Developers expressing strong interest in program
The pipeline of new-construction and preservation rental housing developments slated to receive workforce housing subsidies from MassHousing is now up to seven.
Governor Baker announced the program in May 2016 and since that time financing for one project (Gateway North in Lynn) has closed and started construction while six more have been committed for financing by the MassHousing Board. Of the seven projects, five are new construction and two are the preservation of existing housing with new workforce housing tiers of affordability.
Overall MassHousing has committed $20.2 million in workforce housing financing for 189 workforce housing units in the seven communities with 468 total apartments. MassHousing’s workforce housing fund is meant to spur the construction of new rental housing for residents with a range of incomes.
Except for MassHousing’s workforce housing fund, the various federal and state programs only support apartment units for residents earning up to 60% of the area median income. MassHousing’s program provides support for developers to build units not only for lower-income residents but also for middle-income renters with incomes between 61% and 120% of area median income.
The development projects are:
|Project||Developer||Total Units||Below 60% AMI||Market||Workforce|
|Gateway North, Lynn||Hub Holdings/LHAND||71||53||8||10|
|A.O. Flats, Jamaica Plain||The Community Builders||78||39||0||35|
|Burbank Gardens, Boston||Fenway CDC||52||21||14||17|
|Hamlet Street, Newton||Newton CDF||49||20||20||9|
|Olmstead Green, Mattapan||New Boston/Lena Park||41||0||19||22|
|Kennedy Building, Hanover||POUA||37||27||0||10|
|The Watson, Quincy||WinnCompanies||140||28||26||86|
"The Commonwealth’s workforce is made up of people with incomes in all ranges, from very-low income to high-income and everything in between," said MassHousing Executive Director Tim Sullivan. "With our new program we are continuing our long-standing mission to finance mixed-income rental housing, but we are now able to subsidize units for renters at a middle-income range which is necessary because rents continue to outpace incomes especially in metro Boston and that’s a threat to our economic stability."
A 2016 study by the Urban Land Institute titled "Building for the Middle: Housing Greater Boston’s Workforce" revealed that while the number of low-income households and high-income households with residents who are in the workforce grew between 2008-2013, the number of middle-income working families dropped.
"Governor Baker, Boston’s Mayor Walsh and others agree that we need to create new rental housing that is affordable to middle income renters in order to meet the housing needs of the workforce in the next decade," said Karen Kelleher, MassHousing’s Deputy Director. "In metro Boston, 34% of middle income working households are employed in office work, management and sales, while another 8% are in fields like public safety and education, and they struggle to pay the market rents, but earn too much to live in apartments subsidized by traditional housing programs."