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Housing
Contact Information
Karen Sunnarborg, Community Housing Specialist (In office on Tuesdays and Thursdays)
Planning and Community Development Department
500 Dedham Avenue
Needham, MA 02492
781-455-7550 extension 220



Mission
The Community Housing Specialist supports the Town of Needham's efforts to promote and maintain affordable housing opportunities in partnership with the Needham Housing Authority (NHA), non-profit and for profit developers and service providers, other Town departments, as well as other public entities. The Housing Specialist also provides professional support to collect and analyze housing-related data, coordinates potential affordable housing initiatives, monitors affordability for a number of housing developments, insures compliance with funding sources, and addresses inquiries related to housing issues.


What is affordable housing?
Affordable housing is generally defined by the income of the household in relation to housing costs. For example, HUD identifies units as affordable if gross rent (including costs of utilities borne by the tenant) is no more than 30% of a household’s net adjusted income (with a small deduction for each dependent, for child care, for extraordinary medical expenses, etc.) or if the carrying costs of purchasing a home (mortgage, homeowners association fees, property taxes and insurance) is not more than typically 30% of income. If households are paying more than these amounts, they are described as experiencing housing affordability problems or cost burdens; and if they are paying more than half of their income for housing, they have severe housing affordability problems and cost burdens. 
 
Affordable housing can also defined according to percentages of median income for the area as summarized in the following table: 

HUD Area Income Limits for the Boston Area, 2016

# Persons in
                   

Household
           

30% of Area
           

Median Income

50% of Area
           

Median Income
           

80% of Area
           

Median Income
          

1

$20,650

$34,350

$51,150

2

23,600

39,250

58,450

3

26,550
 

44,150

65,750

4

29,450

49,050

73,050

5

31,850

53,000

78,900

6

34,200

56,900

84,750

7

36,730

60,850

90,600

8+

40,890

64,750

96,450

                          Source:  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Housing subsidy programs are typically targeted to particular income ranges depending upon programmatic goals. Extremely low-income housing is directed to households with incomes at or below 30% of area median income as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (up to $26,550 for a family of three for the Boston area) and very low-income is defined as households with income between 31% and 50% of area median income ($44,150 for a family of three). Sixty percent (60%) of area median income is used for the limit of a number of rental subsidy programs including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program and HOME Rental Program ($53,000 for a three person household).  Low- and moderate-income generally refers to the range between 51% and 80% of area median income (no more than $65,750 for a family of three). First-time homebuyer programs typically apply income limits of up to 80% of area median income. It is worth noting that according to 2012 census estimates, more than 3,000 households or about 29% of all Needham’s households would likely be income-eligible for affordable housing using the 80% of area median income criterion. 

The most commonly used definition of affordable housing is that which applies to the Chapter 40B comprehensive permit law. For a unit to be affordable under Chapter 40B, and thus counted towards a community's progress towards reaching the 10% affordability threshold and included as part of its Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI), a unit must meet specific state requirements including the following:   

  • Units must be subsidized or approved by a subsidizing agency.
  • Occupants must have income at or below 80% of area median income, adjusted by household size and presented in the above table.
  • The unit must be deed restricted for specified periods of time including in perpetuity for newly constructed affordable homeownership units.  These deed restrictions are monitored and enforced.
  • The units must be affirmatively marketed through the implementation of a state-approved Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing and Tenant Selection Plan.

 


What housing is affordable in Needham?
Of the 11,047 year-round housing units in Needham, 1,246 or 11.28% are determined to be affordable by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, up from 841 or 7.6% in 2015, and 425 units and 3.9% in 2006. The addition of another 141 eligible units will bring the total to 1,387 units or 12.56%.  This percentage will likely decrease somewhat when the 2020 census figures are released to reflect housing growth since 2010.  Nevertheless, it is likely to remain above 12%.

The State has ruled that if a municipality has less than 10% of its year-round housing stock set-aside for low- and moderate-income residents, it is not meeting the regional and local need for affordable housing. Not meeting this affordability standard makes the locality vulnerable to an override of local zoning if a developer wants to build affordable housing through the Chapter 40B comprehensive permit process. Consequently, by surpassing the 10% affordable housing threshold, Needham will no longer be required to process comprehensive permit applications that it determines do not address local housing needs. 

