July 30, 2015

$45.1M in MassHousing financing will support improvements, extension of affordability at Briston Arms in Cambridge

155-unit apartment community was at risk of converting to market rents

Briston Arms

Low-Income families and senior citizens living in the 154-unit Briston Arms Apartments in Cambridge will see significant property improvements and the extension of affordability as a result of $45.1 million in MassHousing financing.

Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) of Boston celebrated its acquisition of Briston Arms with an event attended by Mayor David Maher and other dignitaries on July 29.

POAH plans to extend the federal Section 8 Housing Assistance rental subsidies on 73 of the apartments. An additional 46 apartments will receive new rental assistance subsidies and 35 of the apartments will continue to be rented at market rates.

The property had a mortgage loan that was scheduled to mature in 2018. At that point, affordability restrictions would have expired. As a condition of the loan, affordability will be maintained.

"Cambridge is one of the hottest real estate markets in the country right now," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason. "Thankfully POAH, which has an excellent track record of preserving quality affordable rental housing, has purchased the property and will keep it affordable for the residents."

Located on Garden Street in Cambridge, Briston Arms was originally financed by MassHousing and completed in 1973. The property consists of 15 studio apartments, 44 one-bedroom apartments, 90 two-bedroom apartments and five three-bedroom apartments in six-multi-unit and townhouse-style buildings.

"POAH appreciates the support it received to acquire one of Cambridge's most highly visible and important affordable housing developments," said POAH President/CEO Aaron Gornstein. "This was a complex transaction and we would not have been successful in preserving the affordability of these apartments without the assistance of a range of partners at the local, state and federal level, including MassHousing."

Among the improvements anticipated for Briston Arms are new windows, storm doors, roofing and siding as well as masonry repairs. The property will also be brought into compliance with current accessibility requirements.

In addition to the MassHousing financing, which includes a $35.8 million construction and permanent loan and a $9.3 million bridge loan, the transaction involved tax credit equity raised from the sale of state and federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits as well as secondary loans totaling $1.85 million from the City of Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust (CAHT).

The contractor will be NEI General Contracting and the architect is Davis Square Architects. The property manager will be POAH Communities. Work is expected to begin on the property in August.

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July 29, 2015

MassHousing provided more than $1 billion for affordable housing in fiscal year 2015

Agency served more than 9,000 families during its second-best lending year ever

MassHousing provided $1.1 billion for affordable housing and served more than 9,000 families in fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30. It was the second-best lending year in the Agency's 49-year history.

"The true measure of our success is the number of low- and moderate-income Massachusetts residents we help purchase or refinance a home, or help provide an affordable apartment in which to live," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason. "We were able to serve more than 9,000 of those families during the fiscal year with our low-cost home loans as well as our innovative multi-family loan products that created or preserved thousands of affordable apartments."

MassHousing closed 3,038 loans ($736 million) to low- and moderate-income borrowers who purchased or refinanced a home in 274 of Massachusetts' 351 cities and towns. Of those loans, 34% were used by consumers in Gateway Cities.

For loans used to purchase a home, the average price was $244,580 and the average loan amount was $231,532. The average household income was $75,849.

MassHousing makes its home mortgage loans through a network of more than 170 community banks and other home mortgage lenders.

For affordable and mixed-income rental housing, MassHousing closed $321.4 million in loans for 30 rental housing developments totaling 5,844 units in 22 different Massachusetts communities from Boston to Pittsfield.

The fiscal year saw the creation of new MassHousing rental housing loan products through MAP/Ginnie Mae, the Federal Financing Bank and Fannie Mae conduit financing.

MassHousing provided an additional $50.3 million for 2,628 units of affordable and mixed-income rental housing in 28 Massachusetts communities spanning Provincetown to Williamstown from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF), which is funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and administered by MassHousing. The AHTF had its largest lending year ever in FY 2015.

"MassHousing has made it a priority to develop new and innovative rental loan products to ensure we help create and preserve as many affordable apartments in the Commonwealth as possible," noted Timothy Sullivan, MassHousing's Deputy Director. "With Massachusetts having some of the highest rents in the nation, it is important to provide working families with quality housing they can afford."

Since its inception, MassHousing has provided more than $18.5 billion for affordable housing.

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July 28, 2015

HUD Secretary Castro and Mayor Walsh Cut the Ribbon for Quincy Heights

MassHousing provided $30.4 million in financing for the first affordable housing community to receive funding through HUD's Choice Neighborhoods program

 

BOSTON – HUD Secretary Julian Castro and Mayor Marty Walsh recently presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 129-unit Quincy Heights affordable housing community in Dorchester, which was the first in the country to close funding through HUD's Choice Neighborhoods program.

