Dottie Anderson, the first person to move into the new Brewster Woods affordable housing complex in Brewster, deftly wielded the scissors at a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 9 as a crowd of onlookers cheered. Cutting the bright red ribbon was the culmination of years of work by dozens of people to make the 30 affordable rental units become reality.
Anderson, a Town of Brewster employee who has lived on the Cape for 25 years, moved into the complex when units became available on Feb. 1.
“I used to own a condo, but with fees, assessments, and taxes all increasing, I couldn’t afford it anymore,” she said. After selling her condo to her son, she saw an ad for a housing lottery for eligible residents to win a lease at Brewster Woods, so she entered her name and won. “I really like it here,” she said. “It’s quiet and I like the grounds. It’s away from the hustle and bustle.”
Anderson’s story is not unusual; officials received hundreds of applications for the 30 available units at Brewster Woods, Housing Assistance CEO Alisa Magnotta said. “We could have filled eight more communities like this,” she said.
Getting to this moment took more than 35 years. The town of Brewster acquired the land in the mid-1980s, but it wasn’t until 2015 that the town issued a request for proposals to build a housing complex. Housing Assistance Corporation and Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), a Boston-based housing development nonprofit, submitted a collaborative proposal and won the contract, but the project faced further delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is our Covid baby,” Magnotta told the audience at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “Brewster Woods is a testament to the vision and leadership needed from the local and state level, with many partners and funders coming together to make a project like this happen.
“Cape Cod cannot thrive without projects like Brewster Woods,” she added. “The Town of Brewster stands out as a leader in being willing to invest in a collaborative effort to ensure a successful project that serves local residents, and I urge other towns to follow Brewster’s lead.”
Brewster Woods features 8 one-bedroom, 19 two-bedroom, and 3 three-bedroom units. Its Passive House design focuses on robust insulation and air tightness, high-performing glazing, and simplified mechanical systems to achieve significantly lower energy use, while creating a comfortable and resilient space for residents. The complex also includes off-street parking, central laundry, tenant storage, on-site management & 24-hour emergency maintenance.
State Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro), the event’s keynote speaker, also noted that while it was a moment to celebrate, the region is in an ongoing housing crisis that is forcing residents to leave Cape Cod in search of housing they can afford.
“Brewster Woods has changed the lives of the 30 Cape Cod households that now live here, and that’s a wonderful thing,” said Cyr. “Yet Cape Cod’s future as a year-round community is in serious jeopardy. The absurd cost of housing on Cape Cod and the Islands is eroding our communities, forcing our workforce to commute from over the bridge and pricing out year-round families.
“We need to build more developments like Brewster Woods, and we need to build them now. The real question is, do we have the fortitude to do what’s needed, to provide dignity, to really live up to the value that housing is a right?”
POAH President and CEO Aaron Gornstein said the housing crisis on the Cape is complex, which requires committed partnerships. “Brewster Woods is a model for how public-private partnerships can work to advance affordable housing,” he said. “We are excited to create these much-needed housing opportunities for families in Brewster and in neighboring towns.”
Also speaking at the event were State Rep. Chris Flanagan; Clark Ziegler, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership; and Ned Chatelain of the Brewster Select Board.
Funding sources for the Brewster Woods project included a $1.68 million state MassWorks grant, a $2.4 million loan from Massachusetts Housing Partnership, $7.3 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity from Bank of America, a $7 million construction loan from Bank of America, $1 million in Affordable Housing Trust Funds from MassHousing, $1 million in financing from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), $750,000 in local and state HOME funding, and $255,000 in Brewster Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds. The Town of Brewster, through the Brewster Select Board, waived its standard building permit fees for the project.
The general contractor for the Brewster Woods project was Delphi Construction of Mashpee. CC Construction of South Dennis completed the infrastructure improvements prior to the start of construction.
Brewster Woods is the most recent POAH-Housing Assistance project to be completed on Cape Cod. The two nonprofits have partnered on nine housing projects over the last 15 years, building a total 214 units to-date. Housing Assistance and POAH have another 126 units in the pipeline, including a 45-unit project proposed for Millstone Road in Brewster. The two nonprofits also are working on LeClair Village Apartments, a 39-unit development in Mashpee.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]