Of the units that are currently considered affordable by the state, 316 or 37.7% are owned and managed by the Needham Housing Authority (NHA) including 198 one-bedroom units for seniors and disabled individuals of any age and 120 units for families and veterans. The Authority also maintains two staffed apartments that serve eight (8) individuals with special needs. Needham also has nine (9) other projects that are a part of its SHI that include an additional 168 actual affordable units (total of 430 units that can be counted in the SHI) that have been produced by private, for profit or non-profit developers. Most of these affordable units are included in rental developments that are listed below.

Needham’s Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI), March 2016


 

  Project Name

# SHI

Units

Project Type/

Subsidizing Agency

Use of a 
40B Comp
Permit

Affordability

Expira-
tion Date


Cook’s Bridge (Captain Robert
 Cook Drive and Seabeds Way)*

76

Rental/HUD

No

Perpetuity

High Rock Estates*

80

Rental/DHCD (will be HUD)

No 

Perpetuity

138-158 Linden Street*

32

Rental/DHCD

No

Perpetuity

168-188 Linden Street*

40

Rental/DHCD

No

Perpetuity

15-42 Chambers Street*

 

80

Rental/DHCD

No

Perpetuity

Matthews House/
 1415 Great Plain Ave.*/**

 

8

Rental/DHCD

No

Perpetuity

Highland Ave./Charles River ARC.

**

6

Rental/HUD and EOHHS

No

2038

Marked Tree Corp. **

 

4

Rental/HUD and EOHHS

No

2038

Nehoidan Glen

61

Rental/MassHousing

Yes

Perpetuity

Webster Street II/929 Webster **

4

Rental/HUD

No

2037

Webster Street II/299 Webster **

6

Rental/HUD

No

2037

West Street Apartments **

6

Rental/HUD

No

2043

Junction Place

2

Ownership/DHCD and FHLBB

Yes

Perpetuity

Garden Street

2

Ownership/FHLBB

Yes

Perpetuity

High Cliff Estates

3

Ownership/FHLBB

Yes

Perpetuity

Chestnut Hollow

6

Rental/DHCD and HUD

No

2021

Suites at Needham

2

Ownership/MassHousing

Yes

Perpetuity

Charles River Landing

350

Rental/DHCD

Yes

Perpetuity

DDS Group Homes **

77

Special Needs Rental/DDS

No

NA

Craftsman Village

2

Ownership/MassHousing

Yes

Perpetuity

Greendale Village

4

Ownership/MassHousing

Yes

Perpetuity

The Residences at Wingate

2

Rental/DHCD

No

Perpetuity

Webster Street Green

2

Ownership/MassHousing

Yes

Perpetuity

Needham Place/50 Dedham Ave.

1

Rental/DHCD

No

Perpetuity

Second Avenue Residences

390

Rental/DHCD

Yes

Perpetuity

Subtotal

1,246

12.28% of year-round housing





Projects/units that are being
Added









Wingate Phase II

5

Rental/DHCD

No

Perpetuity

Greendale Mews

136

Rental/MassHousing

Yes

Perpetuity

TOTAL***

1,387



12.56% of year-round housing
units

 





Source:  Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development 

                ** Special needs units

                *** Includes 262 market units at Charles River Landing, 292 market units at Second Avenue Residences, and 102 market units at Greendale Mews for a total of 656 such market units.  The number of actual affordable rental units in these projects is 220.









Demographic, Economic and Housing Profiles
Detailed Demographic, Economic and Housing Profiles

These profiles reflect data largely from 2013 and are in the process of being updated.

Are there any new affordable housing opportunities currently available?
No new affordable units are currently being marketed.

What rental opportunities are available in Needham?
About 1,700 of Needham's 11,000 or so housing units are rentals and approximately 40% of all rental units are located in structures of 10 or more units. Many of these larger rental developments are described below.

