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Jamaica Plain residents celebrate as apartment building remains affordable

Posted on January 23, 2002

JAMAICA PLAIN, Jan 23, 2002 --- It’s a classic tale in a boom real estate market. Apartments that are affordable can be rented for a lot more and longtime tenants are suddenly faced with finding another place to live.

It didn’t happen at Pondview Apartments, located in the heart of this desirable Boston neighborhood. Instead of being turned into market-rate units for young professionals, the apartments were renovated and remained affordable. Earlier this winter, longtime tenants braved the cold in the front courtyard to celebrate the renovation of the place they call home.

“We were so relieved and so very happy when we knew we were going to keep our homes,’’ Gloria Rosario told the Bay State Banner. “I have three children and they grew up here all their lives. They would have had to change schools. Maybe I would have had to change jobs.”
 
 Rosario and the 59 other families at Pondview didn’t have to change a thing because the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) got the support of residents and convinced longtime owners, the Malloy family, to sell the building to them. The JPNDC then worked to find the public and private funds necessary to buy the building, renovate it and keep it affordable.

“We knew that if we stuck together, we could do it,” said Richard Thal, executive director of JPNDC. “Our message to the business community was ‘if we lose these 60 families, we lose our neighbors.’ “

The Massachusetts Housing Partnership Fund played a role in enabling JPNDC to buy the building. Presented with the proposal in the fall of 1999, MHP gave quick approval to the loan, enabling JPNDC to close by the end of 1999, thereby qualifying them for key tax credit financing necessary to keep the apartments affordable.

“This is one of the most special properties we have financed,” MHP Director of Lending Mark Curtiss told residents at the Dec. 15 ceremony. “We had to do things we had never done before.”
 
Pondview is an example of what’s called “expiring use,” a common phenomenon in affordable housing. Technically, Pondview is a product of a federal program called Section 236, which is designed to provide low interest rate financing for affordable housing.

Section 236 mortgages are issued with 40-year terms, but developers have the right to prepay out of the program after 20 years. As a result, many Section 236 properties like Pondview – 20-plus year-old apartment buildings in desirable neighborhoods with rising rents – are in danger of being lost to the market. Pondview was in danger of being lost in 1999 before the JPNDC entered the picture.

MHP, which specializes in refinancing these types of “expiring use” properties, provided permanent financing of $3.2 million to the project. The City of Boston, the state Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Development provided additional financing.

“This couldn’t have happened without community and public support,” said JPNDC’s Thal. “That was a huge first step. But then we had to turn around and get financing quickly because the owners had other offers. MHP’s enthusiasm for the project and willingness to work hard to get the approvals they needed was an important ingredient in this effort.”

The MHP Fund is a quasi-public state agency that was established in 1985.   MHP is the primary lender in the state for the rehabilitation of small rental properties like Pondview.  Thanks to a 1990 law, MHP uses mandatory credit lines from banks doing business in the state to provide long-term loans at low rates for affordable housing. 

For more information about this refinancing project, contact MHP at 617-338-7868.