Tag Archive for: housing

affordable housing in lowell
affordable housing in lowell

CTI Community Needs Assessment underscores need for affordable housing in Greater Lowell

LOWELL — In at least three Greater Lowell communities, more than half of renters are what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers rent-burdened, meaning they spend 30% or more of their household income on rent.

By ALANA MELANSON | amelanson@lowellsun.com | Lowell Sun PUBLISHED: June 21, 2021 at 5:42 p.m. | UPDATED: June 21, 2021 at 5:43 p.m.

View full article with graphs on the Lowell Sun CTI Community Needs Assessment underscores need for affordable housing in Greater Lowell

or on our website https://bit.ly/3x0FDXC

In Lowell, it’s 55% of renters, in Tewksbury 53% and in Dracut 51%. Chelmsford and Billerica aren’t that far behind, at 45% and 43%, respectively.

The median gross rent for a two-bedroom apartment is highest in Westford at $1,940 and lowest in Tyngsboro at $1,115, but good luck finding an available apartment in a town with an effective 0% rental vacancy rate.

Since 2010, the rental vacancy rate across the region has dropped significantly, even with modest increases in total rental housing stock in communities like Billerica, Lowell and Westford, showing the demand far has outpaced the growth.

Even in Lowell — which has the greatest ratio of rentals at 58% of total housing units — the vacancy rate is only 5%. Every other Greater Lowell community is well below the state average of 38% of housing units occupied by renters, with most ranging about half that amount or less, creating a rental scarcity across the region.

These were among the findings of Community Teamwork Inc.’s 2021 Community Needs Assessment, underscoring the region’s need for more affordable housing.

“People need it, and the community does not have enough of it,” said CTI Director of Planning and Quality Improvement Ann Sirois.

CTI conducts a community needs assessment every three years as part of its strategic planning process.

“We do a whole host of things, but a big piece of it is really sitting down and trying to gather data directly from the community to try to find out what it is that everyone around here says that they need and what they think their neighbors need,” Sirois said.

She said CTI received nearly 1,500 responses directly from community members, interviewed 19 key informants from 17 organizations, conducted 18 focus groups with 133 different people and used publicly available data from a number of state and federal agencies.

The data collection began in fall 2019 and was wrapping up in early spring 2020 just before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Sirois said. With so much changing over the course of 2020 due to the pandemic — including a huge jump in the unemployment rate from 3.5% to 20% — as well as the national conversation on racism, these factors necessitated additional analysis of the impact of both on poverty that was also included in the report, she said.

Sirois said it wasn’t a surprise that there is a housing crisis in Massachusetts and the region, and talking to community members helped to determine what they need in order to get appropriate housing: better-paying jobs, education and training to obtain and sustain those jobs, affordable child care, medical and behavioral health care and transportation.

With so many people in the area dedicating large shares of their incomes to housing costs, it means many were at risk of a minor emergency jeopardizing their ability to pay their rent, and homelessness as a result — even before the pandemic, she said.

“Then, of course, we saw COVID hit, which was an extremely huge emergency,” Sirois said.

The lack of affordable housing has been an issue across the state. Several weeks ago Gov. Charlie Baker signed “An Act Financing the Production and Preservation of Housing for Low and Moderate Income Residents” to ensure long-term support for the Baker administration’s efforts to increase the production of affordable housing, diversify the state’s housing portfolio, modernize public housing, preserve the affordability of existing housing and invest in new, innovative solutions to address Massachusetts’ rising demand for housing.

The region’s aging housing stock and quality is also problematic, especially for families with young children, Sirois said. All units built before 1979 must be deleaded to house children age 6 and below and many owners don’t take on the costly process, often preventing families from renting available units. This problem is most prevalent in Lowell, one of the region’s more affordable communities, where 82% of units were built before 1980.

“In virtually every area, Lowell has the most significant needs,” Sirois said.

