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Landmark Hyannis lodging house reopens with affordable apartments for single working people

Posted on April 24, 2002

HYANNIS --- With the summer tourist wave about to hit Cape Cod, and demand for housing at an all-time high, badly needed affordable housing for single working people has opened just outside downtown Hyannis.

Aunt Sarah’s Place, a longtime boarding house across the street from the ferry to Nantucket, now features five single room apartments, three studio apartments and four one-bedroom apartments. All units are affordable.

The Barnstable Housing Authority purchased the property in 2000. With the total renovation inside and out now complete, 80 percent of the units are already leased. Project-based Section 8 rents are $763 for one bedroom, $569 for studios and $513 for single rooms. Prior to the BHA purchase, Aunt Sarah’s had been a licensed boarding house dating back to the 1950s, with 26 rooms and a capacity to house 34 people.

“We feel we’ll have no difficulty renting the units here,” said Tom Lynch, executive director of the Barnstable Housing Authority. “One of the longest lists we have is for single working people who are looking for housing. And this is the first property we have that serves single working people.”

First tenants were scheduled to move in the week of April 15. Among them were a nursing home worker who can walk to work, and three tenants who work in retail in the downtown area.

According to Nancy Travarto, co-owner of the Nantucket Trading Co., a kitchenware store in downtown Hyannis and Falmouth, the housing is much needed. “More affordable housing for the Cape Cod workforce is needed,” said Travarto, who has been a retailer on the Cape since 1983. “Units like Aunt Sarah’s Place make that much more affordable housing available for potential employees. We need more units like Aunt Sarah’s Place.”
 
The Massachusetts Housing Partnership Fund provided a predevelopment loan to help determine the project’s feasibility and direction, and is providing $726,000 in permanent financing. Additional financing came from County HOME funds ($70,000), a town Community Development Block Grant ($40,000) and from the Barnstable County Rental Fund ($50,000).

MHP is one of the state’s leaders in financing single-room apartments, with over 30 loans covering over 1300 units in 27 communities across the state. Of these units, MHP requires that 919 of the units remain affordable.

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 Aunt Sarah’s.  Thanks to a 1990 law, MHP uses mandatory credit lines from banks that acquire other banks in the state to provide long-term loans at low rates for affordable housing.

For more information about this project and MHP, contact Ruston F. Lodi at 617-338-7878 x227 or rlodi@mhp.net