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Boston: 79 new units planned for Back Bay

Posted on March 3, 2004

Using its ability to provide low-cost, long-term financing for affordable rental housing, MHP has made a $9 million loan commitment to the Boston YWCA for the creation of 79 new affordable apartments at its historic Clarendon Street headquarters.

The project involves the full-scale renovation of the 14-story, 77-year-old building that will increase the number of residential units from 70 to 183, and increase the number of affordable units from zero to 79.

“When women came to the cities to find work at the turn of the century, and needed a safe and supportive place to call home, they came to the YWCA,” said Marti Wilson-Taylor, President and CEO of YWCA Boston, at groundbreaking ceremonies held March 2.  “That’s the role the Y has played for years and five years ago, we made a strategic decision to focus on our core strength – providing affordable housing.

“Now, our historic headquarters is being renovated and when complete, we will have provided more affordable housing for the Back Bay and created a center for women.”

The 79 affordable units will be comprised of 56 single-room occupancy apartments with shared kitchen and bath facilities, five studio and 18 one-bedroom units. All affordable units will be designated for households earning up to $34,740, with the rents to be determined based on an individual’s salary. Twenty of the units will be set aside for formerly homeless tenants.

The market rate apartments and single rooms will be rented on either a yearly, weekly or nightly basis, which is keeping with the YWCA’s century-long history of offering a variety of housing opportunities for women in Boston.

The project has secured $52 million in funding, including a $26 million loan from Fleet Bank,  $2 million in grants from the City of Boston, $750,000 from the state and $500,000 from the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation. The project also raised $15 million in equity through the sale of low-income and historic tax credits awarded by the state Department of Housing and Community Development.  Fannie Mae was the tax-credit investor, through MMA Financial. 
Bank acquisitions similar to the proposed Bank of America/Fleet transaction trigger the 1990 state statute that funds MHP.  That statute requires that companies that buy Massachusetts banks set aside a percentage of the acquired assets as a loan to MHP for affordable housing. MHP then uses these funds to provide badly needed long-term financing at below-market rates for affordable rental housing.

Since 1990, MHP’s loan pool has grown to nearly a half-billion dollars. MHP has used this money to finance over 10,000 units of rental housing. MHP focuses these funds on rental developments that serve moderate and lower-income people.   In Boston, MHP has made over $130 million in loans and has financed over 3,500 rental units.

For more information, call 1-877-MHP-FUND.

(PHOTO INFORMATION: Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and YWCA President and CEO Marti Wilson-Taylor presided over a ceremony celebrating the beginning of the construction of affordable apartments at the Y's Boston headquarters).