Completion of HNEF-financed project -- Bartlett Station -- is celebrated with ribbon-cutting ceremony

BOSTON, August 15 – More than a hundred people gathered today to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the redevelopment of Roxbury’s Bartlett Station, a transformative development on the edge of Dudley Square. This phase includes two buildings – a 60-unit of rental apartment building and 16-unit condominium building. HNEF’s $2.9 million investment helped to finance 28 rental apartments (expected to convert to homeownership in the future), 13,300 square feet of retail space which will house a Good Food Markets store providing fresh quality produce, and a parking garage.

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Developers of two HNEF-financed projects get “Excellence” awards at MHIC annual meeting

Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation this year chose developers of two HNEF- financed projects to receive awards at its annual meeting and awards ceremony, held on June 4 at the Omni Parker House in downtown Boston and attended by nearly 300 people.

Holmes Beverly, Rantoul St.

Holmes Beverly, Rantoul St.

The awards were presented to: Sarah Barnat, president of Barnat Development, for her development of Holmes Beverly, for which HNEF provided a $4.9 million investment. Barnat Development specializes in urban, mixed-use and transit-oriented residential construction. Holmes Beverly is a new mixed- income, mixed-use apartment complex next to the Beverly MBTA Depot commuter rail station. The 67-unit development has transformed a vacant, underutilized parcel at a commuter rail station onto a new transit-oriented community. Ms. Barnat received an Excellence in Community Development award “for her visionary plan and steadfast execution in re-imagining a vacant parcel into a vibrant transit-oriented building with dynamic retail and homes accessible to households with a range of incomes.”

Kamran Zahedi of Urbanica, Inc., a Boston-based developer which specializes in transforming underutilized spaces into unique projects. Urbanica received an Excellence in Minority Inclusion award “for being a champion of equity and inclusion and for creating access and opportunity for minority-owned firms and workers of color during the construction of the Melnea Residences.”

Melnea Residences, at the corner of Melnea Cass Blvd. and Washington St., Roxbury

Melnea Residences, at the corner of Melnea Cass Blvd. and Washington St., Roxbury

The Melnea Residences is a new, mixed-income apartment complex with 50 rental apartments for which HNEF provided a $3.85 million investment. It was built on a vacant property on the edge of Dudley Square in Roxbury, adjacent to the new Marriott Residence Inn, which also received New Markets Tax Credit financing from MHIC. During construction of the Melnea Residences, Kamran Zahedi made extraordinary efforts to utilize workers of color and minority-owned businesses.

In presenting the awards, MHIC President Joe Flatley said, “We are more than delighted to have this opportunity to publicly recognize those who have gone beyond what was required to not only build badly-needed housing in Massachusetts, but in doing so to advance the revitalization of neighborhoods and to create jobs and new opportunities for community residents.”

Transformative development in Boston’s Ashmont neighborhood – Treadmark – celebrates official opening with ribbon-cutting ceremony

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HNEF’s investment is helping to rebuild this community with “healthy people, healthy environment and a healthy economy”

June 7 – Nearly 200 people, including Mayor Martin J. Walsh and U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley, today joined Trinity Financial, other public officials, and community and business leaders to celebrate the official opening of Treadmark, an 83-unit mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-oriented development in Dorchester.

Treadmark represents HNEF’s second investment, made in 2016. The building – named for a tire company that operated on the site for generations – consists of 32 moderately-priced homeownership units, which HNEF helped to finance, and 51 affordable rental apartments, which were financed separartely. The development also includes ground-floor retail with the neighborhood shop, American Provisions. In addition to American Provisions, Trinity Financial will complete the ground-floor retail program, with two remaining retail spaces totaling 2,500 square feet.

“The opening of Treadmark is an important and exciting milestone for Peabody Square,” said Mayor Walsh. “I am proud that together we have created dozens of affordable units and retail space for businesses that will help boost the local economy.”

U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley, a resident of this neighborhood, exuded enthusiasm in her remarks. “These aren’t just 83 units, these are 83 families whose lives will be changed,” she said. “This is an incredible community. It’s vibrant. It’s diverse. It’s civically engaged. I’m so excited for our new neighbors that will be able to call this community home.”

Maggie Super Church, Vice President of Market Innovation and Impact at the Conservation Law Foundation, represented HNEF at the ceremony as one of eight speakers. In her comments, she summed up HNEF’s interest in this project.

“When CLF and MHIC set out to create HNEF a few years ago, our goal was to help fill the gap for mixed-income, mixed-use projects close to transit. We know that these kinds of projects, when they are done right, have multiple benefits: healthy people, healthy environment and a healthy economy.

