MassHousing Update, August 2020
To our partners, customers and stakeholders
MassHousing remains open and will continue to provide mission-critical business during this unprecedented period of time. View COVID-19 information and resources for homeowners, renters and multifamily business partners.
FY20 lending tops $1.2 billion
MassHousing recently wrapped up the 2020 fiscal year (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020) having closed more than $1.2 billion in financing to support affordable rental and homeownership opportunities across Massachusetts. This is the sixth consecutive year the Agency has topped the $1 billion mark. A more detailed breakdown of MassHousing's FY20 lending will be posted to the Agency's website, social media channels and the next MassHousing Update.
MIPlus providing job loss benefits during pandemic
MassHousing’s mortgage insurance fund is delivering job-loss benefits to homeowners who are out of work due to the pandemic. Unlike traditional private mortgage insurance (PMI), which only protects the lender, MIPlus® from MassHousing helps the borrower as well. MIPlus helps to cover principal and interest payments for up to six months if the borrower loses their job and demonstrates that they are receiving unemployment benefits. Just since March of 2020, MassHousing has paid out 525 claims for $526,708. Learn more about MI Plus or check eligibility and file a claim.
Three questions for Mark Teden, Vice President of Multifamily Programs
As a lender, you must be concerned about property valuations. What do you see in the market right now?

Property values are tied to market confidence, and the COVID-19 pandemic has undermined confidence in many areas, particularly in employment. However, according to John Drew, our Manager of Appraisal & Marketing "the negative impact on values has been limited by a combination of strong pre-COVID-19 apartment fundamentals, a diverse workforce, federal unemployment assistance, and the flexibility of property managers (e.g., rent collections, rent renewals, and unit marketing)." Our underwriters and valuation staff continue to monitor these changing factors and their impact on value to ensure that deals continue to move forward, and we continue to satisfy the growing demand for affordable housing in the Commonwealth.

Clearly, financing transactions are still getting closed. What is MassHousing doing to keep the applications coming and the capital flowing?

We continue to close loans for two main reasons: First, as a result our effective transition to a remote working environment. Second, because of the dedication and commitment of staff to our mission and our borrowers' needs. It would be impossible overstate the contributions from our IT and Administrative Services groups in managing this successful transition, which allowed us to continue to close loans without interruption. Further, the Agency's well-deserved reputation for excellence in the capital markets allowed us to offer tax-exempt bonds in June - despite the challenges in the capital markets due to COVID - which allowed several of our financing transactions to close on schedule.

Construction was halted in the early days of the COVID crisis. What's changed and how do things look right now for affordable rental housing that is in construction?

The construction industry often needs to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and the COVID crisis was no exception. Through strong leadership, teamwork, positive attitudes and cooperation throughout the industry, all the affordable rental housing that we’ve seen currently in construction or pending starting construction quickly implemented appropriate safety protocols to move forward and regain momentum towards successful completion.
Three questions for Mounzer Aylouche, Vice President of Homeownership Programs
 Have you seen any changes in the market for first-time home buyers over the last four months?

To my amazement, the pandemic has affected the process of home buying, but not the market itself, at least not nearly to the degree most of us imagined.

We saw more loan volume in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year (which ended June 30), than in any of the other three quarters. We did one-third of our lending in Q4 (April-June), which is remarkable. I would attribute that to three things. First, the low interest rates across the country. Second, the power of Down Payment Assistance (DPA) from MassHousing. Our program, which offers DPA up to $15,000 with either a 1% or 2% interest rate on the DPA loan, is helping people get into the market who otherwise might not. Or it is helping some people keep a little more money in the bank after closing, rather than spending it all on a down payment. Third, the pandemic has somewhat changed social and living dynamics. More people are opting to move out of metro Boston, to areas where they can afford more space, due to the increase in the numbers of people working remotely.

We are also seeing an uptick in second-time buyers, who are using our MassHousing Mortgage loan which allows incomes up to 135% of AMI. There were also a lot of refinancing loans in fiscal year 2020, 20 percent actually.

We ended the fiscal year very strong, not only in terms of the number of loans – financing for 3,451 individuals or families – but also in terms of serving the populations that are at the core of our mission, mainly, people of modest means buying their first home and buyers of color. Here are the statistics:

  • 33% of loans to minority borrowers
  • 81% of loans to first-time buyers
  • 41% of loans made in Gateway Cities
  • 69% of loans made to borrowers with incomes between 50.01% and 100% of area median

What has it meant to MassHousing’s borrowers to be able to offer a job-loss protection benefit like MIPlus?

Well, for those who do not know, MIPlus is MassHousing’s proprietary mortgage insurance (MI) product, and the "Plus" is job-loss protection for the borrower. If a MassHousing borrower who has our mortgage insurance loses their job, MassHousing will help pay their principal and interest for up to six months. It has been a tremendous help to people during the pandemic. Since March 1, we have paid out 525 claims for $526,708, and of course with all the unemployment we are still paying claims. Many of our borrowers who have both MIPlus and a forbearance agreement with us (as a result of the pandemic), will come out of their forbearance agreements in a much stronger position because we advanced them up to six months of principal and interest, which they will not need to pay back.

