Quincy officials broke ground Thursday on an $800,000 veterans housing development, a project that has become representative of the work that affordable housing proponents have done in the city.
As part of Community Development Week, organizers and engineers gathered at the Sea Street site to mark the beginning of the veterans housing project, which is seeking to demolish the existing American Legion Veterans post in favor of building two affordable rental units.
“We’re pleased that this location, which for so many years served our veterans, will continue to serve veterans in the form of new, affordable housing,” Robert Corley, Southern Massachusetts executive director for NeighborWorks, said in a release.
Though mainly federally funded, the regional organization, formerly called Neighborhood Housing Services, is spearheading the development.
“Today’s veterans returning from Afghanistan are different than the soldiers who returned home from World War II, Korea, or even Vietnam,” Corley said. “They tend to be older, and many are married and have children. So there’s a real need out there for affordable veterans’ housing that can accommodate families.”
The funding is coming from a variety of sources, including $420,000 from a federally funded program called HOME – allocated to the city on an annual basis through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Additionally, $150,000 is coming from the Quincy Affordable Housing Trust, $150,000 is coming from the Community Preservation Committee, and $85,000 from Colonial Federal Savings Bank.
Mayor Thomas Koch, who approved the use of these federal funds, echoed his support in a statement.
“Creating this kind of affordable family housing for our veterans is precisely why federal block grant programs are such vital tools for our city,” Koch said in a release
According to Community Development Director Sean Glennon, the goal is finish construction by next year.
The project is only the most recent to be done in the city with funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, either from the HOME program or with funding from Community Development Block Grant, an accomplishment the city is celebrating throughout the week.
Since 1975 alone, there has been over $77.5 million in Community Development Block Grants allocated to the city. Quincy has been receiving HOME funds since 1992.
The city has also been able to leverage that federal money, matching it with locally raised funds to get “twice the bang for the buck,” Glennon said.
According to Glennon, the Department of Housing and Urban Development funding has also afforded 10 other housing rehab projects along the Washington Street corridor of Quincy.
Loans have also been given to small business, and stimulus money has helped provided energy efficient equipment for the Quincy Community Action Program’s HeadStart facility.
Not to mention the community center funding, senior van transportation program, emergency food pantry funding, and even sidewalk repair that’s been done with funding received through the federal department.
“We realized there has been a lot of investment,” Glennon said.
To mark the occasion, city officials hosted a gathering at Cagney’s Restaurant on Tuesday, and also welcomed the creation of five accessible affordable housing units in Milton on Thursday morning.
“[The grants] are really valuable,” Glennon said. “Community Block Grants is and continues to be the primary funding source for communities that wouldn’t otherwise be able to address some of [these] needs.”