By Edith Morgan
After nearly 25 years, Worcester Community Housing Resources has a lot to brag about, and too the opportunity to do so at a great gathering : it was the 2016 Annual Appreciation Reception, held at Maxwell Silverman’s Toolhouse starting at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19th.
The object was to get us all acquainted with the great work done by WCHR and to recognize the work done by the staff of eight people who really seem to accomplish miracles.
Worcester Community Housing Resources, Inc. has its offices at 11 Pleasant Street, Suite 300, in Worcester. Under the leadership of its Executive Director, Dominick Marcigliano, and with a dedicated and capable staff of only eight , this organization reaches into many Worcester neighborhoods, in pursuit of its mission “..to create and preserve affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate income households throughout Worcester County.”
At this celebration, Executive Director Marcigliano summarized this non-profit’s accomplishments to date: WCHR, Inc.” has created 38 ownership homes, 112 rental units, 3 commercial storefronts, and 78 assisted living apartments.” These represent investments of over $32 million , and put over $180,000 of increased property tax revenues into our city coffers.
WCHR deals in a variety of housing assistance programs: the organization owns and operates 100 rental units, including a wide variety of housing opportunities: 2, 3, and 4 bedroom apartments, and single-room lodging houses – all for low-income families and individuals. We all know how high rents in the city can be, and how out of reach good, safe, well-managed homes can be for struggling Worcesterites: so I was very pleased to learn that the average tenant pays only $268 per month, but the range goes from a low of $25 per month for a single room occupancy to $687 for a two bedroom apartment. The rate is determined by the tenant’s financial need.
Staying true to its mission, WCHR uses many approaches to providing and maintaining affordable housing, with the help of a great variety of financial resources, seeking to help especially those most difficult house. This includes not only low-income persons, but also those suffering with mental health problems, refugees, people with AIDS, and seniors in need of assisted living.
One such project, ten years in the making, is the Heywood Wakefield Commons in Gardner, which combines federal, state, and local resources to create 78 assisted-living units in a former factory building. This was a unique program open to seniors who are trying to survive on just their Social Security and Medicare. Open since 2011, it has (predictably!) been fully occupied, and provides its occupants with a full array of activities and meals,
More recently, WCHR has bought a building at32 Irving Street, which is being renovated and readied for occupancy this year, with financing from Worcester’s HOME program. This buildingwill house up to 15 individuals and will include secure individual rooms with all utilities and services icludaed.
WCHR also owns and operates various kinds of housing in such varied neighborhoods as Green Island and Main South – where the organizations works with the neighborhood and other providers.
We all know what a “drag” on the area even one building which is neglected, abandoned, or allowed to run down. Represents to the block, the area, and its citizens. So WCHR also works to turn around homes an properties in receivership. In cooperation with the aaattorney general’s office, and the MAssachusettsHousing Partnership Fund, WCHR provides training, consulting and other services to bring these properties back . Forf example, WCHR has facilitated a path toward redevelopment of over 399 housing units in over 199 properties, careataing an25,59% increase in tax revenues for the city.
WCHR alsoprovides home improvement loans fro primary residences for emergency repairs, maintenance or repairs , and correcting cccode violawtions. – all at low rates, so that those unable to afford them can maintain their properties.
Although the main emphasis is on housing development, receivership, community lending, , renting apartments, and property management, there is also an oppoartunity for those not in need of help to invest in WCHR’s Loan Fund. If youwant your money to eaqrn good interest Competitive with commercial loans) csider investing and let your money work for housing in Worcester while at the same time earning yfou some interest.
This organization fulfills so many unique puposes in our city, and fills so many varied needs that supporting its work is a worthy cause. For further information, or if you need help or want to help, WCHR can be reached in a variety of ways: Call 508-799-0322, or visit the website at www.wchr.org
If you are interested in lending options, contact Lora Baldracchi, the Loan Fund Director, at extension 112, 508-799-0322, or at lbaldracchi#wchr.org
Over the years, I have been aware of WCHR’s work, as it progressed under the direction Peter Fellenz,then Matt Walley, and now Dominick . All have been dedicated to upgrading Worcester’s aging housing stock, and enabling residents to find safe, clean, and reasonably priced housing for themselves and their families.
Their model isnot the “one-size fits all “ kind. Their work offers many alternatives, but always of high quality, and with the help of many agencies and funding sources, making a real difference for our city. Looking over the pictures (before and after) of the strucatures that have been improved, and driving down the streets whee they are located, can give a good idea of the impact that WCHR’s work has had,,,,.
In addition to its on-going projects, WCHR is looking for approximately 5000 square feet of space to house a program for teen mothers, who are presently in a location whose lease is expiririg.They will need a yard, some parking, and be near a bus route. Anyone know of a property that meets these requirements should get in touch with WCHR ‘
The “Appreciation Reception” was most enjoyable – the refreshments delicious, and I ran into several people I had not seen for a long time, so it was a chance to renew old friendships. And of course, Maxwell Silverman’s is a great venue for such a celebration.