News & Media Coverage

Religious group gets OK for affordable housing units

July 21, 2005  |  The Brockton Enterprise

By Jennifer Kovalich, Enterprise staff writer 


BROCKTON — The dream of owning a home is closer to reality for some city residents, thanks to a housing initiative for which the seeds were sown four years ago.

The Brockton Housing Authority on Monday awarded a bid to the Brockton Interfaith Community and South Shore Housing Development Corp. to build eight condominiums on Warren Avenue and Temple, Tribou and Wyman streets.

The groups expect to break ground for construction in the fall. The project will be overseen by the Brockton Housing Authority on behalf of Mayor John T. Yunits Jr. and the City Council.

"We're hoping these condominiums will allow families to build up equity so they can have stability and security for their families in the future," said Faith Norden-Tobon of the Brockton Interfaith Community.

This is the first housing venture for the Brockton Interfaith Community.

Richard Sergi, executive director of the Brockton Housing Authority, said the agencies won the bid based upon their track record of providing quality services to the city.

"They were an excellent candidate for the award," Sergi said. "We're very excited about working with the Brockton Interfaith Community. I think it's going to be a solid partnership."

Norden-Tobon said the agencies are still ironing out the details as to income qualifications for residents to apply for a lottery to own one of the condominiums. Once those qualifications have been determined, the Brockton Interfaith Community plans to hold public forums.

Anyone who applies to buy the below-market-rate condos must live or work in the city.

One of BIC's goals is to have the condos serve as anchors for neighborhoods.

"In all these neighborhoods we are building in, the homeowner-to-rental is incredibly small," Norden-Tobon said. "In these neighborhoods, most of the residents are renters."

When the housing initiative was announced two years ago, there were plans to build on 19 lots. Some parcels could not be included due to problems with titles to the properties or other legal hurdles.

South Shore Habitat for Humanity recently was awarded the bid to build on two other lots.

Construction of the eight condominiums is the start of what BIC leaders hope will be a long-term effort to provide affordable housing to working families in the city.

"It became clear that we in the community couldn't wait any longer for the public, private or non-profit sectors and would have to take up this cause ourselves," BIC President Diluvina Vazquez Allard said.

During the past three years, BIC raised $2 million in no-interest and low-interest loans to fund construction, money that will build houses and have a multiplier effect supporting the local economy, BIC officials said.

The organization has secured sizable no-interest and low-interest loans from the National Ministries of the American Baptist Church USA, the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Holy Cross Family Ministries, BIC member congregations and other individuals.

In addition, the Brockton Housing Partnership, a consortium of 14 area banks and credit unions, will fund more than half of the construction costs.

"We would not be building these homes without the support of the Brockton Housing Partnership," Allard said. "From the outset, they have been major supporters of this effort and have had the vision to stick with it. We want to thank them."