- Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
- Housing and Community Development
- Office of Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Polito
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces First Commitments Under CommonWealth Builder Program
Michael Verseckes, Director of Media and Public Relations
HAVERHILL — The Baker-Polito Administration was joined by MassHousing today to announce the first project commitments under the CommonWealth Builder program, a new $60 million program intended to create homeownership opportunities and build generational wealth in communities of color. As the agency charged with oversight of the program, MassHousing is committing a total of $3.35 million to four projects, located in Boston, Everett, and Haverhill, which will support the creation of 33 new mixed-income homes, including 23 CommonWealth Builder units.
Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, and MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay made the announcement at the Mount Washington homes in Haverhill, a seven-unit affordable homeownership development that the nonprofit Bread and Roses Housing is developing using CommonWealth Builder funds.
“Today’s announcement marks an important milestone in our work to combat systemic inequities by creating new homeownership opportunities across the Commonwealth and particularly in communities of color,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These initial project commitments demonstrate the promise of the CommonWealth Builder program to address racial homeownership and wealth gaps, and empower families, by creating new homeownership opportunities in underserved communities.”
“In addition to creating and supporting new housing development in communities across the state, new opportunities for homeownership are critical to our statewide strategy for economic recovery,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Thanks to the CommonWealth Builder program, this high-impact effort will help level the playing field for families, especially in communities of color, who have historically been priced out of the housing market and denied the chance to build the wealth that homeownership provides.”
“For far too long, the combination of the Commonwealth’s housing crisis and certain barriers to housing production have threatened our economic competitiveness and put families, especially in communities of color, at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to homeownership,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “The CommonWealth Builder program will play a crucial role in creating new opportunities for homeownership and to build wealth with a focus on equity, with impacts that will be felt for generations to come.”
“As the largest program of its kind in the nation, the CommonWealth Builder program is a first step in addressing homeownership and wealth disparities across Massachusetts,” said MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay. “We thank our partners in this work, Bread and Roses Housing, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corp., and The Neighborhood Developers, for their commitment to strengthening families through equitable development.”
“We need market rate housing. We need affordable housing. We need to reopen the American dream so that people who are starting out in life have the hope and the dream that I had when I started out, that I would be able to buy my own home,” said Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini. “That’s what I want for the citizens of my community and this project gives seven families the American dream.”
“This investment will go a long way in supporting the City of Haverhill’s continued efforts to bolster affordable housing, improve economic outcomes and expand opportunities for residents of the Mount Washington neighborhood,” said Senator Diana DiZoglio. “Thank you to Mayor Fiorentini, the Mount Washington Alliance, Bread and Roses Housing and all local stakeholders for your commitment to this community and its working families.”
“Through collaborative conversations with the Black and Latino Caucus and Governor Baker, the CommonWealth Builder program was created to address disparities in homeownership and intergenerational wealth,” said Representative Andy Vargas. “I am so proud that the first project is happening in my district and I give my heartfelt thanks to Bread and Roses, MassHousing, the Baker Administration and my Caucus colleagues for working together to make the American dream possible for these families.”
Governor Baker and MassHousing launched the CommonWealth Builder program in July 2019, as the centerpiece of an $86 million state investment in workforce housing. The program is a landmark initiative to address the racial homeownership gap in Massachusetts by creating new homeownership and wealth-building opportunities in communities of color. It is the largest state-level program of its kind in the nation.
The CommonWealth Builder Program provides market-based subsidies to support the construction of new, moderately priced single-family homes and condominiums in the state’s 26 Gateway Cities, the City of Boston, and Qualified Census Tracts throughout the Commonwealth. The program subsidizes the production and purchase of homes restricted to moderate-income first-time homebuyers with income restrictions set anywhere between 70 percent to 120 percent of their Area Median Income (AMI).
The initial round of project commitments by MassHousing will support the creation of fourteen new mixed-income condominiums in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, seven new affordable homes in Haverhill and six new affordable townhomes in Everett. MassHousing is also funding the creation of two new CommonWealth Builder homes in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, as part of a broader eight-unit affordable homeownership development. Additional project commitments will follow in the coming months.
“We have been working toward closing the racial and low-income homeownership gap for over 30 years through our community land trust model. We’re thankful to Governor Baker and MassHousing for investing CommonWealth Builder funds in our Haverhill project, furthering our mission to resolve housing inequality through affordable homeownership,” said Yesenia Gil, Executive Director of Bread and Roses Housing, Inc.
“Our Gateway communities of Everett, Chelsea, and Revere have clamored for affordable homeownership opportunities for years, but high construction and land costs have contributed to a difficult housing situation across Greater Boston. The CommonWealth Builder program opened the doors for organizations to produce more affordable townhouses and condominiums,” said The Neighborhood Developers Executive Director Rafael Mares. “TND and the city of Everett quickly jumped to become a part of this initiative. Through this partnership, we hope to bring about much needed relief and stability to the residents of our communities.”
“On behalf of our partners at Dream Development, we at New Atlantic Development are extremely grateful for the financial support provided by MassHousing and the Baker-Polito Administration for our 2147 Washington Street project in Roxbury. In particular, the inclusion of funds from the CommonWealth Builder program will allow eight middle-income families from this predominately minority community to own their homes and have the opportunity to build equity in a neighborhood that is at risk of gentrifying and pricing them out,” said New Atlantic Principal William Madsen Hardy.
