Affordable housing projects get funding

August 27, 2009
By

David Taber

HYDE/JACKSON SQ.—Long- anticipated awards of millions of dollars in federal funding by the city and state mean a green light for two stalled Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) affordable housing projects.

The two projects—30 rental units at 270 Centre St.—between Wise and Lamartine streets—and 36 at the corner of Creighton and Centre Streets on the former Blessed Sacrament church campus—“had been high on the city and state’s priority list,” JPNDC executive director Richard Thal told the Gazette.

The 270 Centre project was awarded $5.3 million, and the Blessed Sacrament project $6.2 million in state-allocated funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The projects also received $1 million each in city-allocated ARRA funds.

JPNDC hopes to begin construction on both of the projects in October and complete them in 12 to14 months, Thal said.

The Blessed Sacrament project comes as workers are putting the finishing touches on another part of JPNDC’s planned first phase of work on the site: 16 affordable condominiums on Creighton Street.

And, Thal told the Gazette, the JPNDC is hopeful that by the start date for the rental project on the site, funding will be in place to renovate a convent on the site into single-room-occupancy housing for homeless men to be managed by the Pine Street Inn.

That project involves mostly interior work, so if funding comes through, it is possible the site could see continuous work for the next year, Thal said. “It [would mean] we don’t have to wait around for three months” in the winter, he said.

The state-allocated funding for the current projects came as part of $45.5 million from the Tax Credit Assistance Program, administered by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development. That program is meant to assist non-profit developers unable to attract private investors after the market for affordable housing tax credits collapsed last year. The funding accounts for about a third of the overall construction budget for each project, Thal said.

A public notice published in the Aug. 14 Gazette said there are “oil and/or hazardous materials” in the ground at the 270 Centre St. site. Bill Chapman of the ESS Group—a contractor hired by the JPNDC to handle soil remediation at the site—said contamination at the site is not extraordinary for urban land. The contaminated soil will be removed to a landfill, he said.

The 66 rental units at the two locations will be targeted to families earning less than 60 percent of the area median income—$54,120 for a family of four. Eight of the units at Blessed Sacrament and 10 at 270 Centre St. will be available to extremely low-income families, including families transitioning from homelessness. Seven of the units at 270 Centre St. will be available for families with Section 8 vouchers.

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