NMTCs Finance New Housing Center| Housing Finance Magazine

Courtesy Way Finder
Homeless prevention, home buyer education, and other services are offered at the new Housing Center and Way Finders headquarters in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts.

Way Finders enforced the COVID-19 pandemic to complete its new headquarters and residential center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The 32,000-square-foot building houses the company’s many services, including homeless prevention, home buyer education, and rental assistance. Way Finders, the largest nonprofit provider of affordable housing in western Massachusetts, also develops affordable housing and manages over 5,000 housing units in Section 8.

In 2019, more than 19,500 services were provided, affecting more than 52,000 men, women and children.

“We call it the Housing Center because anyone who comes through the front door of Way Finders will offer services, whether it be information and recommendations, help finding an apartment or guidance on one of our programs,” says Laureen Borgatti. COO. “We’ll help people when they walk through the door.”

Courtesy Way Finder

Way Finders had outgrown its previous space, so with the new Housing Center the company can better support its customers by providing access to computers and nine new barrier-free meeting rooms.

“We offer so many different services that we need a building in which we can provide these different services to the community.”

The organization finished construction on the building when COVID-19 hit and then moved to the Housing Center during the pandemic. Way Finders had seen customers by appointment but was able to open the doors for regular business hours last week.

Funding for the $ 16.8 million center included a $ 4.2 million investment in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), of which $ 2.43 million was funded by Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp. (MHIC), $ 1.44 million from Vermont Rural Ventures and $ 312,000 from Capital One.

“The project needed new markets in order to be realized,” says Borgatti. “It was really important to the project and where we started.”

Courtesy Way Finder

Managed by the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, the NMTC program helps economically disadvantaged communities attract capital by providing investors with a federal tax credit. Over the years the NMTC has supported a number of businesses including manufacturing, retail, technology, and housing. In the most recent round of NMTC allocations, more than $ 3.5 billion was awarded to 76 community development agencies.

“Way Finders’ new Housing Center enables them to meet the diverse needs of their customers. It offers meeting rooms for advice, support, training and referral under one roof, enhancing their ability to address the root causes of poverty in Springfield,” says he Kathy McGilvray, Director of Investment at MHIC: “New market tax credits were essential to fill a $ 4 million funding gap for the center’s development.”

Additional funding included tax-exempt bonds, government funding and significant fundraising from Way Finders.

In addition to being a new home for nonprofits, the Housing Center is important to the larger Springfield community as it helps revitalize the inner city. The new building, designed by Kuhn Riddle Architects, replaces the city’s former bus station.

The new Union Station is across the street, making it convenient for customers who rely on the buses that run through the terminal.

Looking ahead, way finders will play an even bigger role. She is working with the city to help residents avoid homelessness amid rising unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s a very important link with the community, even more so than before,” says Borgatti.

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