Years in the planning, the affordable housing development Granite Street Crossing is welcoming its first residents: six families and 17 seniors (age 62+) at 5 Granite Street in Rockport.

Close to 500 rental applications were received for the 23 units, according to Bethany Blake, Director of Philanthropy & Marketing at Harborlight Homes, the nonprofit that owns and operates the property. Among the nearly 500 applications, 42 (less than 10%) were from Rockport households, defined as people who currently live, work or attend public school in town.

Rentals were allotted through a housing lottery held in April 2023. Rockport households will be living in 13 of the units (9 senior studios and 4 townhouses) due to a 56% preference for Rockport, the maximum allowed under the Fair Housing Act, per Kristin Carlson, Director of Real Estate Development at Harborlight.

However, after the first tenants move out, the 56% preference for Rockport households will no longer apply. According to Carlson, three of the units give preference to households experiencing homelessness.

Rockport’s Contribution

The total cost of Granite Street Crossing was $12.7 million. The land (just under 1.4 acres centrally located) was purchased in 2016 for $470,000 per the Registry of Deeds.

According to Carlson, the town of Rockport contributed $841,858 toward the total cost. This includes $175,000 voted on at the Fall 2023 Town Meeting on September 11.

“This robust local funding [from Rockport] really helped us to leverage State and Federal sources,” wrote Carlson via email.

Rents Based on Resident Income

The rents paid by residents at Granite Street Crossing vary depending on household size and income. Most of the residents will pay less than the rent charged – see the chart below — according to a Harborlight flyer for the housing lottery, the info on which was confirmed by Carlson and Blake.

That is because most of the units — 16 out of 23, or 70% — are for households whose gross income is 30% or less of the area median income. Their out-of-pocket rent is capped at 30% of their gross income and the rest is paid by federal and state housing vouchers.

On the remaining 30% of the units, the highest rent is $2,188 for a 3-bedroom townhouse if occupied by a family of six with household gross income ranging from $60,014 to $97,620 (rent and income per 2022 HUD limits).

Granite Street Crossing at a Glance

Source: Data from Harborlight Homes

The Facilities

Granite Street Crossing was built by Groom Construction of Salem, MA and the building architect was SV Design of Beverly, MA. There are two main housing components. Toward Granite Street, there is a multi-unit building with the 17 studios for seniors. At the back of the property are six townhouses for families.

The building for seniors is a total of 12,023 square feet with half of that taken up by living space (the 17 studios for seniors). The rest of the building is common spaces, including a library and community room with a small kitchen. There is also an office for the on-site Resident Services Coordinator and a room for an overnight care provider, as needed.

For the six families living in the townhouses, there is a shared playground, garden space and individual sheds.

Annual Operating Costs

Maintenance and operating costs for Granite Street Crossing are approximately $320,000 per year, according to Harborlight’s Carlson. This includes compensation for the Resident Services Coordinator, the Property Manager, all utilities, and all maintenance costs, including private trash collection.

The annual cost also includes a yet-to-be assessed amount paid to Rockport in lieu of property tax (as a nonprofit Harborlight is not required to pay taxes). Harborlight Homes pays this in all its host communities as an intentional effort to be a good neighbor, according to Blake.

According to Carlson, the Resident Services Coordinator at Granite Street Crossing will be available to assist all residents with accessing whatever services they need, such as healthcare, food, education, schools, etc. There is also an overnight staff room in the senior building, which will be used as needed by third-party care providers.  

Funding Sources

The $12.7 million in funding for Granite Street Crossing came from a variety of sources and is a mix of equity, grants and debt. According to Harborlight’s Carlson, the breakdown is as follows:

  • $5.62 million in equity investment from the Mass Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) whose members are banks. They were incentivized by the IRS Low-Income Housing Credits allotted to MA.
  • $2.69 million from the state of MA, plus housing vouchers for the lowest-income residents.
  • $841,858 from the Town of Rockport (including $175,000 from the Community Preservation Committee voted on at Fall Town Meeting Sept. 11, 2023)
  • $555,000 from the North Shore HOME Consortium
  • $575,0000 in private grants: Charlesbank and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board


DEBT FUNDING

  • $2.3 million in conventional debt
  • $115,000 sponsor loan from Harborlight Homes

Shortage of Family Affordable Housing

Most of the affordable housing in Rockport is senior housing. Granite Street Crossing stands out because it is a mix of both senior and family rental housing with on-site support services.

In Rockport, Harborlight Homes also owns and operates Rockport High School Apartments and Pigeon Cove Ledges for seniors (with supportive services). Carlson notes that Harborlight does not have anything new planned for Rockport now, but they are looking for future opportunities for affordable family housing. “Rockport has been a great town to partner with!”

Based in Beverly, MA, Harborlight has properties in 12 communities north of Boston. Currently, it is in the early stages of a project to create senior affordable homes with supportive services in Gloucester, according to Blake.

According to Carlson and Blake, Harborlight aims “to increase and/or preserve the supply of affordable housing for those living between 30% and 60% of area median income (or “AMI”, determined annually by HUD), and to respond to determined needs by creating housing that is financially feasible and stable within the framework of available funding resources.” 

Celebration of Work Well Done

On September 14, 2023, Harborlight Homes held a ribbon-cutting celebration for Granite Street Crossing, inviting all the people that made the development possible, including the neighbors as well as local and state officials.

The current site of Granite Street Crossing was until 2022 an undeveloped L-shaped lot of just under 1.4 acres that historically contained greenhouses. The central location is walking distance from downtown Rockport, commuter rail, Front and Back Beach, and Millbrook Park. It is just down the street from the Sewall-Scripture House which houses the Sandy Bay Historical Society.

================================================

Green Features of Granite Street Crossing

  • LEED Silver certifiable
    (not certified due to additional cost, but designed to meet benchmarks)
  • LED lighting
  • Low-flow water fixtures
  • All-electric, high efficiency heat pumps for heating and cooling
  • Fresh air ERV supply to all units
  • Closed cell insulation at walls and roof
  • Propane generator for senior building to allow for shelter in place (resilience)

Source: Harborlight Homes.

==================================================