November 24, 2014

Clean Energy and Sustainable Affordable Housing Symposium Launches Effort to Implement More Green Technology in Affordable Housing

The Clean Energy and Sustainable Affordable Housing Symposium held at District Hall on Nov. 3 drew a capacity crowd eager to learn about and discuss the latest information on energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy and water conservation.

The free event was sponsored by MassHousing, the City of Boston, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and held in partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation, New Ecology, Inc., WegoWise, and the Massachusetts Housing Partnership.

Over the coming year, MassHousing will be launching an effort, in collaboration with our customers, to raise the bar on how we incorporate a full range of sustainability principles—clean energy, water conservation, resiliency—into our work.

The symposium kicked off that effort with sessions on energy and water in multifamily buildings; energy and water management; and a networking and technology expo.

"I want to note that owners of affordable housing developments have been quick to adopt efficiency measures in their buildings," Undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein told the attendees. "Right now, about 75% of the affordable housing buildings in the state are using WegoWise to set benchmarks for energy and water use. Some owners are striving to reduce energy use to zero by using super-efficient shells and systems, combined with solar power. And our state and local policies, while not always perfect, acknowledge and encourage energy savings in this sector."

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November 21, 2014

Trade fair connects minority, women business owners with opportunities in western Mass.

WMAss_TradeFair

MassHousing's 7th Annual Western Massachusetts Minority and Women Business Trade Fair drew approximately 100 attendees on November 24 in Northampton. This year's attendance represents an increase of approximately 30% over 2013.

MassHousing works with general contractors and property management companies to set and achieve goals for MBE and WBE utilization. The results speak for themselves. For fiscal year 2014, MBEs and WBEs have generated $134 million in contracts at MassHousing financed construction projects and at existing MassHousing rental communities.

MassHousing has long recognized the economic opportunities created by the rental housing we finance and oversee, and we’re committed to ensuring that minority and women business enterprises (MBEs and WBEs) are able to share in those opportunities. The trade fair—one of two such events held each year—provides a venue where MBEs and WBEs can showcase their goods and services to representatives from general contractors, property management companies, state and local government offices and others in attendance.

Learn more about our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in our work.

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MassHousing honors 85 property management companies for rheir commitment to minority and women-owned businesses

Beacon Communities, Maloney Properties, Peabody Properties, Trinity Management, United Housing Management and WinnResidential Management cited for multi-million dollar efforts

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

BOSTON – MassHousing recently recognized the efforts of 85 property management companies that make a concerted effort to do business with Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises.

The MassHousing Minority and Women-Owned Business vendor program helps Minority and Women-Owned Businesses benefit from the economic opportunities created by MassHousing-financed rental housing. In fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30, the 489 rental housing developments financed by MassHousing generated approximately $193.6 million in contracts for goods, services and supplies. Of this amount, $38.7 million (20%) went to Minority-Owned Businesses and $15.4 million (8%) went to Women-Owned Businesses.

As part of its effort to encourage equal opportunities for Minority and Women-Owned Businesses, MassHousing tracks the expenditures for property maintenance as well as goods and services within the apartment communities that the Agency has financed. It then recognizes those management companies that award significant funds to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses at an annual awards ceremony.

"We commend these management companies for their commitment to use Minority and Women-Owned Businesses," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason. "The use of these companies has a positive impact on our state's economy and it also helps create jobs that benefit thousands of families across Massachusetts."

Beacon Communities, LLC of Boston, Maloney Properties, Inc. of Wellesley, Peabody Properties, Inc. of Braintree, Trinity Management, LLC of Boston, United Housing Management, LLC of Boston and WinnResidential Management of Boston received top honors for their multi-million dollar expenditures with Minority and Women-Owned Businesses.

In fiscal year 2014, WinnResidential Management awarded $5.7 million to Minority-Owned Businesses and $2.3 million to Women-Owned Businesses.

"WinnCompanies is committed to diverse hiring practices not only in Massachusetts but in all states where we are doing business," said Gilbert Winn, Managing Principal of WinnCompanies. "We are honored to be recognized by the state of Massachusetts and our longtime partner, MassHousing, for our effort to create jobs and help the local economy. Using Minority and Women-Owned Businesses will remain a company mission for years to come."

Peabody Properties, Inc. awarded $3.6 million to Minority-Owned Businesses and $1.6 million to Women-Owned Businesses.

"Peabody Properties is enormously committed to exceeding our year-to-year benchmark for our Minority and Women-Owned Business goals and especially honored with the recognition we continue to receive from MassHousing," said Melissa Fish-Crane, Principal and Chief Operating Officer for Peabody Properties. "All of this has been accomplished with the hard work of our amazing staff who support our dedication to maximizing procurement opportunities, which in turn allows us to directly impact the socioeconomic goals of the Commonwealth and positively enhance the lives of all the residents who call PPI managed communities home."

