Karen Sunnarborg, Community Housing Specialist (Ms. Sunnarborg is available by the contact info provided below.)
The Community Housing Specialist supports the Town of Needham’s efforts to promote and maintain affordable housing opportunities in partnership with the Needham Housing Authority (NHA), non-profit and for-profit developers and service providers, other Town departments, as well as other public entities. The Housing Specialist also provides professional support to collect and analyze housing-related data, coordinates potential affordable housing initiatives, monitors affordability for a number of housing developments, ensures compliance with funding sources, and addresses inquiries related to housing issues.
We have launched another funding round for the Small Repair Grant Program
The Town, through its Affordable Housing Trust, operates the Small Repair Grant Program. There will likely be another funding round in the summer 2024.
Any questions can be referred to Karen Sunnarborg at email@example.com or 781-455-7550 ext. 220.
Needham Housing Plan
The Planning Board appointed a Working Group composed of representatives of various local boards and committees as well as at-large members of the community to coordinate the preparation of the Housing Plan. The Working Group approved the Plan on December 22, 2022, and has referred it to the Planning Board and Select Board for adoption. The Final Housing Plan and other materials from the planning process can be accessed as part of the Housing Plan pages under the Planning and Community Development Department. The specific link to the Housing Plan is also offered below.
Are any affordable housing opportunities currently available?
There are no new affordable housing options available at this time.
For information on housing opportunities in other communities access the state Housing Navigator site for rentals and My Mass Homes for homeownership.
What is affordable housing?
Affordable housing is generally defined by the income of the household in relation to housing costs. For example, HUD identifies units as affordable if gross rent (including costs of utilities borne by the tenant) is no more than 30% of a household’s net adjusted income (with a small deduction for each dependent, for child care, for extraordinary medical expenses, etc.) or if the carrying costs of purchasing a home (mortgage, homeowners association fees, property taxes and insurance) is not more than typically 30% of income. If households are paying more than these amounts, they are described as experiencing housing affordability problems or cost burdens; and if they are paying more than half of their income for housing, they have severe housing affordability problems and cost burdens.
Affordable housing can also be defined according to percentages of median income for the area as summarized in the following table:
HUD Area Income Limits for the Boston Area, 2023
|Number of Persons in Household
|30% of Area: Median Income
|50% of Area: Median Income
|80% of Area: Median Income
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Housing subsidy programs are typically targeted to particular income ranges depending upon programmatic goals. Extremely low-income housing is directed to households with incomes at or below 30% of area median income as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (up to $40,050 for a family of three for the Boston area) and very low-income is defined as households with income between 31% and 50% of area median income (up $66,800 for a family of three). Low- and moderate-income generally refers to the range between 51% and 80% of area median income (no more than $106,650 for a family of three). First-time homebuyer programs typically apply income limits of up to 80% of area median income.
The most commonly used definition of affordable housing is that which applies to the Chapter 40B comprehensive permit law. For a unit to be affordable under Chapter 40B, and thus counted towards a community’s progress towards reaching the 10% affordability threshold and included as part of its Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI), a unit must meet specific state requirements including the following:
- Units must be subsidized or approved by a subsidizing agency.
- Occupants must have income at or below 80% of area median income, adjusted by household size and presented in the above table.
- The unit must be deed restricted for specified periods of time including in perpetuity for newly constructed affordable homeownership units. These deed restrictions are monitored and enforced.
- The units must be affirmatively marketed through the implementation of a state-approved Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing and Tenant Selection Plan.
What housing is affordable in Needham?
Of the 11,849 year-round housing units in Needham (per 2020 census data), 1,404 or 11.85% are determined to be eligible for inclusion in the Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, up from 841 or 7.6% in 2015 and 425 units or 3.94% in January 2006.
