Housing advocates from several Metro West communities have been meeting off and on for over 10 years to learn from each other and strategize ways that they could better work together. Advocates also wanted to have a more direct impact on the development that was happening around them. Grant opportunities from the Local Initiative Support Corporation and later from the Massachusetts Housing Partnership Fund gave the community leaders the support they needed to create a business model and regional game plan. The result is the transformation of Watertown Community Housing into Metro West Collaborative Development, Inc. (Metro West CD), a regional non-profit community development corporation that seeks to develop 100 units of affordable housing over the next five years in its partner communities while also providing housing services to hundreds of low and moderate income families and encouraging economic development and other community development strategies that improve our neighborhoods.
Metro West CD works with individuals and organizations throughout the Metro West region. This focus area can be expanded as other housing and community advocacy groups in the Metro West region want to join efforts and directly shape the development happening in their communities.
In 2011 Watertown Community Housing celebrated its 20th anniversary. Take a look at the numerous activities below that we’ve taken part in over the years and download our 20th Anniversary Brochure. Also see and hear from early community activist from this documentary created by Watertown Community Access Television.
Very Early On
In 1987 housing advocates used a Growth Management Committee Hearing as a forum to voice their concern for the shortage of housing affordable to seniors, first time home buyers and low and middle income workers. This hearing prompted the creation of a Housing Task Force that provided recommendations to the Town Council. These housing advocates became known as: WHAT – Watertown Homeowners And Tenants.
In 1988 recommendations from the Housing Task Force included:
- Creating a town-Housing Partnership
- Creating a non-profit housing development organization
- Creating a housing counselor position at Town Hall
WHAT decides to dissolve and form the non-profit per the Task Force recommendations. The non-profit would have “as its sole and continuing focus, the remedy of housing problems inthe community.” In 1990, articles of incorporation are submitted to the Secretary of State for the formation of Watertown Community Housing, Inc. Its first membership meeting is held in February 1991.
1991 – 2002
In the very early years the Watertown Community Housing (WCH) Board members and volunteers largely focus on affordable housing advocacy campaigns and one HUD/HOME funded program “First Home.” First Home provided Downpayment assistance loans to low-income home buyers. WCH facilitated the loans on behalf of the Town of Watertown. WCH hired its first part time staff person.
2002 – 2006
WCH takes on its first development project at Quimby Street, converting two 2-family properties into a 4-unit condominium development with a total development cost of $1.2 million. A second government funded program “HIP” (Home Improvement Program) is launched utilizing State Community Development Block Grant funds. Just over $1 million in home improvement loans are made to low-income home owners. First Home continues to provide approximately $150,000 in loans each year to first time home buyers.
WCH enters into “Affirmative Marketing/Lottery” contract with Beacon Properties to sell 28 condos at Repton Place and earns a large fee. Also during this time WCH co-develops a 10-unit senior housing rental project with CasCap. The project was conceived when a historic nursing home was closing and considerable public support was generated to maintain the housing for low-income elderly persons. The total development cost was $2.4 million.
2008 – present
WCH builds upon its success in the Marshall Homes rental project and purchases an 18-unit development on Belmont Street completes the $5.6 million project in late 2010.
WCH of the Future: In the spirit of broadening its mission to encompass economic development and neighborhood planning activities, WCH decides on a new name – Metro West Collaborative Development.