October 06, 2015

Michael J. Dirrane appointed by Governor Baker as Chairman of MassHousing

Michael Dirrane

Michael J. Dirrane has been appointed by Governor Charlie Baker as Chairman of the MassHousing Board of Directors. It is the second time Mr. Dirrane has led the nine-member Board.

"I'm pleased to reappoint Mike Dirrane as Chairman of MassHousing," said Governor Baker. "In addition to a distinguished career in real estate finance, Mike has decades of experience with MassHousing in several capacities: as an employee, as a Board Member, and as a long-time Chairman and most recently as Vice Chairman. His experience and leadership skills will add tremendous value to the Baker-Polito team's efforts to create and preserve affordable housing."

Mr. Dirrane and the other Board Members of MassHousing are all unpaid volunteers and are appointed by the Governor.

Mr. Dirrane, a South Boston native, is the longest-serving Board Member in MassHousing's 49-year history, and has served on the governing body for nearly half of the time the Agency has been in existence. He was first named to the Board in 1993.

"It is a great honor to be asked by Governor Baker to once again lead one of the top housing agencies in the country," said Mr. Dirrane. "Since I first started my career there, and during my many years as a Board Member and Chairman, I have been enthusiastic about the Agency's mission and the ability of its employees to flawlessly execute it.  I look forward to continuing MassHousing' s affordable rental and homeownership initiatives in a cost effective way without taxpayer dollars. MassHousing is focused on the future which will include rental workforce housing solutions and homeownership programs for millennial buyers. In addition, we will seek to preserve expiring-use affordable units and continue single family homeownership lending in a responsible manner.

"We've greatly increased our lending in recent years, but we will not rest on our laurels and we face new exigencies on the affordable housing horizon," Mr. Dirrane added. "I am confident that the MassHousing team can carry out the Baker Administration's housing agenda and create and preserve housing for our most vulnerable families and elders."

Mr. Dirrane is the Senior Managing Director at National MI Holdings. He began his career at MassHousing in the 1980s. He subsequently held senior positions at MGIC, the nation's largest mortgage insurer; Amerin Guaranty, where he was a founding partner; GE Mortgage Insurance Company (GEMICO); Fannie Mae and PHH Corporation. He holds a BA from Boston College and a MA from Boston University.

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Governor Baker appoints Margaret F. Wagner and Ping Yin Chai to MassHousing Board

Governor Charlie Baker has appointed Ms. Margaret F. Wagner and Mr. Ping Yin Chai to the MassHousing Board.
"Margaret and Ping Yin each have decades of experience in their respective real estate development and finance fields and I am pleased to announce their appointments," said Governor Baker. "MassHousing plays a vital role in the creation and preservation of affordable housing opportunities and as such they are an important part of our overall economic development team."

Margaret F. Wagner is Managing Partner at First Atlantic Capital, LLC, a real estate investment company located in Boston focusing on the acquisition, ownership, and redevelopment of multifamily housing communities throughout the United States. She has previously held positions at Housing Partners, Inc., an affordable housing consultancy in Watertown and at Standard & Poor's Ratings Services. She has an undergraduate degree from Yale University and a Master of Science Degree in Real Estate Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"It is an honor to be asked by the Governor to serve on the MassHousing Board and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead," said Wagner. "Furthering the mission of the Agency through creating and preserving housing that is available to a broad range of incomes is critical to the economic vitality of the Commonwealth."

Ping Yin Chai is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Salem Five, a leading financial services institution that offers a broad array of products and services for consumers and businesses. In addition to banking services, Salem Five operates three subsidiaries: Salem Five Mortgage Company, LLC, Salem Five Financial, a full-service brokerage company and Salem Five Insurance Agency, LLC. Mr. Chai serves on an advisory board for Fannie Mae and has previously served on an advisory board for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. He is an honors graduate of Bentley University and has a Master’s in Business Administration from Suffolk University.