The State has ruled that if a municipality has less than 10% of its year-round housing stock set-aside for low- and moderate-income residents, it is not meeting the local and regional need for affordable housing. Not meeting this affordability standard makes the locality vulnerable to an override of local zoning if a developer wants to build affordable housing through the comprehensive permit process. Consequently, by surpassing the 10% affordable housing threshold, Needham will no longer be required to process Chapter 40B comprehensive permit applications that it determines are inappropriate and do not address local housing needs.
To be counted as affordable under Chapter 40B, housing must be dedicated to long-term occupancy of income-eligible households (those earning at or below 80% of area median income) through resale or rental restrictions. Units must also be affirmatively marketed and approved through a subsidizing agency. All units in Chapter 40B rental developments count as part of the Subsidized Housing Inventory as opposed to only the actual affordable units in homeownership projects.
The table summarizes those units that are included in the Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) and thus meet all of the state’s requirements of affordability.
Needham’s Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI)
|Number of SHI
|Project Type / Subsidizing Agency
|Use of a 40B Comp Permit
|Cook’s Bridge (Captain Robert Cook Drive and Seabeds Way)*
|High Rock Estates*
|Rental/DHCD (will be HUD)
|138-158 Linden Street*
|168 to 188 Linden Street*
|15 to 42 Chambers Street*
|Matthews House/1415 Great Plain Avenue*/**
|Highland Avenue/Charles River ARC.
|Rental/HUD and EOHHS
|Marked Tree Corp. **
|Rental/HUD and EOHHS
|Webster Street II/929 Webster **
|Webster Street II/299 Webster **
|West Street Apartments **
|Ownership/DHCD and FHLBB
|High Cliff Estates
|Suites at Needham
|Charles River Landing
|DDSGroup Homes **
|Special Needs Rental/DDS
|The Residences at Wingate
|Webster Street Green
|Needham Place/50 Dedham Avenue
|Wingate Phase II
|Greendale Mews/Modera Needham
|1180 Great Plain Avenue
|11.86% of year-round housing units
Source: Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
** Special needs units
*** Includes 262 market units at Charles River Landing, 292 market units at 2nd Avenue Residences, and 102 market units at Greendale Mews/Modera Needham for a total of 656 market units. The number of actual affordable rental units in these projects is 220.
The Needham Housing Authority (NHA) owns 316 housing units in the following developments
- High Rock Estates
State Chapter 200 funding converted to federal operational support
Single-family housing for families
80 units (43 three-bedroom units and 37 two-bedroom units)
The Needham Housing Authority redeveloped this property by replacing 20 single- family units with two-family structures.
State Chapter 667 funding, mixed elderly-disabled housing
152 one-bedroom units
- Matthews House
State Chapter 689 funding for special needs housing
8-bed group home
- Captain Robert Cook Drive
Single-family housing for families
30 units (5 two-bedroom units, 20 three-bedroom units and 5 four-bedroom units)
- Seabeds Way
Mixed elderly, disabled singles housing
46 one-bedroom units
The Housing Authority has 559 applicants on its waitlist for the family units including 359 applicants for two-bedroom units, 167 for three-bedrooms, and 33 for four-bedroom units. Waits for these units extend to three (3) to five (5) years. None of the units are handicapped accessible. In regard to the NHA’s elderly/disabled units, there were 227 on the waitlist with waits of approximately six (6) months to a year.
In addition to the Housing Authority’s Matthews House, Needham has five (5) other special needs housing facilities that altogether total 26 additional affordable housing units (including the Highland Avenue ARC project, Marked Tree Road, 299 and 929 Webster Street, and West Street Apartments) as well as 89 units in group homes for state Department of Developmental Services (DDS) clients scattered throughout town.
Needham also has 15 other projects that are a part of its SHI that include an additional 312 actual affordable units (total of 968 units that can be counted in the SHI) that have been produced by private, for profit or non-profit developers including:
- Nehoidan Glen
- 1035 Central Avenue
- Comprehensive Permit granted in 1976 and amendments were issued through June 2011 Total Rental Units: 61 Affordable Units: 61
- This development is for low-income seniors and is managed by Wingate.
