By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing
Congressman Stephen Lynch and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (center front) were among those celebrating the start of renovations
BOSTON – Federal, state and city officials recently gathered to break ground on the $31 million renovation of the New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV) in Boston that will add more housing units and expand space for vocational training and support services for veterans.
MassHousing provided $2.3 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which MassHousing manages on behalf of the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
Fifty nine Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units will be upgraded; one new SRO unit and 37 new efficiency units will be built. The shelter bed space will be expanded to include 190 beds and the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and life safety system systems will be upgraded.
"There can be no bigger tribute, that we as a group, that we as a community, can bring to those who served, than to do the hard, imaginative, creative, and persistent work that's required to end homelessness for veterans in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," said Governor Charlie Baker. "I look forward to working with this team and others to see that accomplished over the next couple of years. It's a worthwhile and it's a doable task that we owe to those who served and wore the uniform."
All of the units are restricted to veterans who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. Seven of the new units will be dedicated to women veterans.
"I am honored to be here today because I know what the Center does for people," said Mayor Marty Walsh. "I know the services that are provided. This is a home for a lot of our veterans who don't have a place to go. I want to thank the veterans who are here today. We want to give a little back to you for all that you have given us."
The Center serves about 350 veterans every night; and every year serves roughly 130,000 meals; provides vocational training to approximately 1,000 veterans and helps some 400 veterans find permanent housing.
"When you think about the fact that over a million Americans have served this country just in Iraq and Afghanistan; when you think about the fact that more than 30,000 sons and daughters from Massachusetts have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003; that is a tidal wave of need," said Congressman Stephen Lynch. "When young men and women serve in that environment, again, and again, and again, there are stressors that are unseen today but they will emerge in future years. And it will be our duty to respond to that need with a facility like the one that we break ground on today."
Other sources of financing come from Citigroup, the Life Initiative, developer cash equity, Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity, state and federal Historic Tax Credit equity, DHCD, the City of Boston, and the Federal Home Loan Bank.
"MassHousing is pleased to be part of a far-ranging partnership of public and private entities working together to help provide quality housing, vocational training and support services for our veterans all under one roof," said MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason. "The New England Center for Homeless Veterans is a critical resource for many Boston-area veterans and these improvements and the additional housing will help better serve them in the years ahead."
The renovations will me made using sustainable and green construction methods and the building will be upgraded to LEED Silver Certified. The contractor is Consigli and the property manager is the NECHV.