The MassHousing logo MassHousing Update, January 2009
Volume 5, Issue 1
Message from Executive Director Tom Gleason

A photo of MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason

As the new year begins, all of us in the housing and mortgage finance industries are waiting anxiously to see what the future holds. Last year will long be remembered as a trying time for the housing and financing markets. No one knows for sure what lies ahead, but I’m pleased to say that MassHousing is well positioned to deliver affordable housing financing for the foreseeable future.

We recently raised capital in the municipal bond market for both our single-family and multifamily programs, something that has been a challenge for some other housing finance agencies. And while 2008 was a difficult year in many respects, it was MassHousing’s best year ever for homeownership lending.

We can’t guarantee that that will continue, but MassHousing has always prided itself on sound financial management and the ability to deliver financing in all types of markets. While the world adapts to sweeping change, one constant will be our presence in the affordable housing industry.

Happy New Year to all of our readers.

--Tom Gleason,
  Executive Director, MassHousing

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MassHousing
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Boston, MA 02108
617.854.1000
Table of Contents
Agency News
>Arce Joins MassHousing Board of Directors
Home Ownership
>MyCommunity Refinance Loans a Good Option for Owners
>Mortgage Fraud Targets MassHousing Borrowers
>Upcoming Trainings for Lenders
Rental Housing
>Affordability Preserved for 216 Apartments in Leominster
>Re-Opening at Casa Maria in Boston's North End
Community Services
>Join TAP Today and Enjoy a Full Year’s Benefits
>Calendar Contest Reception Celebrates Young Residents
>Upcoming TAP Management Trainings
 
Agency News
Arce Joins MassHousing Board of Directors

Governor Deval Patrick recently appointed Pedro L. Arce to MassHousing’s Board of Directors. Mr. Arce has a wealth of experience in the financial industry, particularly in inner-city banking and working with emerging markets.

Currently the President and CEO of Veritas Bank, Mr. Arce has also held senior positions with TD Banknorth, Bank Boston, Nuestra Communidad CDC and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. In addition, he has led a number of community development initiatives in Lawrence, including development of the first bilingual SBA Center in the country and creation of the youth development center Adelante. He is also an adjunct Professor at the Sawyer School of Management at Suffolk University.

Mr. Arce earned two bachelor's degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a master's in management from Cambridge College and master's in multinational commerce from Boston University.

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Home Ownership
MyCommunity Refinance Loans a Good Option for Owners

We’ve been saying that the low interest rates and falling home prices have made it a great time to buy a home in Massachusetts. But interest rates and several other features also make it an ideal occasion for homeowners to refinance their mortgage with a safe, stable fixed-rate MassHousing MyCommunity loan.

Homeowners might refinance to lower their interest rate and monthly payment, or reduce their interest rate and shorten the repayment period. Either way, homeowners can save thousands in mortgage interest over the life of a loan.

MyCommunity loans offer affordable, fixed interest rates; 30-year repayment terms; and discounted mortgage insurance (if applicable) with MI Plus mortgage payment protection. A My Community loan does not allow you to draw equity out of your property, but it will refinance 100% of your existing mortgage plus all applicable closing costs. While other loan programs may limit your loan to 80% of your current market value or less, the MyCommunity Mortgage will refinance your existing mortgage for up to 100% of your home’s fair market value.

More than $20 million in MyCommunity refinance loans have already been registered with MassHousing since January 1. If you have an adjustable rate loan that will soon reset, or if your current interest rate is above 6% and you're looking for a more affordable loan, now is a great time to refinance. Learn more about a MyCommunity Refinance loan from MassHousing.

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Mortgage Fraud Targets MassHousing Borrowers

MassHousing has recently learned of several attempts by unknown parties to defraud the Agency’s borrowers. We caution all MassHousing borrowers, and all homeowners for that matter, to be aware of attempts by these and other unscrupulous parties, and to give all financial offers appropriate scrutiny.

Two recent attempts at defrauding MassHousing borrowers were made via mailed letters. One letter asked the borrower to pay a $35 fee to have their monthly mortgage payment deferred. Another letter incorrectly informed a borrower that MassHousing had sold the servicing of their loan, and that mortgage payments should be sent to a new party and address.

MassHousing is investigating these attempts, and will include information to borrowers in their upcoming statements. If you receive or learn about any suspicious offers or communications regarding a MassHousing loan, please contact our Home Ownership Servicing Department at 888.843.6432 to verify its legitimacy.

