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MHP continues to play financial role in revitalizing Worcester's affordable housing

Posted on April 25, 2003

WORCESTER --- The Massachusetts Housing Partnership is committing $415,000 in financing for the rehabilitation of an abandoned building into five affordable apartments, pushing its lending total for small-scale rental housing in the city to $6 million since 1996.

The three-story brick building on Chandler Street, one of the city’s main corridors, will be redeveloped into 1,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor, and five units of affordable rental housing on the upper floors. Included in the financing is a $200,000 second mortgage at zero percent interest.

This is the second collaboration between MHP and project developer Worcester Common Ground (WCG) in the city’s Piedmont neighborhood. Three blocks away on Austin St., MHP is providing $870,000 in long-term financing for the rehabilitation of two adjacent multifamily properties into nine affordable apartments. Included is a $760,000 second mortgage at zero percent interest. The second mortgages on Chandler and Austin streets are possible thanks to a special financing program MHP has with Fleet and Citizen’s banks.

WCG’s efforts on Chandler and Austin also received funding from the City of Worcester, the state Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation and the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which is administered by MassHousing.

Efforts to revitalize the Piedmont neighborhood began several years ago after Worcester Magazine cited one of the Austin Street buildings as one of the city’s 10 worst properties. That sparked city and neighborhood groups to come up with a plan that targeted run-down and abandoned buildings for revitalization.

“This has happened because neighborhood organizations and the city came together to drive this,” said Rep. Robert Spellane (D-Worcester) at an April 25 ceremony marking the completion of renovations on Austin Street and the beginning of work Chandler Street. “Without this, we would not have been able to garner the state money needed to make this happen.”

Since 1996, MHP has committed over $5 million in long-term financing and another $1 million in second-mortgage subsidy in Worcester for the creation or rehabilitation of 232 rental units, 149 of them affordable.

Thanks to a 1990 state law, MHP uses lines of credit from the banking industry to provide long-term loans for affordable housing and neighborhood development at below-market rates. MHP focuses these funds on smaller-scale affordable housing efforts that can be harder to finance. In Worcester, the average number of units in the 12 projects MHP has financed since 1996 is 18 units.

The impact of city and state investment has not been lost on city resident Robert Evans, who has owned a home on Austin Street for 17 years. Standing in one of the new Austin Street apartments and looking out on his home across the street, Evans described the neighborhood’s transformation. “This has uplifted the whole place,” he said. “There used to be a lot of street drugging and trash around. Now, people aren’t hanging around anymore.”

For more information about MHP’s rental financing programs, call 1-877-MHP-FUND or go to www.mhp.net.

(PHOTO INFORMATION: A couple of streets back from 133 Chandler Street, MHP helped finance Worcester Common Ground's recently-completed efforts to rebuild two abandoned multi-family homes into nine affordable rental apartments).