January 29, 2015

Feldman Seaside Apartments for Senior Citizens in Winthrop Has Been Completed

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

Feldman-Seaside-Ribbon-Cutt

The ribbon is cut at Feldman Seaside Apartments

WINTHROP – A brand new apartment community for senior citizens has been completed in Winthrop and is being hailed as a development that should be replicated elsewhere.

The ribbon was recently cut on the Feldman Seaside Apartments, which offers 40 apartments and support services for Winthrop seniors. MassHousing provided $1 million for the project from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Additional financing was provided by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, First Sterling, Bank New York Mellon, Eastern Bank and the North Suburban Home Consortium.

The housing was built adjacent to Temple Tiferth Israel, which leased some of its property to the development team so that the housing could be built. The Temple will use some of the proceeds to make needed renovations there.

"I believe that this complex and the views are beautiful and I've been told your strategy of finding underused land to build senior housing can be a national model. That's something we can all be proud of here in our community," said House Speaker Robert DeLeo at a recent event to celebrate the opening of the Feldman Seaside Apartments. "I want to commend the folks at the Temple who made the brave but wise decision to preserve their community by opting to share it. I know how important community and independence are as we age. The Feldman Seaside Apartments were built with these tenets in mind."

Feldman-Seaside-1

The Feldman Seaside Apartments were developed by the Chelsea Jewish Foundation and Affirmative Investments of Boston. Of the 40 apartments, 37 will be affordable and 3 will be rented at market rates. There are 36 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments.

"Days like today are marked by three words for me: congratulations, thanks and hope," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason. "Congratulations to the people who were so instrumental for putting this together. Thanks to everybody who cares about affordable housing for taking a stand and saying we want to do more of that. And hope because for me, being in the public sector, we have an obligation to give back. If we would all take care to put a little more focus on the generation that came before us and the generation that came after us we would be in a much better place. I'm delighted that we could be here and be part of this and that MassHousing and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund could be involved."

The new housing community is named after Gerry and Judy Feldman, who have been benefactors of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation.

The contractor was Dellbrook Construction and the architect was Davis Square Architects.

"This is great news for the town to have 40 new units for seniors so that they can have quality housing," said Sen. Anthony Petruccelli.

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January 16, 2015

Affordable Rents Will Stay In Place at Four Affordable Housing Communities in Rockland, Southbridge, Ware and Worcester

$15 million in MassHousing financing will allow property owners to participate in HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration program and extend affordability for low-income residents for at least 15 years

Spring-Gate-Apartments

Spring Gate Apartments in Rockland

MassHousing has closed approximately $15 million in loans for four affordable rental housing communities with 1,695 apartments in Rockland, Southbridge, Ware and Worcester.

The new loans will be used to help pay off ("pre-pay") the remaining balances on loans made when the apartment communities were first built in the 1970s under the federal subsidy program known as "Section 236."

These transactions allow the owners of the apartment communities to participate in a new HUD initiative called the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, or RAD. By participating in RAD, the owners first and foremost are able to continue to provide below-market subsidized rents to their residents. This is possible because under RAD the apartments will transition from an older and obsolete subsidy program (known as "Rent Supp") to a replacement subsidy known as "Project-Based Vouchers."

The owners have committed to these Project-Based Vouchers for 15 years, meaning tenant rents will remain affordable and below-market for income-eligible residents. The RAD program also increases the income flowing into the properties from the federal subsidies, meaning that the owners will be better positioned to make needed repairs and improvements in the future.

Lincoln-Village

Lincoln Village in Worcester

"By assisting these property owners in accessing the RAD program, affordability is going to be extended for low-income residents living in nearly 1,700 affordable apartments," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason. "We will continue to work with the owners on providing additional loans in the future that will result in the significant renovation of these affordable housing communities."