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    Upcoming Trainings for Lenders
   

MassHousing regularly hosts online trainings on a variety of subjects of interest to our partner lenders. The trainings are free and occur entirely online, so they may be attended from anywhere with a computer and a reliable Internet connection. Upcoming trainings are listed below:

Date   Training Topic Time
January
Home for the Brave January 28 10:00 a.m.
Insuring Portfolio Loans with MIPlus January 28 2:00 p.m.
February
Introduction to emasshousing.com February 3 10:30 a.m.
MassAdvantage Products, Pricing Rate-lock & Delivery February 3 2:00 p.m.
MassAdvantage Compliance & Recapture February 4 10:30 am.
Underwriting a MassHousing Loan February 4 2:00 p.m.
MassAdvantage Purchase & Rehab Program February 5 10:30 a.m.
MassHousing MyCommunity Program February 5 2:00 p.m.
MassHousing Home Saver Program February 10 10:30 a.m.
Closing a MassHousing Loan February 10 2:00 p.m.
Introduction to emasshousing.com February 11 2:00 p.m.
MassAdvantage Products, Pricing Rate-lock & Delivery February 17 10:30 a.m.
MassAdvantage Compliance & Recapture February 17 2:00 p.m.
Underwriting a MassAdvantage Loan February 18 10:30 a.m.
MassHousing MyCommunity Program February 19 10:30 a.m.
MassHousing Home Saver Program February 19 2:00 p.m.
Insuring Portfolio loans with MIPlus February 24 10:30 a.m.

To register for any of these trainings, visit http://mass-housing.webex.com. For more information, contact Kathleen Connolly at 617.854.1348.

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    Rental Housing
A photo of Litchfield Terrace in Leominster
Litchfield Terrace in Leominster. Click the image for a larger version.
  Affordability Preserved for 216 Apartments in Leominster
 

MassHousing’s Board of Directors approved a $13.3 million loan commitment that will preserve the affordability of Litchfield Terrace, a 216-unit apartment complex in Leominster. The loan proceeds will also be used to perform a variety of repairs and renovations on the 36-year-old property.

Litchfield Terrace is eligible to prepay its mortgage, which would result in the development converting to market rents. Instead, the proposed transaction allows a new owner to acquire Litchfield Terrace, to maintain the affordability of all units, and to perform extensive renovations for the first time since the property’s opened in 1973. Capital improvements will include replacing roofs and windows, updating unit and common area finishes, increasing accessibility and improving other site amenities.

Learn more about MassHousing's products and programs for owners of affordable rental housing.

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A photo of the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Casa Maria Apartments in Boston's North End
The ribbon is cut at Casa Maria Apartments in Boston's North End. Click the image for a larger version.
  Re-Opening at Casa Maria in Boston's North End
 

On December 15, MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason joined Boston Mayor Thomas Menino for a re-opening event at the Casa Maria Apartments, a 29-year old residence for low-income elderly and handicapped residents in Boston's North End. MassHousing recently financed an extensive rehabilitation of the 85-unit property with a $4.5 million construction permanent loan, a $5.85 million bridge loan and 4% tax credits that generated an additional $6.3 million in equity. The developer was The Community Builders.

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    Community Services
    Join TAP Today and Enjoy a Full Year’s Benefits
   

Make a commitment to your housing community for all of 2009 by joining TAP today.

TAP, MassHousing's Tenant Assistance Program, promotes attractive, well-maintained, healthy and fiscally sound housing communities by providing training for site staff, programs for residents, and resources to identify, address and resolve problems. TAP Membership is available exclusively to properties financed and/or overseen by MassHousing for just $10/unit/year.

Last year, 375 housing communities across the Commonwealth enjoyed the many benefits of TAP membership. Visit www.masshousing.com/TAP to learn more and to enroll your site today.

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A photo of several winning posters from the annual MassHousing Calendar Contest
Some of the winning posters from MassHousing's annual Calendar Contest. Click the image for a larger version.
  Calendar Contest Reception Celebrates Young Residents
 

MassHousing's Community Services Department recently held its annual calendar awards ceremony in which children who live in Agency-funded rental developments were honored for their artwork submitted for use in MassHousing's 2009 calendar. This year's event hosted a number of students and award winners – along with their families – for a fun-filled day of awards, music, entertainment and pizza in the Agency’s boardroom. Music was provided by RBGG: Red, Black, Gold, Green.

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    Upcoming TAP Management Trainings
   

Upcoming TAP Management trainings are listed below:

Date   Training Topic Location
2/3 Fair Housing Basics for Site Staff Chicopee
2/5 & 2/12 Community Spanish: A Survival Guide for English Speakers Haverhill
2/10 Strategies for Dealing with Difficult People Newton

For more information on these and other TAP management trainings, visit www.masshousing.com/TAPtraining. Or, register now!

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Questions or comments? Please email mhupdate@masshousing.com