"I’m delighted that Governor Baker has asked me to join the Board, and I am confident that my years in real estate finance will add perspective as we work to address the continuing need for affordable housing in Massachusetts," said Chai. "MassHousing is well known to those of us in the mortgage finance industry for providing straightforward and affordable home loans, as well as financing high-quality apartment communities. The affordable housing landscape, both rental and homeownership, is undergoing major change and I am looking forward to helping the Agency chart its course going forward."

MassHousing Board members are unpaid volunteers who are appointed by the Governor, typically to seven-year terms, although in the event of a vacancy a new member can be appointed to fill out the remainder of a former member’s term. In addition to appointing Mr. Chai and Ms. Wagner, Governor Baker has also designated current Board Member Michael J. Dirrane as Chairman.

"I look forward to working with Margaret and Ping Yin, Chairman Dirrane and the other Board Members to address the affordable housing challenges in Massachusetts," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason. "With these latest appointments we have one of the most experienced and knowledgeable Boards in our history. The professional staff at the Agency is very enthusiastic about our ability to finance affordable home mortgages and loans for low-cost rental housing going forward, under the leadership of this Board."

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Recent loan closings from Affordable Housing Trust Fund will support 673 units in 14 communities


The New England Center for Homeless Veterans received $2.2 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund

MassHousing and the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) recently closed $14.7 million in Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) loans for affordable housing in 14 communities.

The AHTF financing will help create or substantially rehabilitate and preserve the affordability of 673 housing units.

The recent AHTF loan closings include the following housing communities:

  • $1 million for the 20-unit Port Landing in Cambridge. Capstone Communities, LLC is developing a three-story building in the Kendall Square neighborhood. All of the units are affordable and 16 units are for families. The City of Cambridge is also providing $2.4 million in financing and DHCD is providing $1 million in financing.
  • $1 million for the 56-unit Cranberry Manor and Carpenter’s Glen in Wareham and Taunton, respectively. The South Shore Housing Development Corp. is preserving and renovating the affordable units for families. DHCD is also providing $1.9 million in financing.
  • $835,000 for the 36-unit Village at Lincoln Park in Dartmouth. Bristol Pacific Homes, Inc. is constructing a new building and all the units will be affordable.  The site was previously occupied by the Lincoln Park amusement park and will eventually include single-family homes, housing for senior citizens and retail space. DHCD is also providing $2.2 million in financing.
  • $1 million for the 36-unit Residences at Stony Brook Phase 2 in Westford. Common Ground Development Corp. is adding seven new residential buildings and a community building to the existing Stony Brook development.  DHCD is providing $680,000 in financing for the project.
  • $1 million for the 100-unit Dalton Apartments in Pittsfield. Rees Larkin Development and Berkshire Housing Development Corp. are renovating the existing 11-building development, including replacement of roofs, windows, furnaces, and other building systems. DHCD is also providing $1 million in financing.
  • $1 million for the 25-unit Stable Path in Provincetown. Community Housing Resources, Inc. is constructing 10 buildings on the former Nelson’s Riding Stables property. All the units will be affordable. DHCD is also providing $1.05 million in financing.
  • $1 million for the 35-unit Union Square Apartments in Somerville. The Somerville Community Corp. is building 35 new affordable and transit-oriented apartments in a four-story building in the city’s Union Square. DHCD is also providing $1.2 million in financing.
  • $750,000 for the 32-unit Tritown Landing Phase 3 in Lunenburg. Great Bridge Properties, LLC is constructing a third phase of family rental housing bringing the total unit count to 131. DHCD is also providing $1.1 million in financing.
  • $1 million for the 94-unit Island Creek Village North in Duxbury. Beacon Communities is building 94 new, age-restricted apartments adjacent to the existing 58-unit Island Creek Village East and the 48-unit Island Creek Village West that were financed by MassHousing in 1982. MassHousing is also providing a $3.7 million permanent loan for the new housing and DHCD has allocated Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
  • $2.2 million for the New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV) in Boston. The NECHV is renovating 59 single room occupancy (SRO) units and adding a new SRO unit along with 37 new efficiency apartments. Additionally, the center will be renovating shelter space that includes 190 beds. DHCD has allocated Low-Income Housing Tax Credits for the project.
  • $1 million for the 31-unit 51-57 Beals St. in Brookline. The Pine Street Inn is renovating two adjacent SRO buildings near Coolidge Corner for formerly homeless tenants.  DHCD is also providing $2 million in financing.
  • $1 million for the 72-unit Tenney Place in Haverhill. Dakota Partners Inc. is constructing Phase I of a mixed-income community in two buildings that will contain 56 affordable units 16 market-rate units. DHCD is also providing $1.5 million in financing.
  • $815,577 for the 24-unit Shoe Shop Place in Middleborough. The Neighborhood Corporation (TNC) in partnership with Neighborhood of Affordable Housing, Inc. (NOAH) are redeveloping the only remaining wooden mill building and former shoe factory in downtown area of Middleborough. The project was also awarded Low-Income Housing Tax Credits as well as state and federal Historic Tax Credits.
  • $1.2 million for the 15-unit Sachem’s Path homeownership development on Nantucket. The Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) in Barnstable is developing this phase which is part of a larger development plan that includes new construction of a total of 40 single family homes - 36 by HAC and 4 by Habitat Nantucket - on 9.2 acres of undeveloped land. The development will increase the stock of affordable homes for full-time Nantucket residents.