- Junction Place Townhouses32 Junction Place
- Comprehensive Permit granted in October 2000
- Total Condominium Units: 5 Affordable Units: 2
- Junction Place is a condominium project comprised of five (5) attached townhouse units, approved by the Town in November 2001 through a comprehensive permit. The property contains approximately 11,200 square feet of land, previously occupied by a small vacant two-story office building, a garage and parking area on the edge of a commercial district and across the road from a train station. All five (5) of the townhouses were sold at below market prices to eligible families through a lottery system. Two (2) of the homes were sold for $165,000 to families earning up to 80% of the area median income with the remaining three (3) initially sold for $310,000 to families earning up to 150% of the area median income.
- Garden Street/Browne-Whitney
- 207 through 213 Garden Street
- Comprehensive Permit granted March 2002
- Total Condominium Units: 6 Affordable Units: 2
- The Garden Street project is a condominium development with six (6) total three-bedroom units, two (2) of which are affordable. The Town approved the project in March of 2002, and was subject to an appeal filed by an abutter to the property that was subsequently settled. The property contains approximately 27,132 square feet of land. Although within a single-family district, the property is located directly across the street from a business zone, a short walk to the center of Needham and public transportation. The two (2) affordable units sold for $160,000 with the market rate units priced between $525,000 and $759,000.
- High Cliff Estates
- 199 Street Mary Street
- Comprehensive Permit granted April 2002
- Total Condominium Units: 12 Affordable Units: 3
- The High Cliff Estates project is a townhouse condominium development with 12 total three-bedroom condominium units in four (4) buildings and with three (3) of the condominiums sold as affordable, selling between $105,000 and $137,500. The market rate units sold for $447,000 to $582,300.
- Suites at Needham
- 797 Highland Avenue
- Comprehensive Permit granted in 2006
- Total Condominium Units: 8 Affordable Units: 2
- The development includes eight (8) townhouses, two (2) of which are affordable. The project is located on Highland Avenue, only a short walk to a MBTA commuter rail station.
- Charles River Landing
- 300 Second Avenue
- Comprehensive Permit granted in 2007
- Total Rental Units: 350 Affordable Units: 88 (all units count as part of the SHI)
- The Town of Needham entered into an agreement with the developer, Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, to build 350 rental units through a "friendly" Chapter 40B process as part of the state’s Local Initiative Program (LIP). The project is located at the outer edge of the New England Business Center, adjacent to a residential neighborhood and overlooking the Charles River. The parcel contains 7.9 acres and promotes a number of smart growth principles as it is served by existing infrastructure; is located in proximity to Town services, transportation and employment; promotes higher density housing; and includes affordable housing. About two-thirds of the units have one-bedrooms, the remainder with two-bedrooms.
- Craftsman Village
- 21 High Street
- Comprehensive Permit granted initially in 2006 and amended for new developer in 2009
- Total Condominium Units: 6 Affordable Units: 2
- The initial developer filed the comprehensive permit application in 2003, and proposed building twelve three-bedroom condominium units, three (3) to be affordable, on an about 27,000 square foot lot within walking distance to public transportation. The ZBA approved six (6) units but the developer was unwilling to go below eight (8) and appealed the decision to the state’s Housing Appeal Committee. The project finally moved forward with a new developer, Craftsman Village LLC, with a total of six (6) units including two (2) affordable ones. The market units sold for $609,000.
- The Residences at Wingate/Phase I
- 235 Gould Street
- Special Permit Approval in 2011
- Total Independent Living Rental Units: 12 Affordable Units: 2
- Pursuant to a zoning change to create an Elder Services Zoning District, approved by Town Meeting in 2010, and Special Permit approval of the Planning Board in 2011, the developer built a senior housing facility on Gould Street next to its Nursing Home at 589 Highland Avenue. The building includes 91 total units – 12 Independent Living Apartment units, 42 Assisted Living units, and 37 Assisted Living units specializing in Alzheimer’s and other memory loss related conditions. The project also includes two (2) affordable units, one (1) that was initially reserved for those who lived or worked in Needham.
