BOSTON – As part of ongoing efforts to address the state’s housing crisis, Attorney General Maura Healey today announced the expansion of her office’s Abandoned Housing Initiative Receivership Fund (AHIR) grant program to facilitate and incentivize the conversion of blighted properties into affordable housing units across Massachusetts through receivership.
Under the expansion, providing a total of $1.5 million in grant funds, AHIR grantees will be able to offer loans up to $100,000 per property to court-appointed receivers if the abandoned property they are repairing is intended to produce an affordable residential unit. The AG’s Office defines an “affordable residential unit” as one with a long-term deed restriction that would require the owner to meet the Income Eligible Household requirements as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.
“Our lack of affordable housing has reached a crisis point and has only been made worse by the pandemic,” AG Healey said. “By expanding this already successful grant program, our office will be able to help provide families with more opportunities for safe and affordable housing.”
“Since May of 1999, Chelsea Restoration Corporation has been working with the dedication of the Attorney General’s Office to upgrade deplorable abandoned housing into safe homes for Chelsea families,” said Chelsea Restoration Corporation’s Executive Director, Helen Zucco. “With housing court approval, we have been able to repair all of the code violations, update housing taxes and eliminate water liens with the assistance of the funding from the Attorney General’s Office.”
“The expansion of this grant will help amplify our work in securing affordable residential units for families through the restoration of abandoned homes in our communities.” said Fall River Community Development Agency’s Executive Director, Mike Dion. “We look forward to our continued partnership with the Attorney General’s Office and will work together to address the affordable housing crisis in Massachusetts.”
The program utilizes funds from the 2012 National Mortgage Fraud Settlement involving unlawful foreclosures to provide financial assistance to receivership projects on abandoned residential properties in Massachusetts. According to Healey’s Office, from 2013 to 2017, the AHIR program helped fund $78 million in property rehabilitation efforts, including repairing 88 blighted properties and bringing 181 housing units back into use. The second phase of the program, launched in 2019, provided more than $850,000 in loans to receivers across nine separate projects, altogether rehabilitating approximately 17 housing units.
For the newest phase of the program, receivers who work to create affordable housing units can now borrow up to $100,000 with loan forgiveness of up to 30 percent. Receivers who do not create affordable housing units will continue to be able to borrow up to $75,000 and have up to 20 percent of their loans forgiven.
Funds for receivership projects are being distributed for use through two grantees – the Chelsea Restoration Corp. and the Fall River Community Development Agency.
For additional information on the AHIR grant, interested applicants can contact the Chelsea Restoration Corp. at (617) 889-2277, Fall River Community Development Agency at (508) 679-0131, or AG Healey’s Neighborhood Renewal Division at NeighborhoodRenewal@mass.gov. Grants are being funded on a rolling basis through March 2023.