MassHousing closed the following loans:

  • $11.5 million for the 1,213-unit Lincoln Village in Worcester, owned by Carabetta Enterprises of Connecticut. Lincoln Village was built between 1973 and 1975.
  • $2 million for the 168-unit Brookside Terrace in Southbridge, owned by Advanced Properties, Inc. of Newton. Brookside Terrace was built in 1974 and is located at 11 Village Drive in Southbridge.
  • $1.2 million for the 204-unit Spring Gate Apartments in Rockland, owned by Connolly and Partners, LLC of Boston. The Spring Gate Apartments were built in 1973 and are located on 10 acres behind the Rockland Plaza Shopping Center.
  • $490,000 for the 110-unit Highland Village in Ware, owned by Advanced Properties, Inc. Highland Village was built in 1972.
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Mid-Year Report: MassHousing on Track for Second-Best Lending Year

TGleasonBy Tom Gleason
Executive Director, MassHousing

MassHousing is on track to provide more than $1 billion in financing for affordable rental and homeownership in fiscal year 2015, but the numbers tell only a small part of the story. In addition to the $589 million in financing we had provided as of December 31, 2014, the Agency has also reached several milestones with new lending vehicles and programs that better position us to serve the affordable housing needs of Massachusetts in the years ahead.

On the HomeOwnership side, we closed 1,632 loans for $386.1 million to help families buy a home or refinance their mortgage. Our homeownership lending was driven largely by our new lender-paid mortgage insurance product, which accounted for about half of our production. We also closed our first FHA loan through the Federal Home Loan Bank's Mortgage Partnership Finance Program, and we recruited and trained eight lenders for our FHA pilot program. The increased endorsement of our online homebuyer counseling program The Road Home has made it easier for more consumers to obtain valuable homebuyer education.

Our Rental Lending group ended calendar year 2014 by closing $150 million in financing for 12 developments with nearly 3,900 units. The first half of FY 2015 included our largest conduit loan ever ($66 million for Quincy Point), as well as the issuance of our first MAP processing rate lock (nine others are in process). We issued new prepayment guidelines to make it easier for property owners to refinance and extend affordability, and we significantly upped our efforts to reach out to and work with customers, business partners, public agencies and other stakeholders to address affordability challenges in rental housing.

We expect that FY 2015 will end up as our second largest lending year ever, besting the $985.2 million we provided in FY'14. Not so long ago, such totals would have seemed unattainable. In fact, the $589 million we've already provided in FY'15 is already well over the $570 million we provided in all of FY 2002. With new products and programs and a renewed commitment to collaboration, MassHousing is poised to continue as the leading provider of affordable housing financing for many years to come.

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Loans with LPMI an affordable option for homebuyers

Even with the recent announcement that the FHA would reduce its insurance premiums, MassHousing loans with Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance (LPMI) remain a more affordable option for homebuyers.

On January 8, HUD announced that it would lower mortgage insurance premiums on FHA loans by 50 basis points, or 0.5 percentage points for new borrowers. The move is being made to encourage homebuying and increase affordability. It is expected to save FHA borrowers $900 annually.

Despite the reduced rates, however, a MassHousing Mortgage with LPMI option remains a more affordable option. In the example below, a homebuyer would save more than $40 per month by financing their home with a MassHousing Mortgage with LPMI instead of an FHA loan, even though the FHA loan has a lower interest rate.

 FHA Insured LoanMassHousing Mortgage w/LPMI
Purchase Price $300,000 $300,000
Downpayment (3.5%) $10,500 $10,500
Loan Amount $289,500 $289,500
Mortgage Insurance Premium $5066.25 --
Gross Loan Amount $294,566.25 $289,500
Interest Rate 3.25% 4.25%
Monthly Principal and Interest Payment $1,278.46 $1,443.93
Monthly MI Premium $208.65 --
Gross Monthly Payment $1,487.11 $1,443.93
Difference   ($43.18)

Traditionally, borrowers making downpayments of less than 20% of a home's purchase price are required to obtain mortgage insurance, which protects the lender in case of default. MI is billed monthly as part of the borrower’s regular payment of principal, interest and property taxes. With LPMI, the lender pays the full mortgage insurance premium up front at the time of loan closing, and the borrower pays a slightly higher interest rate. Even with the higher rate, the monthly payment on LPMI loans is lower than loans with traditional MI or loans with no MI.

