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MassDevelopment Bond Helps Cambridge Housing Authority Preserve Affordable Housing in Porter Square

September 03, 2020


Louisa Stone, MassDevelopment, 857-283-3340 (cell)

Luis Vasquez, Cambridge Housing Authority, 617-520-6415

MassDevelopment has issued an $8.1 million tax-exempt bond on behalf CAHC Porter Road LLC, an affiliate of the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA), which will use bond proceeds to buy and renovate 78-80 Porter Road Apartments, a 26-unit affordable multifamily rental housing facility in Cambridge’s Porter Square. In addition to the tax-exempt bond, MassDevelopment assisted the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development with the approval of federal low-income housing tax credits, which will provide approximately $4.9 million in equity for the project. Boston Private Bank purchased the bond.

“MassDevelopment is proud to once again be a financing partner to Cambridge Housing Authority as the organization preserves 26 units of affordable housing in Porter Square,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “These renovations will offer an improved living environment for residents and ensure the facility’s long-term affordability in a vibrant and popular neighborhood.”

Using bond proceeds, Cambridge Housing Authority will completely renovate the building while maintaining and restoring historically significant elements. The electrical and plumbing systems will be replaced, and a ventilation system will be added to improve air quality along with heating system upgrades. The renovations will bring the building up to current building code standards by increasing accessibility, ensuring proper fire separation and smoke sealing, installing a sprinkler system, and replacing the fire alarm and fire protection system. In addition, the organization plans to upgrade the entire building envelope by adding insulation, replacing the roof, installing new windows and doors, and restoring the brick façade through complete repointing and lintel replacement. The units will undergo minor reconfiguration to accommodate new kitchens and bathrooms, but will maintain their historic wood flooring and trim, which will be refinished.

MassDevelopment has previously provided financing for numerous Cambridge Housing Authority facilities, including a $30.5 million tax-exempt bond in June 2020 to renovate and preserve Roosevelt Towers Low Rise, a 112-unit affordable multifamily rental housing facility in Cambridge; a $42 million tax-exempt bond in April 2016 for the purchase and renovation of the Frank J. Manning Apartments, a 204-unit affordable rental housing facility primarily serving the elderly and disabled; a $30.8 million tax-exempt bond in March 2016 for the demolition and reconstruction of Jefferson Park, a 108-unit, 100-percent affordable multifamily housing development; $104 million in tax-exempt bonds in April 2015 for three affordable multifamily housing development projects, preserving a total of 511 affordable housing units; and a $30 million tax-exempt bond in September 2010 for the renovation of Jackson Gardens, a 45-unit affordable housing facility, and the demolition and reconstruction of Lincoln Way, a 70-unit affordable housing facility.

“The Cambridge Housing Authority is grateful to once again be partnering with MassDevelopment to preserve affordable housing in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country,” said Cambridge Housing Authority Executive Director Michael Johnston. “Collaborations like this are so important for a community like Cambridge where the current applicant count is over 20,000, and projects, like Porter Road, are impossible to make a reality without access to these bonds and the subsequent low-income housing tax credits.”

Established under state law on December 9, 1935, the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA) provides long-term rental housing and rental assistance to more than 7,000 low-income families, elders, and disabled individuals through its Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher Programs. CHA invests in Cambridge families and provides enhanced support to almost 12% of the city population. By tailoring its approach to focus on policy innovation and family economic opportunities, the organization is able to meet its mission to develop and manage safe, quality, affordable housing for low-income individuals and families in a manner that promotes citizenship, community, and self-reliance in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth. During FY2019, MassDevelopment financed or managed 316 projects generating investment of more than $2 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 9,743 jobs and build or preserve 1,992 housing units.