Posted on September 9, 2021
CAMBRIDGE --- At a time when affordable apartments in Greater Boston are scarce and many households are spending more than half their income on rent, Cambridge Trust is committing $110 million to support affordable housing in the Commonwealth in partnership with the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP).
As part of the agreement, Cambridge Trust will provide MHP the funds for terms of up to 20 years, and MHP will use them to finance multifamily rental housing, with a focus on supporting low- and moderate-income households and nonprofit developers in the communities that Cambridge Trust serves.
“Our decision to partner with MHP squares with our organization’s desire to build a better tomorrow for the communities we serve,” said Thomas J. Fontaine, executive vice president and Chief Banking Officer of Cambridge Trust. “We hope these funds will help develop more housing solutions for low- and moderate-income families.”
Cambridge Trust’s commitment – one of the largest loan commitments of its kind in the U.S. – comes at a time when the Commonwealth is increasing public funding for affordable housing and rental assistance to help people impacted by COVID 19 remain in their homes.
In addition to Cambridge Trust's voluntary agreement, MHP's loan fund is also being bolstered by three bank acquisitions that fall under its funding statute - the Eastern Bank purchase of Century Bank, the Rockland Trust purchase of East Boston Savings Bank and the Silicon Valley-Boston Private acquisition. Each will add approximately $60 million to MHP's bank-funded loan pool.
Leveraging MHP's experience with bank funds
In making the commitment, Cambridge Trust is leveraging MHP’s experience in using private bank funds to provide financing for multifamily rental housing. Created in 1985, MHP is primarily funded by a 1990 state interstate banking law (Ch. 102) that requires companies that purchase banks in Massachusetts to make funds available to MHP for affordable housing. The only law of its kind in the country, Ch. 102 helps ensure that private lending will continue to support community development even as the banking industry is consolidating.
“Our decision to partner with MHP squares with our organization’s desire to build a better tomorrow for the communities we serve. We hope these funds will help develop more housing solutions for low- and moderate-income families.”
Thomas J. Fontaine, Executive Vice President, Cambridge Trust.
In its 30-year history, MHP has provided over $1.5 billion for the financing of over 26,000 rental apartments across the Commonwealth. More than $1.2 billion of those loans came from its bank-funded loan pool. MHP’s other sources for tax-exempt and taxable financing are FHA and Fannie Mae.
What makes the Cambridge Trust line of credit to MHP different is that it was not triggered by a bank acquisition, but by Cambridge Trust’s interest in addressing the affordable housing needs of its community and MHP’s efforts to expand its successful privately-funded lending platform by bringing on new bank partners through voluntary agreements. Cambridge Trust's loan is the second and largest voluntary commitment MHP has received, and the third largest ever, behind only the Bank of America/Fleet agreement ($406 million) and the 1999 Fleet/BankBoston agreement ($143 million).
MHP’s new voluntary program – called the Multifamily CRA Funding Program – offers banks the ability to support affordable housing in their communities and satisfy requirements of the Community Reinvestment Act, the 1977 law that encourages financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.
MHP’s voluntary CRA program is also more flexible as Cambridge’s Trust’s loan funds can not only be used directly, but also in conjunction with FHA-insured loans, the purchase of Fannie Mae mortgage backed securities (MBS) and tax-exempt bonds. This will enable MHP to provide more financing options for affordable housing developers and owners.
“The pandemic has shined a light on our shortage of affordable housing and how it impacts the health and well-being of so many people,” said Clark Ziegler, MHP’s executive director. “Cambridge Trust has stepped up in a big way with funding that will help us provide more affordable housing for the residents of Massachusetts.”
Sec. Kennealy praises Cambridge Trust
MHP has made loans to most of the non-profit and for-profit affordable housing developers in the state and is the leading lender for projects funded with competitively awarded federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which funds most of the affordable rental housing created in Massachusetts.
MHP has never had a loan loss in its history, has an A+ rating from Standard & Poor’s, and in addition to Cambridge Trust, has major financing relationships with Bank of America, BNY Mellon, TD Bank, Santander, Citizens Banks, and many other regional and local banks, using these funds to finance the construction and renovation of affordable apartments across Massachusetts.
“For three decades, private lenders have played an essential role in financing affordable housing in the Commonwealth, but Cambridge Trust has truly raised the bar by volunteering to loan $110 million to the Massachusetts Housing Partnership for the construction of new affordable units,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “From MHP’s billion-dollar legacy of providing below-market financing to the Baker-Polito Administration’s proposal to invest $1 billion in ARPA funds for affordable rental housing and homeownership opportunities, we all have a role to play to solve our housing crisis. I want to thank Cambridge Trust for acknowledging housing is an equity issue that also affects our competitiveness and commend them for being a major part of the solution.”
About Cambridge Trust: Cambridge Trust is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cambridge Bancorp (NASDAQ: CATC), and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cambridge Trust is a 131-year-old Massachusetts chartered commercial bank with approximately $4.3 billion in assets as of June 30, 2021, and a total of 19 Massachusetts and New Hampshire locations. Cambridge Trust Company is one of New England’s leaders in private banking and wealth management with $4.5 billion in client assets under management and administration as of June 30, 2021. The Wealth Management group maintains offices in Boston and Wellesley, Massachusetts and Concord, Manchester, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. For more information, visit CambridgeTrust.com or contact Alex Jafarzadeh on behalf of Cambridge Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About MHP: MHP offers a variety of capital sources to provide permanent financing for affordable housing, including bank funds and lending programs offered by Fannie Mae, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Since 1990, MHP has provided over $1.4 billion for the financing of over 26,000 apartments and has helped over 21,000 low- and moderate-income households buy their first home through the SoftSecond and ONE Mortgage programs, resulting in over $3.7 billion in mortgage financing. MHP has provided support and technical assistance to over 300 communities. In 2017, MHP created the Center for Housing Data to support all its work and promote policies to allow more housing in response to demand.
For more information about MHP's historic agreement with Cambridge Trust, contact Director of Public Affairs Rus Lodi at email@example.com. For more information about MHP's rental financing options, contact Director of Business Development Nancy McCafferty at firstname.lastname@example.org or Alma Balonon-Rosen at AlmaBR@mhp.net.