LPMI loans are best for homebuyers who want the option to refinance, move or pay off their mortgage within 10 to 15 years of taking out their mortgage. This is because the higher interest rate of an LPMI loan remains in place until the loan is refinanced or paid off while borrower-paid MI can be cancelled once the loan-to-value reaches 80%.

Unlike FHA-insured loans, all loans insured by MassHousing (including those with LPMI) feature MI Plus, a unique borrower protection that helps pay your mortgage if you lose your job. MassHousing borrowers with an LPMI loan may qualify to have all or a portion of their principal and interest payments made by MassHousing for periods of time extending up to six months.

Learn more about all of MassHousing's affordable mortgage programs.

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Elderly Residents of Hunter Place in Springfield to See Property Improvements as a Result of $5 million in MassHousing Financing

80-apartment housing community built in 1975 will see renovations and energy upgrades

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

Hunter-Place
Senior citizens living in the 80-apartment Hunter Place in Springfield will see significant property improvements as a result of $5 million in MassHousing financing.

An affiliate of Valley Real Estate is refinancing and rehabilitating Hunter Place, which was built in 1975. MassHousing recently closed a $5 million bridge loan and the property will receive an estimated $6 million from the sale of state and federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

"This financing is going to help give Hunter Place a complete makeover while keeping the apartments there affordable for senior citizens for the long term," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason.

Hunter Place is located at 61-79 Andrew St. in Springfield. The 80 apartments are contained in four three-story concrete buildings.

Among the improvements planned for the property are exterior waterproofing, replacement of 40-year-old windows, installation of modern fire safety systems, kitchen and apartment upgrades and common area remodeling. An existing elevator will be repaired and a new elevator will be added to one of the buildings. In addition, the owner plans to improve energy efficiency by installing new boilers and installing photovoltaic panels.

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January 15, 2015

$16.4 Million Will Help Renovate and Preserve Affordability at St. Stephen's Tower in Lynn

130-unit community for senior citizens will remain affordable for at least 30 years

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

St.-Stephen's-TowerSenior citizens living in the 130-unit St. Stephen's Tower in Lynn will see major property renovations and affordability extended for the long term there as a result of $16.4 million in MassHousing loans.

St. Stephen's Tower is being acquired and rehabilitated by an affiliate of St. Stephen's Church and Beacon Communities LLC. Located at 25 Pleasant St. in Lynn, St. Stephen's Tower is comprised of 10 studio apartments, 110 one-bedroom apartments and 10 two-bedroom apartments contained in a 10-story building.

The property was originally financed with a federal Section 236 mortgage loan and a Rental Assistance Payment contract, which were both set to expire in March 2017. St. Stephen's Tower was selected for MassHousing's Pilot Program for Revitalizing Severely Distressed Properties and was eligible to prepay the Section 236 loan.

In financing this transaction MassHousing, in collaboration with Beacon Communities, used an innovative, first by the Agency execution where the loan was underwritten with a 17-year term and a 35-year amortization period that will be serviced with a declining loan balance. As a result of the MassHousing financing, the property will receive Section 8 project-based vouchers through the HUD Moving to Work program, which is administered by the Cambridge Housing Authority. This transaction will extend the affordability at St. Stephen's for the next 30 years.

"Being able to complete varied and innovative types of financing allows us to help renovate and extend the affordability at important housing communities like St. Stephen's and for the senior citizens who live there" said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason.” We were pleased to work collaboratively with Beacon Communities to make sure this important affordable community remained available to seniors in Lynn for decades to follow."

The property is nearly 40 years old and is in need of significant repairs and renovation to common areas and apartments, repair and replacement of building systems, and increases in energy and water efficiency.

"Beacon Communities and our partner, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church are pleased that we were able to work with MassHousing, HUD and the Cambridge Housing Authority to develop a financing plan that enabled us to preserve this much needed affordable housing community in the City of Lynn," said Beacon Communities CEO Pamela Goodman.

The contractor will be Keith Construction, Inc., the Architect is Bechtel Frank Erickson Architects, Inc. and the management agent is Beacon Residential Management.  

