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Deals & Dealmakers

Baker-Polito Administration, MassHousing Announce Inaugural Round of Neighborhood Stabilization Program Capital Grants

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration and MassHousing announced a total of $4.6 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants to eight community-based organizations and municipalities to support the redevelopment or rehabilitation of 31 affordable homes, including 22 affordable homeownership opportunities.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) is a new capital grant program that provides municipalities and nonprofit developers with funds to address blight, abandonment, and disinvestment in residential neighborhoods, by providing grants for the construction, reconstruction, renovation, or repair of substandard rental and homeownership properties. These are the first grants awarded through the program.

“Neighborhood Stabilization grants will help ensure that the Commonwealth continues on a successful path of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, while also addressing the state’s longstanding housing crisis,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By responding to housing investment needs in communities, this new program will promote economic vitality in cities and towns across Massachusetts.”

“The Neighborhood Stabilization Program will transform blighted properties, abandoned homes and vacant lots into new homes where families can live and thrive,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “These targeted investments in residential neighborhoods will create deep and lasting impacts for communities and families alike.”

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program provides deeper levels of construction subsidy than were previously available through state sources, allowing municipalities and their development partners to address the impacts of longstanding neglect. The $50 million program was authorized as part of a $626 million economic development bill Governor Baker signed into law last year. MassHousing administers NSP on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

“Vacant or abandoned homes can negatively impact entire neighborhoods and leave vital housing opportunities off the market,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “This program is part of a multi-pronged approach to investing in neighborhoods, downtowns, and infrastructure to build vibrant communities across the Commonwealth.”

“For many, homeownership is a platform for future prosperity, and as a result of these grants, twenty-two families will become homeowners for the first time,” said Jennifer Maddox, Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development. “We congratulate all of our partners for their work advancing these vital projects, and we look forward to welcoming families into their new homes.”

“Neighborhood stabilization efforts complement MassHousing’s mission-driven work of promoting sustainable homeownership, advancing equity, and helping working families build intergenerational wealth,” said MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay. “Working collaboratively with municipalities and non-profit organizations, Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants will help rehabilitate substandard homes, transform vacant lots into new homeownership opportunities, and uplift neighborhoods across the Commonwealth.”

Communities across the Commonwealth are eligible to apply for NSP grant funding, with the program prioritizing projects that will have the greatest impact in weaker markets, including rural communities and communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program also prioritizes projects that promote homeownership and that include diverse sponsors. All homes created or rehabilitated through the program will remain affordable for at least 15 years.

Awarded projects

11 Green Street, Carver

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plymouth is acquiring a long-vacant and blighted property from the Town of Carver and redeveloping the home into a new homeownership opportunity for low-income first-time homebuyers, with a preference for veterans. The project was awarded significant matching funds from the Carver Community Preservation Committee.

City of Fitchburg

Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts will acquire a vacant parcel from the City of Fitchburg and construct a new single-family home, which will be sold to a first-time homebuyer earning up to 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts will construct a new home on the property in partnership with Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School.

Pine Street, Holyoke

OneHolyoke Community Development Corporation (CDC) has identified a highly blighted city block in Holyoke’s Churchill neighborhood for stabilization efforts and has acquired multiple parcels on the block. The CDC will utilize NSP funding to create a duplex-style home on a vacant lot on Pine Street, which will be entirely owned by one owner-occupant. The owner-occupant will rent out the second unit subject to an affordability restriction on the rental unit. This project complements other revitalization efforts already underway by OneHolyoke on surrounding parcels, which are funded through local sources.

15 Orchard Street, Lawrence

Lawrence CommunityWorks (LCW) will construct four new family-sized homeownership townhomes on a vacant parcel that will be sold to first-time homebuyers earning up to 80 percent of AMI. The project advances LCW’s longstanding work to address blighted conditions in Lawrence’s North Common neighborhood; over the past two decades, LCW has developed 63 homeownership and rental units across more than 20 parcels in North Common, along with community facilities and parks that serve the neighborhood. LCW will deliver the 15 Orchard Street project in partnership with Mill Cities Community Investments, a local Community Development Financial Institution, and Ceres Investments, LLC, a Minority/Woman-owned Business Enterprise development firm.

Old Hill neighborhood infill, Springfield

The City of Springfield will partner with the nonprofit Home City Development to construct 11 new single-family homes on municipally owned vacant lots in the Old Hill neighborhood. This scattered-site infill development project significantly advances the city’s ongoing revitalization efforts in the Old Hill neighborhood, which was hard hit by the foreclosure crisis and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Springfield owns 22 vacant lots in this neighborhood, which were acquired through tax-title takings of vacant or blighted properties. In addition to contributing the development parcels for a nominal price, the City of Springfield is also providing matching funds to the project. The new homeownership units will be affordable to first-time homebuyers earning between 80 percent and 120 percent of AMI.

Tranquility House, Springfield

Tranquility House is an existing eight-unit single-room-occupancy building that provides congregate supportive housing to women in recovery who are facing homelessness. It is owned and operated by Open Pantry Community Services (OPCS), an affiliate of South Middlesex Opportunity Council. NSP funds will allow OPCS to address extensive deferred capital needs at the property, including window, porch, roof, and gutter replacement, as well as the rehabilitation of interior spaces. The renovation project will position the property to meet HUD housing quality standards, ensuring that the property continues to serve residents in need.

12 Congress Street, Worcester

Worcester Community Housing Resources (WCHR) will utilize NSP funding to renovate a two-family property in an historic neighborhood that has sat abandoned for a decade and fallen into severe disrepair. The Central Housing Court has appointed WCHR to act as a receiver and remediate the State Sanitary Code violations at the property. WCHR plans to remediate code violations in the coming months, and then acquire the property outright through a foreclosure action related to the receivership process. NSP funds will be used to pay off a construction loan related to code compliance work done under receivership, as well as to complete marketability repairs prior to selling the property’s two units to first-time homebuyers.

33 Merrick Street, Worcester

Worcester Common Ground will create two new homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers on a long-vacant lot in Worcester’s Piedmont neighborhood. WCG has extensive experience addressing blight and creating homeownership opportunities for lower-income Worcester residents and the nonprofit developer acquired the 33 Merrick Street property from the City of Worcester in 2020. The new duplex at 33 Merrick Street will serve first-time homebuyers earning up to 80 percent of AMI.

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