Worcester, Massachussets

Massachusetts to help smaller towns convert buildings into affordable housing

April 11, 2024

More and more cities are using commercial-to-residential conversion to spur activity and economic growth in downtown areas facing a decrease in 9 to 5 commuters. However, smaller and mid-size cities face unique challenges in capacity, opportunity and funding.

That’s why Massachusetts launched a Commercial Conversion Initiative as a planning program to help mitigate these barriers in turning vacant and underutilized commercial buildings into affordable housing. The program will help municipalities identify suitable buildings for conversion, conducting feasibility analyses and navigating regulatory hurdles.

By creating development-ready sites, the program seeks to attract implementation financing and leverage state resources, such as the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) and the Affordable Homes Act. The Affordable Homes Act includes a $275 million fund for innovative housing strategies, such as repurposing commercial space.

State officials partnered with MassHousing, a financing firm for homeownership and rental opportunities, to host the program. MassHousing has allocated up to $1 million in planning funds to support this initiative, which will provide technical assistance to municipalities for redevelopment projects.

Chestnut Place in Worcester, an office building that has plans to be redeveloped residential housing, is an example of the kinds of projects the new initiative will help create. The building will be able to support 198 market-rate apartments.

Photo by Terageorge

Gracie Warhurst

Gracie Warhurst has joined Strategic Partnerships, Inc. as a writer and digital content creator for the new Government Market News portal. With a rich background in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, Warhurst has experience as editor-in-chief of a literary magazine, assistant web editor, and project manager for an AI journalism project. She also contributed as a reporter during the development of SPI's news portal. Warhurst graduated summa cum laude in December 2023 with a Bachelor's in Journalism and a certificate in creative writing, making her a valuable asset to the SPI team.

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