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MassHousing "Soup Kitchen" Continues Its Charitable Tradition

Annual Agency event has raised $30,000 over the past 14 years

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

NECHV Check presentation with Center President and CEO Andrew McCawley

MassHousing's Peter Milewski (left) and Tom Lyons (right) present a check for $3,250 from the Holiday Soup Kitchen to New England Center for Homeless Veterans President and CEO Andrew McCawley

The "Soup Kitchen" started 14 years ago when MassHousing staff working with the Agency's Mortgage Insurance Fund (MIF) wanted to do something to help the homeless other than hand over the spare change in their pockets.

"The idea was to have a holiday event where we could sell something we made where 100% of the proceeds went to a charity associated with homelessness. The idea of soup came from the idea that the places that provided food for the homeless were historically called 'soup kitchens' so we decided we would make and sell 'soup' as the focus of our fundraising," explained Peter Milewski, MassHousing's Director of Homeownership Lending and Business Development.

Milewski (who still directs the MIF) and his MIF colleagues organized the first soup kitchen where staff made soup, chili, sandwiches and desserts, and invited the rest of the Agency to gather and enjoy their homemade fare for a nominal price. Staff from the MIF and other Agency employees also donated prizes to raffle ranging from Red Sox tickets to homemade crafts and jewelry.

Since 2000, the MassHousing Soup Kitchen has raised approximately $30,000 for charities and organizations.

"The only time we have moved away from our original objective to donate money to support the homeless of Boston was when we had a tragedy take the life of a MassHousing employee or family member," said Milewski. "As a result we have also made donations to charities associated with those individuals. These have included the Dana Farber Cancer Research Center, the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Research Center, Cradles to Crayons, the American Heart Association, the American Arthritis Association, and Victory Junction, which is a summer camp for seriously ill children.

"Organizations that have been our primary beneficiaries have been the Pine Street Inn, Rosie's Place, the New England Home for Little Wanderers, and most recently the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, which is a five-time donation recipient," added Milewski.

This year's Soup Kitchen raised $3,250 for the New England Center for Homeless Veterans and a check was recently presented to NECHV President and CEO Andrew McCawley.

While the Soup Kitchen originally started with the staff of MassHousing's MIF, it expanded to the Agency's Business Development group and now volunteers from around the Agency participate every year in putting on the Soup Kitchen.

Milewski noted that Catherine O'Reilly, in addition to being the "chili master,” has been the primary organizer of the event each of the past 14 years. "She is the marketing department, chef, the maître d' and the dish washer," he said. "She does it all. She is retiring in June and it will take a number of people joining hands to replace her."

While the primary goal of the Soup Kitchen is to raise money for those in need every holiday season, it has become a MassHousing tradition that brings the whole staff together for a good cause and good cheer.

"Ludwig Van Beethoven once said, 'It takes a pure heart to make good soup.' I think participation in the soup kitchen whether making soup, sandwiches, desserts, or donating chips, beverages, or making a personal donation of an item for our raffle, or simply making a donation and celebrating the holidays with your MassHousing co-workers, you are making good soup," said Milewski. "It is a feeling that warms all our hearts and ignites the spirit of the holidays inside all of us."

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MassHousing to Hear from Rental Housing Property Managers on Third Round of Listening Tours

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

MassHousing's Rental Management Division is preparing to embark on its third round of statewide "Listening Tours" at which the Agency will review feedback from a recent survey of property managers and provide updates on other matters.

The latest round of Listening Tours will take place

  • February 17, New Academy Estates (Academy Homes II) Boston
  • February 19, King's Lynne, Lynn
  • February 24, Melville Towers, New Bedford
  • March 3, Coe's Pond Village, Worcester
  • March 4, Eastbrook Apartments, Springfield

MassHousing  staff initiated the first round of Listening Tours in November and December 2013 in Springfield, Worcester, Fairhaven, Lynn and Boston where more than 85 business partners representing more than 30 companies came to give staff feedback on its processes, policies and inspections. As a result, Rental Management has taken a number of steps to incorporate suggested changes in processes going forward.

A second round of Listening Tours was held in May and June 2014 at the same five locations.