MassHousing provided $30.4 million in financing for the acquisition, renovation and some new construction of the property, including a $16.9 million construction and permanent loan and $13.5 million in bridge financing. An additional $1.5 million was provided through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which MassHousing manages on behalf of the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Quincy Heights was developed by Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation (DBEDC).

Quincy-Heights-Ribbon-Cutti

"Boston's thoughtful approach to community investment, ensuring that we were focused on every aspect of healthy neighborhoods—not just housing, but also job creation and education—not only helped HUD break down barriers and bust through silos, but it's also developed a model that I'm confident we're going to be able to take to communities across the United States and make a real difference there as well," said Secretary Castro.

HUD's Choice Neighborhoods program aims to support local organizations striving to improve distressed public or HUD-assisted projects.

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Secretary Castro speaks as Mayor Walsh looks on

"Thanks to this neighborhood's greatest asset, its people, I'm confident that the next chapter in the Dorchester story will be its greatest yet" Secretary Castro continued.

Nearly $21 million in funding from the Choice Neighborhoods program helped leverage an additional $83.2 million in public and private financing. The project involved the complete renovation of 80 apartments and the new construction of 49 apartments for low-income residents. Additionally, a playground was created and the formerly vacant Pearl Meats Factory was converted into a food production and small business center.

DBEDC renewed the Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment contract at Quincy Heights for an additional 20 years.

"We're proud to be one of the first five cities in this program," said Mayor Walsh. "It's extending Boston's long legacy of innovation in housing. It's a model we believe in and a partnership we also believe in."

Renovations to the exterior of the buildings included roof and window replacement. Within the units, improvements were made to bathrooms and kitchens. New flooring and drywall were installed to accompany upgrades of mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems. In addition, small and poorly laid out units were reconfigured.

"Quincy Heights is a great example of how neighborhoods can be transformed for their  residents when you have strong public and private partnerships like the one we had here,'' said MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason. "MassHousing was very pleased to be part of the first Choice Neighborhoods effort to be completed in the country. We will continue to be involved in important housing initiatives like this and others that will renovate or create affordable housing for working people and families in Massachusetts.''

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A large contingent from the Dorchester community provided ideas and feedback for the revitalization of Quincy Heights and more half the people who worked on the project were Boston residents, including women and minorities.

"The development is beautiful," said Quincy Heights resident Tahiewah Garner. "My home is roomy and spacious. It is good for families; growing families especially. For me, who has three children of my own, I like it a lot. The kids enjoy it. They enjoy the park. It's also a compliment to the community itself, which came a long way."

"Today, we stand as investors and neighbors who can proudly celebrate the fruits of our time, talent, and treasure, to realize a shared vision," said DBEDC Board President Daryl Wright. "This affirms the most important principle of HUD Choice. The decisions of neighbors matter the most and their investments will transform our neighborhoods."

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MassHousing Hosts Boston Alliance for Economic Inclusion's Spring Forum

BAEI-Spring-Forum

MassHousing recently hosted the Boston Alliance for Economic Inclusion's Spring Forum in which the benefit of low down payment mortgages for low- and moderate-income homebuyers was a major topic.

The event was sponsored by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as part of its Alliance for Economic Inclusion, a national initiative to establish broad-based coalitions of federally insured financial institutions, community-based organizations and other partners to bring unbanked and underbanked individuals and families into the financial mainstream.

The Boston Alliance for Economic Inclusion is one of these public-private coalitions, offering banks, credit unions and other financial institutions opportunities to work with the non-profit and public sectors to better understand and tap into the significant business potential of unbanked and underbanked consumers, and remain in compliance with all current banking laws.

MassHousing's Lisa Fiandaca moderated a panel discussion on low down payment mortgages that included Bob Driscoll, Senior Vice President of Residential Lending at Blue Hills Bank; Patrick, Boyaggi, Vice President of Residential Lending at Leader Bank; and Marilyn Garcia, Assistant Director at Chelsea Restoration Corporation.

The panelists agreed that low down payment mortgages—like those offered by MassHousing—have no increased risk for lenders as long as borrowers complete a homebuyer education course, have their financial situation in order with a full-time job and have good credit. The panelists added that it is important for loan officers to get to know their borrowers so they can provide a home loan that is best for their particular situation. Garcia, a homebuyer educator, noted that it is equally important for borrowers to understand the different kinds of mortgage loans, which is a major part of homebuyer education.

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MassHousing Financing Will Help Create 94 New Age-Restricted, Affordable Apartments for Senior Citizens at Island Creek Village in Duxbury

Island Creek Village North will be built on site with existing senior housing

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MassHousing financing will help create 94 new age-restricted, affordable apartments at Island Creek Village in Duxbury.

