MassHousing Update, March 2021
To our partners, customers and stakeholders
MassHousing is open for business but our staff is working remotely. We only allow visitors to our offices under very limited circumstances, by appointment only. View COVID-19 information for homeowners, renters and multifamily business partners.
Agency News
Virtual symposium will address racial justice and housing in Massachusetts, April 28
Save the date! On Wednesday, April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., MassHousing will host an online symposium to discuss policies and practices that support a racially just housing system for Massachusetts' housing communities.

A Path Forward: Crafting a Just Housing System for the Commonwealth will discuss
  • Closing the racial homeownership gap 
  • Supporting renters through the pandemic 
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace 
  • Supporting diverse businesses 
  • Recent changes in federal and state housing policy  

Speakers will include key staff from DHCD, MassHousing, MHP, MHIC, CHAPA, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, WinnManagement and the Builders of Color Coalition.

More information and registration links will be coming soon, on our website, via email and on social media.
FY21 lending update
With more than three months remaining in Fiscal Year 2021, MassHousing has closed more than $1.4 billion in financing to support affordable rental and homeownership opportunities across the Commonwealth. Fiscal Year 2021 runs from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

As of March 15, 2021, MassHousing has closed 28 multifamily transactions for a total of $712.1 million to create or preserve 3,472 units of rental housing, 3,274 of which are affordable. Transactions range in size from $1.12 million for the 7-unit Perlman House on Martha’s Vineyard to $160 million for the 500-unit Castle Square in Boston.

MassHousing has also closed a total of $711.1 million in financing to homebuyers and homeowners in Massachusetts. That lending total includes $697.5 million in first mortgage financing to help 2,533 Massachusetts households purchase or refinance their homes and 1,000 down payment assistance loans for $12.5 million.
Treasury Department awards MassHousing $5.8M to support rental housing and downpayment assistance for homebuyers
MassHousing has just been awarded $5.8 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. MassHousing will use the funds to provide much-needed gap-filler financing for rental housing and to support the Agency's down payment assistance program for first-time homebuyers.

Gap filler financing is often the key factor in whether an affordable rental community can be built. Home prices in Massachusetts are among the highest in the nation, and the down payment remains the biggest barrier to homeownership.

Board, Leadership and Staff News
MassHousing Board updates
Andris Silins
Thomas J. Flynn
Lisa Serafin
Several changes to the MassHousing Board were announced in March.

First, Andris Silins, who served on the MassHousing Board for 29 years, announced his retirement. To fill his seat, Governor Baker appointed Thomas J. Flynn, General Secretary-Treasurer of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America.

In addition, Board Member Lisa Serafin was elected Treasurer, a role previously held by Mr. Silins. Ms. Serafin, who joined the MassHousing Board in 2016, is a Principal with Redgate Real Estate Advisors.

MassHousing thanks Mr. Silins for his many years of service and his shared commitment to promoting affordable housing opportunities throughout the Commonwealth. We welcome Mr. Flynn to MassHousing, and congratulate Ms. Serafin on her new role.
Executive Director's corner
MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay received several honors and participated in a number of events in recent weeks. Here's a summary:

HERStory, Volume II 
Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka recently unveiled a new exhibit dedicated to celebrating the stories of women of color throughout Massachusetts' history. As part of HERStory, Volume II, the photos and images of 91 women, ranging from the 17th century to today, are on display in the Senate President's Chambers. Among them is Ms. Kornegay.

Boston's Most Impactful Black Women
On March 23, Ms. Kornegay was recognized as one of Boston's Most Impactful Black Women of 2021 by Get Konnected!, Boston's premier multicultural networking event series. Chrystal and other honorees were recognized for their leadership and the positive impact they have had on the city and region. Read more and view a video about the honorees.

Solutions for Housing Communications Conference
Ms. Kornegay was among the panelists at the National Housing Conference's Solutions for Housing Communications online event on March 18. The panel centered on Advocating for Housing and Economic Equality, providing strategies for closing the racial homeownership gap and presenting narratives to better communicate the importance of the issue.

