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Ceremony celebrates 34 affordable units in Main South's Beacon-Oread neighborhood

Posted on December 1, 2001

WORCESTER - Standing outside their new apartment on Oread Street, Waldir and Rosane Cruz reflected on how the neighborhood has changed since they moved to the Main South section from Brazil three years ago.

"They have changed the face of the neighborhood," said Waldir.

By "they," Waldir meant all the cement workers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers who brought their tools up the hill to Beacon and OreadStreet the past two years to construct 34 units of affordable housing.

Yesterday morning, state and city officials gathered to celebrate the project's near completion and to praise the Main South Community DevelopmentCorporation and executive director Steven Teasdale for having the guts to tackle such a widespread project in what was once one of the city's mostblighted neighborhoods.

"What the Main South CDC has done is the hard stuff," said Clark Ziegler, executive director of the Mass. Housing Partnership, one of thefinancers of the project. "They've taken on buildings that were in rough shape and rebuilt the fabric of the neighborhood."

The 34 affordable units are spread out over seven rehabilitated or new buildings at the crossroads of Beacon and Oread streets. Most are large,brightly painted new or refurbished homes with three two and three-bedroom apartments. One brick apartment building is still being renovated.Rents will go from $500 to $650 per month, according Main South's Teasdale. The Cruz's, who lost an apartment nearby when it was sold, are inthe process of moving into one of the units with their three children.

Teasdale, praised for tackling such a widespread project, reasoned that it wouldn't have made sense to have done just one or two buildings. "Aneighborhood is a little bit like a set of teeth," he said. "Once one rots, then it spreads and pretty soon you have a whole row of bad teeth. If we didjust one building, we weren't going to succeed.

City Councilor Barbara Haller emceed the event. Among the speakers were Assistant City Manager Paul LaCava, and State Representative and MainSouth native John Binienda (D Worcester). Also speaking were Jane Wallis Gumble, Director of the Department of Housing and CommunityDevelopment, and Joseph Flatley, President of the Mass. Housing Investment Corporation. Both organizations also provided funding.

"What this gets at is the partnerships that create affordable housing," said Gumble, referring to the various city and state organizations that fundedBeacon-Oread. "While borrowers and developers may question why this has to be so complicated, I believe it's the right way to do it because itshows how widespread the state's commitment is to affordable housing."