MassHousing's financing includes a $3.7 million permanent loan and $1 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF), which MassHousing manages on behalf of the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Island Creek Village North is being developed by Beacon Communities LLC of Boston and will be built 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.

The new apartment community will consist of 90 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments in a four-story, wood-frame building. All 94 apartments will be restricted to residents age 55 and over with an income at or below 60% of area median income (currently $41,400 for a one-person household in Duxbury). Nineteen of the apartments will be reserved for residents with incomes at or below 50% of the area median income (currently $34,500).

"This third phase of Island Creek Village will result in nearly a hundred new, affordable apartments for older residents of Duxbury," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason. "We are pleased to partner with a developer like Beacon Communities that has an outstanding record of creating and preserving top-quality affordable housing."

In addition to the MassHousing loan and financing from the AHTF, the project is receiving funding from the sale of both federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Bank of America and the Town of Duxbury.

Construction is expected to be completed in 2016. The building was designed to minimize its environmental impacts, and will be seeking LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. Beacon Communities is also planning for an additional phase of development on the site, which will consist of 120 units of mixed-income housing.

"Duxbury is a wonderful community. We are grateful to the state, town and Bank of America for working with us to create affordable housing opportunities for folks that are over 55," said Beacon CEO Pam Goodman.

The contractor is Keith Construction, Inc. and the architect is The Architectural Team. The management agent will be Beacon Residential.

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Construction is underway for Bedford Green, 70 new units of permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans

Cornerstone dedication ceremony draws officials and veterans to housing site at Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital

By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing

Bedford-Green-Rep

BEDFORD – Construction is underway for Bedford Green, 70 new one-bedroom apartments that will provide permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans age 55 and over on the campus of the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford.

MassHousing provided $1.3 million for Bedford Green from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which the Agency manages on behalf of the state Department of Community and Housing Development (DHCD).

Bedford Green is being developed by Peabody Properties, Windover Construction and the Affordable Housing Services and Collaborative. The new housing, which is expected to be completed in the summer of 2016, is being developed through the U.S. Veterans Administration's Enhanced Use Lease initiative, which identifies and repurposes underutilized VA land and buildings in an effort to end veteran homelessness.

At a cornerstone dedication ceremony on June 29, with construction ongoing behind the speaking program, the plight of veterans dealing with homelessness, substance abuse and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was bluntly portrayed by officials and veterans through their personal experience.

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U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a former Marine Corps officer who served four tours of duty in Iraq, talked about a private under his command who rescued a wounded comrade under heavy fire in Najaf. The man returned home to southern California and struggled with PTSD. Moulton said the numerous drugs prescribed to the former Marine caused him to have a fatal heart attack at age 30.

"We have a lot of work to do," Moulton said. "PTSD is an entirely treatable condition and we need to take care of those veterans when they come home." Health care and housing are two critical needs facing veterans, Moulton said, adding that "it is more than an obligation, it's a smart investment in America's future."

The audience listened spellbound as Navy veteran Will Hatley shared his harrowing story. Hatley went from owning his own business to becoming homeless, drug addicted and suicidal, fueled in part by PTSD from his military service and losing his mother and younger sibling in a tornado that left him severely injured as a young boy. Hatley overcame his severe issues after being treated at the Bedford veterans' hospital where he now works at a Peer Specialist helping veterans deal with the issues that left him homeless and thinking of ending his life.

"When I came to the VA Bedford, I had a lot of baggage," Hatley said. "I had bad credit, I didn't have a job. I was suicidal. That's why as a vocational rehab counselor I strive to take away these obstacles, these barriers, these hurdles, these roadblocks."

Veterans living at Bedford Green will have a full array of supportive services with onsite VA case managers and direct access to medical and clinical care.

"This type of supportive housing is very important and we need to keep doing this kind of housing over and over," said MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason. "Without our veterans we would not be able to enjoy the freedoms we have that resulted from their sacrifice."

Bedford-Green-under-constru

In addition to the financing from the AHTF, Bedford Green is receiving funding from the Veterans Administration, DHCD, CEDAC, LISC, the Home Depot Foundation and the sale of state and federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

The three-story building will be LEED for Gold and Energy Star certified and incorporate green building components.

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June 24, 2015

Three area developers make case for "greening" affordable housing

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Panelists discuss green affordable housing

With environmental sustainability and green building techniques gaining in importance, three developers shared their success stories at the second in a series of MassHousing-led panel discussions.

"Case Studies in Energy and Water Conservation: The New Normal to the Outer Limits" was held on June 11 at MassHousing.  Ed Connelly of New Ecology, Inc. moderated the discussion among Beverly Craig of Homeowner's Rehab, Hank Keating of Trinity Financial and Courtney Koslow of Beacon Communities.

