Northampton affordable housing project on Laurel Street fully funded

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 06-11-2023 4:00 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A planned affordable housing development in the city is one of 27 projects across the state to receive a combined $246 million in subsidies and tax credits from the Healey-Driscoll administration.

The money comes in the form of direct state subsidies, federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act, and state and federal tax credits. The 20-unit Northampton project, at 23 Laurel St., received $5.7 million in deferred debt and $525,000 in low-income tax credits, money that allows the project to be fully funded, according to Alexis Breiteneicher, the executive director of Valley Community Development, which sponsors the project.

“Valley Community Development was thrilled to have 23 Laurel Street included as one of the funded affordable housing developments announced by Governor Healey [last] month,” said Breiteneicher in a statement to the Gazette. “Building more homes, particularly ones that are affordable, is an obvious solution to the crisis our region faces.”

According to Breiteneicher, Valley CDC hopes to begin construction next spring and start the leasing process in the summer of 2025. The total development cost for the project is $11.7 million.

When completed, the Laurel Street project will offer 20 new family units restricted for households earning less than 60% of Area Median Income, or AMI. Twelve units will be further restricted for households earning less than 30% of AMI and, in some cases, transitioning from homelessness. The project has been designed to use electric heat and will include solar arrays on the townhouse roofs.

“We are thrilled to see projects in communities across Massachusetts, from Pittsfield to Provincetown, that have strong local support and will bring much needed new housing to our neighborhoods,” Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll said in a statement. “Our housing needs are great, and we are excited to move forward with a new, Cabinet-level secretariat to create more homes and lower housing costs for residents.”

The city previously received a $250,000 state Housing Choice grant in 2021 to develop the Laurel Street property, along with another property on Burts Pit Road. In December 2022, the Valley CDC also received a $650,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston Affordable Housing Program for the project.

The Laurel Street property was originally part of the Northampton State Hospital, and was deeded to the Northampton Housing Authority in the 1990s for affordable housing. After the authority failed to successfully develop the parcel, legislation was filed with the state to transfer ownership of the land to the city.

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“Northampton has an excellent track record of supporting affordable housing development through streamlined zoning, as well as generous use of its local CDBG and CPA funds,” said Laura Baker, Valley CDC’s director of real estate development. “We are grateful for the city’s support of this development in addition to the commonwealth’s.”

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.

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