"This financing helps provide affordable housing to families throughout the Commonwealth," said Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay. "I look forward to our continued partnerships with municipalities, neighborhoods, communities and engaged citizens as we work to improve housing access and opportunities in Massachusetts."

"The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is an invaluable resource in helping to create or preserve quality affordable housing for residents all across Massachusetts," said MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason. "These housing communities range in size from a small number of units to a large number of units but each of them are important to the families and senior citizens who live in them and to the communities where they are located."

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.

For most of these developments, DHCD has also allocated Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, the sale of which has generated equity toward the cost of completing the housing.

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"Buy Chicopee Now" initiative will encourage, facilitate home ownership in Chicopee

Buy Chicopee Now photo

Attending the recent event for "Buy Chicopee Now" are, from left, Rocco Leone, MassHousing; Pamela Patenaude, loan officer, Polish Credit Union; Maribel Torres, Originator/Vice President, Chicopee Saving Bank; Chery Pitt, Realtor from Real Living and Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos.

More than 120 people, including Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos turned out on September 10 for the kick-off event for Buy Chicopee Now, which is a collaborative effort to promote homeownership opportunities in the city.

Real estate professionals participating in the program will commit their time, energy, and resources to help potential homebuyers realize the dream of homeownership.

"As a professional community, we realize that homeownership is a stabilizing factor for individuals, families, and communities. We are proud to collaborate in this effort to encourage homeownership in the city of Chicopee. By offering services at a discount to qualifying participants, Buy Chicopee Now not only promotes homeownership in the community, it also stimulates local businesses in the process," the partnership said in announcing the program.



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Amid skyrocketing rents, construction starts on new affordable apartments in Cambridge

Capstone Communities will provide 20 new affordable apartments for families


CAMBRIDGE - Construction is underway for Port Landing in Cambridge which will provide 20 new affordable apartments for families in the Kendall Square area where rents are among the highest in greater Boston.

Capstone Communities is developing Port Landing. MassHousing provided $1 million for the new housing from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which MassHousing manages on behalf of the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

"This is a great day for the city of Cambridge," said Mayor David Maher at a Sept. 21 groundbreaking event. "Any day you can add to the affordable housing stock we already have it's a great day."

Of the 20 new apartments, 18 will be sized for families. Jason Korb of Capstone Communities noted that three-bedroom units will rent for about $1,300 a month as compared to similar market-rate units in the area that rent for upwards of $6,000 a month.

"We figured out you would need to make $250,000 a year to afford those three-bedroom apartments," he said.


"When you hear about the difference in rents, it makes us want to be involved in this housing community all the more," said MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason. "It takes a commitment, it takes a vision to do affordable housing and it takes persistence. This development team has commitment, vision and persistence."

Port Landing is within walking distance to the Kendall Square station on the MBTA Red Line. It will feature underground parking in a neighborhood where parking is scarce.

