Last Wednesday, August 14th, a diverse group of stakeholders, including advocates, neighborhood residents, community developers, lenders, public officials, and partners at the city and state level, came together to celebrate an important achievement – the preservation of 97 units of affordable housing at Newcastle/Saranac Apartments in Boston’s Lower Roxbury neighborhood. Boston’s Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined the Fenway Community Development Corporation (Fenway CDC) and their development partner The Schochet Companies to highlight why maintaining these affordable units is so important and to praise the perseverance of those who worked hard to make this project a reality.
“Preserving Boston’s affordability is key to ensuring everyone who wants to live here can afford to do so, and I’m particularly pleased our commitment to the Newcastle/Saranac Apartments will both preserve and renovate 97 units of our existing affordable housing stock,” said Mayor Walsh in a press release. “I want to thank the Fenway CDC and our partners for working with us to make sure families can stay in their homes. Together, we’re protecting long-time residents from displacement, and we’re helping maintain the character of this community.”
Newcastle/Saranac was part of a portfolio of projects financed under MassHousing’s 13A program decades ago. Thousands of affordable units were created in Massachusetts through the program, but the mortgages developers used to produce this housing have reached the end of their 40-year terms, and those units are now at risk of conversion to market rate. The Commonwealth’s housing agencies have been working hard over the last few years to preserve the affordability of those units, and have employed a diverse array of financing and regulatory tools, including the innovative Chapter 40T law, to do so.
CEDAC worked closely with public partners including the City of Boston, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and MassHousing to help preserve Newcastle/Saranac. Our key role was in assembling, issuing commitments and closing on the $29 million acquisition loan to Fenway CDC and Schochet that allowed the sale from its previous owners to this new partnership to close last January. This is the largest loan in CEDAC’s 40-year history. We worked with a fantastic group of lenders who participated in this loan, including Eastern Bank, Boston Private Bank, The Life Initiative, and Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation.
In my remarks at the celebratory event, I noted that a preservation project of this magnitude and complexity requires considerable collaboration among public agencies. The City of Boston has been the driving force to preserve these 97 homes, and without leadership from Mayor Walsh and the strong commitment by his team led by Sheila Dillon at the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), the residents of Newcastle/Saranac likely would be facing displacement rather than celebrating the long-term affordability of their homes.
CEDAC and DND have built a very effective housing preservation partnership for nearly 30 years, resulting in the preservation of literally thousands of existing affordable units. City support has allowed CEDAC to deliver technical assistance to tenants and non-profit buyers such as Fenway CDC, and we manage a city revolving loan fund for preservation. CEDAC is grateful for this long-term and effective partnership with the City.
I would like to recognize the incredible work of the CEDAC team- in particular Bill Brauner, our Director of Housing Preservation and Policy, who spearheaded the preservation effort that resulted in the acquisition of Newcastle/Saranac. Debbie Schnitzer, our Director of Finance and Operations, and Jaclyn Pacejo, Program Associate, were also invaluable in making this loan possible.
We are thrilled to be a part of this important housing preservation achievement that will allow many long-time residents to remain in their homes and community.
Click above to view CEDAC’s remarks, or click here to see the full event captured by Boston City TV.