"We know that the Listening Tours were a success because during the second round we hosted 146 business partners, an increase of more than 60 attendees over the first round," said MassHousing's Manager of Portfolio Management Anne Marie MacPherson. "We hope even more business partners will participate in the third round of tours and if anyone has suggestions for topics they would like to see covered I would welcome hearing from them."

Among some of the changes made were making Rental Management staff more consistent in dealings with business partners by reorganizing the Portfolio Management department; overhauling the internal replacement reserve processing tracking, which now results in most replacement reserve requests being paid within seven days; and developing the new Asset Management Review property inspection form using mobile technology.

Anne Marie MacPherson can be reached at amacpherson@masshousing.com or 617-854-1130. Management company staff who wish to attend an upcoming Listening Tour are asked to RSVP to ListeningTour@masshousing.com.

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MassHousing, DHCD Announce $22 Million in AHTF Loan Closings

Financing supporting 973 units of affordable housing in 16 communities

Old Colony Phase 2

Old Colony Phase 2 received $1 million in Affordable Housing Trust Fund financing

MassHousing and the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) recently closed $22 million in Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) loans for affordable housing in 16 communities.

The AHTF financing will help create or substantially rehabilitate and preserve the affordability of 973 rental apartments.

"These projects range from just a few units to hundreds of units and they will help meet the strong demand for quality, affordable housing for working families, senior citizens, veterans and the homeless," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason.

The AHTF provides resources to create or preserve affordable housing throughout the state. Funds are available for rental, homeownership and mixed-use projects as well as housing for the disabled and homeless, but may be applied only to the affordable units. AHTF funds are used primarily to support private housing projects that provide for the acquisition, construction or preservation of affordable housing. MassHousing and DHCD jointly administer the AHTF.

DHCD has also allocated Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, which have generated equity toward the cost of completing the projects.

The recent AHTF loan closings include the following projects:

