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Allston: Celebrates rehab effort, looks ahead to new housing

Posted on December 19, 2002

ALLSTON --- Although the celebration focused on what has been preserved, there was excitement about the Allston-Brighton Community Development Corporation’s next effort – the creation of 62 new affordable units elsewhere in this neighborhood located near the Mass. Pike and minutes from Harvard and Boston University.

“It’s going to be the first new affordable housing developed in this area in 15 years,” declared Boston Mayor Thomas Menino at the Nov. 21 event celebrating the renovation of the Hano Homes Apartments.

The Hano Street effort, made possible thanks to many private and public agencies including MHP, means that 15 of the 20 units will remain affordable, a significant achievement in an area where rising rents and home costs are driving working families out.

Now, Allston-Brighton CDC is turning its attention to developing two nearby industrial sites – one the former fish processing plant for Legal Seafoods – into 50 units of affordable rental housing, eight single family affordable homes and two two-family homes.

The rental housing will be targeted at families that make approximately $40,000 while the homeownership units will be targeted at families making 60 percent of median ($44,000) and 80 percent of median ($59,000). The new housing will be built on adjoining sites near a city park and is expected to be ready by mid-2004.

“Hano Homes has been affordable for 20 years and the rehabilitation assures the health and affordability of these apartments for a long time to come,” said Robert Van Meter, executive director of the Allston-Brighton CDC.  “Our next two efforts will be further steps in improving the quality of life for the whole community. Working families will be the major beneficiaries and right now they’re having a difficult time because of rising rents and sales prices.”

A key ingredient in Allston-Brighton’s ability to sustain its momentum is its ongoing partnership with Harvard University. In 1999, Harvard pledged to provide over 20 years a total of $20 million in low-interest loans to community agencies to support affordable housing in Boston and Cambridge.

For the Hano Homes rehabilitation, Harvard contributed – through the Local Initiative Support Corporation of Boston – $350,000 to help subsidize the interest rate of MHP’s long-term loan for the project.  For the Legal Seafood effort, Harvard is contributing $3.5 million to help the Allston-Brighton CDC buy the two adjoining sites and obtain financing for the 62-unit effort.

In addition to providing funds for affordable housing, Harvard is taking further pressure off the rental market by building graduate student housing nearby on Western Ave.

“It’s important that Harvard has stepped up to the plate and it’s important for the other universities to do so too,” said Vin McCarthy, a partner at Hale & Dorr and chairman of the MHP board of directors. “There really has to be a concerted effort to get more of these students out of these (off-campus) buildings and into student housing.”

Harvard wasn’t the only organization that partnered with Allston-Brighton to help with the Hano Homes effort. Funding for the project included low income housing tax credits from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC); Leading the Way funds from the city of Boston and state funds through the HOME program; a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank and a long-term loan from MHP. Additional cooperation and financing came from Mass. Housing, Boston Private Bank and the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation.

For more information about this effort or MHP, call 617-338-7878 x227.

(Photo information: This row of houses, known as Hano Homes Apartments, was rehabilitated by the Allston-Brighton CDC, with the long-term affordability of 15 of the units preserved).