CTI Director of Development and Marketing Kathleen Plath said it’s particularly difficult to create affordable housing in Lowell because it’s not advantageous for developers unless the project is of a significant size, like 40 units. She said more attention needs to be given to assisting smaller developers and multifamily building owners to improve the quality of the overall housing stock.

CEO Karen Frederick said CTI often hears of many young people who graduate from UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College and can’t afford to live in the region because the cost of rent is so high.

“We want to make sure there’s housing for everybody — for people starting off their careers, for seniors,” she said. “Affordable housing for seniors is critical as baby boomers continue to age into retirement, and for families, where there’s already been a critical shortage.”

While the assessment covers many diverse needs, Sirois and Frederick said one of the areas they were surprised to see consistently pop up in conversations was the need for more after-school and summer programming for older children — and this was before the child-care crisis that resulted from pandemic-related shutdowns, Plath said.

As communities start to look at how to best use their federal American Rescue Plan funding, the Community Needs Assessment can offer ideas of where to direct that money and address those needs, Plath said. She said CTI will engage with its partner organizations, municipal governments and school districts to share the results and encourage investment in the areas of highest need.

Frederick said CTI hopes people and institutions will take a look at the information in the assessment and that it will be “well used.”

“I have always believed in the power of the collective work, and if we work on things together, we’ll make progress,” she said.

One such organization that has already put CTI’s Community Needs Assessment findings into action is the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.

President and CEO Jay Linnehan said he used the previous assessment to help direct philanthropy within the foundation, and he will do the same with the new set of information as well, including a funders’ meeting focused on combatting youth food insecurity this week.

He said the pandemic in particular really brought to light how many people in the area are living “close to the edge” and their critical needs that must be met.

“The thing that a community foundation is all about is being boots-on-the-ground philanthropy in the community that you serve, and so it’s really important from my perspective to understand the needs of the community, and that needs assessment does that,” Linnehan said. housing


CTI Community Needs Assessment underscores need for affordable housing in Greater Lowell

barbara warren scaled
barbara warren scaled

CTI Announces New Division Director for Housing and Homeless Services

Lowell» Community Teamwork is pleased to announce that Barbara Warren has been promoted to the position of Division Director of Housing and Homeless Services.

Warren has been with Community Teamwork since 2011, serving first as rehousing and stabilization manager and most recently as deputy division director of Residential Programs.

In her new role as the division director of Housing and Homeless Services, Warren’s administrative focus will be on the variety of housing programming and supportive services that Community Teamwork provides across 72 cities and towns within Massachusetts. These programs vary from homelessness prevention and homeless shelters to administering subsidized housing to more than 3,600 tenants as well as youth services and Community Teamwork’s vocational leadership program, YouthBuild of Lowell.

Barbara Warren  COURTESY CTI

“I am very excited to take on this new role and continue this incredibly important work,” Warren said. “The need for a community response to addressing homelessness and affordable housing is central to the work that we do at Community Teamwork. This past year has really highlighted the need for all of us to come together and find real solutions to these very real problems.”

Warren joined Community Teamwork after graduating from UMass Lowell’s Community Psychology Graduate program. Over the past 10 years working for Community Teamwork, she has managed rehousing programming for homeless families as well as the Emergency Assistance Family Shelter.

More recently, she has led the agency’s efforts to address individual homelessness in Lowell.

Warren serves on the board of directors for Homes for Families, an advocacy organization for families in shelters.

Lowell Sun 5/2/21

GLCF MinutemanARC w x
GLCF MinutemanARC w x

Greater Lowell Community Foundation awards additional response grants for rent relief

The grants were part of the seventh and final round of distributions from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist area nonprofits serving vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Volunteers provide fresh food delivery for adults with disabilities at Minute Man Arc, a recent grant recipient from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund through GLCF.