Needham Housing Authority Developments
Of the 838 units that are considered affordable by the state, 316 or 38% are owned and managed by the Needham Housing Authority (NHA) including 198 one-bedroom units for seniors and disabled individuals of any age and 120 units for families and veterans. The Authority also maintains two staffed apartments that serve eight (8) individuals with special needs. These projects are as follows:

High Rock Estates
60 units (33 two-bedroom units and 27 three-bedroom units)
Housing for families

High Rock Homes
20 duplexes (14 two-bedrooms and 6 three-bedrooms)
Housing for families

Linden-Chambers
152 one-bedroom units
Mixed elderly-disabled housing

Matthews House
8-bed group home
Special needs housing

Captain Robert Cook Drive
30 units (5 two-bedroom units, 20 three-bedroom units and 5 four-bedroom units)
Townhomes for families

Seabeds Way
46 one-bedroom units
Mixed elderly, disabled singles housing

Contact Information: Needham Housing Authority Office at 28 Captain Robert Cook Drive; 781-444-3011.
 
Rental Subsidies to Access Privately-owned Housing
The Dedham Housing Authority administers rental subsidies for Needham and is assigned 120 Section 8 vouchers. These rental subsidies are provided to qualifying households renting units in the private housing market, filling the gap between an established market rent – the Fair Market Rent (FMR) – and a portion of the household’s income. Based on the high cost of housing in Needham, the Housing Authority is using 107% of the FMR levels for its maximum rent. Preference is granted to applicants who reside or are employed in Needham. Applicants must also have incomes within 50% of area median income, which translates into no more than $44,150 for a family of three (3) based on 2016 income levels (a table on these income limits is included above). There is a considerable wait for these housing vouchers, with the MassNAHRO Centralized Wait List of 107,500 applicants from 88 participating housing authorities, including Needham’s.
Contact Information: Dedham Housing Authority Office at 163 Dedham Blvd., Dedham, MA 02026; 781-326-3543 
 
Privately-owned Subsidized Rental Developments
Needham also has a number of other subsidized rental projects that include an additional 372 affordable units that have or will be produced by private, for profit or non-profit developers including:

Nehoidan Glen
1035 Central Avenue
Total Rental Units: 61 Affordable Units: 61
This development is for low-income seniors.
Contact Information: 781-444-0990

Chestnut Hollow
141 Chestnut Street
Total Rental Units: 28 Affordable Units: 6
Chestnut Hollow involved a major renovation project of an existing non-conforming building, formerly the Hamilton House Nursing Home, for conversion into apartments for seniors. There are 12 two-bedroom units, 15 one-bedroom units, and one (1) studio.
Contact Information: 781-453-0294; email at

Charles River Landing
300 Second Avenue
Total Units: 350 Affordable Units: 88
The project is located at the outer edge of the New England Business Center, adjacent to a residential neighborhood and overlooking the Charles River. About two-thirds of the units have one-bedroom, the remainder with two-bedrooms.
Contact Information: 866-776-3360

The Residences at Wingate – Phase 1
235 Gould Street
Total Independent Living Units: 12 Affordable Units: 2
Pursuant to a zoning change to create an Elder Services Zoning District, the developer of Wingate at Needham Nursing Home received the go-ahead to build a senior housing facility on Gould Street next to its Nursing Home at 589 Highland Avenue. The building includes 91 total units – 12 Independent Living Apartment units (13 bedrooms), 42 Assisted Living units, and 37 Assisted Living units specializing in Alzheimer’s and other memory loss related conditions. The project also includes 2 affordable units, 1 which was reserved for those who live or work in Needham at initial occupancy.  

