Thursday, Apr 7, 2022
The Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Inc. celebrated the grand opening of a 39-unit affordable housing project in downtown Lawrence on Thursday, April 7.
Lawrence Mayor Brian DePeña joined city and state officials, project partners, community members and GLCAC leadership for the ribbon cutting at 370 Essex Street. Evelyn Friedman, GLCAC’s executive director, thanked city and state partners for working together on the $18 million project that will provide much needed housing for low-income residents and revitalize a key downtown corridor.
The project was supported by the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, Department of Housing & Community Development, the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, Santander Bank, Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, and Boston Financial Investment Management.
“This is the type of project that can be life-changing for families struggling to find safe, affordable housing,’’ said Friedman. “We have a long way to go to meet the rising demand, but we are proud to have taken this step to help working families put a roof over their heads.’’
GLCAC bought 370-376 Essex St. from the City of Lawrence in 2018. The abandoned building at 370 Essex St. was renovated to its original design and a new building was constructed in the vacant lot at 376 Essex St.
“We know how important it is to contribute to the health of our neighborhoods, which is why we are proud to support the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council to finance this affordable housing project,” said Christopher Memoli, Senior Director, Community Development Finance at Santander Bank. “By financing important affordable housing projects like this, we can play a meaningful role in helping our neighbors and strengthening our local communities.”
The result is 39 new units of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments on four floors above 7,700 square feet of commercial space on the ground level. There are three separate spaces for commercial use; MassDevelopment is the first commercial tenant.
The downtown location is ideal as it provides tenants access to public transportation, grocery and retail stores, health and social services, childcare and civic and faith organizations, said Johan Lopez, the chair of the GLCAC Board of Directors.
“Residents have all the amenities of downtown and services to help them succeed right outside their front door,’’ Lopez said.
GLCAC, which is located a block away at 305 Essex St., provides services such as childcare, WIC, English classes, consumer protection, immigration support and fuel assistance to nearly 34,000 individuals annually.
“GLCAC has seen first-hand the need for more quality, affordable housing in the region,” Friedman said.
All the apartments are for families with an income of 60 percent or less of the area median income. More than 1,200 people applied for the units last fall and 39 applicants were randomly selected through a lottery.
Eight units are for very low-income recipients of Section 8 vouchers. The number of bedrooms per apartment are:
- 14 one-bedroom units of 850-975 square feet. (Two reserved for Section 8.)
- 20 two-bedroom units of 1,100-1,250 square feet. (Five reserved for Section 8.)
- Five three-bedroom units of 1,350-1,400 square feet. (One reserved for Section 8.)
GLCAC contracts with Trinity Management to provide the on-site property management.