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Just-A-Start Corporation to Improve Property and Preserve Affordability for Working Families at Cambridge Housing Community with $30.1 Million in MassHousing Financing

273-unit Rindge Tower Apartments will have a workforce housing component for moderate income residents earning up to 95% of the area median income

Just-A-Start Corporation announces another substantive accomplishment to serve working families living in Cambridge. Executive Director Deborah Ruhe notes that the 273-unit Rindge Tower Apartments in Cambridge will see extensive property improvements and the preservation of affordability for at least 50 years as a result of $30.1 million in MassHousing financing.

Just-A-Start Corporation owns the Rindge Tower Apartments. As part of the MassHousing financing, apartments will be affordable to families with income levels ranging from extremely low – below 30% of the area median income (AMI) – to a workforce housing level of 95% AMI. The area median income for Cambridge is $98,500. Typically, the income level to qualify for an affordable unit is capped at 80% AMI. Just-A-Start’s mission JAS’s vision is a better future for all of its constituents – a secure home, a sustaining career, and engagement in the community. The Rindge Tower Apartments initiative represents a signature accomplishment well-aligned with Just-A-Start’s mission.

“The financing from MassHousing and Stratford Capital Group will allow Just-A-Start to make improvements to benefit low-income tenants, increase energy efficiency, and protect affordable housing for Cambridge residents,” said Deborah Ruhe, Just-A-Start’s Executive Director. “We are proud to be able to provide housing for those with disabilities as well as working families who cannot afford the high cost of living in the Cambridge. Rindge Tower will now be preserved for long-term affordability, providing quality housing that is close to public transit and all of the neighborhood’s amenities.”

MassHousing provided $21.1 million in construction and permanent financing, a $7.5 million bridge loan and a $1.5 million supplemental subordinate loan. Other funding sources for the $54.5 million project are Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) and a Just-A-Start Seller Note. The Stratford Capital Group purchased the tax credits, contributing $11 million in project financing.

“Cambridge is one of the most expensive housing markets in the country and working families can sometimes find it difficult to find an affordable place to live,” said MassHousing’s Timothy C. Sullivan. “We are pleased that this transaction preserves long-term affordable housing but also will provide important workforce housing at up to 95% AMI for almost a third of the units at Rindge Tower.”

The Rindge Tower Apartments were built in 1970 and are located in a 22-story building in the Alewife section of Cambridge. There is a mix of studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Rents for 165 of the apartments are subsidized through the federal Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment program. According to the 2010 U.S. census, more than 65% of all housing units in Cambridge are rentals, and Cambridge is the 10th densest incorporated city in the United States.

Among the many property improvements planned for the Rindge Towers are plumbing, electrical and mechanical upgrades, kitchen and bathroom renovations, building exterior improvements, the installation of security cameras, and the addition of 14 fully-accessible units. The owner also intends to improve the overall energy efficiency of the building through window repair and sealing, recommissioning the building’s co-generation heating plant for maximum efficiency, and using water pressure regulators to minimize waste.

The contractor will be Bilt-Rite Construction, Inc. and the architect is Davis Square Architects. The management agent is the Wingate Companies.

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John Dunn, Home Improvement Program Client

John Dunn, Home Improvement Program Client

John Dunn has lived in his house in Cambridge for a long time.

In 1957, his parents bought the house and 19-year-old John, his two siblings, and their parents moved into a lovely single-family home – the American dream. After his brother and sister got married and moved out, and his parents died (his dad in 1975 and his mom in 1987), John inherited the family home.

John has always been a hardworking, independent person. When he was 21, he got a job at Raytheon, where he worked on prototypes of the internal guidance systems for rockets to go to the moon. John worked at the company for 36 years, retiring in 1995. But retirement didn’t’ suit John! He then went to work for Avis Rent-A-Car and for several security companies, and also went back to school in 2009 to begin the process of getting a certificate in Computer Science from IITT Technical Institute.

But, over the years, the house needed updates and maintenance that John couldn’t afford and so, important repairs and replacements just didn’t get done. Also, John developed some health issues that impact his mobility. All these challenges put John at risk of losing his home. That’s when John met JAS, and began working with the staff of the JAS’s Home Improvement Program (HIP) to find the resources to save his home. With help from HIP and Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services, John refinanced his home and also got grants from the Cambridge Historical Commission, Massachusetts Rehab Commission, the City of Cambridge, and Menotomy to do structural construction, a new heating/cooling system, energy insulation and a new roof, deleading, and overall improvements and updates on the interior and exterior of the house. The result of this investment of everyone working together in partnership? John’s home is restored to its former beauty and value, and he is in a safe, affordable living environment adapted to his needs and abilities. Now, at the age of 78, John can focus on finishing his certificate from ITT Technical!

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