PROVINCETOWN — The 65-unit affordable housing project at the former VFW site at 3 Jerome Smith Road in Provincetown was funded by the state last week to a tune of almost $29 million.
Nine million in direct funding from the Mass. Dept. of Housing and Community Development will be paired with almost $20 million in state and federal tax credits, according to Lindsey Gael, a senior development project manager at the Community Builders Inc., the Boston-based nonprofit that won the contract to build the apartments in 2021.
The 46-unit project at 95 Lawrence Road in Wellfleet was passed over by the state agency this time, however.
Two nonprofit groups are collaborating on the Wellfleet project — Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) and the Community Development Partnership (CDP). Jay Coburn, CEO of the CDP, said they will reapply in a special “mini-round” of funding that the state will conduct around August.
Normally, there is only one opportunity per year to apply for state funding for affordable housing projects — but since the passage of major Covid legislation in 2020 and the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021, the state has added the mini-round for three years running.
The 39-unit Cloverleaf project in Truro was funded in last September’s mini-round.
Coburn said that his team was “of course disappointed” that 95 Lawrence didn’t receive funding in this round. But he said that, from a regional perspective, the results were a win — particularly by including the 14-unit project at 107 Main St. in Orleans that also received state funding.
“Between the two projects that got funded last week, and Cloverleaf getting funded late last fall, to have 120 units of housing in the development pipeline is certainly good news,” Coburn said.
Coburn also said that it’s highly unusual for a project to get funded in its first round.
“We’re really confident that in the next funding round we’re going to be successful,” Coburn added.
The $1 million in Community Preservation Act funds that Wellfleet town meeting voters just approved for the 95 Lawrence Road project will still apply if that project is funded later this year.
At the Provincetown Select Board meeting, the mood was upbeat.
“With this award, we are slated to move forward and break ground early next year,” Town Manager Alex Morse told the board. “This is a testament to the select board, all the town boards that came together around this project, and the voters of Provincetown for supporting a $3-million local contribution.”
Morse added that there were more than 50 projects considered by the state in this round; only 27 were funded. “It’s not uncommon for communities to wait three or four rounds to get funding,” Morse said, “so it’s an honor that this project was funded in its first round.”
The Jerome Smith apartments will be spread across four buildings on the 1.8-acre parcel.
Thirteen units will be reserved for renters earning less than 30 percent of the county’s area median income — that is, less than $22,850 for a single person or less than $26,100 for two people.
Thirty-two units will be reserved for people earning less than 60 percent of the area median — meaning less than $45,660 for a single person and less than $52,200 for two people.
Sixteen units will be for people making less than 80 percent of the county’s median income —$60,900 for one person, or $69,600 for two people — and the remaining four units will be rented at market rates, although for year-round occupancy only.
The Community Builders (TCB) had won the contract partly because of its willingness to include units for people earning 80 to 120 percent of area median income — a bracket that includes many working people who nonetheless cannot afford to buy homes here or find secure rental housing. At an emergency select board meeting in January, however, TCB asked for and received permission to strip the median-income units from the project, saying that existing funding formulas would not support them and their inclusion would make the project less competitive for state funding.
The $3-million local contribution was large compared to past projects, but it also helped offset the $1.4 million that TCB spent to purchase a half-acre parcel at 55R Captain Bertie’s Way, which allowed the project to expand across four buildings instead of three.
“If TCB hadn’t moved forward with that, we would have attempted to negotiate it for a similar cost,” Morse told the select board last June, when that sale was concluding.
With all of Provincetown’s contributions included — a $3-million direct allocation, $500,000 in Community Preservation Act funds, and $900,000 to buy the VFW parcel back in 2013 — the local cost for each apartment comes to $67,692.
The total project cost is currently estimated at $37.8 million, or $581,538 per apartment.
“Enormous credit goes to Provincetown’s leaders and the community who have advocated for more permanent affordable housing and are working to ensure that residents can remain in their community,” Gael told the Independent.
Coburn urged the Outer Cape to continue looking ahead.
The timeline from earmarking a property for housing to a ribbon cutting can be more than a decade. While each town is now making plans for key parcels — including the former police station site at 26 Shank Painter Road in Provincetown, the Walsh property in Truro, Maurice’s Campground in Wellfleet, and the T-Time property in Eastham — Coburn said that it’s crucial to keep “the foot on the gas pedal.”
“I think the question for the region now is, what’s next in the pipeline?” Coburn said.