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Affordable housing advocates celebrate purchase, preservation of 6 buildings

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  June 3, 2013 11:41 AM

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Affordable-housing advocates last week celebrated the largest nonprofit affordable housing preservation sale in the state—one that has allowed a non-profit to preserve more than 800 affordable units.

Preservation of Affordable Housing, a non-profit that, purchased six affordable housing complexes from State Street Development Corporation last summer.

The six complexes located throughout the state consist of 841 affordable units for senior citizens and families.

“Today we're celebrating the fact that this building and the five others in this portfolio will continue to serve as healthy, supportive, affordable housing for the long term,” Herb Morse, chairman of Preservation of Affordable Housing’s board of directors said during the celebration at the South End’s Franklin Square House, one of the buildings purchased by the organization.

“It’s truly a good preservation story, we succeeded in preserving and renovating more than 500 deeply affordable apartments for seniors in some of Boston's highest cost neighborhoods."

The other buildings include the Blackstone Apartments near Massachusetts General Hospital, the Kenmore Abbey Apartments in Kenmore Square, and complexes in Brewster, Orleans, and Hudson.

The Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation provided one of its largest preservation loans to date with a $1.8 million loan to Preservation of Affordable Housing allocated through the Massachusetts Preservation Loan Fund. It is also the largest affordable housing preservation transaction ever supported by MassHousing, the state’s housing finance agency.

Aaron Gornstein, the state’s undersecretary for Housing and Community Development, said the preservation of these affordable units is a cost effective way maintain affordable housing.

"It's better for the taxpayers because it’s typically more cost effective to preserve the buildings we have and renovate them than to build new construction from scratch,” he said.

Besides praising the recent purchase and renovations, officials and advocates also stressed the importance of affordable housing in general.

“What were doing here today is not just preserving affordable housing, we’re preserving a place to live,” Barbara Fields, regional administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “A big chunk of what provides for good health is where you live and the social connections you have.”

Morse, of Preservation of Affordable Housing, also thanked the residents who stayed in their homes during renovation work.

“Our residents were really good sports, they cooperated with the workers, they helped each other out, they communicated to us—and believe me they communicated to us—when they saw room for improvement.”

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