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August 6, 2021 : Itemlive.com, by Tréa Lavery

SALEM — The affordable rental housing facility at Salem Heights has received a $55 million tax-exempt bond from MassDevelopment to use for improvements to the property, MassDevelopment announced this week.

The 281-unit facility on Pope Street, which is owned by Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH), is home to about 500 residents, and 274 of its units are restricted to households earning at or below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). The remaining seven market-rate units are rented to households earning at or below 120 percent AMI.

The building was built in the 1970s and, with the bond funding, will receive an entirely new building envelope, extensive duct repairs, improved ventilation, a new cooling system, plumbing upgrades, common area improvements and a new playground. Fifteen units will also be converted to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Not only is it important to expand affordable housing opportunities throughout the commonwealth, we must also ensure existing facilities receive the upgrades they need to remain vibrant living communities for the long term,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors.

MassDevelopment also assisted the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) with the approval of federal low-income housing tax credits, which will provide approximately $40.7 million in equity for the project.

“Massachusetts is facing a housing crisis, and preserving our existing affordable housing is a priority for the Baker-Polito administration,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox. “Since 2015, we have invested more than $1.3 billion in the production and preservation of more than 20,000 housing units.”

Salem Heights includes two connected nine- and 10-story high-rise buildings containing a total of 95 one-bedroom and 186 two-bedroom apartments. POAH purchased the facility in 2003 and completed a modest rehab of around $11,000 per unit.

“I’m extremely grateful to MassDevelopment for their support for these significant upgrades to one of Salem’s largest affordable housing facilities,” said Mayor Kimberley Driscoll. “Salem Heights provides a home to several hundred Salem residents and families, including many children and older adults. As a result of this project, the property will see substantial improvements to its accessibility, systems and resident amenities … This investment at Salem Heights will further our shared goal of a suitable and safe roof over all our residents’ heads.”

A groundbreaking for the renovation project is planned for Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 10:30 in the Salem Heights parking lot at 12 Pope St. Driscoll, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and state Rep. Paul Tucker (D-Salem) are expected to attend the ceremony.