The Residences at Wingate – Phase 2
Total Units: 52 Affordable Units: 5
Another 52 Independent Living Units are being developed next to The Residences at Wingate senior living development that will include 5 affordable units 3 of which will be set-aside as local preference units for those who live or work in the community.
Contact Information: 781-455-9080

Needham Place
50 Dedham Avenue
Total Units: 10  Affordable Units: 1
Through the rezoning of Needham Center, a new three + one story mixed-use building on Dedham Street is under construction. The development includes 2 first-floor retail units in addition to 10 residential units on the upper 3 stories, including 1 affordable apartment.
Contact Information: Not yet available 

Second Avenue Residences
A Street
Total Units: 390  Affordable Units: 98
The Town of Needham provided its support for the Second Avenue Residences development as part of the Local Initiative Program (LIP) Project Eligibility Application that was submitted to DHCD by the developer, A Street Residential LLC, on April 15, 2015.  The ZBA subsequently approved the comprehensive permit on October 20, 2015.  Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-2016.

Greendale Mews
Total Units: 136  Affordable Units: 34
While proposed at 300 units, the Town ultimately approved a total of 136 units as part of this Chapter 40B comprehensive permit project on October 20, 2015.

DDS Units
Total Units: 77  Affordable Units: 77
There are 77 units in scattered group homes for those with special needs that are sponsored by the state's Department of Development Services (DDS).  This total includes a group residence that the Charles River Center, also known as the Charles River Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC), built at South Street that is providing a home for 5 people with significant physical and cognitive disabilities (counted as 5 units).  The Town committed $220,000 in Community Preservation Funding and $280,000 in federal HOME funds to make this project possible.


Privately-owned Unsubsidized Developments
The Town of Needham also has a number of relatively large unsubsidized rental and assisted living developments in town that are popular among residents. These developments, listed below, provide good options for seniors looking to downsize from their single-family homes and reduce maintenance costs and demands. Young adults also benefit from rentals that provide smaller units without the typical 20% down payments associated with ownership.

Webster Green
757 Highland Avenue
Total Units: 77
Available one and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 700 to 1,200 square feet in size.
Contact Information: 781-444-5800 or 866-330-1613

Rosemary Lake
187 Rosemary Street
Total Units: 205
One, two and three-bedroom apartments ranging from 400 to 1,800 square feet in size.
Contact Information: 888-827-2417

North Hill
865 Central Avenue
Total Units: Provides a Continuum of Care with 285 independent living units plus another 45 that are planned in addition to 72 “enhanced living” or assisted living units that are under construction. The development is based on the “lifecare” concept where residents purchase their units through a life estate deposit, 90% of which is refunded when they leave the development, and also pay monthly fees.
Contact Information: 781-559-0994, 888-481-5344 or 888-904-9151
 
Avery Crossings
110 West Street
Total Units: 60 assisted living units
The development does not require entrance fees, only monthly rents that depend on the size of the apartment and level of care that is required.
Contact Information: 781-444-6655 or 866-546-3733 
 


What local, regional and statewide housing-related programs and services are potentially available to Needham residents?

What local, regional and state housing-related programs and services are available?
Needham Housing Authority (NHA)
The Needham Housing Authority (NHA) owns and manages 316 units of subsidized housing including 198 one-bedroom units for seniors and disabled individuals of any age and 120 units for families and veterans. NHA also maintains 2 staffed apartments that serve 8 individuals with special needs. Moreover, NHA is available to provide information and referrals to those who have questions about housing options in Needham and the region.
Contact the Needham Housing Authority at 28 Robert Cook Drive in Needham and at 781-444-3011. 

Needham Council on Aging (COA)
The Needham Council on Aging (COA) provides a wide range of services to local seniors. At the new Senior Center, The Center at the Heights, the COA offers many activities including daily lunches, exercise classes, health and wellness programs, clinics, support groups, lectures, life long learning classes, live entertainment, movies, etc.  They also provide information on programs, services, and opportunities to meet the diverse needs of older adults and provide referrals for specific help, including information related to housing.
Contact the COA at 300 Hillside Avenue or 781-455-7555.

Needham Community Preservation Committee (CPC)
Needham approved the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in November 2004, and established the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) soon after to manage funds from a property tax surcharge to preserve open space and historic properties, provide new recreational facilities and support affordable housing. Over the years the Town has spent about $1.3 million of its CPA funds on housing initiatives.
Contact the CPC at 500 Dedham Avenue, 781-455-7550.

