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SECOND QUARTER 2014

Caring for the

Underserved

Caritas Communities is Improving Lives, One Room at a Time New Lease Providing Homes to the Homeless in Multifamily Buildings


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SECOND QUARTER 2014

Caring for the

Underserved

Caritas Communities is Improving Lives, One Room at a Time New Lease Providing Homes to the Homeless in Multifamily Buildings

COVER

Caritas Communities

Improving Lives, One Room at a Time Bay State Apartment Owner is the official publication of the Rental Housing Association. ©2014 The Warren Group Inc. and the Rental Housing Association. All rights reserved. The Warren Group is a trademark of The Warren Group Inc. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher.

CONTENTS

President’s Message

04

Executive Director’s Message

06

RHA Calendar

07

A New Lease for The Homeless

12

Photo Gallery

13

A Dance Card Full of Options A division of the

Greater Boston Real Estate Board One Center Plaza, Mezzanine Level Boston, MA 02108 Phone: 617-423-8700 Fax: 617-338-2600

RHA Officers President: President Elect: Vice-President: Secretary: Executive Director:

Joseph E. McPhee Jr. Gilbert Winn Sarah Mathewson Mark R. Epker John E. Lafferty

08

A Deep Commitment to the Underserved among Us

Local Nonprofit is the First in the Nation to Successfully Launch Housing Preference Program for Homeless Families

Published By THE WARREN GROUP Creative / Production / Advertising www.thewarrengroup.com 280 Summer Street Boston, MA 02210 Phone: 617-428-5100 Fax: 617-428-5118 custompubs@thewarrengroup.com

Second Quarter 2014 • BAY STATE APARTMENT OWNER

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President’s Message

BY JOSEPH E. MCPHEE JR.

A Dance Card Full of Options

I

t is hard to believe we have rounded the corner and are headed into the last half of 2014. Our long, cold winter is finally, and thankfully, fading from our memories. The long anticipated “dog days” of summer are here, and with no complaints. And in spite of the weather, RHA enjoyed a strong start to the year and looks forward to building on that success over the remaining six months. From the event side, we kicked off the year with the very successful, and many times rescheduled, winter holiday party under the aus-

pices of the NextGen committee. We cheered on the Boston Bruins in their battle against Toronto in January. NextGen held their popular multi-location gatherings in March, and presented a lunch program with a panel discussion in April. Both the May Red Sox outing and the June Golf Event at Dedham Polo and Country Club were sold out early. RHA’s designation offerings included NAAEI’s Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) course, National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP) program and the Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians (CAMT) class. In addition, breakfast programs touched on topics including how social media can enhance your marketing and add-

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BAY STATE APARTMENT OWNER

Second Quarter 2014

ing sustainability to your marketing message. The spring education calendar also included the hallmark Massachusetts Fair Housing Seminar, one of the few opportunities for members to receive Massachusettsspecific fair housing training. The spring education season wrapped up in May with the annual May Marketing Event, where over 100 of our best and brightest marketing professional exchanged ideas and best practices to enhance the bottom line. Looking ahead, there are myriad activities slated for the late summer and into the fall. In August, our affiliates host the third annual family friendly summer cookout at Gillette stadium prior to a New England Revolutions soccer match against the Portland Timbers. This is a huge event, with over 350 in attendance and a great opportunity for RHA members and their family to have a true family outing. The affiliates provide all the food and games prior to the match at no cost to the attendees. The only expense is the cost of the tickets. We return to the Hynes Convention Center in October for the RHA Fall Conference and Expo, where industry members will hear from three world-class speakers, visit over 90 industry leading vendors, cheer on the winners of the 2014 Communities of Excellence and Individual Achievement Awards and enjoy a networking reception at the close of the day. Our final major event of the year takes place in December at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, when we hold the 2014 RHA President’s Awards Dinner, honoring Robert Kargman of Boston Land Company and Rep. Kevin Honan. Education continues with two more breakfast programs, one on the topic of identity theft in July, followed by a program on communications in September. We will also


What’s the lowdown on the condo in Cambridge? be holding the annual Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law class in October. Fill in the empty spots with a couple of more NextGen programs and gatherings, and you will see the dance card is close to full for the remainder of the year. It has been a great first half, and I look forward to a strong finish to the year. If you are participating in the many activities at RHA, you have been the beneficiary of that success. If you are on the sidelines, jump into the game. Attend an event, take a course. It is your association. n Joseph E. McPhee is director of operations for Boston Land Company and 2014 president of the Rental Housing Association.