LOWELL – The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) announced that it awarded $290,000 from its GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to nonprofit organizations, this includes targeted funding to provide rent relief to families and individuals that face a loss of housing due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. The grants were part of the seventh and final round of distributions from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist area nonprofits serving vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are so grateful to the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund for supporting our neighbors in Greater Lowell who are unhoused or at risk of becoming homeless,” said GLCF President & CEO Jay Linnehan. “These grants boost the efforts of our tremendous nonprofit partners who have continued to go above and beyond during the pandemic to support those who need it most.”

“As of June, Massachusetts and Greater Lowell had the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 17.5%, with the city of Lowell exceeding that rate at 20.5%. Coupled with the July 31st expiration of the Federal Unemployment supplement payments, we at Community Teamwork fully expect to see a secondary increase in demand for assistance from families who are trying stay safe and to remain in current housing,” said Karen Frederick, CEO of Community Teamwork. “We are so grateful for this Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund grant opportunity through GLCF, which allows us to help families so tragically impacted by job loss and housing insecurity as a result of this pandemic.”

The following 10 nonprofits receiving grants in the latest round of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund are:

  • Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell, Inc. – to provide emergency rental and food assistance
  • Clear Path for Veterans New England, Inc. – to purchase and provide food and groceries for veterans and their families unable or without means to access food due to COVID-19
  • Coalition for a Better Acre, Inc. – to provide financial support to low-income residents impacted by COVID-19 for rental payments for low-income housing
  • Community Teamwork Inc. – to provide financial support to low-income residents for housing
  • Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. – to prevent food insecurity among seniors
  • International Institute of New England (IINE) – Lowell – to provide emergency rental assistance
  • Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) – to provide rental assistance in cases of urgent need
  • Minute Man Arc for Human Services Inc.- to purchase and provide food and groceries for home-bound people with physical and mental disabilities
  • Minuteman Senior Services – to prevent food insecurity among seniors
  • Paul’s Soup Kitchen, Inc. – to purchase food to produce meals for the homeless

The Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund supports those across the state most impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis, focusing on essential frontline workers and vulnerable populations including the homeless, immigrant populations, people with disabilities and those facing food insecurity. The Fund works in concert with regional community foundations and non-profit leaders who partner with local leaders to understand the response and relief landscape, strategically filling in where gaps are pronounced. For more information, visit MACovid19ReliefFund.org

“The Mass COVID Relief Fund grant opportunity through GLCF was instrumental in enabling Minute Man Arc to purchase and store food supplies for our eight group homes,” said Jean A. Goldsberry, CEO of Minute Man Arc. “Emergency funding like this is supporting the needs of people with disabilities in eastern MA and keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe and healthy.”

To date, GLCF has awarded nearly $2.5 million through 172 rapid response grants to nonprofits battling COVID-19 and the resulting fallout from the virus through the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.

Donations to the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund can be made online at www.glcfoundation.org or by mail to the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund c/o GLCF, 100 Merrimack Street, Suite 202, Lowell, MA 01852.

International Institute of New England (IINE) staff with “back to school” donations. IINE received multiple grants from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund through GLCF to support refugees during the pandemic.





Community Teamwork Received $1 Million in Housing Aid





Job and Skills Training
Job and Skills Training

Community Connections to Employment & Training

cti th logo photo taglineFocused on Long-term Stability

CommCET (Community Connections to Employment and Training) is breaking down financial barriers for over 100 disadvantaged families in the Merrimack Valley through an innovative approach that combines job training, education, housing, childcare, case management and follow-up services. This comprehensive strategy ensures greater long-term success for families that were previously homeless or are currently at risk of homelessness.

“Our workforce development efforts combined with permanent housing and essential family supports equip families with tools to maintain long-term stability,” says JoAnn Howell, Community Teamwork’s CommCET Director. “It isn’t about short-term solutions. CommCET helps the client establish a long-term approach by building employment skills; accessing job apprenticeships, training and employment; and preparing for self-sufficiency economically, financially and mentally. Our program’s aim is to successfully create life changing, long-term solutions. I am excited to be part of these changes.”