Toward a Racially Just Housing System Symposium 
On February 23, Ms. Kornegay was among the panelists for the NCSHA's Toward a Racially Just Housing System: A National Symposium. The online event brought forward research and ideas to help answer critical questions about improving housing equity and opportunity through new public policy, business practices, and community partnerships.
3 questions with MassHousing CFO Chuck Karimbakas
Q: What is happening in the financial markets right now and how is it affecting interest rates and other things that determine the cost of borrowing to finance housing?

Chuck Karimbakas: We are coming out of a long period of 0% interest rates that stretches back to last spring. The benchmark 10-year Treasury rate has risen from 1.09% on February 1 to 1.73% on March 19. This rate drives the interest rate on home mortgage loans and so rates for mortgages are rising. Economists and policy makers are concerned about inflation. As more people are vaccinated, things will open up and spending will increase, and the $1.9 trillion in federal stimulus will add to that. For homebuyers, the big story is rising interest rates, but still a limited supply of homes for sale. On the multifamily side, rates for tax-exempt financing are less influenced by the 10-year Treasury. We continue to see a strong demand for refinancing by multifamily owners, and MassHousing's FHA products are serving those customers well. For new rental construction, the biggest issue today is not so much interest rates but rather the high cost of construction, particularly the cost of materials and labor.

Q: Many people would expect that the pandemic would have had a devastating effect on MassHousing's finances, due to homeowners and renters missing payments. Is this the case?

CK: Thankfully, no. We are in good shape financially. On the multifamily side, there have been both federal and state funds–like the RAFT program (Rental Assistance for Families in Transition)–that have helped renters make their monthly payments. In turn, owners have been able to make their payments to us. Many developments in our portfolio receive Section 8 subsidies, which have flowed steadily and have kept finances stable. Our multifamily delinquency rate has consistently been below 1% during the pandemic. On the homeownership side, while we do have many borrowers in forbearance, MassHousing's MIPlus mortgage insurance has helped many homeowners make their principal and interest payments. Our Mortgage Insurance Fund has been well-capitalized over the years and has been able to pay all claims without issue. Because rates have been so low, we have seen a large number of loans pay off. A silver lining to that is the increased cash flow that helps us to pay the taxes and insurance that are owed by many borrowers in forbearance. And of course, we continue to make new loans to buyers, and lending is on a record pace this year.

Q: What is something in the housing finance realm that you think will be permanently changed as a result of the pandemic?

CK: For the home mortgage finance world, I would say that automated appraisals will become a permanent part of the landscape. I can foresee a system whereby appraisers will no longer visit a home in person. On the finance side, green bonds, or social bonds are really gaining in popularity. We have seen it even during the pandemic. That's good for us because more investors means better pricing. It's classic supply and demand.
John Drew takes reins of MA, RI & ME Appraisal Institute
John Drew, MassHousing's Manager of Appraisal & Marketing, was recently sworn in as President of the Massachusetts, Rhode Island & Maine Chapter of The Appraisal Institute. The global organization promotes professionalism and ethics, global standards, and methodologies among real estate appraisers in more than 50 countries.
First CommonWealth Builder commitments issued
The first three commitments made through the CommonWealth Builder initiative will support mixed-income homeownership developments in Boston, Everett and Haverhill.

Projects receiving CommonWealth Builder dollars are:

  • Call Carolina, Boston (Jamaica Plain): JPNDC will receive $300,000 in CommonWealth Builder funds to construct this 8-unit townhouse development (shown above). 

  • St. Therese Townhouses, Everett: MassHousing is providing $900,000 in CommonWealth Builder funds to support The Neighborhood Developers in building a 6-unit mixed-income, mixed-use townhouse development. 

  • Mt. Washington, Haverhill: Bread and Roses Housing will receive $950,000 through the CommonWealth Builder for 7 single-family homes and duplexes near the Merrimack River.  