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5


Executive Director’s Message BY JOHN E. LAFFERTY

A Deep Commitment to the Underserved among Us

I

n this issue of Bay State Apartment Owner, we feature two very different stories, but with a common thread. We profile New Lease, a newly formed organization addressing issues surrounding family homelessness, and our cover story is about Caritas Communities, a nonsectarian nonprofit providing single-room occupancy housing for veterans and low wage workers. Few of you may be aware, but RHA members have taken a considerable interest in both of these entities. For its

start-up funding, New Lease was the beneficiary of significant financial support from a number of RHA members who are engaged in providing affordable housing. Both the Rental Housing Association and the Greater Boston Real Estate Board made two-year financial commitments to provide financial support. Please take a moment and learn more about New Lease in the feature article. RHA and the divisions of GBREB also have a long history with Caritas Communities. P. Leo Corcoran, a partner in the real estate firm John M. Corcoran & Company, founded Caritas Communities in 1985. Caritas has counted many

RHA leaders on its board of directors over the years. The divisions of GBREB have at various times designated a portion of their charitable giving to Caritas. Most notably, CBA, a sister division of RHA, has donated over $175,000. I think you will be surprised when you read our cover story about the scope of the mission Caritas has undertaken to provide safe, affordable housing to an otherwise underserved segment of our society. The president’s column in this issue makes mention of the wide range of programs and events which have been successfully offered to the membership over the first six months of the year. Joe

BayState Apartment Owner Salsbury Industries

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Few of you may be aware, but RHA members have taken a considerable interest in both Caritas Communities and New Lease. McPhee, 2014 RHA president, also looks forward to the three major events – the family-oriented Summer Cookout in late summer, the RHA Education Conference and Expo in late fall and the RHA President’s Awards Dinner in early winter. And we look forward to the beginning of the budget season and planning for 2015. If you have any suggestions for new program or services, I hope you will take a moment and contact Joe McPhee or me. n John Lafferty is the executive director of the Rental Housing Association.

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BAY STATE APARTMENT OWNER

Second Quarter 2014


g r e a t e r

b o s t o n

r e a l

e s t a t e

b o a r d

RENTAL HOUSING ASSOCIATION 2014 EDUCATION AND EVENTS

14 23

5 28

July 17 11 Breakfast Series 13-16 CAMT Bruins Outing NextGEN Career Panel 21 Red Sox Outing BreakfastBreakfast Series RHA Series Fall Golf Spring Marketing Program River Village Condominium, Canton,Maintenance MA Mania NextGen Night Out NextGEN Kickoff Fair Housing

Spring Golf Business Exchange for NAAPAC 22

Certified16 Apartment August 18-21 NAA Education Manager (CAM) Conference, Denver RHA Affiliates Signature Event 13-15 Stadium 2, 9, 16,Gillette 23 CAM

5, 12, 19, 26

10

Breakfast Series

15-18 Certificate for Maintenance Technicians (CAMT)

10

Breakfast Series Affiliate Signature Event

RHA Multi-Family Conference Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law

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NAA Assembly of Delegates, Boston NextGen Holiday Party

RHA President's Awards September 11 RHA Breakfast Series, Communication C L I C K H E R E F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N ARS Newton

22-24 National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP)

September RHA Fall Golf Location TBD October RHA Landlord Tenant Law Location TBD October 22 RHA 2014 Conference & Expo Hynes Convention Center, Boston

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Contact us today to put your marketing efforts on target! (617) 896-5392 | datasolutions@thewarrengroup.com For more information visit www.gbreb/rha.com or via e-mail at jcooke@gbreb.com Second Quarter 2014 • BAY STATE APARTMENT OWNER