The project is also receiving financing from federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, DHCD, the city of Cambridge, the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust, Cambridge Trust Company and MassDevelopment.

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Trust Fund supporting new transit-oriented development in Somerville


Ground was recently broken for the Union Square Apartments in Somerville, a 35-unit transit-oriented affordable housing community being developed by the Somerville Community Corporation (SCC).

MassHousing committed $1 million for the new housing from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which MassHousing administers on behalf of the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

The Union Square Apartments will involve the redevelopment of the four-story former Boys and Girls Club building into 35 new affordable apartments with ground floor retail space. Prior to being used as the Boys and Girls Club, the building was an elementary school where Mayor Joseph Curtatone noted he had attended classes as a boy.

The building will also have a community room, on-site laundry, parking and bicycle parking. The new housing will be transit-oriented with the planned expansion of the MBTA's Green Line and the construction of a new T station.


"With the first new Green Line stop just two blocks from this site, it is critical that we have the support of the state, MassHousing, the city and others to create and lock in affordable housing options here,” said SCC CEO Daniel LeBlanc.

"We have partnered with Somerville Community Corporation on a number of projects in the city and the Union Square Apartments will be another quality affordable housing resource for the residents of Somerville," said MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason, who attended the Sept. 17 groundbreaking event.

There are multiple funding sources for the overall project, including state and federal tax credit equity, DHCD, and the city of Somerville.

The contractor will be Dellbrook Construction. The architect is DiMella Shaffer Architects and the management agent is WinnResidential.

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Renovations Completed at 94-unit Putnam Square Apartments in Cambridge


Congratulations to Cambridge nonprofit Homeowners Rehab, Inc., which celebrated the completion of renovations at the 94-unit Putnam Square Apartments on Wednesday September 24.

Homeowners Rehab, Inc. purchased the building on Mount Auburn Street from Harvard University through the Chapter 40T process. The project received $1 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which is managed by MassHousing on behalf of the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

As part of the acquisition, a number of improvements and renovations were made to the property including more livable and accessible units for the elderly residents.

Additional financing was provided by DHCD, Boston Private Bank, the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust, the City of Cambridge, CEDAC, and MassDevelopment.


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Renovations underway at Greenfield Acres

Second transaction in Massachusetts through new housing partnership with U.S. Treasury

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

Greenfield-Acres-1GREENFIELD – Senior Citizens living in the 94-unit Greenfield Acres Apartments are already starting to see improvements in their high-rise building that will ultimately make the property more energy efficient as well as more accessible with the closing of $6.8 million in MassHousing financing.

With work expected to be completed by February, Greenfield Acres is getting new energy efficient boilers, windows, doors, roofing and insulation. New thermostatic controls in the apartments have already been installed. Elevators in the building will also be refurbished and the building will be made fully accessible, particularly the living spaces. The Congress Companies, which purchased Greenfield Acres in 2009, is also making electrical upgrades, sprinkler system improvements, renovating common areas and installing an emergency generator.

Mayor William Martin noted at a groundbreaking event Sept. 22 that Greenfield was among one of the first cities in the state to be designated a "green" community and produces green energy for the entire community from its utility, Greenfield Light and Power.

"Greenfield is focused on sustaining independence. We're focused on having all the buildings in Greenfield conserving energy," he said.

The improvements are being funded with a refinance loan from MassHousing resulting from a new partnership that provides lower interest rates on loans to owners of subsidized rental housing, which gives them new incentives to refinance, make capital improvements and lock in long-term affordability for lower-income residents.

The initiative is a partnership with the Obama Administration's Department of the Treasury, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and state housing finance agencies (HFAs) like MassHousing. In this new partnership, the Federal Financing Bank (FFB) purchases a 100% participation interest in the loan. HFAs such as MassHousing service the loan and principal and interest payments flow through a custodian back to the FFB.

The first so-called FFB loan in the country was done in New York, but MassHousing has closed on two subsequent FFB loans in Massachusetts: Greenfield Acres and the 200-unit Pheasant Hill Village in Agawam.

"Working with federal and state agencies we were able to put together a package to benefit everyone," said Mayor Martin.

