Beam-signing ceremony celebrates construction in progress at 54 Eastern Ave.
Elected officials, nonprofit and business leaders and community members came together to celebrate the construction in progress at 54 Eastern Ave. in Malden. The new facility will be the home of Bread of Life’s food pantry and food security programs, alongside 14 permanent affordable housing units owned by Metro North Housing Corp. These affordable rental units will house formerly homeless individuals, offering them a stable and secure place to call home. The building remains on schedule for occupancy in early 2024.
“This project was a long time coming and required the dedication and commitment of many different people,” said Malden Mayor Gary Christenson. “I want to congratulate Bread of Life, Metro North Housing, and all of their supporters, volunteers, and funders on this momentous accomplishment. The new food pantry and deeply affordable housing units will transform the lives of the people they serve and will help fight hunger and homelessness in our community for generations.”
Support from the City of Malden was crucial to the project’s success, with nearly 30% of the project’s $12 million budget coming from various City funds. The City also played a significant role in helping close an inflation-driven budget gap that threatened to stop the project entirely.
“People looking for the highest return on their investment don’t build food pantries and deeply affordable housing, which is why it required all of us to get this project over the finish line,” said Deputy Director for Housing and Community Development Alex Pratt of the Malden Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development. “This project faced countless hurdles, but our community stakeholders and funders came together to make it happen. The result is a once in a lifetime opportunity that helps support the most vulnerable members of our community.”
The beam-signing event, which was officiated by Bread of Life Executive Director Gabriella Snyder Stelmack and Metro North Housing Corp President Laura Spark, featured heartfelt messages from public officials, including Mayor Christenson, U.S. Senator Edward Markey’s Regional Director, Liam Horsman, and U.S. Congresswoman Katherine Clark’s District Director, Kelsey Perkins. Project funders also spoke, including Eastern Bank Senior VP for Community Development Lending Lisa Sheehan, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston Senior Community Investment Manager Tobi Goldberg, Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation Supportive Housing Director Sarah McKeever and Mass. Department of Housing and Community Development Supportive Housing and Special Projects Manager Bronia Clifton.
The event also honored three men who were instrumental in bringing this project to fruition: Tom Feagley, the first director of Bread of Life – for over 30 years – who died earlier this month; Philip Bronder-Giroux, former director of Tri-City Community Action Program; and Marc Slotnick, affordable housing activist and developer, who died in 2018 while still working on this project. The joint project was Tom and Philip’s vision starting almost 20 years ago. They spent years building and organizing a community of people based in Malden who care about, support and fight for their neighbors, working to make Malden a diverse, supportive and welcoming city where people of all income levels and life experiences have a home, and where, as Bread of Life has long said, both body and spirit are nurtured. Marc Slotnick stepped in as the project developer when the original developer was unable to continue, making a way to save this project and two other affordable housing properties now owned by Metro North Housing Corp.