7


Caritas

Communities Improving Lives, One Room at a Time By Debbie Swanson

8

BAY STATE APARTMENT OWNER

•

Second Quarter 2014


I

t’s all about considering someone’s life outside of the present moment, says Mark Winkeller, executive director of Caritas Communities in Braintree. “Many individuals who work in the service sector for modest wages are invisible to others unless they do a bad job. Customers seldom consider the struggle that another person may be facing just to secure a basic need, like housing,” he reflects. But thanks to Caritas Communities, many of those working individuals no longer need to worry about where they’re going to sleep that night, or how they’ll wash up for work the next morning. Committed to providing safe, affordable housing to the homeless and low-income wage

earners, Caritas has enabled over 895 individuals to have a place to come home to. Caritas began in 1985, when the high number of homeless individuals in Boston led P. Leo Corcoran to seek a solution through affordable housing. Tapping into his own background in real estate and development, and working with a carefully chosen board of directors, he founded Caritas Communities. The organization began by purchasing properties to be renovated into singleroom occupancy (SRO) residences – a “rooming house” model of living. The properties were remodeled to offer Continued on page 10

Second Quarter 2014 • BAY STATE APARTMENT OWNER

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private, furnished bedrooms, a shared kitchen and bath, and access to a common living area. Each house had a designated live-in manager. Corcoran passed away in 2010, yet Caritas grew to become the largest nonprofit owner and manager of permanent veteran and SRO housing in Greater Boston. Buildings today exist in Boston, Arlington, Bedford, Braintree, Brookline, Chelsea, Everett, Medford, Melrose, New Bedford, Quincy, Salem and Wakefield, all of which are within walking distance of public transportation. Winkeller says Caritas’ present goals include creating more strategic partnerships in order to help residents achieve greater independence. “We’d like to be able to refer residents out for needed services, such as job training, assistance filling out paperwork, or helping them to understand the benefits to which they’re entitled,” says Winkeller. Two of Caritas’ properties have successful on-site social services programs aimed at building self-sufficiency: Cambridge’s Central House, which provides 128 units, and the Bedford Veterans Quarters, which offers 60 units in a renovated building at the Bedford Veterans Hospital. 10

BAY STATE APARTMENT OWNER

Second Quarter 2014

Managing the Flood As expected, a flood of applicants vie for Caritas housing, and being able to assist those who need it most can be a challenge. “The lowest-income earners are often the hardest to help. You can be too poor for our program,” says Winkeller. “For example, if your income is $14,000 a year, and your average weekly rent is $135, amounting to $7,000 a year, that’s half your income.” Caritas’ guidelines prohibit taking such a large chunk of income. “We’d need to have a program based rent subsidy, or the individual applicant needs to apply and obtain his or her own voucher,” he says. Public donations are always welcome, both in-kind and financial. The living units are provided with basic furnishings: a bed, bureau, tables, chairs, lamps. But beyond that, many of the individuals are in need of household items or clothing, and common areas benefit from donated items that lend a comfortable, home-like feel. Recently, a family from Cohasset learned that several of the community’s residents didn’t have their own can opener.


“They solicited their community and ran a successful can opener drive,” he says. While in-kind donations of new or used items are always welcome, Winkeller stresses that donors remain mindful of the quality of the items, and of the underlying message that the goods deliver to the recipients. “We’re trying to give these people a fresh start,” he explains. Caritas discourages items that show signs of use and wear, and even new items that are seconds or irregular. Caritas’ efforts not only benefit their residents, but also the neighboring community. They are always on the lookout for existing properties in need of rehabilitation, or for vacant, buildable land. Two Boston area renovations are slated to begin in the fall: a building which will provide 40 units of housing on Cortez Street in Bay Village, where three-quarters of residents will have a private kitchen, and another property on D Street in South Boston, which will give preference to veterans. “My work at Caritas really sharpened my understanding of the need for affordable housing and support services,” says Winkeller. “There are plenty of people in need. If this mission isn’t critical to you, find somewhere else to help. Put your energy somewhere.” n Second Quarter 2014 • BAY STATE APARTMENT OWNER

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A New Lease for

THE HOMELESS For Local Nonprofit is the First in the Nation to Successfully Launch Housing Preference Program for Homeless Families

