Cambridge Celebrates Milestone in Preservation of Affordable Housing Stock

  

Ribbon cutting ceremony to be held at Putnam Square Apartments on September 16
 

Cambridge, MA—Sept. 14, 2015 — In a newly renovated community room located on the 11th floor overlooking Harvard Square, a ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on Wednesday, September 16, to celebrate the completion of renovations at Putnam Square Apartments. Home to 94 low and moderate-income seniors and disabled individuals, the successful purchase, preservation and rehabilitation of 2 Mt Auburn represents a milestone in the City’s efforts to preserve its affordable housing stock. Homeowners Rehab Inc. (HRI), a local non-profit housing developer, was able to purchase and preserve affordability at the building, under the state’s expiring-use preservation statute, Chapter 40T.  
“The City is proud to partner with HRI, Harvard and other funders to ensure that these tenants have a wonderful, affordable place to live in Cambridge. We are pleased that these units will be a resource for residents for decades to come,” said City Manager Richard C. Rossi. “The successful preservation of Putnam Square is an example of the critical need to come together to protect existing affordable housing and expand housing opportunities in Cambridge.”  
Almost exactly three years ago, in September 2012, tenants learned that their long-time landlord, Harvard University, was preparing to sell the 94-unit property on Mount Auburn Street in Harvard Square. 
Over the following months, HRI worked in close collaboration with City staff, elected officials, and tenants to negotiate a purchase which would ensure the long-term preservation of this important housing resource. Harvard supported HRI’s plans for the property and not only agreed to sell to HRI but also provided additional resources for building upgrades and tenant services. The City of Cambridge and Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust provided $3.6 million in permanent funding and $1.2 million in bridge financing which together leveraged more than $21 million in other funding sources in order to make the transaction possible.
“Putnam Sq. is a critical piece of the City’s affordable housing and HRI is very grateful to all those who worked with us to preserve and renovate these homes” said Peter Daly, the executive director of Homeowner’s Rehab, Inc.
The preservation of Putnam Square Apartments being celebrated is just one example of the success the City of Cambridge has had in preserving expiring use housing in recent years. In 2010, an analysis by the City’s Community Development Department (CDD) identified 10 properties containing more than 1000 affordable units at risk of losing their affordability by 2021.​ Since that time, through the efforts of the City and its partners, 8 of these properties containing more than 530 affordable units have been preserved, ensuring this housing will remain affordable to low and moderate-income residents for years to come.
“Investing in low- and moderate-income housing is a key part of our business strategy, and the kind of opportunity that we actively seek out,” said George Schwartz, President of Boston Private. “We are pleased to partner with HRI and support the important work they do because they share our commitment to participating in initiatives that have a genuine impact on the communities in which we all live and work.”
Cambridge produces new affordable housing by using funding from the Community Preservation Act (CPA) program to leverage other public and private funds. In the last five years the City has used CPA funds to preserve or create more than 1,100 affordable units through preservation of existing housing, new construction, conversion of non-residential properties to affordable housing, and by purchasing market-rate units.  
Additionally, Cambridge’s inclusionary housing provisions are responsible for the creation of more than 800 new affordable units located in private residential developments across the city. The City is in the process of revisiting its zoning ordinance to further support the expansion of affordable housing through updated requirements for new residential and non-residential developments to create new affordable units or provide funding to create new affordable housing in Cambridge.
The ribbon cutting event will held on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at 3pm in the Putnam Square Community Room located at 2 Mt Auburn Street.

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