Speaking of servicing, give us a sense of what that side of the business has been like over the last four months.

The last time we had a major crisis that affected our servicing operation was the 2008-2012 financial crisis and the recession. This time, with the pandemic, the drastic change was not caused by a systemic problem in the financial system, but rather by a public health crisis. We had to react so quickly to keep operating. It was a Herculean task to arrange for our staff to set up home offices in their kitchens, dining rooms or spare rooms and continue to service billions of dollars in loans. But we did it. In less than a month, we had transitioned to remote work and we never shut down. Our servicing staff has been heroic, not only in terms of their own logistical challenges but also in managing a new regulatory landscape, thanks to the CARES Act as well as laws and regulations from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the secondary market. We are operating quite efficiently now. We hope this public health crisis can be solved soon. Until then we will continue to serve our customers from our remote offices with as much care and compassion as ever.
Recent Rental Transactions
Newcastle-Saranac, Boston (South End): $30.3 million to Fenway CDC and Schochet Companies to extend affordability and support major renovations of 97-units of mixed income housing. The transaction culminates a years-long effort by multiple parties to preserve affordable housing originally built using the Commonwealth's 13A program. Read more...
Walker School, Taunton: $9.5 million to nonprofits Affordable Housing and Services Collaborative, Inc. and Taunton Revitalization, Inc. to redevelop a vacant former school into a new 40-unit housing community for lower-income senior citizens. The supply for senior housing in this area is very low while demand is high. There are over 1,500 elderly and disabled applicants on the local housing waiting list. Read more...
Casselman House, Newton: $8.1 million to the Newton Community Development Foundation to extend affordability and support improvements at the 43-unit development. Newton is a highly priced city with a local waiting list of over 200 elderly applicants and a small supply of affordable senior housing. This refinancing, along with a new HAP contract, guarantees affordable senior housing units in Newton for the next 20 years. Read more...
Bedford Towers, New Bedford: $19.9 million to Kempton New Bedford Limited Partnership to support improvements and preserve affordability at the 157-unit property, which was built in 1977. The owner's long-term relationship with MassHousing helped make the decision to secure Agency financing rather than from another lender. Read more...
Hamilton Canal Parcels 8 & 9, Lowell: $25.2 million in affordable housing financing to help WinnCompanies develop 125 new rental homes (including 54 workforce housing units) in downtown Lowell, part of the city's Hamilton Canal Innovation District. This planned district will be an extension of Lowell’s existing downtown, providing a walkable gateway to the downtown area, establishing connections among housing, jobs, retail, city government, transit, the arts and event venues. Read more...
Daniel F. Burns Apartments, Cambridge: $45 million to the Cambridge Housing Authority for the preservation and modernization of the 198-unit development. The project will be funded in part by MassHousing's first sustainability bond transaction and involves substantial building envelope improvements, significant updates to mechanical and plumbing systems, measures that promote sustainable water and energy consumption, and upgrades resulting in more efficient interiors. Read more...
Cote Village, Boston (Mattapan): $22.6 million to the Planning Office for Urban Affairs and Caribbean Integration Community Development for the creation of a new, 76-unit mixed-income rental community on a long-vacant property near Boston's Mattapan Square. A five-story high-rise building with 52 units will be accompanied by four townhouses with 24 more units.  Read more...
Fort Hill Gardens & Esperanza Trust, Boston (Roxbury): $25.25 million to an affiliate of Vitus (a new MassHousing borrower) to make substantial property improvements and extend affordability protections on 82 affordable apartments for at least 20 years. This property was at risk of market conversion. Read more...
Granite Lena Park, Boston (Dorchester): $25.6 million to Lena Park CDC for the substantial renovation and 20-year extension of affordability for lower-income residents at the 143-unit property, originally built in the 1920s. Read more...
Thanks to our Top HomeOwnership Lending Partners
MassHousing works with a network of more than 100 lenders across the Commonwealth to make our affordable mortgage loans available to first-time homebuyers. Our HomeOwnership lending wouldn't be possible without the hard work and dedication of each of these partners. In particular, we'd like to highlight the efforts of our top producing loan officers from FY 2020. These 41 mortgage professionals each originated 10 or more MassHousing loans last year, accounting for a total of $182.4 million in financing.

Collaborative effort brings PPE to MassHousing residents
Since the beginning of the public health emergency, MassHousing has partnered and been in daily contact with DHCD, CEDAC and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to share information and resources to assist senior housing operators in battling the spread of COVID-19.

