governor Patrick Announces Funding for CBA Veterans Housing Initiative
Madeline Nash, CBA Director of Real Estate, speaking at Governor Patrick's funding announcement.
March 25, 2014 - Governor Deval Patrick has announced more than $25 million in funding to create more than 335 new units of supportive housing for veterans, homeless and very low income households across the Commonwealth, including a Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA) development for veterans in Haverhill.
The $5.7 million Haverhill project involves the new construction of 27 affordable rental units in the Mt. Washington neighborhood, with a preference for veterans and their families. The project is a collaboration between the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNOC) in Haverhill and the CBA, based in Lowell. It is CBA’s first residential development project outside the city of Lowell.
Governor Patrick made the announcement March 25 at the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center on Reed Street.
Speaking with the Governor was Madeline Nash, CBA Director of Real Estate, who called attention to the importance of the Housing Preservation and Stabilization Trust Fund, which provides deep funding assistance targeted to meet the housing needs for the most vulnerable population groups, including veterans.
In addition to a providing housing for families, supportive housing, which is operated in conjunction with a network of non-profit agencies across the Commonwealth, can include services such as childcare, access to job training, mental-health care and other opportunities that give participants a hand up towards stability and success.
“So 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,” Nash said. “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.”
Nash credited the success of the project to the partnership with the VNOC, the support of the city of Haverhill, and the CBA development team, specifically Project Manager Meena Jacob.
Aaron Gornstein, Massachusetts Undersecretary for Housing and Community Development, said the CBA’s involvement in the project was an important factor in providing funding.
“Our department has worked with CBA for decades, and they have a very strong track record of success in developing and managing affordable housing,” Gornstein said. “To do affordable housing well, you have to line up support, build coalitions and go through an extensive permitting process with outreach to neighbors and the community, and CBA has done that successfully, time and again.”
Due to the urgency of the housing need, the Haverhill project was granted an expedited permitting and funding process.
The project began in April 2013 when VNOC approached CBA to explore solutions to the pressing need for high quality affordable housing for veterans and their families in the Merrimack Valley. On January 15, the Haverhill Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) unanimously approved the application for a Comprehensive Permit submitted by the VNOC. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.
The location of the Mt. Washington development sites is ideal because residents will have easy access to the many services offered at the Outreach Center, including job readiness training, community meals, and health and wellness classes, according to John Ratka, Executive Director of the VNOC. The VNOC, established in 1985, owns and manages several residential programs for veterans, in addition to operating the Veterans Outreach Center at 10 Reed St.
“Nationally, there is no larger single demographic that has a greater need for affordable housing than veterans and their families,” Ratka said. “We are elated to work with CBA in creating quality housing to help meet the tremendous needs of this underserved population in our community.”
Several veterans were on hand to applaud the announcement, including Phil Sirois, who served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1972. Sirois became homeless when he was unable to find work, and he lived at the VNOC center for 18 months as they helped him get back on his feet.
“We have a lot of vets out there, walking the streets and living under bridges because they can’t get housing,” he said. “It’s so important that this housing is so close to the services they need. There’s a big problem out there, but this is a great start. We’re so happy to see it here.”
The CBA project consists of the new construction of three residential buildings:
• 2 Reed St.: This two-story property with 18 studio apartments, each with a private kitchen and bath, is intended for single person households. The site will offer 26 parking spaces.
• 74 Temple St.: The three-story building will provide six one-bedroom units with six off-street parking spaces.
• 17-19 Tremont St.: This three-story property intended for families will provide one two-bedroom apartment and two three-bedroom apartments with five off street parking spaces.
Of the 27 apartments, seven will be fully handicap accessible to meet the special needs of veterans.
The Governor also announced that, with these units, the Patrick Administration has reached its goal of creating 1,000 units of permanent, supportive housing in the Commonwealth a year early, part of an aggressive plan to end chronic homelessness of veterans.
“Government’s role is to help people help themselves, and sustainable, affordable housing helps our most vulnerable residents get back on their feet while creating growth and opportunities in our communities—the kind that lasts for generations,” Patrick said.
The money will help fund 16 projects across Massachusetts and comes from a housing trust fund in last year’s state budget and capital funding. Patrick also awarded more than 200 new vouchers Tuesday to let homeless families move into existing housing developments with long-term affordability restrictions.
CBA, a nonprofit community development corporation based in Lowell, has developed 425 affordable rental units, 33 commercial units, and more than 50 units for first-time homebuyers.
The Haverhill project has an estimated $5.7 million total development cost. Funding sources include the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development Housing Preservation and Stabilization Trust Fund; Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program; Massachusetts Housing Stabilization Fund; Massachusetts Housing Innovations Fund; Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program; Massachusetts Housing Affordable Housing Trust Fund; City of Haverhill; HOME Investment PartnershipsProgram; and the North Shore HOME Consortium. Predevelopment financing is through the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation. Construction financing will be provided though Pentucket Bank.