- Needham Place (previously known as Dedham Avenue)
- 36 through 58 Dedham Avenue
- Special Permit Approval in 2012
- Total Rental Units: 10 Affordable Units: 1
- Through the rezoning of Needham Center through a Center Business Overlay District approved by Town Meeting in 2009, as well as Special Permit approval by the Planning Board in 2012, the developer, MMM Property LLC (Brookline Development Corp.), built a new three plus one story mixed-use building on Dedham Avenue near Great Plain Avenue. The property contains ten (10) rental units, including one (1) affordable unit, as well as two (2) first-floor retail units.
- Greendale Village
- 894 and 906 Greendale Avenue
- Comprehensive Permit granted in 2013
- Total Condominium Units: 20 Affordable Units: 4
- The Greendale Village development includes 20 new townhomes, four (4) of which are affordable to those earning at or below 50% of area median income. The lottery was held on July 8, 2014. The 2 two-bedroom affordable units sold for $112,600 and the 2 three-bedrooms sold for $121,400. The market units ranged in price from $759,000 to $940,000.
- Webster Street Green
- 28 Webster Street
- Comprehensive Permit initially granted in 2005 and amended in 2013
- Total Condominium Units: 10 Affordable Units: 2
- The developer, Webster Street Green, LLC, was issued a comprehensive permit in November 2005, which was appealed, amended, and extended through the state’s Housing Appeals Committee (HAC). The affordable units were targeted to those earning at or below 50% AMI and sold for $121,300 and $136,800 while the market units sold in the $689,000 to $769,000 range.
- One Wingate/The Residences at Wingate Phase II
- 235 Gould Street
- Special Permit Approval in 2014
- Total Independent Living Rental Units: 52 Affordable Units: 5
- Another 52 Independent Living Units were built next to the existing Phase I Residences at Wingate senior living development. Given that the project is part of the Town’s Elder Services District, at least 10% of the units must be affordable. The project received Special Permit approval by the Planning Board on October 20, 2014 (amendment of Phase I approval, in 2011), and the project is completed.
- The Kendrick (previously known as 2nd Avenue Residences)
- A Street
- Comprehensive Permit granted in 2015
- Total Rental Units: 390 Affordable Units: 98 (all units count as part of the SHI)
- The Town of Needham provided its support for the 2nd Second Avenue Residences development as part of the Local Initiative Program (LIP) Project Eligibility Application that was submitted to DHCD by the developer, A Street Residential LLC, on April 15, 2015. The ZBA subsequently approved the comprehensive permit on October 20, 2015. The project is under construction and Initial occupancy is expected in early summer 2018.
- Modera Needham (previously known as Greendale Mews)
- 692 and 744 Greendale Avenue
- Comprehensive Permit granted in 2013 for 108 units and approved 136 units in 2015
- Total Rental Units: 136 Affordable Units: 34 (all units count as part of the SHI)
- The developer, Mill Creek Residential Trust LLC, proposed 300 and then 268 rental units on the six-acre site through a comprehensive permit application on April 13, 2013, and the ZBA approved 108 on
- 1180 Great Plain Avenue
- Total Rental Units: 16 Affordable Units: 4 (all units count as part of the SHI)
The Town also sponsored a Habitat for Humanity project at 5 Bancroft Street. This parcel was owned by the Town of Needham, which issued a Request for Proposals to secure a developer to build an affordable home on the site. Habitat for Humanity was the winning respondent and built a single-family house on the lot for a first-time homebuyer. This house is not eligible for inclusion on the SHI because residency was limited to a Needham resident.
