|Salem Heights Apartments|
12 Pope Street
Salem, MA 01970
In Salem, MA, POAH renovated and preserved 283 units in a rental complex called Salem Heights, a development which by itself represents 15% of the city of Salem’s affordable housing supply. In 2012 POAH installed a solar hot air system. In the winter, air between the plastic panels (outermost skin) and the aluminum wall behind it will be heated by the sun and ducted to the makeup air unit that provides fresh air to the corridors.
• Massachusetts Housing Partnership
• Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
• City of Salem
The Preservation Challenge
Salem Heights Apartments was built in the early 1980's as affordable housing under a HUD-subsidized 236 loan. In November of 2000, the ownership entity announced a plan to prepay this mortgage and convert the complex to market-rate rents, promising to shield current tenants from exorbitant rent increases. This is a common story--multi-family owners seek to convert affordable units to market rate by prepaying subsidized mortgages and allowing Section 8 rent subsidy contracts to expire--and is the impetus behind POAH's commitment to preserving such housing. The alternative is a loss of thousands of irreplaceable affordable units to the open rental market.
At Salem Heights, the tenants’ organization and city officials sought a court injunction to halt the planned sale, arguing that the owner’s proposal violated both local zoning regulations and a use agreement with the state of Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. At the time, the 283 units at Salem Heights represented 15% of the city's total privately-owned affordable housing supply. The housing court concurred with the tenants' position and agreed to stop the sale.
POAH collaborated with the various parties to craft an alternative arrangement which relieved the owner of the property while preserving the units as affordable for 100 years. 80% of the units are affordable for families with incomes below 60% the median income. 10% of the additional units are affordable for residents with incomes below 120% of median. Out of the 283 LIHTC units, there are 28 market rate units.
POAH's financing package included loan funds from the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) through its Permanent Rental Financing Program as well as the sale of tax-exempt 501(c)(3) bonds issued by MassDevelopment. In addition, the refinance included equity generated through the sale of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) as well as funding from the state’s Capital Improvement and Preservation Fund (CIPF). POAH became the owner of Salem Heights Apartments in 2003. At the time, the city's mayor expressed the belief that the Salem Heights transaction “will be a model for other developments across the country” seeking to ensure long-term affordability of subsidized rental housing.