A Place to Anchor: Ceremony Marks Opening of 38 Affordable Units

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By The Salem News

BEVERLY — Some of the most hard-to-get living spaces in Beverly are about to open.

Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour Friday morning for Anchor Point, a new affordable housing building on Sohier Road that had 650 applicants for its 38 units. Residents, who were selected by lottery, are beginning to move in.

The building is the first phase of a complex that will eventually include a second apartment building with 39 units and a community building called The Lighthouse Center. Harborlight Homes Executive Director Andrew DeFranza said the apartments will provide much-needed housing for the families of essential workers like nurses and grocery store workers, who played a vital role in helping people through the pandemic.

“This is the manifestation that they should have a nice place to live that they can afford with the incomes that we decide to pay them,” DeFranza told the crowd of about 135 people who attended the ceremony.

Harborlight Homes, the former Harborlight Community Partners, is the Beverly-based nonprofit affordable housing agency that developed the project.

The three-story building includes 20 two-bedroom units and 18 three-bedroom units. The income of the families who are moving in ranges from $7,000 to $89,000, according to Harborlight. The $89,000 is earned by a family of six that has four jobs.

Some of the jobs held by residents include certified nursing assistant, school para-professional, postal worker, grocery store manager, administrative assistant, and Amazon and Uber drivers. Several families are moving in from homeless shelters. The majority of families are single-parent households, and some are multi-generational. There will be 50 children living in the building, most of them 13 and under.

Sixty-seven percent of all of the applicants self-identified as racial or ethnic minorities. The majority of the applications came from Beverly, Salem and Peabody.

Rents range from $1,469 to $1,812 per month for a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment, and $1,696 to $2,094 for a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment.

Five of the two-bedroom apartments are set aside at lower rents for households of two to four people earning below $40,250. Five three-bedroom apartments are set aside for households of three to six people earning below $46,700.

The total cost of the two residential buildings is about $39 million. The project has 14 funders, including the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development and the city of Beverly.

Harborlight Homes is looking to raise money through private donations to build The Lighthouse Center, which will have on-site childcare, after-school programming, adult education, a teaching kitchen and other services for residents. The campus will also include playgrounds, walking paths, a playing field and community gardens.

DeFranza thanked all of the funders and the many people who helped push the project through over the last five years, including Beverly Mayor Mike Cahill, who also spoke at the ribbon-cutting. DeFranza said developing an affordable housing project takes “a lot of people and a lot of political will,” and credited Beverly with being a community that is open to affordable housing.

Recalling a City Council meeting that was packed with supporters of the project, DeFranza said,“It was delightful to be in a room with 100 people who wanted this. It was electric. I had never seen anything like it.”

Phase two of the project, with the additional 39 apartments, is expected to break ground in 2023.

Staff Writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.