To date, CommCET has assisted 67 participants to become employed.  At the heart of this success are partnerships with the Lowell Career Center, surrounding vocational technical high schools and area employers. Twenty seven out of 33 participants are currently employed after acquiring new workforce skills at various regional vocational technical schools by training for Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certifications, medical administration, business, electronics, welding, and office administration.

Profiles of success:

Jocelyn, a single mother, and her two children lived at the Best Western hotel in Chelmsford, when their family first entered the CommCET program. To accommodate her and other homeless families with children temporarily living at the hotel, staff created a transportation route that drives the children to their childcare programs, allowing the parents to pursue employment training and jobs. In Jocelyn’s case, she was able to confidently attend job interviews, knowing her children were safe and being educated in Community Teamwork’s childcare program. This and other critical case management supports led her obtaining full time employment at Lowell’s Woodbriar Nursing Facility.

Tiffany, who successfully attended the Lowell Career Center’s back-to-work program, struggled to find sufficient employment. Fortunately, thanks to her retraining, expansion of marketable skills and dedication, she landed a job with Community Teamwork, working in our Fuel Assistance department.



Apartment Search/SMART Tenant Workshops

Housing Consumer Education Center – Financial Assistance / Apartment Search / SMART Tenant Workshops

Are you homeless and need financial assistance to be rehoused? Do you need some help finding an apartment? This workshop will provide a brief overview of services offered by Community Teamwork, discuss eligibility for financial assistance, review housing search, tenancy preservation, eviction prevention, Fair Housing, Tenant Right’s and termination of tenancies.

iStock Medium**Pre-registration is NOT required**

ONE HOURWORKSHOPS:  Monday through Friday 12pm-1pm and Wednesday’s 5pm-6pm

WORKSHOPS LOCATED AT:  Community Teamwork, 17 Kirk Street, Lowell MA






























The purpose of this workshop is to provide housing education on tenancy, from housing search, maintaining tenancies, Fair Housing, reporting code violations, eviction prevention and exiting a tenancy appropriately. Pre-registration is not required for this workshop. If you have questions about this workshop, call 978-459-0551.



first time home buyer programs
first time home buyer programs

First Time Homebuyer Program

first time home buyer programs

Steps to Home Ownership Seminar Offered Monthly & Online Education                                                              Available When and Where you Need it!


February 15 & 22 Beverly 8:45am – 1:30pm REGISTER NOW
March 7 & 14 Woburn 8:45am – 1:30pm REGISTER NOW
April 11 & 18 Reading 8:45am – 1:30pm REGISTER NOW
April 21, 22, 28, 29 Chelmsford 6:15pm – 8:30pm REGISTER NOW
May 2 & 9 Danvers 8:45am – 1:30pm REGISTER NOW
May 16 & 17 Woburn 8:45am – 1:30pm REGISTER NOW
June 15, 16, 22, 23 Beverly 6:15pm – 8:45pm REGISTER NOW
July 11 & 18 Woburn 8:45am – 1:30pm REGISTER NOW
August TBD Salem 8:45am – 1:30pm REGISTER NOW
September 19 & 26 Beverly 8:45am – 1:30pm REGISTER NOW
October 12 & 19 Wakefield 8:45am – 1:30pm REGISTER NOW
November 7 & 14 Woburn 8:45am – 1:30pm REGISTER NOW
December 1, 2, 8, & 9 Chelmsford 6:15pm  – 8:30pm REGISTER NOW
EXIT BRIEFING –  Upon completion of FRAMEWORK Online Course Telephone Ongoing REGISTER NOW
1:1 Landlord Counseling Lowell / Wakefield Email Cathy Dyl at CDyl@commteam.org to schedule a meeting after registering REGISTER NOW






If you are dreaming of buying your first home, consider taking our Steps to Homeownership First-time Homebuyer certificate course that gives graduates eligibility for Mass Housing low-interest mortgages and Mass Housing Partnership soft second program and downpayment assistance in many Massachusetts cities and towns. This course is taught in Salem/Peabody, Beverly/Danvers, Chelmsford, Billerica, Woburn, Reading and Melrose, MA, with both morning and evening schedules.

