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MHP loan supports rehab of elderly housing in Roxbury

Posted on June 4, 2008

BOSTON, June 4, 2008 --- State and local leaders gathered to celebrate the collaborative effort by Forward, Inc. and Rogerson Communities to rehabilitate the Walnut House, a single-resident occupancy (SRO) building for the elderly with disabilities near Roxbury’s Egleston Square.

The Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) assisted in the effort by committing $600,000 in permanent first mortgage financing to help upgrade the 34 units while preserving the project’s affordability. 

Using its bank-funded loan pool, which provides long-term loans for affordable rental housing at no cost to the tax payers, MHP has now supported 92 projects in the City of Boston, providing over $150 million for financing of over 4,000 rental units.

“We are grateful to Mayor Menino for making housing such a priority and for giving us the opportunity to support efforts like this,” said Judy Jacobson, MHP’s deputy director. “We should have such leadership in all the cities and towns of the Commonwealth.”

The project also received funding from the City of Boston, the state Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp., Citizens Bank, the Community Economic Development Assistance Corp. and the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

All of the units will be affordable to residents earning 30 percent of the area median income, which in Boston is $18,018 for an individual.  Twenty-four of the units at Walnut House are reserved for Department of Mental Health (DMH) clients, who will receive a variety of health and social services from BayCove Human Services.

Rehabilitation of the three-story brick building has increased the unit count from 32 to 34, and all of the units have been enhanced to include private bathrooms and kitchenettes.  The residents will share a new lounge as well as a common kitchen and dining areas.

The Walnut House project is the latest effort by Rogerson Communities to rehabilitate properties on this three- acre property near Egleston Square and Franklin Park, which has provided elderly housing to the community since the 1890s.

Rogerson Communities recently sponsored the rehab and new construction of two other buildings on the site.  In October 2005, Rogerson Communities renovated the landmark Carleton House, adding 44 new affordable units.  And in 2007, Rogerson finished new construction of the Spencer House, which includes 46 elderly units and an adult day health program.  Rogerson Communities is the property manager for all three efforts, while Forward, Inc. owns the three-acre property. There is one more building left to be rehabilitated.

“This is a tremendous complex,” said Pat Canavan, special housing assistant to Boston Mayor Tom Menino. “Without Rogerson, this would’ve become an eyesore.”

MHP is a quasi-public state agency that provides long-term loans for affordable rental housing using private bank funds and at no cost to the taxpayer. This is possible due to a 1990 state law that requires companies that purchase Massachusetts banks to set aside a portion of the acquired assets to MHP.Since then, MHP's loan pool has grown to over $1 billion and it has provided over $534 million in loans and commitments for the financing of 13,700 units of rental housing throughout the state.