The Needham Housing Authority also administers rental subsidies for Needham and is assigned 120 Section 8 vouchers. While these rental subsidies are not eligible for inclusion in the SHI, they nevertheless provide significant support for qualifying households renting units in the private housing market, filling the gap between an established market rent – the Fair Market Rent (FMR) – and a portion of the household’s income. Preference is granted to applicants who reside or are employed in Needham. Applicants must also have incomes within 50% of area median income.
 Chapter 774 of the Acts of 1969 established the Massachusetts Comprehensive Permit Law (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40B) to facilitate the development of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households – defined as any housing subsidized by the federal or state government under any program to assist in the construction of low- or moderate-income housing for those earning less than 80% of median income – by permitting the state to override local zoning and other restrictions in communities where less than 10% of the year-round housing is subsidized for low- and moderate-income households.
 The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) includes Needham as part of the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area.
 The Town allocated $280,000 in HOME Program funding and $220,000 in CPA funds to support development financing.
Housing and Zoning Analysis -- the link is below
What rental opportunities are available in Needham?
About 1,700 of Needham’s 11,891 or so housing units are rentals and approximately 53% of all rental units are located in structures of 10 or more units. Many of these larger rental developments are described in the following summary:
Needham Housing Authority Developments
Of the 838 units that are considered affordable by the state, 316 or 38% are owned and managed by the Needham Housing Authority (NHA) including 198 one-bedroom units for seniors and disabled individuals of any age and 120 units for families and veterans. The Authority also maintains two staffed apartments that serve eight (8) individuals with special needs. These projects are as follows:
- High Rock Estates
60 units (33 two-bedroom units and 27 three-bedroom units)
Housing for families
- High Rock Homes
20 duplexes (14 two-bedrooms and 6 three-bedrooms)
Housing for families
152 one-bedroom units
Mixed elderly-disabled housing
- Matthews House
8-bed group home
Special needs housing
- Captain Robert Cook Drive
30 units (5 two-bedroom units, 20 three-bedroom units and 5 four-bedroom units)
Townhomes for families
- Seabeds Way
46 one-bedroom units
Mixed elderly, disabled singles housing
Contact Information: Needham Housing Authority Office at 28 Captain Robert Cook Drive; 781-444-3011.
Rental Subsidies to Access Privately-owned Housing
The Needham Housing Authority (NHA) administers rental subsidies for Needham and is assigned 120 Section 8 vouchers. These rental subsidies are provided to qualifying households renting units in the private housing market, filling the gap between an established market rent – the Fair Market Rent (FMR) – and a portion of the household’s income. Based on the high cost of housing in Needham, the Housing Authority is using 107% of the FMR levels for its maximum rent. Preference is granted to applicants who reside or are employed in Needham. Applicants must also have incomes within 50% of area median income, which translates into no more than $44,150 for a family of three (3) based on 2016 income levels (a table on these income limits is included above).
Contact Information: Needham Housing Authority 781-444-30113
Privately-owned Subsidized Rental Developments
Needham also has a number of other subsidized rental projects that include an additional 372 affordable units that have or will be produced by private, for profit or non-profit developers including:
- Nehoiden Glen
1035 Central Avenue
Total Rental Units: 61 Affordable Units: 61
This development is for low-income seniors.
Contact Information: 781-444-0990
- Chestnut Hollow
141 Chestnut Street
Total Rental Units: 28 Affordable Units: 6
Chestnut Hollow involved a major renovation project of an existing non-conforming building, formerly the Hamilton House Nursing Home, for conversion into apartments for seniors. There are 12 two-bedroom units, 15 one-bedroom units, and one (1) studio.
Contact Information: 781-453-0294; email Chestnut Hollow
- Charles River Landing
300 Second Avenue
Total Units: 350 Affordable Units: 88
The project is located at the outer edge of the New England Business Center, adjacent to a residential neighborhood and overlooking the Charles River. About two-thirds of the units have one-bedroom, the remainder with two-bedrooms.
