Zelma Lacey House Gets State Assistance to Keep Transition on Track

The state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) announced last week that the Zelma Lacey House was one of 28 affordable housing projects in this year’s funding round to get tax credit financing – with proponents for the conversion of Zelma Lacey saying the award will keep the project on its expected timeline.

“This award allows us to stay on track with the schedule we proposed,” said Mike Mattos, director of the Affordable Housing and Services Collaborative. “If we wouldn’t have gotten it, it would have delayed the re-positioning and re-configuration another year. So, we are very grateful to have received it. It’s not like a monthly application process; you only get one chance each year to get the financing in place for this program. It allows our proposal to stay on track.”

Zelma Lacey House is an occupied assisted living project that is going through a transition from mixed-income assisted-living to all-affordable senior housing with service delivery. The sponsor is the non-profit Affordable Housing and Services Collaborative, Inc. (AHSC). Using federal and state low-income housing tax credits from DHCD, they will rehabilitate the project into independent living units for seniors.  When completed, Zelma Lacey House will offer 48 units for seniors.  All 48 units will be affordable to seniors earning less than 60% of AMI, with seven units further restricted for seniors earning less than 30% of AMI. AHSC said it will provide extensive on-site services to the residents of Zelma Lacey House. 

“As Massachusetts continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we continue to prioritize new affordable housing development to help our most vulnerable families,” said Governor Charlie Baker at the award ceremony, which was held in Lawrence. “Stable housing is the foundation of healthy, prosperous communities, which is why our administration has proposed an immediate infusion of nearly $1 billion in federal recovery funds to rapidly increase capacity for production in every part of the state.” 

Mattos said the process of meeting with residents to find the best situation for them is ongoing, though many residents have already moved out to other locations. Right now, only 27 of the 66 units in Zelma are occupied, with 27 still having residents living within the assisted living model.

He said they had a family/resident meeting on June 30, and they will have another in mid-August with the timeline on the project now firm. He said they will talk with individuals one-on-one, and go over individual circumstances and needs. He said they would accommodate anyone that wants to stay under the new model, where services would be customized to each resident, but provided by an outside agency.

He said the process will take time to work with residents, and the financing announcement doesn’t mean things will move any faster than already announced. It simply means the project won’t be delayed. He said he expected the construction and re-configuration to conclude in early 2023 after one year of construction.

“From our perspective, we’re thankful the state and DHCD gave us this award,” said Mattos. “Now the real work begins as we start this process and it’s not a quick process. It takes time to close. We just now have the ability to start that process.”

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