, Newburyport, MA

March 1, 2013

Port leaders fete new housing project


---- — NEWBURYPORT — Local and state housing officials gathered with bankers and community leaders yesterday to mark the groundbreaking ceremony for 10 units of affordable housing at the corner of Market and Pleasant streets developed by the YWCA Greater Newburyport.

Five apartment units at 11 Market St. are being developed within an existing structure, and five new units will be constructed adjacent to that building in the rear.

The project represents both a renovation and an expansion. When completed, the Marjorie Lynn House at 11 Market St. will serve eight homeless households when it reopens in the fall. The house will serve two households in which at least one member is disabled.

“We need affordable housing here,” said Mayor Donna Holaday, lead speaker of a half-dozen who delivered remarks. “These units will help, because we’re trying to reach the point of having 10 percent of our housing stock in the affordable range.

“This project is important, and is the result of the work of many people and institutions.”

State Rep. Mike Costello, D-Newburyport, said, “This was a dogged group that worked to make this happen. There are a lot of steps that must be taken, but the cooperation and hard work of many people have made this project happen.”

City officials say that if the city reaches a threshold of having 10 percent of its housing stock classified as affordable, it can qualify for state and federal matching grants.

Judy Tymon, president of the YWCA’s board of directors, hosted the celebratory gathering, and numerous housing officials participated, including Arthur Jemison, deputy undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development; Mary Ellen Jutras, vice president/deputy director for housing and community investment of the Federal Home Loan Bank; and Roger Herzog, executive director of the Community Economic Development Assistance Corp.

Karen MacCormack and Pam Bishop of the Institution for Savings were instrumental in obtaining necessary local financing, YWCA officials said.

John Feehan, executive director of the YWCA Greater Newburyport, said that the city provided general affordable housing as far back as 1885. It began earmarking housing for women as early as 1890.

“We know that there are homeless families in the area, and displacement often affects women and children,” Feehan said to a morning gathering of about 60. “These units, and others we hope to build, will help our community in providing housing for those who need it.”

He thanked numerous volunteers and housing specialists for enabling the project to reach this stage.

Although levels sometimes change, municipal officials have in the past used the following guidelines to determine what annual income might qualify as “affordable”: One-person household, $47,150; two-person household, $53,900; three-person household, $60,650; and four-person household, $67,350.