The Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, which provides funds for affordable housing throughout New England, is based at 111 Huntington Ave. in the Hub.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston’s Affordable Housing Program has been supplying funds to increase affordable rental and ownership housing throughout New England since 1990. This year the bank is helping to fund an affordable housing complex for elderly and disabled people in Guilford and is awarding money to 11 other affordable housing projects throughout the region.

Since the project’s inception, FHLB Boston’s Affordable Housing Program has approved 661 affordable-housing initiatives and more than $240 million in funds, which has helped to create 19,467 housing units. This year, more than $8.5 million was allocated to local development groups along the East Coast from Maine to Connecticut.

“The affordable housing need in New England has been on the policy level of the six regional states for many, many years. In 1989, Congress decided to change some of the structure of the Federal Home Loan Bank system and [as] part of that change, largely because funds from [the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] were being reduced at the same time, a provision was added which directed Federal Home Loan Banks to reserve 10 percent of net profits for the affordable housing pool,” said FHLB Boston Senior Vice President John Eller.

The AHP does not seek out potential sites for development or sectors of need; instead it encourages regional planning through member institutions that work with area housing organizations in crafting and submitting applications that could potentially lead to initiatives that cater to very low- to moderate-income households on a local level.

Economic Pillar

The approval process is contingent upon several criteria including income limits, type of housing and location, but each application ultimately is awarded a score based on a point system. Points are awarded for various factors such as sponsorship by a nonprofit or government entity, promotion of empowerment, opportunity for first-time homebuyers, economic diversity and community stability, though that’s not all.

“Even though [the AHP] has complicated scoring rules, it responds to proposals conceived at local levels that actually stabilize communities and provide resources necessary for people so that the community can be stronger in the future,” said Eller.

The Guilford project, known as Sachem Hollow, was funded through the Guilford Savings Bank, is sponsored by the Guilford Housing Authority and will have 32 affordable rental units. FHLB Boston provided a $595,291 grant and advance subsidy, with a $900,000 advance.

The Guilford Housing Authority sent the project out to bid last October, but all the bids came back high. So the organization is about to go out to bid again. The project will cost $4.5 million, according to Jim Goodrich, chairman of the Housing Authority.

In addition to the money from FLHB Boston, the state of Connecticut gave the Guilford Housing Authority several million dollars.

There is a huge need for elderly housing in Guilford, Goodrich said. The Housing Authority had to close their waiting list because it got so long. The town has 90 other units of affordable housing for the elderly and disabled. The Housing Authority did an informal survey to see if there would be interest in 32 additional units and the response was overwhelming, even though the rent will be higher than in most of the affordable units already in Guilford.

The homes in Sachem Hollow will all be one-bedroom units, but the project includes some offices that will be useful to the people who live there. There is an office for Meals on Wheels and Guilford Friendly Visitors – an organization of volunteers who visit with elderly people – and an office for Charlie’s Closet, a service that collects used medical devices and distributes them to needy people.

The Guilford project is the only Connecticut one funded by FLHB Boston during the first funding cycle of 2005, but the bank funded four Connecticut projects during the last half of 2004.

In Bridgeport, it gave a $240,000 grant and $510,000 advance through Webster Bank to the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Southern Connecticut. The funding was for 25 affordable rental units, called Olde School Commons. The grant money was for the conversion and rehabilitation of a donated school building into rental units for families and individuals with annual incomes at different ranges below the area’s median income, according to FHLB Boston.

The project is centrally located in Bridgeport, near a supermarket, pharmacy, banks and public transportation.

In addition, FHLB Boston gave a $10,000 grant, also through Webster Bank, to the Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity to help the organization build a three-bedroom single-family home in Farmington.

The bank last year also gave a $50,000 grant through Liberty Bank to The Connection Inc. to build two single-family homes for ownership. The three-bedroom, ranch-style homes are intended to be sold to very low-income, first-time homebuyers. The project called for the homebuyers to receive supportive services, including family self-sufficiency programs and employment training, as well as pre- and post-purchase counseling.

The bank also provided a $175,000 grant last year, through Peoples Bank, to the Fair Haven Development Corp. in New Haven for acquisition, rehabilitation and construction of seven two-family homes for very low-income buyers.

This year, the FHLB Boston also financed 24 rental units in Windham, Maine; 80 rental units in North Smithfield, R.I.; 12 ownership units in Providence, R.I.; 10 rental units in Middlebury, Vt.; 30 rental units in Rutland, Vt.; and 63 rental units in South Burlington, Vt., as well as several in Massachusetts.

The Visiting Nurse Association in Somerville, Mass., was awarded the largest sum, $589,861 in grant and advance subsidy and a $750,000 advance, in order to turn an abandoned school at 259 Lowell St. into 95 units of rental housing for the elderly. This will be the second time that VNA has applied for and received assistance from FHLB Boston.

“Five years ago the first-ever VNA-owned and -operated assisted living facility for low-income seniors opened [in March 2000]. We reclaimed a hazardous waste site, the old Hostess Bakery building in Somerville that was a brownfields area. But everyone came together and redeveloped it into a home for 97 seniors,” said Linda S. Cornell, president and chief executive officer for the Visiting Nurse Foundation and the VNA of Eastern Massachusetts. “The opportunity came up to put together a proposal to build a campus of independent senior living on another contaminated site that will provide 95 barrier-free [handicapped-accessible] apartments. We are creating the first-ever continuous care retirement community for low-income seniors in the country.”

The FHLB Boston’s contributions, delivered through Wainwright Bank, do not cover the costs of the VNA’s new project, but they have provided a basis from which to start.

“This is a $20 million project. They’re giving us early money, so it’s the money to keep the project moving and keep it moving toward completion,” said Cornell. “The [FHLB] has been an absolute rock-solid supporter of the VNA and its efforts. It’s an organization that puts its money where its mouth is. And from our standpoint, Wainwright Bank has just been the epitome of the community bank – very socially responsible. We were a little community organization with a big dream and they believed in us. They financed the dream and made it happen.”

While each project has its own unique focus and purpose, there is one common thread that ties all the developments together.

“Housing is a fundamental pillar of the economy. Without it people can’t live here, employers won’t have people to run their businesses. Affordable housing has to be affordable for all incomes,” said Noel.