June 7, 2022 – Salem News

HAMILTON — Habitat for Humanity broke ground on the construction of 10 new affordable homes in Hamilton Tuesday, making room for more low-income families to settle down on the North Shore.

The project will consist of four 3-bedroom homes, two 2-bedroom homes and four 1-bedroom homes that will be built in an area set back from Asbury Street.

The new homes will take about three years to complete. Each one will cost around $200,000, depending on the number of bedrooms it contains, and will be sold to families making between $40,000 to $80,000 a year.

Meegan O’Neil, executive director of Essex County Habitat for Humanity, said projects like this are an important step in creating more affordable communities.

“The need for affordable housing in our communities has never been greater than it is today,” O’Neil said. “Affordable homeownership gives families stability, and a chance to build equity in a home and really create a solid financial future for themselves and their children.”

Watts Water Technology in North Andover will donate plumbing and heating equipment for the project, and LYF Architects in Andover designed the new homes pro-bono.

Habitat for Humanity will start advertising the homes in local communities over the next month or two, O’Neil said.

Once families are selected, they will help build their homes alongside volunteers with the nonprofit and will pay an affordable mortgage to live in their new homes, O’Neil said.

“(This) is an opportunity for affordable homeownership to 10 deserving families,” O’Neil said.

Some of the funding for the $2.3 million project will come from donations to Habitat for Humanity and its nonprofit resale stores, which sell donated furniture and home goods to fund projects like this.

The project will also receive $435,000 from Hamilton, with that funding coming from payments pursuant to the town’s inclusionary housing bylaw, said Marnie Crouch, chair of Hamilton’s Affordable Housing Trust.

Crouch’s first meeting with the housing trust was Nov. 19, 2019. On the meeting’s agenda that day, she said, was discussion of the Habitat for Humanity project.

“It gives me great pleasure and it’s a real honor to be here today for this important, groundbreaking ceremony,” Crouch said.

The town has been behind the project since its inception, said Hamilton Town Manager Joseph Domelowicz.

“We’re very eager to see them break ground on some additional affordable housing,” Domelowicz said. “We’ll continue to work on the need to provide affordable housing in the community, and this is one program that’s going to help us do that.”

According to a housing report released in January 2020, the town would need to create 194 affordable units for 10% of its year-round housing to be considered affordable under the state’s Chapter 40B guidelines.

The new Asbury Street homes are some of the latest affordable housing options to be added to in the town, Domelowicz said.

A mixed-income rental property with 18 affordable or market-rate units will open on Willow Street later this summer, and there is a proposal for 45 affordable housing units to be built across the street from the new Habitat for Humanity project, he said.

“There are a couple of other projects,” Domelowicz added. “Once one’s wrapping up, one’s getting ready to start, and there’s some discussions about others, but those are the ones that are kind of concrete at this point.”

Domelowicz said the town is “well underway” to reaching its 10% affordable housing goal.

“We will try to do what we can to find ways to add affordable housing in the community where it makes sense so that we can get closer to our affordable housing requirement,” he said.

As for the Asbury Street property, it will still be several years before families are settled in to their new homes there. Dick Sumberg, board president of Essex County Habitat for Humanity, said the organization will need all hands on deck to get the project done.

“We need all the help we can get,” Sumberg said. “We need it from volunteers on the job site. We need it with suppliers who can supply us with with pro bono labor and pro bono materials. We need it with financial supporters. Because although we get some some pro bono materials, we have to purchase much of what we got and hire many of the professional services.

“If you want to help us in any of those areas, we’d love to have you if you’re not already involved,” he continued.

Contact Caroline Enos at CEnos@northofboston.com and follow her on Twitter @CarolineEnos.