Rep. Vargas Says Mount Washington Homes Help Address Homeowner Disparities

Haverhill Economic and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. greets Gov. Charlie Baker at new homes along Gilbert Avenue. (WHAV News photograph.)

Building on Gov. Charlie Baker’s housing announcement in Haverhill last week, Haverhill Rep. Andy X. Vargas said his efforts with the legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus helped bring “disparities for homebuyers of color into clearer focus.”

Baker, celebrating the construction of affordable owner-occupied homes in Haverhill’s Mount Washington neighborhood, said he wants to spend $1 billion of federal COVID-19 aid to support similar homeownership and housing priorities across the state. MassHousing is committing a total of $950,000 to the Bread and Roses project in Haverhill. Other money came from the city’s federal HOME allocation and private donations. Vargas’ support for the program led to him being featured in MassHousing’s promotional video.

“One of the main challenges is barriers to entry, making sure they have the down payment up front to be able to afford a home. Many of them are paying rent that are equivalent to mortgages, if not more. Just coming up with that lump sum of funds for the down payment is half the challenge,” he said during the video.

He said he is proud the first project is happening in his district.

“Through collaborative conversations with the Black and Latino Caucus and Gov. Baker, the CommonWealth Builder program was created to address disparities in homeownership and intergenerational wealth,” said Vargas.

Two Mount Washington units are restricted to buyers earning up to 70% of area median income, and five units restricted at 120%. The community land trust model, which separates land costs from the cost of homeownership, allows Bread and Roses Housing to create affordability with the Mount Washington homes selling between $150,000 and $225,000.

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