“Treadmark brings together all of the key ingredients for a healthy neighborhood: housing that’s affordable to broad range of people and families, including new homeownership opportunities; access to public transit and jobs; safe and walkable streets; and access to healthy food and green space. Equally important, this project reflects the vision and aspirations of residents in this community and the City of Boston,” she said.

For more information about Treadmark, see our project page.

How can healthcare systems build an "anchor mission," an all-out approach to improve the health of communities through local hiring, local purchasing and place-based investment?

The subject of “anchor missions” and what various health care institutions and others involved in the pursuit of improving public health are doing was a major focus of discussion at the New England Healthcare Anchor Network meeting sponsored by UMass Memorial Health Care on May 7th.  Through panels and presentations, the group addressed issues such as Getting Started with Leadership Support, Data to Measure Returns, Investment Project Examples, and Working Together in the Future. Maggie Super Church, CLF Vice President for Market Innovation and Impact, gave a presentation on HNEF, with examples of HNEF investments and progress to date.

According to its website, the Healthcare Anchor Network is “a growing national collaboration of more than 40 leading healthcare systems building more inclusive and sustainable local economies.” Take a look at its excellent Blog, with timely and interesting articles that should be of interest to all those who are involved with building healthier communities.

UMass Memorial Health Care is investing in the community to improve public health

The biggest health organization in central Massachusetts – UMass Memorial Health Care – is going beyond its traditional role as a health care provider by embarking on an “anchor mission” to address the social determinants that lead to poor health. With annual revenue of $2.5 billion, the organization has set aside funds for local investments with the goal of improving the overall health of the region and, ultimately, reducing the need for medical care.

Read about what UMass Memorial and other health care organizations – Boston Medical Center, Promedica, among others – are doing to invest in the community and influence social issues impacting public health. See May 28, 2019 article in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette: UMass Memorial on ‘mission’ to improve social determinants of poor health

HNEF cited in U.S. News interview as example of a unique new way to finance building healthier communities

U.S. News & World Report recently published a wide-ranging interview with David J. Erickson, director of community development at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, about how the Federal Reserve is working to advance community health through development. Entitled “Investment: An RX for Community Health,” and conducted by U.S. News editor for health initiatives Steve Sternberg, the interview focuses on how “The Federal Reserve and other major economic players are pushing cash-backed efforts to build healthier communities.”

Mr. Erickson talked about his work in leading a collaboration between the Federal Reserve and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that brings together health and community development leaders from across the country through a series Healthy Communities Conferences, one of which was held in Boston in December 2018. At that conference, HNEF’s Maggie Super Church and Joe Flatley participated on a panel to discuss HNEF as an economic development lever for health.

In his interview with U.S. News, Mr. Erickson explained how the Healthy Communities meetings are raising consciousness, fostering cross-sector partnerships, and encouraging co-investments. He called HNEF one of his “favorite examples” of the community development and health sectors coming together to invest in the development of healthy communities. He also mentioned a blended fund created by LISC and ProMedica in Ohio, a loan fund created by Dignity Health, and several other creative efforts around the country.

Check out this interesting piece and read about what others are doing to promote better health outcomes for low-income people and communities by addressing the social determinants of health. 

Transforming communities through major transit investments

How can cities build more livable communities with transit? More than twenty years ago that question led to the creation of Rail~Volution, an organization that started as a series of events in the Portland metropolitan area and then grew to become a leading national network, resource and advocacy organization. Each year the nonprofit sponsors a major conference bringing together professionals in transportation, urban planning, community development and others who share its vision of “transforming America’s cities and regions into livable places – healthy, economically vibrant, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable – where people have transportation choices.”

 At this year’s Rail~Volution conference, held on October 21-24 in Pittsburgh, Maggie Super Church, CLF Vice President for Market Innovation and Impact, participated in a session on “Aligning Resources for Equitable TOD.” Along with Alyla Gaskins from the Center for Community Investment and Thatcher Imboden from Sound Transit, Seattle, the group discussed how to overcome barriers to development, the role of public, private and philanthropic partnerships, creating new models for cross-sector partnerships and how those partnerships can escalate implementation of ETOD projects. Maggie gave a presentation about HNEF and talked about rising inequality and concentrated poverty, how and why HNEF was created, how it works, its cross-sector partners and its challenges and successes to date.

HNEF-financed transit-oriented development in downtown Haverhill "breaks ground"

HAVERHILL – A ceremonial groundbreaking was held today to mark the beginning of the redevelopment of 87 Washington Street – a historic building in the heart of Haverhill that is being converted into rental housing and retail space. The new transit-oriented development will help revitalize this Gateway city and serve as a catalyst for increased investment.