  • $1.45 million for the 92-unit Parc at Medfield Phases I and II in Medfield. The GateHouse Group LLC is developing a vacant parcel into four buildings with all of the units affordable to households earning up to $56,450 annually. DHCD also provided $1.3 million through its Housing Stabilization Fund program.
  • $800,363 for the 10-unit Orange Teen Housing in Orange. Rural Development, Inc. is rehabilitating a long vacant Victorian dwelling and adding space to create studio apartments with program and common space to provide supportive housing for young adults who are homeless or at risk thereof. DHCD is also providing $1 million in financing.
  • $1 million for the 62-unit Malden Mills Phase II in Lawrence. WinnDevelopment of Boston is rehabilitating four industrial buildings which will include green technology to make them LEED for Homes Certifiable. DHCD is also providing $2.3 million in financing. All of the units will be affordable.
  • $1.5 million for the 44-unit Gordon Mansfield Veterans Coop in Northampton. Soldier On, Inc. is constructing one-bedroom units to provide permanent housing for formerly homeless veterans. DHCD is also providing $1.1 million in financing.
  • $1 million for the Mashpee Village Apartments Phase II in Mashpee. The Community Builders, Inc. of Boston is renovating the 145-unit development comprised of 110 apartments in 14 garden-style buildings and 35 single-family rental homes. This is the largest affordable housing community on Cape Cod with 130 of the 145 units being affordable. MassHousing provided an additional $11.1 million in financing for the project.
  • $1.1 million for the 38-unit Parsons Village in Easthampton. Valley Community Development Corporation has focused on including green components and creating a village atmosphere for family housing. The site includes seven multi-story buildings with townhouses and one-bedroom units.  DHCD is also providing $1.4 million in financing.
  • $1.5 million for the 11-unit River's Edge on the Concord in Lowell. The Residents First Development Corporation is building two single-family homes and nine duplexes on the site of the former Julian Steele housing complex, which was demolished in 2002. This is part of a multi-phase revitalization.
  • $1 million for Homeowners Rehab, Inc. of Cambridge for the preservation and renovation of Putnam Square Apartments. The development includes 94 units of elderly housing located between Harvard and Central Squares in Cambridge.
  • $950,000 for the 32-unit 86 Dummer Street in Brookline. The Brookline Housing Authority is constructing one, two and three-bedroom apartments for families. DHCD is also providing $954,903 in financing.
  • $1 million for the 39-unit Worcester Loomworks Phase I in Worcester. The Community Builders, Inc. is converting the vacant Loomworks into 94 affordable apartments in two phases. MassHousing is providing an additional $16 million in financing for the project.
  • $1 million for the 24-unit Gorham Street Apartments in Lowell. Coalition for a Better Acre of Lowell is developing a six-story building on a vacant lot. Six of the units will be reserved for families at risk of homelessness. DHCD provided an additional $1.4 million in financing.
  • $1.2 million for the 55-unit Chestnut Park in Holyoke. Weld Management is doing an adaptive reuse of the former Holyoke Catholic High School and ancillary buildings. The four two and three-story buildings will include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Vacated in 2002, the masonry buildings constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are considered historically significant by the National Park Service.
  • $1 million for the 32-unit Bishop Allen Apartments in Cambridge. Just A Start Corporation is renovating all the units in the four-building project, including upgrades to the interiors, windows, and siding. DHCD made an additional $1 million loan through its Capital Improvement and Preservation Fund.
  • $1 million for the 60-unit Village Green Phase I in Barnstable. Dakota Partners is utilizing modular construction to develop two three-story buildings on a vacant site. DHCD made additional loans totaling $1.2 million through its HOME and Housing Stabilization Fund programs.
  • $1 million for the 10-unit North Bellingham Veterans Home in Chelsea. The Neighborhood Developers, Inc. of Chelsea is converting a vacant former American Legion Hall to provide housing for formerly homeless individuals with a preference for veterans. The building, the first American Legion Hall constructed in Massachusetts, is across the street from the city's veterans' services office.
  • $1 million for the 40-unit Old Colony Phase Two C in South Boston. Beacon Communities, LLC of Boston is redeveloping the 845-unit Old Colony in multiple phases. An additional $2.6 million was provided from the federal Hope VI program and $800,000 from the City of Boston.
  • $1.3 million for the 64-unit Middlebury Arms in Middleborough. Affordable Housing and Services Collaborative, Inc. is completely renovating the development which includes four detached two-story buildings that were built in 1974. MassHousing provided an additional $9.2 million in financing. All of the units will be affordable.
  • $1 million for the 24-unit scattered site Haydenville Village Apartments in Williamsburg and Chesterfield. Hilltown Community Development Corporation is doing moderate to substantial rehabilitation of six existing apartment buildings. Three apartments will be set aside for homeless families and two apartments will be set aside for homeless veterans.
  • $1 million for the 67-unit Oxford Ping On development in Boston's Chinatown. The Chinese Economic Development Council, Inc. is constructing a 10-story building including seven units for homeless households. DHCD is also providing $1.7 million in financing.
  • $1 million for the 50-unit Flats at 22 (formerly Standard Box Apartments) in Chelsea. Mitchell Properties is developing a new mixed-income building, with 21 affordable units. DHCD made an additional $1 million in loans through its HOME and Community Based Housing programs.
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First-Time Homebuyers Fueling Another Strong Lending Year

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

First-time homebuyers are leading MassHousing on another strong lending year.

With the first half of fiscal year 2015 complete, MassHousing and its partner lenders have originated 1,632 MassHousing Mortgage loans for approximately $386.1 million in home financing, according to Peter Milewski, MassHousing's Director of Homeownership Lending.

"Of the 1,632 loans so far this (fiscal) year it looks like 1,200—or about 75%—appear to be first time homebuyers," said Milewski.

Milewski said homeownership loan production is up over the last half of fiscal 2014, which ran from January 1 to June 30, and saw about 1,200 loans and $260 million in financing.

With just $33 million in loan refinancing so far this fiscal year, Milewski said the large number of home purchase loans indicates first-time buyers are out in force buying homes.

"We specialize in raising capital and making it available to people with modest incomes to help them buy a home," said Milewski. "Year in and year out we see that these are good borrowers who make their monthly payments and who are good credit risks. It's gratifying to help them succeed in their dreams of homeownership."

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