO, and from several local banks, including Butler Bank, Citizens Bank, Enterprise Bank and Trust Company, River Bank and TD Banknorth, as well as donations from individuals.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) considers housing “affordable” if housing costs (mortgage + property taxes + insurance) do not exceed 30 percent of a household’s annual income (US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Affordable Housing). The generosity of ACT supporters makes it possible for ACT to develop and sell homes at a price affordable to low to moderate income families. The success and sustainability of the diverse Andover community relies on the inclusion of residents with a range of incomes, household characteristics, and demographic qualities.
ACT is a recognized community resource that perpetually facilitates affordable housing for families, creating a more diverse community.
Events & Workshops
ACT office in downtown Andover
Come by and visit us in our office space at 2 Dundee Park, suite B02A. Please call ahead so that we are sure to be there. 978.276.9ACT (9228)