The $60 million CommonWealth Builder Program is a landmark effort to address the racial homeownership gap in Massachusetts by creating new homeownership and wealth-building opportunities in communities of color. The program provides market-based subsidies to support the construction of new, moderately priced single-family homes and condominiums throughout the Commonwealth, with homes restricted to moderate-income homebuyers with incomes between 70 percent and 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI).
Development Spotlight: The Meeting House, Dorchester
The Meeting House in Dorchester is one of the newest mixed-income apartment communities supported by MassHousing's Workforce Housing Initiative.

Project sponsor: Arx Urban
Total units: 36
Completion date: September 2020
Occupancy: 97%
Energy efficiency: The building is 100% electric with solar power on the roof

Fun fact: To support artists during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, The Meeting House Doors Project commissioned four local artists to create installations on each of the apartment entry doors.

Income-restricted units: 10 units are for working households earning up to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), and 11 apartments are for working households earning up to 100% of AMI. 15 units are market rate. The AMI for Boston is $107,800 for a family of four.

MassHousing financing: $2.1 million permanent workforce housing loan from the Workforce Housing Initiative.

General contractor: Haycon
Management agent: Trinity Management LLC
Rental Roundup
Lenox Apartments, Boston (Roxbury): MassHousing is providing $66.7 million in financing to Beacon Communities to support extensive renovations at the 285-unit Lenox Apartments, which was originally built in 1939. Read more…

181 Chestnut Street, Chelsea: The Neighborhood Developers is using $5.5 million in MassHousing financing to transform a formerly market-rate rental property into a mixed-income housing community serving households across a wide range of incomes. Read more... 

Elias Brookings Apartments, Springfield: $1.8 million in MassHousing financing will help Home City Development, Inc. convert a former public school building into 42 new apartments for households with a range of incomes. Read more...

Perlman House, Tisbury: MassHousing has closed $1.12 million in financing for Perlman House, a 7-unit workforce housing development on Martha's Vineyard. Island Housing Trust transformed a former bed and breakfast into this mixed-income development. Watch a video about the project, or read more.
The Loop at Mattapan Station, Boston (Mattapan): Construction is underway at The Loop at Mattapan Station, where $36.5 million in MassHousing financing is helping POAH and Nuestra Communidad create a new, 135-unit mixed-income development on an underutilized MBTA parking lot. View the virtual groundbreaking video.

POUA Celebrates 50th Anniversary: Congratulations to our partners at the Archdiocese of Boston's Planning Office for Urban Affairs for 50 years of providing affordable and mixed-income housing in Massachusetts. View POUA's 50th Anniversary video.
These lenders and loan officers are closing the most MassHousing loans
MassHousing makes affordable home mortgage loans through a network of lenders across Massachusetts. We recently posted on our website the Top 10 producing lenders for 2020, along with the top-producing loan officers. Residential Mortgage Services (RMS) is the top MassHousing lender, while Jamie Pollard with Academy Mortgage Corporation is the top-producing loan officer. See all the lists.
Spring homebuying season is here. Get educated. Get motivated!
More and more properties will be coming on the market in the next few months. Here are a few quick links to help empower homebuyers and keep them motivated:
Community Services
Partnership supports learning pods for Boston youth
In partnership with Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), Boston After School and Beyond and the Lynch Foundation, MassHousing is supporting young residents of Agency-financed and public housing communities in Boston's South End through learning pods.

At the onset of the pandemic, most young residents of MassHousing developments were forced into remote or hybrid learning models. When schools shifted to remote learning, small group learning pods, virtual tutoring and other supportive services emerged, but most were only available to wealthier families who could pay to staff them independently.

Small group, in-person learning pods supported by MassHousing and our partners serve 27 children, most in grades K-3. Students receive two daily meals as well as social-emotional support through pod programming. The pods have been well received by parents and teachers, and attendance and homework completion rates are up, which is reflected positively in the children's overall academic performance.

IBA's virtual pod for high schoolers fills an even bigger gap. Only 3% of students attending learning pods in Boston are in 8th grade or higher. However, 40% of high school juniors and seniors were chronically absent between September and December, an increase of 500 students.
Twelve students are participating in IBA's virtual learning pod for high schoolers, with a retention rate of 92%. Supporting high school students in the virtual learning pod has required more intense and intentional outreach and contact between the pod coordinator, students, parents and teachers, but has resulted in an 80% attendance rate. Preliminary data show that the learning pod model is working, helping students stay connected to their teachers, on top of their schoolwork, and socially engaged.