The panelists all agreed that two things—operating savings that are realized in "green" projects and requirements imposed by funders—are critical in pushing a sustainability agenda. They also acknowledged some tension between funder requirements and cost caps, but agreed with Hank Keating's assertion that the incremental costs associated with sustainability measures are not steep.

Moreover, operating cost savings can be significant. Beverly Craig noted that in HRI's Pine Street gut rehab project, which meets LEED for Homes Platinum standards, HRI has achieved a 69% reduction in natural gas usage. Likewise, Courtney Koslow noted that gas usage at Beacon's Old Colony redevelopment in Boston has been cut by 75%.

Trinity's Fairfax Gardens development in Taunton, a HOPE VI redevelopment, strove to meet passive house standards and while not quite reaching them, has achieved energy savings that significantly exceed the norms for LEED Gold developments.

Much more information from the discussion can be found in the PowerPoint presentations here.

MassHousing's next Green Corner panel discussion in September will cover "lessons learned."

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Former convent now provides sober living for 25 men

McCleary-Manor-2

A recent commitment of $75,000 from MassHousing has helped to transform a former convent and orphanage into a sober living community for men in the western Massachusetts city of Holyoke.

The Providence Ministries and Sisters of Providence recently celebrated the opening of McCleary Manor for men trying to overcome alcohol and drug addiction. McCleary Manor was built in 1907 as a convent and later became the Brightside Orphanage.

The funding is from the Center for Community Recovery Innovations, Inc. (CCRI), a nonprofit subsidiary corporation of MassHousing that supports non-profits that create or preserve affordable sober housing in Massachusetts for recovering substance abusers. CCRI has awarded more than $7.8 million for approximately 1,700 units of substance-free housing in more than 40 communities for men, women, families, veterans, the homeless and ex-offenders.

Read local newspaper coverage or view local TV coverage.

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MassHousing, City of Boston team up for Father's Day walk in Boston

Fdwalk

Despite heavy rain, approximately 100 people turned out for the inaugural Father's Day Walk for Families in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston on Sunday June 21. MassHousing was pleased to partner with the City of Boston and the Boston Police Department (BPD) to sponsor the two-mile walk that traversed Seaver Street and Humboldt Avenue.

Much like the successful annual Mother's Day Walk, the Father's Day Walk will be an annual event.

Thaddeus Miles, MassHousing's Director of Public Safety worked closely with the BPD special events team along with the Mayor's office of special events to organize the walk.

"As part of the City of Boston's My Brother's Keeper Advisory Board and public safety committee I've come to believe it's extremely important to acknowledge the uplifting work men in Boston are doing every day," said Miles.

"We have set out to change the narrative and image of men or color," Miles noted.  "While sitting with Boston Police Commissioner Evans we discussed having a Father's Day walk and the impact it would have in the community. He asked if MassHousing would consider joining the planning and implementation of the event. Of course I said yes."

You can read the Boston Globe story about the walk and view the story that aired on New England Cable News (NECN).

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Celebrating 25 Years of mentoring elementary school students

MassHousing recently held its 25th Year-End Awards Ceremony for fifth-grade students involved in the S.T.A.R.R. Mentor Program.

The Striving Toward Academic Recognition and Respect Mentor (STARR) Program involves MassHousing staff mentoring students at the Martin Luther King K-8 School in Dorchester.

Some mentors work in the classroom with the students once a week to help develop mathematics and reading skills, while others donate time on weekends to take the students on educational field trips and other fun-filled activities.

STARR-Mentor-Graduates

STARR Mentor Program graduates

Thirteen MLK School students received academic and leadership awards at this year’s ceremony. Special guests included S.T.A.R.R. alumni students graduating from MLK's eighth grade this year, Principal Khita Pottinger and other MLK staff.

The program's keynote speaker was Jason Cross, an educator, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. Cross captivated students and adults with his speech entitled, "Positioned for Greatness."

STARR Mentor Speaker Jason CrossGuest speaker Jason Cross advised students how to be "positioned for greatness"

MassHousing-STARR-MentorsMassHousing staff who serve as STARR Mentors

MassHousing’s S.T.A.R.R. mentors this year were Carmen Beato, Norman Brown, Charlene Hollins, Mike Kilgannon, Katrina Holman, Kathy Moore, Mildred Mukasa, Richard Nicks, George Ovins, Jennifer Rajala, Kamar Calixte, Colleen Doyle, James Fortune, Tom Johnston, Monte Stanford and Carl Richardson.

"The long-standing success of this program is the result of the unwavering commitment of the mentors" said Patricia Weems, MassHousing’s Manager of Diversity and Inclusion Programs, who coordinates the program.

"We work as a dedicated group of mentors because we share the belief that each student has the potential to achieve your best," Weems told the students.

 



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