By Cassidy Murphy

I

t takes a lot of talk, and planning and consensus-building to achieve any kind of forward momentum in the fight against societal problems, particularly when there are multiple moving factions and program partners. So although this kind of program has been discussed for more than a decade, the successful launch – and continuing growth – of New Lease for Homeless Families stands out as an achievement in the fight against homelessness. Originally the brainchild of Howard Cohen, CEO of Beacon Communities, and a coalition of multifamily property owners including Winn Development, Schochet Companies, Peabody Properties, Trinity Management, the Preservation of Affordable Housing, the Planning Office for Urban Affairs and The Community Builders, the nonprofit evolved into a partnership with state agencies and shelter providers. With the ongoing support of the Office of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Housing and Community Development, it became a reality at the beginning of 2013. “What makes us different – and, I think, ultimately successful – is that we were started by the owners,” said Thomas Plihcik, executive director of New Lease. “It’s been tried in the past – the state ran on an ad hoc basis, with one person or one department; there was no organization. And it’s not a mandate [for owners]; it’s strictly volunteer.” There are, at any time, 4,600 families living in shelters, hotels and motels in Massachusetts. Home12

BAY STATE APARTMENT OWNER

Second Quarter 2014

lessness is “a crisis in the commonwealth,” said Karen Fish-Will, co-founder and board member of New Lease, president and CEO of Peabody Properties, and past president of the Rental Housing Association. “It costs $40 million per year to house them in hotels and motels. And through this wonderful program, we can help them.” The goal is to offer 200 or more units per year to homeless families, and get them out of shelters. Families who wish to enter the program are preapproved and placed on a waiting list, so that when a unit becomes available, there are a number of families ready and able to move in. The final step is completing the onsite housing application, which varies from site to site. “The wait list involves a lot of outreach,” Plihcik said. “It’s constantly updated and we’re constantly in contact with shelters providers. Because the families are prequalified, we always have a bullpen of families ready when there’s a vacancy. There are always families ready to refer at a moment’s notice.” The streamlining of the preapproval process – of all the forms, information and education necessary to get a family into housing, and keep them there – was a vital part of all that talking and planning, and a vital part of the program’s success, he said, because the “ownership, shelter communities and state are on the same page, creating this model together.” “We went back and forth on the standardization services, to maxi-

mize efficiencies in the application process, to put together a plan to support tenancies,” said Fish-Will. “A lot of time and effort went into putting it in motion and making it successful.” Consisting of four regions – Boston, Springfield/Berkshire, the North Shore and the South Shore – with several partner organizations in each, the program has grown to include eight owners and 33 properties, governed by a board of owners and shelter providers The properties have a variety of support services nearby, ranging from state agencies to transportation to jobs, a vital component in helping families remain in their new homes. Each family also receives a year of ongoing support and in-home case management from the state. The families are “coming from shelters to apartments, and they need tools, they need resources, which we provide – that’s why it’s been successful,” Fish-Will said. “There have been issues, but there are issues with a lot of tenancies. New Lease is there to support the families and the owners for the duration of the tenancy.” During the preapproval process, applicants receive counseling to help mitigate some of the situations that have prevented such families from participating in housing programs in the past. “A Section 8 screening looks at credit and landlord history, and one or both usually pretty poor,” Plihcik said. “There are a lot of barriers, a lot of unfortunate situations – these


“WE GET FAMILIES INTO HOUSING; FAMILIES THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN DENIED, FAMILIES THAT HAVE NOWHERE ELSE TO GO.” families are not easy to house. We have standardized the mitigation, and we provide training and technical assistance to providers on how to effectively mitigate barriers families may have.” For owners, the system allows greater speed and flexibility, as well as an efficiency of process in submittals to state agencies and shelter organizations. Renters are subsidized, but the buildings remain privately owned. The final decision to house a family is made by the owners or their property

managers, and the decision can be reached much more quickly because of the preapproval and mitigation process. “The speed and transparency of the process is very important,” Plihcik said. “You can get to approval in 21 business days. There are tight timelines and tight turnarounds. It’s fast, and it’s reliable” – and it results in a family, currently living in a shelter or a hotel, getting into a new home that much more quickly, as well as saving taxpayers the cost of sheltering the family.

“We get families into housing; families that might have been denied, families that have nowhere else to go,” he said. “That was the goal, and that’s what we’re achieving with the system that we have put in place.”  New Lease is constantly seeking additional owner participants, and is currently in need of two-bedroom or larger units. For more information about A New Lease, please contact Thomas Plihcik at tplihcik@newleasehousing. org or (857) 233-5821.  n

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Second Quarter 2014 • BAY STATE APARTMENT OWNER

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