To learn more, view this Boston Globe article or this story from WGBH.
Grants support sober housing in Amesbury and Salisbury
MassHousing will provide $72,750 in grant funding to help Link House, Inc. renovate two sober homes with a total of 65 units in Amesbury and Salisbury. The grants were made through the Center for Community Recovery Innovations, Inc. (CCRI), a nonprofit subsidiary of MassHousing that supports affordable housing and related programming for men, women and families in recovery. Read more…
Diversity & Inclusion
Supporting diverse businesses
In celebration of Black History Month in February and Women's History Month in March, MassHousing is highlighting a few of the Black- and women-owned companies who perform work at Agency-financed multifamily developments and construction sites, and participate in Trade Fairs, business-to-business matchmaking and other events hosted by our Diversity & Inclusion Division.
Atlantic Bay Contracting is an SDO-certified minority-owned full-service environmental remediation company located in Allston. Founded in 1992 by Allen Young, the company specializes in asbestos abatement, mold and post-remediation and air duct scrubbing and cleaning.

Atlantic Bay has participated in MassHousing trade fairs for over 20 years. "MassHousing's tremendous efforts and attention to details make for a successful event year after year," said Mr. Young. "They have been invaluable in helping us network and build our brand awareness."
Alpha Building Construction and Development is a licensed, bonded and fully insured minority owned construction and development company located in Dorchester. Founded in 2015 by Stafford Lewis, the company specializes in general construction, masonry, concrete and waterproofing for residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

"Our target market has been MassHousing-financed housing developments and we take special pride in working on projects in and around our neighborhood," said Mr. Lewis.
Barry Jones and Associates is a City of Boston-certified minority owned flooring company based in Stoughton. For more than 40 years, the company has provided carpets, vinyl planks, hardwood and vinyl flooring to residential and commercial clients across central and eastern Massachusetts.

"Working with MassHousing-financed developments has been very beneficial for the growth of my company," said Mr. Jones. "MassHousing has opened many doors of opportunity for my company."
CAAN Fence is an SDO-certified minority women-owned full-service fencing company based in Randolph. Founded in 2012 by Carlene Lewis, CAAN Fence provides and installs quality commercial, residential and industrial fencing throughout Massachusetts.

"We take pride in our fast installation and are happy to work around the schedule of our clients, including on Saturdays and Sundays," said Ms. Lewis. "No job is to small or too large; every job represents an improvement to our client's residence or business."
CertaPro Painters is a woman-owned painting company located in Rockland. Founded in 2004 by Paige NeJame, the company specializes in interior/exterior painting and carpentry/drywall repairs for commercial clients in the Boston area and on the South Shore.

"We try to bring the highest quality of service to our clients," says Ms. NeJame. "One of our target markets has been property and facility managers of MassHousing-financed housing developments that we have had the opportunity to meet at trade fairs and business matchmaking sessions sponsored by MassHousing."
Fire Code Design is a fully licensed SDO-certified minority woman-owned fire protection company located in Roxbury. Founded in 2006 by Ronnette Taylor-Lawrence, Fire Code Design specializes in the installation, testing and maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment.

"Fire Code's mission is to become a staple in the community and assist in helping community members be fully aware of fire and life safety procedures," said Ms. Taylor-Lawrence. "Information is powerful, and we are very grateful to have participated in MassHousing trade fairs and matchmaking sessions."
Maloney Properties is an SDO-certified, industry leading women-owned real estate firm managing over 10,000 units of housing in over 80 communities across New England, including 18 MassHousing-financed developments.

"For almost 40 years, Maloney has partnered with MassHousing to secure financing for affordable and mixed-income housing developments throughout Massachusetts," said Janet Frazier, President and CEO of Maloney Properties. "MassHousing is a critical resource for the development and preservation of affordable housing in the Commonwealth. We are so proud of the work we do together to bring much needed affordable housing opportunities to working families and individuals across the state."