East Boston’s Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), which has a significant presence in Chelsea, is getting set for its 22nd Annual Dinner Meeting and Holiday Party just as Governor Deval Patrick signs a new law to secure long-term affordable housing preservation efforts.
NOAH’s party will take place on Thursday, December 17, at Spinelli’s Function Hall in Day Square at 7 p.m. The keynote speaker will be Senator Susan Tucker, who represents the City of Lawrence and the towns of Andover, Dracut, and Tewksbury in the Massachusetts Senate. Tucker is Co-Chair of the Legislature’s Joint Housing Committee, a member of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and several other Joint Committees.
“Her work as a legislator is part of a lifelong commitment to advocacy and community service,” said NOAH Executive Director Phil Giffee. “Tucker has earned a reputation as an independent, innovative and responsive leader who makes things happen.”
As Co-Chair of the Joint Housing Committee, Tucker has passed legislation to preserve the state’s stock of affordable housing and legislation to stem the foreclosure crisis by creating a system for the Division of Banks to rate mortgage lending companies on their lending practices, requiring the licensing of loan originators, ensuring responsible lending practices through added requirements of mortgage lenders and borrowers, establishing a borrower’s right to cure a loan default, and clarifying tenancies in foreclosed properties.
Just last week, Tucker joined Governor Patrick as he highlighted the law he signed to keep publicly-assisted rental properties affordable and announced the roll-out of a $150 million loan fund leveraged primarily through private dollars to support and secure long-term affordable housing preservation efforts.
“Preserving affordable rental housing keeps our working families strong and our economy strong. By securing and expanding housing opportunities now and over the long-term, we can make a difference in the lives of our neighbors, bolster our communities and maintain Massachusetts on a path toward recovery,” said Patrick.
The Governor’s signing of the “expiring use” bill creates a regulatory framework to preserve affordable rents in properties where long-term, publicly subsidized mortgages are paid off and affordability restrictions can then expire.
An estimated 90,000 units could be affected, with about 17,000 of those units at-risk of losing their affordability through expiring use over the next three years. The legislation establishes notification provisions for tenants within expiring use properties, a right of first refusal for the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) or its designee to purchase publicly assisted housing, and modest tenant protections for projects with affordability restrictions that terminate.
“Working together with tenants, property owners, preservation experts, and municipalities, the state now has a proactive, comprehensive strategy to permanently preserve more of the Commonwealth’s affordable rental housing stock,” said Senator Tucker. “It is critical, particularly in this economy, that we maintain housing options that are affordable to low income families, seniors, and people with disabilities. Preserving affordable housing is much less expensive than building it new.”
The Governor also announced a $150 million preservation loan fund created by the state quasi-public Community Economic Assistance Corp (CEDAC) in partnership with DHCD as they put together a pool of resources to help secure rental developments that are about to lose their expiring use restriction. The program is leveraged through state bond funds along with a $3.5 million award to Massachusetts from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, $40 million from private lenders, and $100 million from the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp (MHIC). MHIC is a private non-profit entity founded in 1990 by a consortium of banks and other corporate investors to fill a critical gap in meeting the credit needs of affordable housing developers and owners who are unable to get financing for certain projects from traditional lenders.
“At a time when the economy and the state budget are facing great challenges, it is critical to advance innovative and cost-effective solutions to keep low income families and seniors in affordable homes”, said Aaron Gornstein, CHAPA Executive Director. “We commend the Legislature and the Governor for their outstanding leadership in passing a landmark bill that will utilize existing resources and public-private partnerships to preserve affordable rental housing.”
All these recent developments in housing are important to NOAH, an agency that began serving East Boston in 1987 as a two-person organization operating from a church basement. The organization’s staff has since grown and it is now in its twenty-second year as a non-profit, multi-service community development corporation, with five development projects in its real estate pipeline.
NOAH’s staff offers free counseling to homeowners who are looking to modify their current mortgages under the new Making Home Affordable Program and/or who are encountering difficulties paying their mortgages. Each Monday evening there is a free educational clinic on mortgage-related options for homeowners at NOAH’s offices at 143 Border Street in East Boston.
At NOAH, Boston homeowners can also receive free education on how to keep children living in their properties safe from lead poisoning. Income-qualified senior homeowners in Boston can receive free or low-cost safety-related repairs. Boston residents can also receive free counseling on locating affordable rental housing. For information on these or any of NOAH’s other community programming, please visit www.noahcdc.org or call 617-567-5882.
To attend NOAH’s upcoming meeting and party, members of the public can sign up online at www.noahcdc.org or by calling 617-567-5882. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for children. Tables of ten can be purchased for $180.