The Town of Needham administers the following tax-related programs to reduce or defer property tax payments for qualifying residents:

Senior Corps Program
Needham's Council on Aging (COA) offers residents who are 60 years of age or older and/or are disabled to contribute up to 100 hours each year at $8.20 per hour to "work off" a portion of their real estate taxes, become more involved in local government, and support the delivery of local services. The COA appropriately matches qualifying applicants to jobs in municipal departments and schools. Applicants must meet income eligibility requirements including having a maximum income of $49,000 for a single individual, $62,000 for a head of household, or $74,000 if married. The program operates from July 1st through May 1st of each year and applicants must reapply annually.
Contact the Needham Council on Aging at 300 Hillside Avenue or 781-455-7555 ext. 2062 for an application or further information.

Property Tax Deferral Program
Needham's Assessor's Office administers the Property Tax Deferral Program that enables qualifying homeowners to postpone the payment of property taxes until the house is sold or transferred. The maximum deferral is half of the value of the home and every person that has a legal or beneficial interest in the property must provide written approval for the deferral. Each year participants enter into an agreement with the Town to defer all or part of the tax bill. The agreement is similar to a loan with a specified interest rate set at 4% for Fiscal Year 2015.  This interest rate increases to 16% upon the demise of the owner or a change in ownership. 

Eligibility requirements include the following:

  • The owner and/or spouse must be 65 years of age or older.
  • Maximum income of $51,000 for married or single applicants (there is no asset restriction).
  • Must have primarily resided in Massachusetts for the past 10 years as of July 1, 2014.
  • Must have owned and occupied a home in Massachusetts for the past 5 years as of July 1, 2014.
  • Participants may also use any tax exemption for which they are qualified and then defer any portion of the remaining amount.
  • Participants have the option to also defer water and sewer bills.

Contact the Needham Assessor's Office at 1471 Highland Avenue or 781-455-7507 for an application or further information.

Tax Exemption Programs
The Town of Needham allows a number of property tax exemptions to qualifying homeowners with different requirements based on the owner's age, disability status and other qualifications. For example, a homeowner who is at least 65 years of age and married with an income of no more than $30,000 and maximum assets of $55,000 could expect a tax exemption of between $500 and $1,000 annually. Those age 70 or older may receive a tax exemption from $175 to $350 if their financial assets are less than $40,000.  Veterans also qualify for exemptions based on the type and extent of their service-related disability including an exemption of between $1,500 and $3,000 for those living in specially adapted housing.  Another example is that a legally blind owner can expect an exemption of between $500 and $1,000 without any income or asset requirements.

Because of the number and complexity of these exemptions, interested owners are encouraged to contact the Assessor's Office at 1471 Highland Avenue or 781-455-7507 for an further information and applications.

What regional housing-related programs and services are available?
Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston
The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston is a comprehensive fair housing organization whose mission is to eliminate housing discrimination and promote open communities throughout the Boston region including those in Suffolk, Norfolk, Middlesex, Essex and Plymouth counties. The organization provides a wide range of fair housing services including testing, case advocacy, training, community outreach, policy advocacy and research.
Contact the Fair Housing Center at 262 Washington Street in Boston or 617-399-0491.

Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston
Through volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money, land, and materials, Habitat Greater Boston builds or rehabilitates simple decent homes for qualifying households.  Families are selected based on their level of need, ability to repay a mortgage, and willingness to complete about 300 hours of "sweat equity" by helping to construct their future home alongside staff and volunteers.  Prospective purchasers also participate in special education classes to prepare them for homeownership. The organization also provides interest free financing for the purchasers without down payment requirements. The organization has worked in Needham, developing a house on Bancroft Street.
Contact Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston at 240 Commercial Street in Boston or 617-423-2223. 

Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA)
The Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA) is a non-profit housing organization that advocates for affordable homeownership opportunities and provides services to support first-time homebuyers through workshops, credit counseling, budget counseling, etc.  It also has an online searchable database of all affordable homeownership opportunities that are available at any point in the state.
Contact MAHA at 1803 Dorchester Avenue in Boston or 617-822-9100.