Contact Information: 866-776-3360
- The Residences at Wingate – Phase 1
235 Gould Street
Total Independent Living Units: 12 Affordable Units: 2
Pursuant to a zoning change to create an Elder Services Zoning District, the developer of Wingate at Needham Nursing Home received the go-ahead to build a senior housing facility on Gould Street next to its Nursing Home at 589 Highland Avenue. The building includes 91 total units – 12 Independent Living Apartment units (13 bedrooms), 42 Assisted Living units, and 37 Assisted Living units specializing in Alzheimer’s and other memory loss related conditions. The project also includes 2 affordable units, 1 which was reserved for those who live or work in Needham at initial occupancy.
- The Residences at Wingate – Phase 2
Total Units: 52 Affordable Units: 5
Another 52 Independent Living Units has been developed next to The Residences at Wingate senior living development that includes 5 affordable units.
Contact Information: 781-455-9080
- Needham Place
50 Dedham Avenue
Total Units: 10 Affordable Units: 1
Through the rezoning of Needham Center, a new three + one story mixed-use building on Dedham Street is under construction. The development includes 2 first-floor retail units in addition to 10 residential units on the upper 3 stories, including 1 affordable apartment.
- The Kendrick
Total Units: 390 Affordable Units: 98
The Town of Needham provided its support for The Kendrick development part of the Local Initiative Program (LIP). .Project Eligibility Application that was submitted to DHCD by the developer, A Street Residential LLC, on April 15, 2015. The ZBA subsequently approved the comprehensive permit on October 20, 2015. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-2016.
- Modera Needham
Total Units: 136 Affordable Units: 34
While proposed at 300 units, the Town ultimately approved a total of 136 units as part of this Chapter 40B comprehensive permit project on October 20, 2015.
- DDS Units
Total Units: 77 Affordable Units: 77
There are 77 units in scattered group homes for those with special needs that are sponsored by the state’s Department of Development Services (DDS). This total includes a group residence that the Charles River Center, also known as the Charles River Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC), built at South Street that is providing a home for 5 people with significant physical and cognitive disabilities (counted as 5 units). The Town committed $220,000 in Community Preservation Funding and $280,000 in federal HOME funds to make this project possible.
Privately-owned Unsubsidized Developments
The Town of Needham also has a number of relatively large unsubsidized rental and assisted living developments in town that are popular among residents. These developments, listed below, provide good options for seniors looking to downsize from their single-family homes and reduce maintenance costs and demands. Young adults also benefit from rentals that provide smaller units without the typical 20% down payments associated with ownership.
- Hamilton Highlands
757 Highland Avenue
Total Units: 77
Available one and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 700 to 1,200 square feet in size.
Contact Information: 781-444-5800 or 866-330-1613
- Rosemary Lake
187 Rosemary Street
Total Units: 205
One, two and three-bedroom apartments ranging from 400 to 1,800 square feet in size.
Contact Information: 888-827-2417
- North Hill
865 Central Avenue
Total Units: Provides a Continuum of Care with 285 independent living units plus another 45 that are planned in addition to 72 "enhanced living" or assisted living units that are under construction. The development is based on the " lifecare" concept where residents purchase their units through a life estate deposit, 90% of which is refunded when they leave the development, and also pay monthly fees.
Contact Information: 781-559-0994, 888-481-5344 or 888-904-9151
- Avery Crossings
110 West Street
Total Units: 60 assisted living units
The development does not require entrance fees, only monthly rents that depend on the size of the apartment and level of care that is required.
Contact Information: 781-444-6655 or 866-546-3733
What local, regional and statewide housing-related programs and services are potentially available to Needham residents?
What local, regional and state housing-related programs and services are available?
Needham Housing Authority (NHA)
The Needham Housing Authority (NHA) owns and manages 316 units of subsidized housing including 198 one-bedroom units for seniors and disabled individuals of any age and 120 units for families and veterans. NHA also maintains 2 staffed apartments that serve 8 individuals with special needs. Moreover, NHA is available to provide information and referrals to those who have questions about housing options in Needham and the region.
