Special to The Advocate
The City of Malden has launched a new program to convert vacant homes into affordable housing with $2 million dollars of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds as seed funding. This effort is the next phase of a year-long study of Malden’s vacant properties, funded through MassHousing’s Neighborhood Hub program. Through this program, the City intends to acquire vacant homes, rehabilitate them, and sell them at an affordable price to low income households. The City’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) and Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development (OSPCD) are spearheading the effort. RND Consultants have provided technical assistance through the Neighborhood Hub program to launch this initiative.
With a majority low-income population, Malden households are particularly vulnerable to the increasing housing costs seen across the Boston region. This program seeks to create housing stability by providing affordable homeownership opportunities to working families. “It’s almost unbelievable to think that there are vacant homes in Malden when the entire region is in the middle of an unprecedented housing crisis,” said Mayor Gary Christenson. “This program is a no brainer – there are families out there that desperately need affordable housing and we have houses sitting empty.”
“We’ve been trying to get these vacant properties back into productive use for a long time,” said Nelson Miller, the City’s Building Commissioner. “This program will not only rid our neighborhoods of these eyesores but provide much needed affordable housing as well.”
The project was recommended by the City’s ARPA Subcommittee on Housing, including Co-Chairs Councillor Amanda Linehan and OSPCD Director Deborah Burke, and members Andrew Spofford, Katzia Small, and Councillor Karen Colón Hayes.
“We are so excited about this program because it helps to create affordable homeownership in the city, something we are in dire need of, and will also help to beautify neighborhoods where properties have been neglected or underutilized for years,” said Councillor Linehan. “Hopefully, this initial funding allocation provides the seed budget from which this program can grow over time and can serve as a model for putting public money to work in reducing blight and building housing stability for future generations.”
The City will release a Notice of Funding Availability to acquire vacant properties in the next couple weeks. Any questions should be directed to Kristina Tseng, Housing Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Neighborhood Hub
The Neighborhood Hub is a technical assistance program that supports neighborhood revitalization in Gateway communities across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Hub program helps Gateway municipalities and their local or regional partners identify and implement strategies to repair and renew neighborhoods with high rates of vacant, abandoned and deteriorating homes. The program prioritizes communities that were disproportionality affected by the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic. The technical assistance grant program focuses on planning and local capacity-building, positioning Gateway municipalities to implement local neighborhood revitalization strategies in high-need neighborhoods.
The Neighborhood Hub is a multi-agency partnership of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), MassDevelopment, MassHousing, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, the Office of the Attorney General, the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, and the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC). The Collaborative’s technical assistance work is funded through MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Fund.