“JPNDC is just finishing a project that makes owning a home in Jamaica Plain affordable for eight first-time homebuyers at a time where affordable homeownership in our city is virtually non-existent. Being one of the CommonWealth Builder projects made it possible,” said Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation CEO Teronda Ellis. “We are proud of the unique collaboration with a private developer that made affordable homeownership work on land previously taken from the community. We look forward to leveraging the CommonWealth Builder program to bring more affordable homes to city residents in need of equity building options.”
Massachusetts has the sixth-largest racial homeownership gap in the United States. The homeownership gap between white and nonwhite residents in Massachusetts has helped drive significant disparities in household wealth. A 2015 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that US-born black residents in the Boston area had a median net wealth of $8.
In 2018, MassHousing established the Racial Equity Advisory Council for Homeownership (REACH), a public-private working group that seeks to narrow the racial homeownership gap through demand-side interventions, including down payment assistance, homebuyer training, and marketing of high-quality mortgage products. The work of REACH led MassHousing to engage on this topic with Governor Baker and the state Legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus, which brought the issue of the disparities for homebuyers of color into clearer focus. The $60 million CommonWealth Builder program is a result of that ongoing dialogue.
The CommonWealth Builder Program is a double-bottom-line initiative. It will grow the state’s stock of moderately priced starter homes, and advance intergenerational wealth-building in underserved communities. MassHousing has set a goal of creating roughly 500 new affordable homes through this new initiative.
MassHousing’s Homeownership Division will support the CommonWealth Builder program through a combination of mortgage financing for homebuyers, down payment assistance loans, mortgage insurance with job-loss protection at no added cost, and targeted marketing in the Gateway Cities to ensure that borrowers of color are made aware of this new opportunity for homeownership.
As of June, 2021, MassHousing had 27 projects in its CommonWealth Builder pipeline, representing $76.5 million in financing demand.
The Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities are Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield and Worcester.
Committed CommonWealth Builder Projects
2147 Washington Street, Boston
2147 Washington Street is a mixed-income, mixed-use building to be constructed in Boston’s Nubian Square. The project is being developed jointly by New Atlantic Development and DREAM Development, with support from Haley House and Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development.
When complete, 2147 Washington Street will transform a city-owned parking lot and an adjoining lot controlled by Haley House into 12 new mixed-income condominiums, 62 affordable and workforce rental units, and commercial and maker space. MassHousing is contributing $1.2 million in CommonWealth Builder funds to support the creation of 8 affordable condominium units, four of which will be sold to households at or below 70 percent of the Area Median Income, and four of which will be sold to households at or below 100 percent of AMI. The remaining four condominiums will be sold at market rates. The City of Boston contributed $1.3 million to project’s homeownership component.
The project’s rental component will be built utilizing resources from MassHousing, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the City of Boston. Construction will begin this fall.
Call Carolina, Boston
Call Carolina is an eight-unit condominium townhouse development built by the non-profit Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC). The project will construct family-sized townhomes along the Southwest Corridor Park. The site includes a parcel that was originally cleared as part of the Southwest Expressway highway expansion project and subsequently acquired by JPNDC from MassDOT in 2018.
MassHousing is contributing $300,000 to the project, to support the creation and sale of two moderate-income units affordable to first-time homebuyers; the remaining six units will be affordable to homebuyers earning up to 80 percent of AMI, in accordance with the terms of sale from MassDOT. The City of Boston contributed $1.3 million in affordable housing funding, and MassDevelopment contributed $120,000 in brownfields funding. The MassHousing funding allowed JPNDC to create a fully affordable homeownership project, with more units for sale than would have otherwise been possible. Construction is underway and home sales will begin later this year.
Saint Therese Townhomes, Everett
The Saint Therese Townhomes project will create six new affordable homeownership opportunities in Everett. The sponsor is the non-profit The Neighborhood Developers, Inc. (TND). TND is constructing the St. Therese Townhomes in conjunction with a 77-unit affordable rental development, and pursued homeownership at the site as the result of community input. Three of the family-sized townhomes will be affordable to moderate-income households earning up to 80 percent of AMI, and three will be affordable to middle-income households earning up to 120 percent of AMI.
MassHousing is committing a total of $900,000 in CommonWealth Builder funds to the project. Other funding sources include $410,000 in HOME funds from city of Everett, through the North Suburban HOME Consortium, and a $250,000 Housing Choice grant from the Commonwealth. TND began construction in the spring of 2021.
Mount Washington, Haverhill
Mount Washington will transform a formerly blighted church property into seven new affordable townhomes for first-time homebuyers. The sponsor, Bread and Roses Housing, is a nonprofit housing developer and community land trust operator based in Lawrence. Two units will be restricted to buyers earning up to 70 percent of AMI, and five units restricted at 120 percent of AMI. The community land trust model, which separates land costs from the cost of homeownership, will allow Bread and Roses Housing to create deep and lasting affordability: Homes at Mt. Washington will sell between $150,000 and $225,000.
MassHousing is committing a total of $950,000 to the project. Other funding sources include HOME funds from the City of Haverhill and private philanthropic funds. Home sales commenced in the spring of 2021.