Through these efforts, MEMA made available 700,000 KN95 masks to MassHousing to distribute to residents and property management company staff.
Accepting MEMA's offer required delivery to be taken immediately. The MWRA agreed to store the PPE at their Deer Island facility, and the Mass. National Guard delivered it there (pictured left). The first 200,000 masks were picked up by property management companies in Roxbury earlier this month. Additional pickups will be scheduled at different locations across the Commonwealth.
Business Opportunities for Diverse Businesses
The MassHousing Diversity & Inclusion Business Opportunities Report has been updated and is now available. The Report helps diverse business owners connect with prospective business opportunities at MassHousing-financed multifamily developments and construction projects. There are more than 1,900 opportunities covering 57 trades and professions. Search the Business Opportunities Report.
ECO Waste Disposal & Container Storage: One of many small, diverse businesses we are working to help 

MassHousing’s Diversity and Inclusion Division continues to reach out to our diverse business partners during the COVID-19 crisis to gather information on their experiences with the SBA's Disaster Relief Program, the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP. One such business is a 10-year-old SDO-certified MBE waste disposal and storage container company located in Dorchester and serving all regions of the Commonwealth.

ECO Waste Disposal & Container Storage was successful at obtaining funding through the PPP. The company has often attended MassHousing-sponsored trade fairs, meetings with property management companies and small business workshops. They have worked for MassHousing-financed housing communities including Cleaves Dimock-Bragdon, Madison Park III and Franklin Highlands in Boston and Briston Arms in Cambridge.

ECO Waste was established by Jesse Jeter (pictured above) and his wife Denise in response to growing public concern about managing waste disposal, portable toilet, and container storage services in an environmentally friendly manner; hence their motto, "An Environmentally Friendly Alternative."

MassHousing is pleased to work with many small businesses like ECO Waste Disposal & Container Storage, not only to assist with obtaining pandemic financial assistance but also to obtain access to business opportunities at MassHousing-financed apartment communities. Learn more about MassHousing’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts.
Community Services' trainings go virtual to support housing partners
MassHousing continues to provide valuable, timely information and insight to our housing and social service partners.

The Community Services Department procured a webinar platform in early April and leveraged existing relationships with high quality trainers and subject matter experts to offer both COVID-19 specific and existing content as webinars.

The Department held its first webinar on April 6 – only two weeks after the Governor issued an Executive Order closing all non-essential business and advised residents to stay at home. Since then, Community Services has offered 39 webinars in total with 3,559 registrants and 2,447 additional people on waiting lists. MassHousing has waived all training fees in order to get this important content to as many people as possible. Examples of training topics are

  • Physical Distancing and Social Isolation
  • Coping with Loss in our Communities
  • Understanding Community Trauma
  • Building Resilient Communities
  • Effective Crisis Communication in Housing
  • Examining the Dynamics of Racism
  • Supporting Domestic Violence Providers During COVID-19
  • Understanding and Working with Residents with Dementia
  • VAWA Emergency Transfers During COVID-19
Sober housing RFP released
MassHousing recently issued its FY 2021 Request for Proposals for the Center for Community Recovery Innovations, a nonprofit subsidiary of the Agency that supports the creation and preservation of affordable sober housing and related programs for men, women and families in recovery. To date, CCRI has awarded more than $11 million in grants for the creation or preservation of nearly 2,400 units of substance-free housing in 53 communities. View the CCRI RFP.
Webinar: Housing in the Gateway Cities, September 15
While housing prices have climbed to record highs in Greater Boston, the Commonwealth's Gateway Cities struggle with the challenges of weak real estate markets. This webinar will explore the ongoing neighborhood stabilization challenges facing Gateway Cities, current initiatives to support neighborhood revitalization, and new State programs and funds available for stabilization efforts. Learn more and register today.
Chrystal Kornegay honored by JALSA; speaks at Mel King Institute celebration 

MassHousing's CEO Chrystal Kornegay was honored by the Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action (JALSA) with its Distinguished Leadership Award at the organization's 2020 Annual Meeting on June 17. Chrystal and MHP's Clark Ziegler received the award for their long-time commitment to affordable housing, and for MassHousing's and MHP's sponsorship of JALSA’s Confronting Housing Discrimination Curriculum.

Chrystal was also among the speakers at The Mel King Institute’s (MKI) virtual annual breakfast on June 24, celebrating the organization's 11th anniversary. MassHousing is a founding sponsor of the MKI.
MassHousing Volunteers Deliver for MLK School Families
Several MassHousing staff volunteers have been spending time each week delivering food and supplies to needy families from the Martin Luther King School in Dorchester, home to the Striving Toward Academic Recognition and Respect (STARR) Mentor program. The pick-up and delivery of supplies are both completely contactless.
Through STARR, MassHousing staff volunteer in the classroom and on field trips with third, fourth and fifth grade students. The program has been in existence for more than 30 years, first at the Quincy Dickerman School and more recently at the MLK K-8 School.