Trinity Management, LLC awarded $3.3 million to Minority-Owned Businesses and $1.4 million to Women-Owned Businesses.

"Trinity Management believes that diversity in housing enhances a sense of well-being and that diversity in the market-place changes lives," said Trinity Management CEO Kathleen Franco. "Therefore, we seek out Minority-Owned and Women-Owned Businesses to provide an economic engine that can spark hope in the community."

Beacon Communities awarded $2 million to Minority-Owned Businesses and $1.4 million to Women-Owned Businesses.

"Beacon sincerely appreciates MassHousing's recognition of Beacon's efforts in becoming a multi-million dollar Minority and Women-Owned Business producer this year," said Jeff Baker, President of Beacon Residential Management. "We recognize the importance of and are deeply committed to continued efforts to use and support Minority and Women-Owned Business vendors in the future."

Maloney Properties awarded $3 million to Minority-Owned Businesses.

"Maloney Properties, Inc. fully supports MassHousing's commitment to fostering economic opportunities for businesses that historically have been underrepresented in the housing industry," said Janet Frazier, President of Maloney Properties. "MPI shares the values of MassHousing in this long-term commitment to the Minority and Women-Owned Business vendor program. We are very proud to have earned MassHousing's highest level of recognition."

United Housing Management awarded $2.7 million to Minority-Owned Businesses.

"Our record of strong support for local businesses, Minority-Owned Businesses and Women-Owned Businesses in particular, has earned us a multi-million dollar award each year," said John Strodder, General Manager of United Housing Management, LLC. "As we know, a lack of support for these businesses can result in job losses; thus, United Housing Management views its vendors and suppliers as integral part of its team, which undoubtedly builds up the workforce in our communities. MassHousing has been a key component in this endeavor and as such, we are thankful for its dedication and ongoing efforts in encouraging the growth and development of these businesses."

The following companies were also recognized for Million Dollar achievement with Minority and Women-Owned Businesses within the MassHousing portfolio of rental housing:

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Former abandoned home now occupied by a new family through the "Buy New Bedford" homebuying program

Sarah Smith Lewis New Bedford Homebuyer
By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

NEW BEDFORD – What was once an abandoned, blighted home has been completely renovated and now occupied by a young family thanks to the Buy New Bedford home buying program.

Sarah Lewis Smith, a single mother with four young children, was able to purchase the home on Cottage Street after being selected through a lottery process.

"I am so thankful for the opportunity to buy my own home," she said. "Without programs like this my childhood dream of owning my own home would still be just a childhood dream. I couldn't think of anything better to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season."

The Buy New Bedford program is a partnership between the city, MassHousing, participating lenders and non-profit agencies. Smith purchased the home with a loan from Bristol County Savings Bank that was insured with MassHousing's MIPlus™ mortgage insurance.

"Sarah's story shows the real success of a program like Buy New Bedford where we can partner with the city, lenders like Bristol County Savings Bank, and non-profit organizations to help people like Sarah purchase a home for their families," said MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason. "A former vacant, blighted dwelling has been transformed into a new home for a young family who will become a vibrant new part of the neighborhood and the city overall."

When the elderly woman who last owned the home passed away with no will and no apparent heirs, the property soon fell into disrepair and became abandoned. It was reclaimed through the Massachusetts Attorney General's Receivership Program and the city's Office of Housing and Community Development.

The home was purchased and rehabbed by the non-profit The Resource, Inc. (TRI) and TRI collected applications from first-time buyers who were entered into the lottery to buy the home at the discounted price of $167,500.

Renovations included new roofing and siding, insulation, energy efficient windows, a new kitchen and two new bathrooms with energy efficient appliances and fixtures and a new energy efficient heating system.

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MassHousing's Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance Product Featured in National News Story

MassHousing's Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance (LPMI) Product was recently featured in a national story about the pros and cons of using LPMI.

MassHousing's Mortgage Insurance Fund introduced the LPMI program last year that increases borrowers' buying power and puts the dream of homeownership within reach for more buyers.

With LPMI, the lender pays the full mortgage insurance premium for the borrower at the time of closing, which is good for the life of the loan. This cost is offset by a higher interest rate on the mortgage, compared to a loan with Borrower Paid Mortgage Insurance (BPMI).

Even with the higher rate, the LPMI generally results in a lower monthly payment for the borrower for the first several years of the loan, and still provides MassHousing's signature MIPlus™ unemployment benefit protection that pays a borrower's monthly principal and interest payment for up to six months if they lose their job.

