Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has announced nearly $84 million in funding for 24 affordable housing projects across the state. New housing in western Massachusetts includes projects in Springfield, Northampton, Greenfield, Williamstown, and Pittsfield.
Governor Patrick said the newly funded projects will create more than 1,300 apartments and over 2,000 construction jobs. It is part of an economic development strategy that has seen his administration commit more than $1 billion to the creation of affordable housing in the last seven-and-a-half years.
" We have a growing economy, and growing population. Families need affordable places to live."
Patrick made the funding announcement Monday in Springfield at the site of one of the projects. Twenty-three apartment buildings are being refurbished to provide low cost housing to more than 300 families. As the governor spoke, tenants looked out from upper floor windows, applauded, and gave thumbs-up signals. One woman blew a kiss toward Patrick.
" Public policy matters where it touches people. It is not that interesting as an abstract matter. When it touches people is when it comes to life. This is the kind of investment that touches people in a very positive way," said Patrick.
The funding is a combination of federal and state tax credits and subsidies to leverage private investment, according to Massachusetts Undersecretary of Housing Aaron Gornstein. Some of the projects involve new construction, and some will see existing buildings rehabbed.
" In many cases we are rehabbing existing housing, which is less expensive than building from scratch. We are trying to get new homes on the market because we have a shortage of affordable housing throughout our state."
Gornstein said increasing the availability of affordable housing will also reduce the number of homeless families and help the state end the costly and controversial practice of temporarily placing families in motels.
The funding announced Monday includes $6 million for the 23-building Outing Park Apartments project in Springfield. It will complete the final phase of the $75 million project that started five years ago to revitalize what was once known as the Hollywood District, according to project developer Gordon Pulsifer.
" This is the fourth neighborhood in Springfield that we've turned around. We are urban development specialists. We share the vision with the mayor that these neighborhoods need to be fixed if we are going to attract businesses and people to live downtown."
Dinorah Guillermo lives in one of the apartments that was renovated in an earlier phase of the project. She said the neighborhood has been transformed.
"The streets are cleaner. There is not a lot of violence anymore. You don't see the fights and the shootings."
Other projects in the region receiving funding include the preservation of the Dalton Apartments in Pittsfield which will have space for 100 families, construction of 40 new units of senior housing in Williamstown, 113 new apartments in Greenfield, and veterans housing in Chicopee and Northampton.