Over the past eight years, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has crafted an innovative approach to financing the production of permanent supportive housing. Each year, DHCD holds a dedicated funding competition, the Supportive Housing for Vulnerable Populations round, to distribute capital funds as well as special project-based operating subsidy accompanied by stipends to pay for supportive services.
Resources available include the National Housing Trust Fund, dedicated to households at 30% area median income or less; state subordinate debt including the Housing Innovations Fund (HIF) and the Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF); and project-based subsidy from the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP). As the manager of the HIF program, CEDAC works closely with DHCD to manage these rounds and review applications for funding.
Since 2012, the Commonwealth has produced or preserved nearly 3000 units of permanent supportive housing in the Supportive Housing round as well as the regular annual Rental Housing Round and other funding opportunities. These residential units serve veterans; older adults; persons with disabilities; individuals and families who have experienced homelessness; as well as unaccompanied youth. Some state capital subsidies have also funded much-needed emergency shelter beds.
Earlier this spring, CEDAC and DHCD concluded our seventh annual Supportive Housing round. Projects with awards in this round will serve both families and individuals who have experienced homelessness; older adults; and individuals living with disabilities; and are located in metro Boston as well as the central, western and northeast portions of the state. DHCD expects to invest more than $16 million of state and federal funds as well as 73 MRVPs in these nine projects.
“The immense need for more affordable housing in Massachusetts has not disappeared during this pandemic, and we are pleased to continue making awards and moving projects forward to address the shortage,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “The link between housing and health has never been clearer, and these investments in our families and in our communities continue the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to increasing the production of housing across the state.”
“The Covid-19 health crisis has made the need for stable, quality housing even more urgent,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox. “Today’s awards will preserve existing resources, create new units for our most vulnerable communities, and connect households to important supportive services. For our households, supportive housing is more than an affordable place to live. Our non-profit partners provide residents with important community-based resources, like mental health services, job training, and case management, to stay healthy and housed over the long-term. We have seen supportive housing transform the lives of residents, and we are eager to see these new units become a reality.”
Of particular note during the COVID-19 crisis, we expect that this funding will produce or preserve nearly 70 single room occupancy (SRO) housing or studio units, including many units set aside for formerly homeless individuals. As an example, the Worcester Housing Authority’s highly innovative A Place to Live will provide 25 new service-enriched studio units in a single modular construction. With Worcester’s shelters and their vulnerable guests under intense strain during the pandemic, these new units will provide a timely opportunity to help individuals leave shelter for permanent supportive housing.
CEDAC also committed predevelopment and acquisition financing to the Worcester Housing Authority and Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Inc., both of which received project funding awards in the Supportive Housing round.
Now more than ever, projects that offer quality affordable housing and support services are a key component to keeping communities and individuals safe and healthy. CEDAC is pleased to work with the affordable housing and human services sectors across Massachusetts to help produce more permanent supportive housing and shelter in the Commonwealth.
The nine funded projects are as follows:
- A Place to Live, Worcester – Worcester Housing Authority will produce 25 studio units for formerly homeless households. CEDAC has provided $100,000 in predevelopment financing to the project.
- 555 South Union, Lawrence – Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Inc. will produce 26 units for extremely low-income (ELI) older adults. Four of the units will be reserved for households with disabilities who would otherwise be at risk of homelessness or institutionalization. CEDAC has committed $200,000 in predevelopment financing and $1.9 million in acquisition financing to support this development.
- Ashford Street Project, Boston – Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation will preserve a total of 12 SRO, studio and one- bedroom units in Allston for individuals who have experienced homelessness and/or chronic mental illness. Of these, 11 units will be affordable, including five units designated for ELI households.
- 54 Eastern Avenue Malden Studio Housing 2019, Malden – Metro North Housing Corp will produce 14 studio units for formerly homeless individuals. The facility will also contain a food pantry and dining facilities for the Bread of Life, a volunteer organization that collaborates with local agencies to help low-income residents obtain counseling, furniture, housing, and financial assistance.
- New South Street Apartments, Northampton – Home City Development, Inc. will preserve 18 units of affordable family housing. Seven of these units will be reserved for ELI households.
- Lower Winter Street Apartments, Quincy – NeighborWorks Housing Solutions will produce 18 studio units for formerly homeless households.
- Lynn Emergency Shelter, Lynn – Lynn Shelter Association will develop 40 new shelter beds in a new facility, to replace 40 existing shelter beds in an unsuitable building.
- 12 Humphreys Street, Boston – Sojourner House, Inc. will receive seven MRVPs for its existing 11-unit supportive housing development for families in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Eight of the units are designated for ELI households.
- Meadowbrook Estates, Northampton – Preservation of Affordable Housing will receive three MRVPs for units serving households with chronic mental illness at this existing 252-unit multifamily development.