The LPMI program is best suited for homebuyers who expect to sell their home, refinance or pay off their mortgage within 10 to 15 years. Because the higher interest rate of an LPMI loan remains in place until the loan is refinanced or paid off, and because BPMI can be cancelled once the loan-to-value reaches 80%, BPMI is a better choice for homebuyers who intend to keep their mortgage beyond 15 years.

Peter Milewski, MassHousing's Director of Homeownership Lending, spoke to Bankrate about LPMI. Read the Bankrate article on LPMI.

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November 20, 2014

Renovations to Washington Park Apartments Completed

Washington-Park-Apartments

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

ROXBURY – Once faced with the threat of foreclosure and in need of major renovations, the Washington Park Apartments have been fully rehabilitated and affordability for all 96 apartments has been extended for the long term.

The Washington Park Apartments are located on six sites in Roxbury and were redeveloped by the non-profit Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation and WiSe Urban Development, a partnership between WinnDevelopment and Daryl Settles.

MassHousing provided $14.5 million in financing for the Washington Park Apartments, including $11.2 million in bridge financing and a $3.3 million permanent loan. Out of the bridge financing, $1.7 million was used to pay off the existing Fannie Mae loans and prevent foreclosure on the property.

The Washington Park Apartments were one of four apartment communities owned by Boston-based Community Development Corporations (CDCs) that were in danger of being foreclosed on and in need of significant renovation. 

Overall, MassHousing provided $54.4 million to the four CDCs to prevent foreclosure of 359 total units and allow for the substantial rehabilitation of the properties. In addition to Nuestra, the other three CDCs are Urban Edge Housing Corporation, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, and Lena Park Community Development Corporation.

The Washington Park Apartments are located in eight buildings on Wyoming Street, Walnut Avenue and Columbus Avenue in Roxbury and Dorchester.

"This was part of a process we worked through day by day to save these properties from foreclosure," MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason said at a recent ribbon-cutting event for the Washington Park Apartments. "This was truly a partnership that had to come together to save these properties. We couldn't be happier to be part of this effort to save the affordability of 359 apartments and see these properties fully renovated."

Settles, the president of WiSe, said in addition to preserving affordability and renovating the Washington Park properties, a large number of construction jobs were created, particularly for minorities, women and neighborhood residents.

"Creating more affordable housing while maintaining ownership and jobs within the community is a national imperative, and WiSe is honored to work with Nuestra to support this effort," he said. "Washington Park will serve as quality affordable housing for families of Roxbury and Dorchester for years to come."

The project was able to employ 390 minority and 50 female workers (69 percent of the total worker hours), and the project engaged minority and women business enterprise companies for over 65 percent of the total construction work (a total of $7.6 million of contract value), Settles said.

"Nuestra Comunidad is proud to celebrate the renovation of the Washington Park Apartments for many reasons. The most important is that 96 apartments will be stable, affordable homes for Roxbury and Dorchester families for many years to come. We know that a platform of housing stability, security and affordability is a key to families' success in education and work," said David Price, Executive Director of Nuestra CDC. "Nuestra also appreciates the opportunity to partner with WiSe Development, a partnership that should be a model for leveraging the resources of for-profit companies and nonprofits with a shared commitment to revitalizing urban neighborhoods and affordable housing preservation and development, led by community-based partners."

The project consisted of an in-place rehabilitation of the existing properties. WiSe and Nuestra renovated all kitchens, bathrooms, as well as living areas, and completed high efficiency upgrades to the HVAC systems in each of the 96 units. Each apartment features new lighting and Energy Star appliances, including dishwashers, disposals, range and refrigerators. In addition, the mechanical and electrical systems in each building were upgraded and all windows were replaced.

"Winn is proud to be part of the development team and to have managed this property for the past 20 years and be able to support the preservation of high quality affordable housing," said Gilbert Winn, Managing Principal of WinnCompanies. "Darryl and Nuestra have been incredible partners to work with and we are proud of the unprecedented minority hiring goals the team has been able to achieve."

WiSe and Nuestra worked with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), MassHousing, the City of Boston and the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) to secure financing for the project. Private financing was also secured from Bank of America and the Boston Community Loan Fund, and equity financing was provided by Boston Financial Investment Management.

The Architectural Team served as the architect and Keith Construction was the contractor. WinnResidential is the property manager.

"Our first priority with affordable housing is to rebuild and reinvest in it, so this was a big win for the neighborhood and the City of Boston," said John Barros, Boston's Chief of Economic Development.

