Harborlight Community Partners provides update amid coronavirus pandemic

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By Jennie Oemig

BEVERLY — Officials with Harborlight Community Partners, a North Shore affordable housing non-profit, have been continuing to monitor the situation regarding the coronavirus pandemic, sharing information on how the crisis is impacting the organization, its residents and staff.

Via Facebook Live, executive director Andrew DeFranza recently provided an update on Harborlight’s community, projects in progress, current needs and safety.

“We are continuing to work hard day by day by day,” he said. “This is going to take a while yet, so we appreciate all of the residents out there, we appreciate your patience, and all of their families, your patience and encouragement, as we try to keep people safe, both the residents and the staff.”

So far, DeFranza said all of Harborlight’s residents are safe.

“We did have one person that we were aware of that was infected and went through a process at a hospital, was able to come home and quarantine and pass through the quarantine period and is safe,” he said.

DeFranza said all of Harborlight’s staff members are also safe.

“We have had quite a number of scares,” he acknowledged. “A number of people were tested and quarantined. But at this point, everybody is safe.”

The Harborlight community continues to mourn the loss of longtime board member Don Kelley, who died on March 29 after a hard-fought battle with the coronavirus.

Current projects

On the real estate development side, DeFranza said Harborlight remains on track with renovations at a single-unit on Haven Terrace in Gloucester and a small six-unit family rental project on Hardy Street in Beverly.

“We’re moving ahead with our friends at the YMCA, who are hoping to close the Cabot Y [in Beverly] refinancing later this summer and go into construction, hopefully, later this year depending on the health conditions,” he said. “We continue to support them and their efforts.”

The organization is still awaiting funding announcements from the state regarding two other projects – Anchor Point in Beverly and Granite Street Crossing in Rockport.

“Maple Woods in Wenham continues to move forward,” DeFranza said, explaining that a meeting to amend a permit will be held in May. “We continue to work with the town to advance that, and we hope to submit that to the state for funding late this year.”

Ongoing needs

Though the organization recently received a small Paycheck Protection Program loan, Harborlight is still seeking assistance from the community, whether it be through monetary donations, help acquiring personal protection equipment or volunteers to make phone calls to and artwork for residents.

“We expect when it gets a little warmer, we’re going to try to come up with some more creative ways to break the isolation,” DeFranza said. “There’s possible ways people might be able to volunteer safely — musicians and others who might be able to provide some sort of entertainment to residents at a distance.”

The dominant need is, of course, funding.

“If you’re in a position where you’re looking to invest philanthropically in the local community, please consider investing in Harborlight Community Partners,” DeFranza said. “We need to have the cash flow in place so that we can continue to house our seniors and our essential workers. And, in order to do that, we need the support of the community.”

To learn more about Harborlight Community Partners and how to help, visit https://harborlightcp.org/covid-19-response.