Built in 1900, 87 Washington Street is two blocks from the Haverhill rail station and within walking distance to municipal services, grocery stores, restaurants, the Haverhill YMCA, pharmacies, banks and other amenities. The four-story brick building is being developed by Boston-based Traggorth Companies and will consist of 24 loft apartments and 3,500 square feet of retail.

The help make this development possible, HNEF provided $1.4 million in gap financing. HNEF chose this development for investment because of its strong public support, immediate access to public transportation, and opportunities to reduce health disparities. Several other older vacant buildings in downtown Haverhill are being brought back to life with new housing and retail space.

Historically an industrial city that has confronted higher unemployment and poverty, lower educational attainment and health disparities, Haverhill has over the last several years embarked on transformative strategic initiatives to revive its downtown and make Haverhill a more prosperous and a more walkable and bicycle-friendly city.

To make the city more walkable, for example, the city has improved sidewalks and planted trees and is in the process of improving access to its downtown Riverwalk along the Merrimack River. Its goal is the complete a loop for walking and bicycling along Washington St. across the Merrimack River and to encourage, walking, bicycling, boating, kayaking, jogging and other outdoor activities.

Besides HNEF’s investment, major financing for 87 Washington Street is coming from the MassDevelopment. The $9 million project is receiving federal and state historic tax credits and funding through the state’s Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP), a program that helps Gateway cities create mixed-income housing, promote neighborhood stabilization, and support economic development through tax credits.

 87 Washington Street is HNEF’s seventh investment, for a total of $19.4 million invested to date. This development is expected to create 12-17 new full-time retail jobs and 100 construction jobs. HNEF’s seven project investments will have leveraged an additional $131 million of private and public investment in low-and moderate-income neighborhoods, and they will have created 552 new units of housing and 137,588 square feet of commercial space.  

Occupancy at 87 Washington Street is expected at the end of 2019.

HNEF is subject of panel at ULI's Building Healthy Places Interest Forum in Boston

On Monday, October 8, Peter Sargent, MHIC Director of Capital Development, and Andrew Seeder, CLF Senior Associate for Research and Metrics, participated on a panel about HNEF at the Urban Land Institute’s Building Healthy Places Interest Forum.

This forum brings together leaders in health, wellness, and real estate to discuss what they are doing, planning, and observing in the field. Another featured panel was "The Rise of Healthy Building Certifications".

The Building Healthy Places Interest Forum was organized in collaboration with ULI member leaders and focused on sharing information about Boston-based projects at the intersection of health and the built environment and applying lessons from these projects to the work of forum participants from across the country.

 

"Improving Health and Environment Through Place-Based Investing: The Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund"

What led to the creation of HNEF? Why is HNEF needed and how does it work? What outcomes does HNEF seek to achieve and how are impacts measured? These are among the questions answered by Maggie Super Church and Kathy McGilvray in their interesting and authoritative article, published in the most recent issue of the American Bar Association’s Journal of Affordable Housing.

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HNEF celebrates completion of Braintree development -- a major, mixed-use TOD project: "The type of solution our region needs..."

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A Grand Opening ceremony was held last month to celebrate completion of Landing 53, a new transit-oriented real estate development (TOD) in Braintree. The project, for which HNEF I invested $5 million, is the second of the equity fund’s projects to be completed.

HNEF officials joined the developer Joshua Katzen and the development team, Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan, other public officials and area residents to view the project, reflect on its importance for Braintree’s ongoing revitalization, and to cut the symbolic ribbon.

At the ceremony, MHIC President Joe Flatley said, “This area used to be a thriving industrial and commercial district. Now it’s once again becoming a vibrant community. Landing 53 will help boost Braintree’s economy and ignite the transformation under way.”

Landing 53 is directly across from the MBTA’s Weymouth Landing-East Braintree commuter rail station, built on land formerly occupied by semi-vacant buildings. It has 172 moderately-priced rental apartments and ground floor commercial/retail space.

The 2-acre site on which Landing 53 was built was considered ideally suited for redevelopment because of its proximity to public transit, strong public support, and other revitalization efforts under way. When considering the project as a potential investment, HNEF focused on its potential for transformative impacts and concluded that the project could contribute significantly to the health of the neighborhood and the people who live there.

It took three years for the development team to get the Landing 53 plan in place, and it was a major priority for the town, which spent $2 million in state funds and some town money to improve the area with underground utility lines and improved street lighting, sidewalks and crosswalks. HNEF’s investment in 2016 provided the crucial equity gap financing that enabled the project to move forward.