Information provided by the development team was used in this story.

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Ground Broken for Patriot Homes in South Boston

Former police station will be transformed into 24 units of affordable housing with a preference for veterans

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

Patriot-Homes
SOUTH BOSTON - Ground has been broken for the Patriot Homes, a 24-unit affordable housing community in a former police station with a preference for veterans.

The Patriot Homes are being developed as part of a joint venture between the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation and Caritas Communities in the former police station at 273 D St.

"To be able to take a vacant building and convert it into 24 new affordable apartments for veterans is great news for the veterans who will live there as well as the entire South Boston neighborhood," said MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason.

MassHousing awarded $1 million for the project through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which MassHousing administers on behalf of the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

The Patriot Homes will comprise 12 studio apartments, 2 one-bedroom apartments and 10 two-bedroom apartments. The City of Boston Veterans Commission will have a satellite office on site to provide part-time benefits counseling to all the veterans. Six apartments will be set aside for homeless individuals. The apartments will be available to residents with annual incomes ranging from $19,800 to $56,450.

According to Donna Brown, Executive Director of South Boston NDC, "South Boston has a long history of military service and a higher percentage of veterans than most other neighborhoods in the city. With rents rapidly increasing, Patriot Homes will help deserving veterans to continue to live here, in our community, with the resources they need.  We are grateful to have had strong support for this project from both Mayor Menino and Mayor Walsh, as well as the Commonwealth, to enable us to move this development forward. "

"Veterans who have fought to uphold the values of American freedom deserve access to safe, affordable housing," said Mayor Marty Walsh. "By working with responsible developers to transform underutilized city-owned property into housing for veterans, we are taking direct action, and getting closer to reaching our goal of housing all of our homeless Boston vets by 2015."

The $12 million redevelopment of the former City of Boston D6 Police Station is receiving financing from multiple sources, including $4 million from the City of Boston and more than $3 million from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The project will be funded with a mix of private equity, private construction and permanent loans, City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) housing program funds, Boston Redevelopment Authority program funds, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, and grants from several sources, including, the Massachusetts Attorney General, the Home Depot Foundation, the Lin Foundation, the Yawkey Foundation, Charlesbank Homes, the Flatley Foundation, and TD Bank.

"Patriot Homes represents a fine example of adaptive reuse, providing affordable housing for veterans in a rapidly-gentrifying area," said Caritas Executive Director Mark Winkeller. "We are grateful to the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a variety of lenders and foundations who are making this project possible."

Construction is expected to start in January and be completed in February 2016. The project is expected to generate approximately 35 construction jobs.

Information provided by the South Boston NDC and Caritas Communities was used in this story.

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November 14, 2014

Dudley Greenville Apartments in Roxbury Open and Fully Occupied

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

Dudley-Greenville_MW-ML

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh with Dudley Greenville resident Monica Lewis

 

ROXBURY – Monica Lewis knows how important it is to have a decent place to live.

With Mayor Marty Walsh and other dignitaries looking on, she spoke about how she had fallen on some hard times after a job loss that left her and her children no place to live.

"I was a parent who felt like a failure because we had no place to call home," she told the hushed audience at a recent ribbon-cutting event for the new Dudley Greenville Apartments in Roxbury.

Lewis was among nearly a thousand people who entered a lottery for one of the 43 affordable apartments at the new housing community on Dudley Street. She was one of the lucky ones who were selected and her life has turned around. Her son received an athletic scholarship to Ithaca College and Lewis is secure in her new home.

"This is why affordable housing is so important to our people and our community," she said. "I'm here to say thank you for 43 families for not giving up on your vision."

Dudley Greenville was developed by the Madison Park Development Corporation (MPDC) on two vacant lots acquired from the Boston Housing Authority through the Orchard Park HOPE VI program. In addition to the 43 apartments located in two energy efficient buildings, the $18 million development has 2,715 square feet of ground floor commercial space.

Dudley-Greenville-Building-

"Everyone deserves a place to call home," said Mayor Walsh. "We put together a comprehensive housing plan (for the city) because of projects like this right here."

The Mayor said during his election campaign that he drove by the construction site almost daily. "I really saw an empty lot turn into a home for so many people and that’s incredible," he said.

MassHousing provided $1million for Dudley Greenville from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The project involved the new construction of five- and four-story buildings on adjoining vacant parcels in Dudley Square. The five-story building contains ground floor commercial space and 31 apartments on the upper floors. The four-story building involves 12 units configured as walk up townhouses.

"Dudley Greenville is a very nice housing community that literally rose from two vacant lots and when you hear stories like we heard from Monica Lewis it drives home how important it is develop new housing and preserve our exiting affordable housing in the Commonwealth," said MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason.

