WORCESTER, Mass. - With help from a new round of grants from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, one of Worcester's oldest affordable housing developments will be getting a major overhaul over the coming years.
What You Need To Know
- Grant money has been awarded to the Worcester Housing Authority to overhaul the Curtis Apartments
- The apartments, built in 1951, are some of the oldest affordable housing units in the city
- More than 100 new units will be added as part of the project
- The WHA has also been working on a new building to house chronically homeless individuals
All of the units at the Worcester Housing Authority's Curtis Apartments, located in the Great Brook Valley neighborhood, were built in 1951. As the WHA seeks new opportunities to build much-needed affordable housing, CEO Alex Corrales said attention turned to existing buildings that are long overdue for an upgrade.
“For many years, the Worcester Housing Authority was not in the redevelopment business," Corrales said. "We were focused on making sure that our properties were maintained and that they were secure and safe. We’ve done a really good job of that, but in the same breath, we see the waitlist.”
While the exact amount of money WHA will receive from the grant hasn't been revealed, Corrales said the plan is to tear down all 372 existing units at the Curtis Apartments and build new ones for the families who live there, while also adding more than 100 new units for tenants earning between 60% and 80% of the area median income.
A similar overhaul is being planned for the Lakeside Apartments on Lakeside Avenue.
“When you have 20 or 30 thousand people that are in need of affordable housing apartments and there isn’t enough movement, that creates a real issue," Corrales said. "We can’t just stand on the sidelines and hope the problem resolves itself. Curtis and Lakeside are the beginning of what we hope will be a long list of properties that we can redevelop.”
During renovations, current residents will be staying at other open WHA apartments while their building is being finished. Then, they'll move back in to their brand new living spaces.
The WHA has also been working on a project dating back four years ago to former City Manager Ed Augustus - a new building with 24 units specifically for people experiencing chronic homelessness. It's located on Lewis Street, and will be finished later this year.
“Chronic homelessness four years ago is very different than it is today," Corrales said. "It has become a real problem here in the city of Worcester, and so certainly 24 units are not going to solve the city’s issue. Our motto has been be part of the solution, be helpful, what can we do to help the community out?”
The Phase 1 cost of the Curtis Apartments project is estimated at $90 million, while the entire project will cost more than $330 million. The WHA partnered with Trinity Financial to secure the grant money.