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New England News

Massachusetts Funds Project To Save Public Housing Development

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WAMC
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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker today announced funding awards for rental housing development across the state and highlighted a pilot program to open new preschool classrooms.  He did both during a visit to Holyoke. 

Baker announced funding to build or preserve almost 1,500 apartments at 23 projects in 15 communities across the state. He made the announcement at one of the sites chosen—Lyman Terrace, a 76-year-old, 167-unit public housing complex in downtown Holyoke, where tenants fought a plan a few years ago to demolish their homes.

" People here are pulling together and trying to do the things that grow a great community. That is why we are here today and not somewhere else," said Baker.

The housing awards announced by Baker are a mixed funding arrangement that combine state and federal tax credits and money from six state bond accounts. The tax credits amount to just over $29 million, which will generate $182 million in private investment, according to administration officials. The direct state funding totals nearly $46 million.

Baker said affordable housing is a foundation for economic growth.  He said rising housing prices, in parts of the state, are a concern because increasingly young people find it difficult to afford to live in Massachusetts.

" We need to build thousands of units of working people affordable housing, what I call market-rate affordable housing, over the next 5-10 years," Baker told reporters.

    Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse said Lyman Terrace, which consists of 18 red brick buildings, is part of an urban renewal plan to create a densely populated vibrant downtown. 

The Holyoke Housing Authority has a plan for renovating Lyman Terrace in two phases. Authority Executive Director Mathew Mainville said, with Tuesday’s announcement by the governor, about $30 million in financing has been committed to begin the work.

" We are talking a major rehabilitation effort that will increase the square footage of the units, put in all new kitchens and baths. We are going to tear down two buildings and put in a new community center. A number of the units will be made handicap accessible," said Mainville.

He said construction is expected to begin next fall.

Sonia Gonzalez , who has lived at Lyman Terrace for 27 years, said she’s thrilled about the improvements that will be coming soon.

" We are so happy. We've waited a long time," she said.  " It is going to be great!"

Other housing developments in western Massachusetts that received funding Tuesday are  a single room occupancy property in Chicopee called The Kendall, senior housing at Ludlow Mills, and a 75- unit housing preservation project in Springfield.

Several of the projects funded across the state have apartments reserved for homeless families.

Also in Holyoke Tuesday, Baker toured a pre-school classroom at the Sullivan school to highlight a federal grant award to the state that will put more than 800 children into full-day, full-year preschool programs.

"  It is a $60 million grant for pre-k programming for kids in communities where a head start is a great opportunity for developing reading skills," said Baker.

Holyoke, Springfield, Boston, Lawrence and Lowell received funds to increase access to free pre-school.

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