Residents began moving into Dudley Greenville in July and the all of the apartments were occupied in September.

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November 07, 2014

Sober Housing for Women and Their Children Opens in Roxbury

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

Ummi

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh at the ribbon-cutting for Ummi's House

ROXBURY – The Dimock Center recently cut the ribbon on 13 units of new sober housing for women in recovery and their children where they will also receive support services.

Mayor Marty Walsh, who has long been open about his successful recovery from alcohol abuse, was on hand recently to welcome the opening of Ummi's House in Roxbury, a 13-unit sober housing community for women in recovery and their children.

The housing is owned by the Roxbury-based Dimock Center and the project received $55,000 from the Center for Community Recovery Innovations (CCRI), a nonprofit subsidiary corporation of MassHousing that supports non-profits that create or preserve affordable sober housing in Massachusetts for recovering substance abusers.

"To have a place where you can live and get your feet back under you is important," said the Mayor, who alluded to his own experience. "I'm honored to be here as the Mayor of Boston. I believe in second chances and the residents here would not be getting second chances without the Dimock Center."

Overall, CCRI has provided the Dimock Center $280,000 for 79 units of sober housing and in Roxbury overall, CCRI has provided $801,963 for 12 sober housing facilities totaling 160 units.

"The work we do for sober housing and substance abuse recovery is very important for our community," said MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason, who joined the Mayor for the ribbon-cutting event. "We've been involved in the issue of recovery and sober housing for a long, long time and I think that makes us unique as a bank and makes us unique as a lender for affordable housing."

A number of residents were on hand to celebrate the opening of the new housing and several personally thanked the Mayor and asked to be photographed with him. The residents will also receive support services through the Dimock Center.

Recognized nationally as a model for the delivery of comprehensive health and human services in an urban community, The Dimock Center provides Boston residents with convenient access to high quality, low cost health care and human services that might not otherwise be available to them.  In 2013, Dimock handled more than 76,000 visits with 17,000 patients and clients representing a wide range of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.

The Dimock Center's Health Care programs deliver comprehensive health maintenance, screening, immunizations, and prevention for adults and children with specialized clinics, including Women's Health and OB/GYN, HIV/AIDs, eye care, and dental care. Their Child and Family Services programs offer quality care, education, support and training to individuals and families from infancy to adulthood.

Their Behavioral Health program assists those struggling with mental illness, developmental delay, and substance abuse or violence issues.

The Dimock Center, founded on July 1, 1862 as the New England Hospital for Women and Children, was the first hospital in New England opened and operated by women for women, and only the second in the country. Noted prominently for its role in the history of women in medicine, Dimock strives to continue in the innovative spirit of trailblazers like Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, who established the hospital, and Mary Eliza Mahoney, the country's first African-American nurse who studied there in 1879.

(Material from the Dimock Center was used in this story.)

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October 31, 2014

New multifamily prepay and refinance options

MassHousing recently adopted guidelines offering certain multifamily borrowers who have prepayment restrictions opportunities to refinance early at today's competitive interest rates. The new MassHousing Proactive Multifamily Preservation and Loan Prepayment Guidelines reflect MassHousing's desire to facilitate certain early prepayments where borrowers refinance with the Agency. We are committed to offering competitive loan products, including taxable and tax-exempt bonds insured under FHA Risk Share, 223(f) or 221(d)(4) programs. We are also able to arrange competitive funding via the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, Fannie Mae and other sources. MassHousing is a MAP lender and Ginnie Mae issuer, and approved to participate in FHA's Tax Credit Pilot Program, which expedites closing on certain LIHTC deals. Interest rates will of course vary with the product and the market, but a loan closing today could have an interest rate of approximately 3.75%.

The Guidelines are targeted at loans with less than seven years remaining before maturity or less than five years remaining before they are eligible for as-of-right prepayment, and describe how transactions will be considered and prioritized. Participating loans that have not passed their statutory prepayment lockout period will still be able to participate under the Guidelines. Such loans are expected to be modified to require a 90% pay down. Proceeds adequate to pay off the remaining 10% would then be escrowed, and the mortgage would be discharged, though the note would remain outstanding and be paid down over time from the escrow proceeds. This strategy will be available to both for-profit and nonprofit borrowers.

Borrowers entering into new loans will need to extend affordability restrictions for at least 15 years. Accordingly, we hope this initiative will ensure preservation of affordability while capturing the favorable terms available in the current market and, in some cases, addressing deferred capital needs.  Please contact Monte Stanford to determine whether and on what terms your property can be prepaid and refinanced.

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