State boosts low-cost housing
Funds also awarded for support services
Veterans, young parents, and the homeless will have new opportunities to secure low-cost housing and stabilizing support services with the help of an infusion of state dollars.
Governor Deval Patrick recently announced $5.5 million for four projects in Chelsea, Haverhill, and Lowell to create a combined 41 units.
Among them is House of Hope, which received $1.1 million toward creating seven supportive units in two recently acquired buildings on Pawtucket Street overlooking the Merrimack River in Lowell.
“We are absolutely delighted and really appreciate the state’s commitment to try and help the poorest families in our community,” said Deb Chausse, executive director of the Lowell-based nonprofit.
Also receiving awards in this area are Coalition for a Better Acre, which plans to build 27 units for homeless veterans and their families in Haverhill; Common Ground Development Corporation, which plans three units for homeless families in Lowell; and the Neighborhood Developers, which plans four units in Chelsea for high-risk young parents and their children.
The awards came through a state initiative to create 1,000 new units of affordable supportive housing for individuals or families currently or at risk of being homeless or institutionalized, as well as people with disabilities and the elderly. With the latest round of $25 million, which will create 335 new units of such housing, officials said, the state had met the goal a year early.
Many of the groups will also share in 208 rental vouchers separately awarded by the governor. The vouchers will help subsidize rents, and — in a special feature of the supportive housing initiative — provide $2,500 per unit annually to pay for services that can range from help with job searches and training to child care and mental health treatment.
House of Hope operates two shelters serving 26 homeless families in Lowell. Through an affiliate, it also owns and manages 15 units of permanent affordable housing in the city — the seven new units would add to that inventory.
The group recently purchased two buildings on Pawtucket Street that had been rehabilitated by the seller — an approximately 150-year-old dwelling and a garage behind it, which will contain some of the units. The state funds will pay for most of the acquisition cost.
The project did not receive a state rental voucher award, but Chausse said her group can tap other state funds it receives for support services for its shelters.
Coalition for a Better Acre was awarded $3.3 million for the Haverhill project, which calls for construction of 27 units with a preference for veterans and their families at a total cost of $5.7 million. The Lowell-based community development corporation is partnering on the project with the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center in Haverhill, at whose office Patrick announced the awards.
“We’re not only going to provide high-quality affordable housing, but also supportive services to help people be successful as they work to stabilize their lives and achieve economic self-sufficiency,” said Madeline Nash, the coalition’s director of real estate, in a statement. “Our veterans have given so much to our country and they deserve only the best, and that’s what we’re going to be able to deliver to them.”
The state rental vouchers will cover support services, which include job readiness training, community meals, and health and wellness classes, that will be provided by the Northeast Outreach Center.
The Neighborhood Developers, which builds affordable housing in Chelsea and Revere, will receive $600,000 toward construction of a four-unit residential building on a vacant lot at 12 Shawmut St. in Chelsea.
The group is partnering on the $1.35 million project with Roca, a Chelsea-based youth development agency that will provide services to the young parents and their children, according to Emily Loomis, director of real estate for Neighborhood Developers. The services will be funded through rental vouchers awarded by the state and funds from Roca.
“Roca has been serving this population for many years — they have existing programs for young moms, but not a residential component, and we’ve often discussed the need to pair affordable housing with support services,” Loomis said. “We are really excited by this opportunity to do that.”
The state awarded $450,000 and three rental vouchers to Common Ground Development, a nonprofit that builds affordable housing for low-income people and is a subsidiary of Lowell-based Community Teamwork, an antipoverty agency. Its overall $711,000 project calls for converting a vacant ground-floor office space at 430 Broadway into three affordable units. Tenants will have access to support services from Community Teamwork.