Example locations:

  • Keller Williams Realty, 500 Cummings Center Suite 1550, Beverly, MA 01915
  • Chelmsford Woods, Mary St. Hillaire Center  167 Littleton Road #110,  Chelmsford, MA 01824
  • Keller Williams Realty, 180 Haven Street #2nd floor, Reading, MA 01867
  • 800 West Cummings Park, Washington Street, Suite 4750, Woburn, MA 01801
  • Residential Mortgage Services, Inc., 120 Presidential Way, Suite 110, Woburn, MA  01801
  • Northern Bank & Trust, 275 Mishawum Road, Woburn, MA  01801

NEW: FRAMEWORK – Online Homebuyer education, when and where you need it. Smart Homeownership Starts Here: Buying a home is a big deal, whether you’re doing it for the first time or getting back into the ever-changing market. When you educate yourself for smart homeownership with Framework, you’ll navigate every step of the process with confidence. The Framework course is affordable too: just $75 (paid through Framemwork) (There is also a $25 fee for the telephonic exit briefing – this will be paid through the link above through EventBrite upon completion of the course). 

Click here for a video preview



NEW: LANDLORD SERVICES: “1.1 Landlord Counseling”. Cost $75. Once payment is made, a mutually agreeable date and time will be determined and counseling will occur in either Lowell or Wakefield! Contact Cathy Dyl.

Email Cathy Dyl at CDyl@commteam.org

First Time Home Buyer FAQs


Download 2020 First Time Home Buyer Schedule

RenewUI x F
RenewUI x F

Emergency Unemployment Passes Senate

RenewUI x FA critical three-month extension of federal unemployment benefits for 1.3 million jobless Americans, including nearly 60,000 Massachusetts residents, won a key procedural vote in the Senate today. The 60-37 vote has given supporters hope that the House will next move to pass the Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

As we wait for the House vote, thousands of families and individuals are already feeling the full impact of having lost their benefits as of December 29th, 2013. This means they are going without some or many of the basics including food, medications, heat and shelter.

We encourage you to contact your federal representatives to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compenstion (EUC) program as soon as possible.

To find your U.S. Congressman:



Facing Foreclosure? Contact the HomeCorps Program.

Community Teamwork along with the Massachusetts Association for Community Action and sponsored by the Attorney General’s Office announce the HomeCorps Borrower Initiative program.

HomeCorps’ goal is to help distressed borrowers in Massachusetts who are facing foreclosure.

Services include:

  • Free legal consultation if you are facing foreclosure
  • Free advocacy to help you access affordable housing, maximize your income and offer financial counseling
  • Some funding is available for rental assistance.

How do you qualify?

There are no income quaifications, however you must be facing foreclsoure or have gone through the foreclosure process and need help accessing housing.

To contact the HomeCorps program, first call the Attorney General’s Office and then go online to fill out the referral applications:

Hotline: 617-573-5333    TTY;  617-727-4765


Community Teamwork’s HomeCorps Coordinator can help you with the referral application: call Gail Fortes Veloz at 978-654-5676.




housing development
housing development

Housing Consumer Education Center Financial Assistance Workshop

iStock MediumHousing Consumer Education Center Financial Assistance/SMART Tenant  Workshop

Are you homeless and need financial assistance to be rehoused? Do you need some help finding and apartment?

This ONE HOUR workshop will provide a brief overview of services offered by Community Teamwork, discuss eligibility for financial assistance, review housing search, tenancy preservation, eviction prevention, Fair Housing, Tenant’s Rights and termination of tenancies.


Monday –Friday 12:00pm–1pm and Wednesdays 5pm-6pm

Workshops located at  Community Teamwork – 17 Kirk St. Lowell, MA


                                                                                              Questions about this workshop, call 978-459-0551.