Local Government and Politics, News

LHAND: Lynn’s making progress on housing priorities

(Tom Sulcer/Wikimedia Commons)

LYNN — Two years after a housing study identified major improvements needed, the city is making slow but steady progress, according to the Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND).

“It can take as long as 15 years to make things happen,” said Jeff Weeden, LHAND’s planning and development manager. “It may take until 2026 before we see big, positive changes. It requires many people working behind the scenes before a vision turns into something you can see.”

Weeden updated the Impact Lynn Housing Committee Wednesday on 19 goals, including improving Lynn’s older housing stock, encouraging single-family homeowners to take advantage of grants and loans to update their houses, advancing ride sharing, and bike lanes, and attracting developers willing to invest in the city.  

Weeden cited an earlier housing market study completed in 2003 to identify pockets of the city in need of a facelift, such as the lower Washington Street-Sagamore Hill neighborhood, bounded by Washington Street, the Lynnway, Lynn Shore Drive, Nahant and Broad streets. Today, several developments are underway, he said.

“There’s Gateway North with 71 units and Fran’s Place that will have 27 market-rate condominiums, “he said. “That whole corridor is completely changed from five years ago.”

Today, planners are focused on the Oakville-Minot neighborhood at Western Avenue, Minot, Summer, Oakville and Bennett streets.

The other successes, Weeden said, is the city’s older housing stock is seeing an improvement, primarily because LHAND has grants and loans for renovations, as well as cash to delead homes.

“These programs are making a difference and that’s very tangible,” he said.

LHAND offers loans of up to $15,000 at a 3 percent interest rate to rehabilitate existing dwellings; handicapped owner-occupants are eligible for a $15,000 deferred loan at 0 percent to make properties handicap accessible; seniors who own and occupy a single-family home are eligible for a deferred $15,000 loan at 0 percent for repairs.

In addition, up to $8,000 is offered to owner-occupants and investor-owners for deleading.

From July 1, 2015 through the end of 2017, the most recent data available, LHAND provided assistance to 84 families, totaling $542,620. During the same period, 87 homes were deleaded.

Joseph Mulligan, a fellow at MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development agency, who is working to improve the downtown, said out-of-town developers have been meeting with city officials on the prospect of building in Lynn. He declined to provide names.

City Councilor Peter Capano said the city has been working with General Electric Co., which owns as many as 100 acres of vacant land, to sell the parcels for housing.

“GE sold the parcel to make way for the Market Basket on Western Avenue and we are not done yet,” he said.

On the issue of homelessness, it’s unclear how well the city is doing, according to Andrew Gilroy, centralized assessment coordinator at Lynn Economic Opportunity (LEO), an anti-poverty agency.

Thirty youth have been identified as homeless, along with three dozen seniors, he said. Since LEO lacks data from previous years, he’s not sure if the city is making progress.

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