Congress Companies CEO William Nicholson praised the partnership that resulted in the MassHousing loan closing that will preserve affordability at Greenfield Acres and allow his company to make the extensive improvements there. Originally built in 1972, the property had an outstanding permanent loan that was set to mature in March of 2016. With the refinancing, the 20 Section 8 units for low-income residents will remain affordable for at least 20 more years.

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Roxbury Road Race draws 500 participants

Event sponsored by MassHousing, Boston Athletic Association and The Dimmock Center


The second annual Road to Wellness 5K race in Roxbury on Saturday September 12 was a big success with nearly 500 people running or walking the race route.

The event was co-sponsored by MassHousing, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) and the Dimock Center. The race was organized by HoodFit, a wellness movement founded by MassHousing's Director of Public Safety Thaddeus Miles. The race was also supported by the Boston Public Schools, Boston Police Department, Peabody Properties and Winn Management.

"Thank you for bringing this event to Roxbury. Having lived and trained in Roxbury through high school and college, this was the first time I actually was able to race in Roxbury," said 2012 Summer Olympics long distance runner Ruben Sanca, who competed for his native Cape Verde. "It was amazing to see such positive energy from participants and volunteers."

"I had a great time walking the course and talking to folks from MassHousing and the community," said Norman Brown of MassHousing. "It was no surprise to learn that a number of folks that we work with at MassHousing and who work for our business partners live in the local community. They brought their spouses, children and friends. I feel the event met its objective of bringing the community together for a good and healthy cause."

"I must say, the outpouring from the community itself was empowering. I look forward to next year," added La'Kayla Carpenter of MassHousing.

To view a short video from the event please click here.

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MassHousing Hosts Statewide Steering Committee on Hoarding


MassHousing recently hosted a meeting of the Statewide Steering Committee (SSCH) on Hoarding during which the committee set a number of goals for 2016.

The SSCH was formed following a major conference on hoarding by MassHousing's Community Services Department in December 2007 in which it was determined that there needed to be a multi-disciplinary  approach to recognize and assist people who hoard.

Members of the SSCH include professionals from the fields of housing, public health, public safety, code enforcement, human services, academia and others who now work together to implement more coordinated and organized approaches to the problem of hoarding.

Hoarding is a serious and costly issue in housing. "MassHousing's leadership in providing the SSCH framework, engaging partners and providing seed funding have stimulated a wave of local hoarding activity including professional and peer support groups, community outreach and education, sorting, discarding and cleanups now underway across the state," said MassHousing's Ed Chase, a member of the SSCH.

As a result of the SSCH being formed, a number of local hoarding task forces were created throughout Massachusetts.

Among the goals of the SSCH in 2016 are

  • Educate and engage state and local officials and stakeholders to the hoarding problem and possible solutions.
  • Identify what is missing at the statewide level, and work collaboratively to address these statewide issues/gaps.
  • Identify what is working and what is missing at the local levels, and support the development and work of local Hoarding Task Forces in Massachusetts.
  • Support and provide training opportunities and disseminate information and resources via the website.

Since 2007, the SSCH has accomplished a number of goals, including

  • The development and support of ongoing trainings and conferences for front line housing, social services and other staff: More than 70 trainings and 4,000 participants.
  • Led by the Boston University School of Social Work, the development and implementation of HOMES®, an interdisciplinary Risk Assessment that can be used by all parties to help assess and plan.
  • The establishment and updating of a Massachusetts focused Hoarding website at www.masshousing.com/hoarding including training opportunities, information, tools and resources.
  • The publication of a Hoarding Resources Directory and a Best Practices Guide.
  • A pilot program funding therapeutic in home sorting and discarding services to 19 households in FY12-13.
  • A pilot program funding hoarding assistance to MassHousing TAP member sites through the Tenancy Preservation Program operating in FY15 and FY16.
  • The provision of technical assistance to emerging regional and local Hoarding Task Forces. (Seven existed in 2007; more than 20 in 2015).
  • Thirteen funding awards to Local Hoarding Task Forces in FY15 and FY16.
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