CLF President Bradley Campbell said, "CLF is proud to be a founding partner, along with MHIC, of HNEF I.  This transit-oriented development is the type of solution our region needs to address the serious and growing problems of climate change and public health.”

Now completed, the attractive building includes a health club, lounge, leasing office, common interior space, an elevated patio and indoor storage for bicycles, kayaks and canoes and other amenities to enhance the environment and encourage outdoor activity. For example, the developer connected pedestrian pathways around the property to a network of paths of the Monatiquot River and canoe launches, encouraging people to exercise and enjoy nature. On the ground floor, the building will contain 3-4 stores occupying a total of 12,000 square feet.

Holmes Beverly development nears completion

Holmes Beverly, a transit-oriented development for which HNEF provided a $4.9 million investment, is nearly complete. The new building, which is immediately next to the Beverly Depot commuter rail station – a big plus for residents – features 67 mixed-income rental apartments and about 4,500 square feet of ground floor commercial/retail space, plus a number of amenities that will promote healthy living. Holmes Beverly was designed to help create a stronger and more vibrant downtown Beverly. It will significantly advance the city’s and Beverly Main Streets’ vision for downtown revitalization and contribute to a healthy and thriving neighborhood. See what the Salem News had to say about this transformative project.

What is the state of research on housing's impact on health?

Find an answer to that question in a policy brief entitled "Housing And Health: An Overview Of The Literature” published on June 7th in Health Affairs, the leading journal of health policy thought and research.

Written by Lauren Taylor, this interesting brief outlines and evaluates available literature and research including examples of observational and interventional studies dealing with the impact of housing on health. The author reviews literature supporting housing’s impact on health through four pathways: housing stability, quality and safety, affordability, and neighborhood.

In her section on Policy Implications, Ms. Taylor writes about the role that private businesses, lenders, and investors can play. Banks, CDFIs and other commercial entities, she says, “should consider themselves potential anchors for community revitalization (or market opening) projects,” and cites the work of HNEF and Build Healthy Places Network as “especially instructive.”

The research and literature reviewed in this brief is informative and critically important for all who are concerned with making more equitable opportunities for affordable, safe, quality, and stable housing in healthy neighborhoods.

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HNEF evaluation team gets $450,000 to study hospital's community investments

Concerned about the social determinants of health and of housing in particular, Boston Medical Center (BMC) – an HNEF I investor – recently announced its $6.5 million investment to support a range of local housing initiatives, including funding for HNEF to study the hospital’s community investments.

Announcing the new initiative, BMC’s President and CEO Kate Walsh said, “Too often, we prescribe medicine to a family, when what they need just as much for long-term health is a prescription for stable housing. This investment remedies that and saves cost to the health care system in the process.”

Read the release

CLF's healthy neighborhood work gets major boost from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has announced a $4.3 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson (RWJF) to continue its pioneering work to help create healthier neighborhoods in Massachusetts. The grant will support CLF’s ongoing research into the root causes of health disparities in low-income communities, the impact of development on those communities, and efforts to improve health outcomes through targeted investments.

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What does it take to attract investment in neighborhoods undergoing transformation?

On Monday, December 4th, that question was explored, and HNEF was featured on Marketplace, a business news program broadcast by National Public Radio. Senior reporter Dan Gorenstein came to Boston and Chelsea to look at one community where HNEF has invested. He spoke with the people behind HNEF and with those who are experiencing Chelsea’s renaissance.

Listen to the story: Investors make a bet to lift Boston-area neighborhood out of poverty

HNEF discussed as unique financial resource

Kathy McGilvray, MHIC Director of Investment, and Sarah Barnat, President of Barnat Development, joined other experts on a panel at the National Housing and Rehabilitation Association’s annual Fall Forum on November 7th. Kathy and Sarah gave an overview of HNEF and a recent HNEF investment – the Holmes at Beverly – a new mixed-use, mixed-income being built next to the Beverly Depot commuter rail station. Their panel was entitled, “Unique Financial Resources Improve Bottom Line and Enhance Tenant of Life.”

See slide deck of presentation for details

"Together in Boston"

The Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, which bills itself as the world’s largest green building conference – came to Boston on November 8-10. The conference is run by the U.S. Green Building Council, the organization that developed the LEED rating system.  CLF research director Vedette Gavin and CLF senior advisor Maggie Super Church participated on panels that discussed “Driving Equity” and “Value Creation Through Health Promotion.” Former President Bill Clinton gave a keynote address.