The Baker-Polito Administration was joined by MassHousing last week to announce the first project commitments under the CommonWealth Builder program, a new $60 million program intended to create homeownership opportunities and build generational wealth in communities of color. As the agency charged with oversight of the program, MassHousing is committing a total of $3.35 million to four projects, located in Boston, Everett, and Haverhill, which will support the creation of 33 new mixed-income homes, including 23 CommonWealth Builder units.
Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, and MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay made the announcement at the Mount Washington homes in Haverhill, a seven-unit affordable homeownership development that the nonprofit Bread and Roses Housing is developing using CommonWealth Builder funds.
“Today’s announcement marks an important milestone in our work to combat systemic inequities by creating new homeownership opportunities across the Commonwealth and particularly in communities of color,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These initial project commitments demonstrate the promise of the CommonWealth Builder program to address racial homeownership and wealth gaps, and empower families, by creating new homeownership opportunities in underserved communities.”
Governor Baker and MassHousing launched the CommonWealth Builder program in July 2019, as the centerpiece of an $86 million state investment in workforce housing. The program is a landmark initiative to address the racial homeownership gap in Massachusetts by creating new homeownership and wealth-building opportunities in communities of color. It is the largest state-level program of its kind in the nation.
The CommonWealth Builder Program provides market-based subsidies to support the construction of new, moderately priced single-family homes and condominiums in the state’s 26 Gateway Cities, the City of Boston, and Qualified Census Tracts throughout the Commonwealth. The program subsidizes the production and purchase of homes restricted to moderate-income first-time homebuyers with income restrictions set anywhere between 70 percent to 120 percent of their Area Median Income (AMI).
The initial round of project commitments by MassHousing will support the creation of fourteen new mixed-income condominiums in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, seven new affordable homes in Haverhill and six new affordable townhomes in Everett. MassHousing is also funding the creation of two new CommonWealth Builder homes in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, as part of a broader eight-unit affordable homeownership development. Additional project commitments will follow in the coming months.
“Our Gateway communities of Everett, Chelsea, and Revere have clamored for affordable homeownership opportunities for years, but high construction and land costs have contributed to a difficult housing situation across Greater Boston. The CommonWealth Builder program opened the doors for organizations to produce more affordable townhouses and condominiums,” said The Neighborhood Developers Executive Director Rafael Mares. “TND and the city of Everett quickly jumped to become a part of this initiative. Through this partnership, we hope to bring about much needed relief and stability to the residents of our communities.”
Massachusetts has the sixth-largest racial homeownership gap in the United States. The homeownership gap between white and nonwhite residents in Massachusetts has helped drive significant disparities in household wealth. A 2015 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that US-born black residents in the Boston area had a median net wealth of $8.
•Saint Therese Townhomes, Everett
The Saint Therese Townhomes project will create six new affordable homeownership opportunities in Everett. The sponsor is the non-profit The Neighborhood Developers, Inc. (TND). TND is constructing the St. Therese Townhomes in conjunction with a 77-unit affordable rental development, and pursued homeownership at the site as the result of community input. Three of the family-sized townhomes will be affordable to moderate-income households earning up to 80 percent of AMI, and three will be affordable to middle-income households earning up to 120 percent of AMI.
MassHousing is committing a total of $900,000 in CommonWealth Builder funds to the project. Other funding sources include $410,000 in HOME funds from city of Everett, through the North Suburban HOME Consortium, and a $250,000 Housing Choice grant from the Commonwealth. TND began construction in the spring of 2021.