Posted on September 19, 2019
BOSTON --- MHP and the non-profit Urban Edge have collaborated on two affordable housing efforts this year that will not only add new affordable housing to the Egleston Crossing area, but will also stabilize 88 existing homes in the same neighborhood for years to come.
On Monday evening, Sept. 16, neighborhood residents and city leaders gathered in Roxbury for the ribbon cutting of Walker Park Apartments. Developed by Urban Edge, the development features 49 new affordable apartments in two new buildings at 67 and 80 Walnut Park, a street that runs just east and parallel to Columbus Ave., south of Egleston Square and just north of Franklin Park. The Walker Park grand opening happened just two months after MHP closed an $18 million loan to help Urban Edge preserve 88 affordable homes at Wardman Apartments.
Walker Park was named after the late Delphine Walker, a longtime neighborhood activist. The new property at 80 Walnut Park was built on the site where Ms. Walker raised her family. A pocket park was also built on the part of 67 Walnut Park that faces Columbus Ave. The park is next to the Egleston branch of the Boston Public Library. It's named Delphine's Courtyard and was financed with Community Preservation Act funds from the City of Boston.
"My mother cared a lot about Egleston and I know she's looking down on Walker Park and is very proud and happy," said her daughter Pamela Walker, representing the many children and relatives of Delphine Walker who attended the event.
MHP is providing $2.5 million in long-term permanent financing from its bank-funded loan pool and a line of credit of up to $259,000 through its Housing Reserve Assurance Program (Housing RAP). Funded by MHP and The Boston Foundation, Housing RAP provides a credit facility that reduces the amount of cash-funded reserves a developer needs to put aside by up to 80 percent. This helps developers increase their cash liquidity while providing tax credit investors with the same assurance that additional funds will be available during the life of the loan if needed.
MHP also supported Urban Edge at the beginning of development as its community assistance team provided a $25,000 grant to help Urban Edge work with the city and the development team on using lean design techniques, which emphasize collaboration, reliable workflows and resource efficiencies to hold down construction costs.
“Throughout Urban Edge’s history, MHP has been a reliable partner in our efforts to add new affordable housing to Egleston Square and to maintain the affordable housing we have so that the neighborhood we love can continue to be a place where everyone can have an opportunity to live, work and raise a family,” said Natacha Dunker, president of the Urban Edge board. “MHP has always been with us because they know what safe and stable affordable housing means to this neighborhood.”
The $18 million project has been made possible with support from the Commonwealth's Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Brookline Bank, the City of Boston, the Community Economic Development Assitance Corporation (CEDAC), MassDevelopment, MassHousing, Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, US Bank Corporation, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Enterprise Community Partners.
Walker Park consists of 13 one-, 28 two- and eight three-bedroom apartments. Thirty-eight homes will be affordable to households below 60 percent of area median income and 11 will be affordable to families earning under 30 percent of area median income. Five of these homes are set aside for families transitioning from homelessness. Six of these homes are set aside for people with disabilities.
"This is sacred ground that will continue to be a source of great support for all of Roxbury," said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in remembering Delphine Walker's contributions to the neighborhood.
The mayor headlined a list of speakers that included MassDevelopment CEO Lauren Liss (representing the state funders), state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, state Rep. Liz Malia, and new Walker Park resident Cassandra Amazan, who previously lived in a homeless shelter with her husband and three childrend for 16 months. Amazan now works at the shelter and has a three-bedroom home in which to raise her children. Urban Edge Board President Natcha Dunker was the master of ceremonies.
$18M loan preserves 88 apartments
MHP's Walker Park loan comes on the heels of the $18 million loan Urban Edge closed with MHP in June to the extend the affordability of Wardman Apartments, a four-building complex on Walnut Park and Wardman Street.
MHP used its FHA Risk Sharing Program to refinance this housing, which consists of one-, two- three- and four-bedroom apartments. Three of the buildings were built in 1910 and one was rebuilt in 2013 after a fire.
Wardman Apartments consists of 22 one-, 34 two, 22 three- and 10 four-bedroom apartments. All are affordable and supported with project-based Section 8. The homes are near the library branch, the Brookside Community Health Center, and Walgreens. Three MBTA Orange line stations are located within a mile of the apartments.
The Walker Park and Wardman loans were underwritten by MHP's Amanda Roe. With these loans, MHP has now provided Urban Edge with over $28 million for the financing of 375 apartments.