Metro West Collaborative Development
The Metro West Collaborative Development is a regional Community Development Corporation (CDC) whose mission is to organize residents, mobilize resources and identify opportunities to improve the quality of life for residents living in Metro West communities. In addition to partnering with participating communities on housing development, the organization provides a wide range of information and referrals to housing resources for renters, homebuyers, and landlords.
Contact the Metro West Collaborative Development at 79-B Chapel Street in Newton or 617-923-3505. 

Other nearby organizations that provide First-Time Homebuyer and Post-Purchase counseling
The WATCH CDC and Allston-Brighton CDC both provide classes for those considering purchasing their first home. Classes generally include about 12 hours of instruction spread over 2 to 3 evenings.  Graduates of these classes can become eligible for special financing and other opportunities.
Contact the WATCH CDC at 781-891-6689 or Allston Brighton CDC at 617-787-3874 for more information on these classes. 

Self Help, Inc.
Self Help provides a wide range of services to help low- and moderate-income residents with child care, health, education, employment, and housing needs among others.  With respect to housing, they provide the following types of assistance to residents of Needham:

Lead Paint Abatement Program to correct common lead-based paint violations and enhance the safety, appearance, and value of the property. Lead paint abatement work can be dangerous, and it is important to hire professional contractors to undertake the deleading.  Self Help can help property owners locate a qualified contractor and potentially obtain financial assistance for the necessary remediation work through the Get the Lead Out Program.

The Fuel Assistance Program provides financial assistance in paying for heating costs for those earning within 60% of area median income or at or below $51,798 for a household of 3 in 2014. The Program runs from November 1st through April 30th. Additionally, participants are automatically eligible for energy discount rates from utility companies. Self Help also works with Citizens Energy Corporation's oil heat program to obtain additional assistance for clients who have expended their Fuel Assistance benefits. 

The Energy Conservation Program provides support for weatherization measures in tandem with the agency's Fuel Assistance Program as well as heating system services for those earning at or below 60% of area median income. A home weatherized by this Program can save up to 30% in heating and cooling costs. 
Contact Self Help at 1362 Main Street in Brockton or 508-588-5440.

South Middlesex Opportunity Council, Inc.(SMOC)
SMOC is a multi-service agency whose mission is to enhance the self-sufficiency of low and moderate-income households, also providing a safety net when short-term assistance is required.  The organization provides a number of housing-related services that are available to qualifying Needham residents including the following:

Through information and referrals as well as counseling and workshops, the Housing Consumer Education Center provides a variety of services to homeowners, tenants, landlords, future homebuyers, homeless families and individuals facing eviction who are not eligible for Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) services, as well as those confronting possible foreclosure. 

The Home Modification Loan Program provides 0% to 3% deferred loans of up to $30,000 to support home improvements to make a home more accessible to an elder or someone with a disability.

SMOC also operates an emergency shelter for families at 75 Fountain Street in Framingham.
Contact SMOC at 300 Howard Street in Framingham or 508-620-2645.

Springwell
Springwell is a private, non-profit organization that provides services for seniors, people with disabilities or those who help care for them. All individuals over 60 years of age and caregivers can receive free information and referrals based on the level of assistance required, from just the name of a transportation provider or legal counsel on estate planning to the home delivery of meals to in-depth daily care coordination for example.  
Contact at 307 Waverley Oaks Road, Suite 205 in Waltham or 617-926-4100.

WestMetro HOME Consortium
The federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program provides funding to support affordable housing for lower income households.  Since 1992, this funding has been available in the Metro West area with the City of Newton serving as the lead member of a HUD-approved Consortium of communities.  Needham joined the Consortium in 2008 that now includes the communities of Bedford, Belmont, Concord, Framingham, Lexington, Natick, Sudbury, Waltham, Watertown and Wayland in addition to the lead community of Newton. Needham's HOME funding has fluctuated over the years from an allocation of $57,521 in fiscal year 2009, to $67,387 by 2011, and down to $36,149 in 2013.  The Town has spent $280,000 in HOME funds for the Charles River Association for Retarded Citizen's group residence at South Street in addition to some operating/administrative funds.

