New Bedford State Pier RFP Public Meeting Information. Learn more


Preserving Affordable Housing in Holyoke

Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. Uses $8.5 Million Tax-Exempt Bond from MassDevelopment & bankESB to Buy, Renovate & Preserve Two Affordable Housing Facilities in Holyoke’s Churchill Neighborhood

March 30, 2023

Matthew Mogavero, 857-248-0868

Stephen Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Inc.
413-552-1554 x140

Photo of 348 Chestnut St. in Holyoke, courtesy of Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. 

HOLYOKE, Mass. – MassDevelopment has issued an $8,511,570 tax-exempt bond on behalf of Voces de Esperanza, LLC, an affiliate of Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. (VOC), which will use proceeds to buy, renovate, and preserve two occupied affordable rental housing buildings (totaling approximately 48,000 square feet) featuring a total of 36 apartments in Holyoke’s Churchill neighborhood. The buildings, located at 348 Chestnut St. and 337-351 Chestnut St., were constructed in 1920 and 1999, respectively. Renovations will include making kitchen and bathroom upgrades, with new cabinets, fixtures, and appliances; repairing and repainting walls and ceilings; and installing new flooring and carpeting. The building at 348 Chestnut St. will also gain new entry doors, windows, and repaired and repointed masonry; additionally, a vacant commercial unit on the ground floor will be converted to one new unit of housing. bankESB purchased the bond, which allowed Voces to achieve a lower cost of capital.

The buildings contain a combined total of 37 housing units consisting of six one-bedroom apartments, 20 two-bedroom apartments, and 11 three-bedroom apartments. Ten units will be rented to households earning no more than 30% of area median income (AMI) ($28,250 for a four-person household), 15 units rented to households earning no more than 50% of AMI ($47,050 for a four-person household), and 12 units rented to households earning no more than 60% AMI ($56,460 for a four-person household).

“Massachusetts’ housing shortage makes it all the more necessary to ensure individuals and families can continue to access quality affordable housing and stay in their communities,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “This tax-exempt bond will help modernize and extend the life span of dozens of affordable apartments in the Gateway City of Holyoke. We are proud to partner with banks like bankESB to offer flexible financial solutions for developers and nonprofits looking to do this kind of work.”

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 that will provide approximately $5.7 million in equity for the project.

“We’re pleased to support this project to preserve and modernize much-needed affordable housing in Holyoke,” said bankESB President and CEO Matthew S. Sosik. “bankESB is proud to provide the financing and is thankful for MassDevelopment and the group of funders for making this project a reality, helping to further unlock the potential of the Holyoke community for years to come.”

"Voces de Esperanza is the fulfillment of the vision and hard work of the late Carlos Vega,” said Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia. “His vision inspired the development of the Churchill neighborhood where this project is located. Roughly three decades ago, with Nueva Esperanza, Inc. as the developer, Carlos Vega leveraged the necessary resources and partnerships to rehab, preserve, and build affordable housing totaling 36 units, a project known as Voces de Esperanza. This announcement from MassDevelopment coupled with the Valley Opportunity Council's (VOC) plan for Voces de Esperanza is an affirmation of the commitment to Carlos Vega's mission to keep these properties affordable. Thank you to MassDevelopment for your support for this vital project which is such an important part of the fabric of our city's history." 

Established in 1965, the Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. is dedicated to eliminating poverty by providing the opportunity for low- and moderate-income neighbors, families, and friends in the Greater Hampden County area to achieve greater independence and a higher quality of life. VOC offers more than 30 programs in a wide variety of areas, including food and nutrition, energy assistance, education and child care, youth and adult programs, and community outreach.

“VOC is enthusiastic to partner with MassDevelopment so we can continue to develop and improve housing in Holyoke for those that are struggling to make ends meet during these challenging times,” said Valley Opportunity Council Executive Director Stephen Huntley.  

MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2022, MassDevelopment financed or managed 356 projects generating investment of more than $1.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 11,080 jobs and build or preserve 1,778 housing units.