Opinion

LHAND’s pioneering work

COURTESY PHOTO
Housing advocates celebrate the completion of 12 apartments at 29 to 35 Sagamore St. in this December 2016 file photo. 

In a quiet way, with minimal fanfare, Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development (LHAND) has been reshaping Lynn for 13 years. LHAND planners worked with city and state officials and private sector investors and architects to turn neglected and dilapidated parts of the city into success stories.

Brickyard Village, homes built on Herbert Street in the Highlands, and properties built off of Suffolk Street are testaments to LHAND’s ability to focus resources on providing new homes for local residents and offer hope to neighborhoods where boarded-up buildings once attracted crime.

In the winter of 2004, LHAND transformed stretches of Franklin Street, Warren and Shepard streets and Herbert Street — a once-notorious neighborhood where residents vowed to drive drug dealers off their street — into new housing.

The projects built on those streets were not cookie-cutter public housing. They were architecturally distinct, imaginative residential initiatives that brought a cul-de-sac to a congested West Lynn neighborhood, drove crime off the top of the Highlands and worked with the Archdiocese of Boston to convert the one-time bastion of French-Americans in Lynn into new housing.

LHAND’s newest project is Gateway North, an apartment building under construction on lower Washington Street opposite North Shore Community College’s Lynn campus and within sight of Lynn Harbor.

Gateway North’s Dec. 13 groundbreaking ceremony drew a crowd of more than 60 people, including U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, who highlighted LHAND’s commitment to Lynn when he talked about how “so many people put in work over so many years” to make Gateway North a reality.

When it is completed 17 months from now, the 71-unit residential building will provide new local housing for people who will pay $900 to $2,100 a month to live there.

This broad rent payment spectrum reflects the pioneering role LHAND is playing providing a broad mix of housing. The most expensive apartments will be classified as market-rate. Others will be geared to low-income residents. But some of the units will be classified as workforce housing with rents tailored to households who need affordable places to live while they work and save money to become homeowners.

LHAND Executive Director Charlie Gaeta and his staff have always understood that Lynn is a community in perpetual transition with waves of new arrivals redefining the city. Gaeta and his coworkers have demonstrated a long-term commitment to giving people a leg up on opportunity. They run self-sufficiency programs to teach tenants how to save money. They host first-time homebuyer workshops with real estate professionals and they carve out opportunity across the city for today’s renter to have somewhere decent to live while they make the transition to becoming tomorrow’s homeowner.

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