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State funds boost affordable housing projects

State officials have awarded financing for six projects to expand and preserve 142 affordable housing units in the region north of Boston.

Projects in Beverly, Danvers, Lawrence, Lowell, Newburyport, and Somerville will receive a combined $11.55 million in housing program subsidies and an additional $1.37 million in tax credits.

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The local projects were among 38 housing developments in 28 cities and towns awarded a combined $105 million in program subsidies and tax credits by Governor Deval Patrick. The projects will build or preserve 2,196 housing units, all but 134 of them affordable.

The YWCA Greater Newburyport was selected to receive $1.2 million in subsidies for its project to create five affordable housing units and preserve five existing ones at 11 Market St., adjacent to its main facility.

“We were jumping up and down for joy,” John Feehan, the YWCA's executive director, said of the grant, which will cover more than half of the $2.1 million project cost.

“Our approach to housing is that we really try to serve the poorest in the community,” Feehan said of the YWCA, which in addition to the existing five units at 11 Market St. — used by homeless families — rents 11 single-room units for women in its main facility.

The five new units at 11 Market St., three for homeless families and two for households with a disabled member, will be created through renovating and expanding the building. The YWCA is arranging for local nonprofits to provide services for future tenants. Work is scheduled to begin in September.

Volunteers of America will get $3.6 million in housing subsidies for its project to convert a vacant building at 1323 Broadway in Somerville to 29 affordable units for veterans. The award finalizes a package that includes other state, city, and federal funds and a bank loan.

The future Mass. Bay Veterans Service Center will include 22 units for veterans transitioning out of homelessness, and nine permanent housing units for veterans. There will also be space set aside for programs to serve the veterans in the transitional units.

The project involves major renovation to the interior of the vacant Broadway building, according to Thomas Bierbaum, CEO of the Jamaica Plain-based Massachusetts affiliate of Volunteers of America.

“We couldn't do this without the award. And it's a perfect use of these dollars,” Bierbaum said, noting that it will assist in “moving people from homelessness to stabilization. The location is just perfect because of the ready access to public transportation.”

The Caleb Foundation, a Swampscott-based nonprofit developer of affordable housing, will receive $900,000 in subsidies to create 10 affordable rental units through the renovation of an existing rental building on Westford Street in Lowell.

The units will house those ages 18 to 22 who have grown out of foster care.

 The foundation will partner with the state Department of Children and Families, with the foundation providing the housing and the agency offering services.

“This helps keep these kids in places where they are safe, where they are getting guidance and counseling so they can grow up and learn how to pay bills and keep a roof over their heads,” said Debra Nutter, the foundation president.

Nutter said a Catholic convent on Pawtucket Street has for years worked with the state to house young women exiting foster care. But she said there is a need in the area for more apartments, including some to serve men. Construction is set to begin in the next three months.

Lawrence Community Works was awarded $1.8 million in subsidies and $390,000 in federal low-income housing credits to create 18 units of affordable housing in Lawrence.

The units will be located in a new building that Lawrence Community Works plans to construct on a vacant lot at 108 Newbury St., according to Yovani Baez, a project manager for the nonprofit.

Baez said the state award is critical to bringing to fruition a project her agency has pursued, with the support of neighbors, since completing the development of 10 nearby townhouses in 2007.

Windover Development and Peabody Veterans Supportive Housing will receive $2.5 million in housing subsidies and $275,000 in federal low-income housing tax credits to create the Pleasant Street Apartments, 33 units of affordable housing for veterans. The project will be developed by Peabody Properties in partnership with Windover.

The Kavanagh Advisory Group was awarded $1.5 million in housing subsidies and $708,000 in federal low-income housing tax credits for the second phase of its Conifer Hill development in Danvers. That phase calls for 42 units of affordable housing.

In all, the $105 million awarded by the state includes $23 million in federal low-income housing tax credits, $20 million in state low-income housing tax credits, and $61 million in state housing program subsidies. Tax credits can be sold to investors to raise equity for projects.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.
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