50 affordable units come on line
PROVINCETOWN, Oct. 3, 2012 --- When Aaron Hobart heard his family's name called during the lottery for one of the new affordable apartments at Province Landing, his joy was quickly tempered by concern. "We were lucky to be selected but we still worry about all the people who are still on the waiting list," he said.
Hobart's remarks at Province Landing's grand opening on Oct. 3 served as a sobering reminder that while the new 50-unit rental development illustrates the town's commitment to affordable housing, more affordable homes are needed to house the town's workforce and full-time residents.
From the moment The Community Builders broke ground on Province Landing, interest was high. Over 350 applications were received for the 50 affordable rental apartments. Hobart was selected to get a $911-a-month, two-bedroom apartment, which is what he and his wife Paloma needed to raise their two small children. Aaron and Paloma say they can now envision raising their family and making a go of it in Provincetown with their small web design business without having to work round-the-clock at other odd jobs just to make ends meet.
"We had decided that if we weren't picked, we were going to leave the Cape," said Aaron Hobart. "Provincetown is a beautiful place to live but it's expensive and we were tired of doing the Provincetown hustle. We were working all the time just to be able to afford a one bedroom."
Getting working families like the Hobarts to stay is what the town had in mind six years ago when it began looking for sites to build affordable rental housing because the town's supply had dwindled due to many rentals being converted into vacation condominiums.
Housing Authority Housing Director Patrick Manning is credited with getting things started as he was driving around one day looking for sites and lingered in front of the old Cumberland Farms site on Shank Painter Road, one of the town's busy streets leading from Rt. 6 into the town center (Cumberland Farms built a bigger store on an adjacent site).
Town leaders like former town manager Keith Bergman and former housing authority commissioner Bob Cabral, liked the idea. To fully explore whether the old store site was suitable for development, the town contacted the Massachusetts Housing Partnership's Community Housing Initiatives team (CHI), which helps communities and nonprofits move affordable housing developments forward. Over the next two years, MHP provided direct and third party technical assistance to help Provincetown conceptualize how the site could be developed. MHP's early work with the town included:
• Helped the town develop a strategy to purchase the site, which ultimately included a $1 million gift of equity from Cumberland Farms.
• Used $22,000 in grant funding from Bank of America to support a housing needs assessment and market study. These funds were also used in combination with local funds to do an engineering study of the site.
• Secured $8,000 in federal HOME funds for financial feasibility work and project pro forma analysis.
• Paid for a consultant to help coordinate the community process so that the development would reflect the needs and wishes of its residents.
• Helped secure state brownfields funding from MassDevelopment.
• Helped draft a Request for Proposal which the town used to attract developers interested in developing the site through a ground lease with the town.
At the end of this process, The Community Builders, a Boston-based, nationally known nonprofit development company, was selected to develop the 2.57 acre site with a Ch. 40B comprehensive permit issued by the town. Financed primarily with federal low-income housing tax credits awarded by the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), TCB developed 25 one-bedroom, 21 two-bedroom and four three-bedroom apartments spread out across six 2 ½ story Cape-style buildings. It is the largest complex of affordable rentals on the Outer Cape.
"Province Landing is just part of the solution of ensuring that Provincetown residents can afford to live here year round and raise their families," said TCB Project Manager Michael Lozano, who served as master of ceremonies at the grand opening.
In addition to its early technical assistance, MHP also used its bank-funded loan pool to provide over $1.5 million in long-term fixed rate financing. The $14.5 million project also received over $1 million in funding from DHCD's Community Based Housing and federal HOME fund programs, $550,000 from the state's affordable housing trust fund, $125,000 in federal HOME funds from Barnstable County and $1.7 million in federal stimulus funds.
"While we love investing bank money in housing like this, what gets me and my colleagues at MHP up in the morning is our work with local folks who care deeply about making our communities a place for people of all incomes," said Judy Jacobson, MHP's deputy director. "We love working with local people who are willing to drive around and look for sites and make things happen."
The grand opening ceremony took place in the Province Landing community room. Other speakers included Arthur Jemison, deputy undersecretary at DHCD; Arthur Knight, chairman of the board of selectmen; Paul Ruchinskas of the Cape Cod Commission and MaeBush Stevens of the Wampanoag tribe.
For more information about MHP's community assistance and lending for affordable housing rental development, contact MHP Community Housing Initiatives Director Susan Connelly at 617-330-9944 x228 or email@example.com.