What statewide housing-related programs and services are available? 
Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA)
Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) is a non-profit umbrella organization that operates statewide to represent all interests in the affordable housing field including non-profit and for-profit developers, municipal officials, local housing providers and advocates, lenders, property managers, etc. CHAPA pursues its goal of promoting affordable housing through advocacy, research, education, coalition-building, and special programs.
Contact CHAPA at 18 Tremont Street in Boston or 617-742-0820. CHAPA's website also includes homebuyer class schedules, a registry of handicapped accessible units, a list of all available affordable units through current marketing/lotteries, a wide range of reports related to affordable housing, and links to other important regional, state and federal agencies. 

The following public state agencies or quasi-public agencies provide technical and financial support for the production of affordable and special needs housing:

Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)
DHCD's mission is to strengthen cities, towns and neighborhoods to enhance the quality of life of Massachusetts residents. The agency provides professional assistance and financial resources to promote safe, decent affordable housing opportunities, economic vitality of communities and sound municipal management. 

MassHousing
MassHousing is a self-supporting not-for-profit public agency that has provided more than $17 billion in financing for homebuyers and homeowners and for developers and owners of affordable rental housing.

Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP)
MHP champions new financing tools and new local strategies for the development of affordable housing in Massachusetts including a billion dollar bank loan fund for qualifying homebuyers.

Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC)
MHIC is a leading private investor and lender specializing in financing affordable housing and community development throughout New England.

Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC)
CEDAC is a public-private, community development finance institution that provides technical assistance, pre-development lending, and consulting services to non-profit organizations involved in housing development, workforce development, neighborhood economic development, and capital improvements to child care facilities. These organizations may include community or neighborhood development corporations, non-profit developers, and tenants' associations.

Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
DDS is dedicated to creating, in partnership with others, innovative and effective opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to participate fully and meaningfully in, and contribute to, their communities as valued members.

Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH)
DMH, as the State Mental Health Authority, assures and provides access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals of all ages, enabling them to live, work and participate in their communities. The Department establishes standards to ensure effective and culturally competent care to promote recovery and sets policy, promotes self-determination, protects human rights and supports mental health training and research. This critical mission is accomplished by working in partnership with other state agencies, individuals, families, providers and communities.

 


What is Fair Housing?
It is important to know that you are protected under Fair Housing laws when looking to buy or rent a property. These federal and state laws make it illegal to discriminate against people who want to rent or purchase housing based on any of the following protected classes:
  • Race 
  • Color
  • Religious creed
  • National origin
  • Sex 
  • Age
  • Genetic information
  • Disability
  • Ancestry
  • Marital status
  • Family status (families with children under 18 years of age)
  • Veteran status or membership in the armed forces of the United States
  • Sexual orientation
  • Recipients of federal, state or local public assistance or a tenant receiving federal, state or local subsidies such as rental assistance or rental supplements (Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program subsidies, etc.) 

 If you are a member of any of these protected classes, it is generally illegal for someone to:

  • Refuse to rent to you or sell you housing
  • Tell you housing is unavailable when that is not the case
  • Show you apartments or homes only in certain neighborhoods
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges in the sale or rental of housing
  • Advertise housing to preferred groups only
  • Refuse to provide you with information regarding mortgage loans or impose different terms or conditions on mortgage financing
  • Deny you property insurance
  • Conduct property appraisals in a discriminatory manner
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations to persons with a disability if the accommodation may be necessary to afford such a person a reasonable and equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling
  • Harass, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising or assisting someone else with his/her fair housing rights

 The following behaviors MAY involve housing discrimination:

  • You call and get an appointment to look at a house or condominium but when you get there you are told that the unit has just been sold.  You later notice that the home is still on the market.
  • You are notified that the apartment you have an appointment to view has been rented but you later see it listed in the paper or Internet again.
  • You are given a higher selling price or rent that what was advertised or what others are being told.
  • You are provided with terms of a rental or sale which are different from those given to others, such as different fees and deposits.
  • You are told that the landlord cannot rent to families because the unit has lead-based paint.
  • You are directed to or away from certain properties or neighborhoods based on race, national origin, religion, disability, etc.
  • You are told that the landlord does not accept rental assistance such as Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

The Massachusetts lead law, in conjunction with Fair Housing laws, makes it illegal for a property owner or real estate agent to refuse to rent or sell a dwelling unit to a family with children because of the presence of lead-based paint.     

  • For rentals: It is the landlord's obligation to de-lead their units. 
  • For sales: It is the seller's obligation to inform you of the dangers of lead paint, the lead law, and all information they have about the presence of lead paint in the property such as copies of lead inspection reports.  Once you own a home, it is your responsibility to de-lead if  you have children under the age of six.

What should I do if I think I've been a victim of housing discrimination?
You can file a complaint if you think that you have been discriminated against and receive the following benefits:  

  • The housing you wanted
  • Compensation for costs such as temporary housing or moving expenses
  • Compensation for any emotional damages you may have suffered as a result of the discrimination
  • An order prohibiting future discrimination or requiring the owner/agent to rent to other qualified members of a protected class who are seeking housing
  • Your legal fees paid (some attorneys will take cases with the understanding that they will only be paid if you win the case)
  • The satisfaction of knowing that you challenged discrimination and that other people may not go through what you experienced

Contact any of the following organizations if you think that you have experienced housing discrimination:

Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston is a private advocacy organization that can assist victims of discrimination with filing a complaint in court with MCAD or HUD and may act as an advocate on your behalf.
59 Temple Place
Boston, MA 02111
617-399-0491

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) handles all discrimination complaints that fall under state law and can also assist with complaints under the federal Fair Housing Act. 
One Ashburton Place, Room 601
Boston, MA 02108
617-399-0491

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency which receives and investigates housing discrimination complaints that violate federal law.
10 Causeway Street, Room 321
Boston, MA 02222
617-565-5308 or 800-827-5005

   


Lead-based Paint Poisoning Prevention
Why is lead-based paint a problem?
Lead, which was used in paint before 1978, can stay in the body for a long time and young children absorb lead more easily than adults. The harm done by lead may never go away and possible physical damage can include:
  • Problems with the brain, kidneys, and nervous system
  • Slow down of growth and development
  • Learning challenges
  • Hearing and speech damage
  • Behavioral problems

Because of these health problems, the federal government banned the use of lead-based paint in 1978 and therefore many homes that were built before that time may still have traces of lead-based paint.  This paint is usually not a hazard if it is in good condition. However, deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking or otherwise damaged) is a hazard and requires immediate attention as does such paint on surfaces that children can chew or which get a great deal of wear-and-tear such as windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, banisters, and porches.

What should I do if I think I have lead-based paint?
You cannot just paint over the hazard with regular paint but have to hire someone with special training for correcting lead problems.  Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules established by the state and federal governments.  Once the work has been completed, cleanup activities must be repeated until testing indicates that lead dust levels are below government standards.

Additionally, landlords must delead their properties as the Massachusetts lead law, in conjunction with Fair Housing laws, makes it illegal for a property owner or real estate agent to refuse to rent or sell a dwelling unit to a family with children because of the presence of lead-based paint (see Fair Housing information included above).     

Call Needham's Board of Health at 781-455-7500 ext. 262 to get more information and help in locating certified contractors. 

Information is also available from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 800-532-9571 or 617-624-5757.

You may also qualify for financial assistance in removing lead-based paint.  A state agency, MassHousing, administers the Get the Lead Out Program which provides financing at excellent terms.  Owners who want to delead their homes for preventive purposes may qualify for an amortizing loan at 3% interest if they earn within 80% of area median income ($65,750 for a 3-person household based on 2016 income limits) and 5% interest if they earn more than this limit.  All income eligible homeowners who are under court order to delead or have a child under case management with the Commonwealth's Lead Paint Prevention Program, will receive 0% deferred loans that do not have to be prepaid until the property is transferred or sold.  Contact Self Help, Inc. at 508-588-4049 for more information on this program.