Contact the Needham Housing Authority at 21 Highland Circle in Needham and at 781-444-3011.
Needham Council on Aging (COA)
The Needham Council on Aging (COA) provides a wide range of services to local seniors. At the new Senior Center, The Center at the Heights, the COA offers many activities including daily lunches, exercise classes, health and wellness programs, clinics, support groups, lectures, life long learning classes, live entertainment, movies, etc. They also provide information on programs, services, and opportunities to meet the diverse needs of older adults and provide referrals for specific help, including information related to housing.
Contact the COA at 300 Hillside Avenue or 781-455-7555.
Needham Community Preservation Committee (CPC)
Needham approved the Community Preservation Act (CPC) in November 2004, and established the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) soon after to manage funds from a property tax surcharge to preserve open space and historic properties, provide new recreational facilities and support affordable housing. Over the years the Town has spent about $1.3 million of its CPA funds on housing initiatives.
Contact the CPC at 500 Dedham Avenue, 781-455-7550.
The Town of Needham administers the following tax-related programs to reduce or defer property tax payments for qualifying residents:
Senior Corps Program
Needham’s Council on Aging (COA) offers residents who are 60 years of age or older and/or are disabled to contribute up to 100 hours each year at $8.20 per hour to "work off" a portion of their real estate taxes, become more involved in local government, and support the delivery of local services. The COA appropriately matches qualifying applicants to jobs in municipal departments and schools. Applicants must meet income eligibility requirements including having a maximum income of $49,000 for a single individual, $62,000 for a head of household, or $74,000 if married. The program operates from July 1st through May 1st of each year and applicants must reapply annually.
Contact the Needham Council on Aging at 300 Hillside Avenue or 781-455-7555 ext. 2062 for an application or further information.
Property Tax Deferral Program
Needham’s Assessor’s Office administers the Property Tax Deferral Program that enables qualifying homeowners to postpone the payment of property taxes until the house is sold or transferred. The maximum deferral is half of the value of the home and every person that has a legal or beneficial interest in the property must provide written approval for the deferral. Each year participants enter into an agreement with the Town to defer all or part of the tax bill. The agreement is similar to a loan with a specified interest rate set at 4% for Fiscal Year 2015. This interest rate increases to 16% upon the demise of the owner or a change in ownership.
Eligibility requirements include the following:
- The owner and/or spouse must be 65 years of age or older.
- Maximum income of $51,000 for married or single applicants (there is no asset restriction).
- Must have primarily resided in Massachusetts for the past 10 years as of July 1, 2014.
- Must have owned and occupied a home in Massachusetts for the past 5 years as of July 1, 2014.
- Participants may also use any tax exemption for which they are qualified and then defer any portion of the remaining amount.
- Participants have the option to also defer water and sewer bills.
Contact the Needham Assessor’s Office at 1471 Highland Avenue or 781-455-7507 for an application or further information.
Tax Exemption Programs
The Town of Needham allows a number of property tax exemptions to qualifying homeowners with different requirements based on the owner’s age, disability status and other qualifications. For example, a homeowner who is at least 65 years of age and married with an income of no more than $30,000 and maximum assets of $55,000 could expect a tax exemption of between $500 and $1,000 annually. Those age 70 or older may receive a tax exemption from $175 to $350 if their financial assets are less than $40,000. Veterans also qualify for exemptions based on the type and extent of their service-related disability including an exemption of between $1,500 and $3,000 for those living in specially adapted housing. Another example is that a legally blind owner can expect an exemption of between $500 and $1,000 without any income or asset requirements.
Because of the number and complexity of these exemptions, interested owners are encouraged to contact the Assessor’s Office at 1471 Highland Avenue or 781-455-7507 for an further information and applications.
What regional housing-related programs and services are available?
Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston
The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston is a comprehensive fair housing organization whose mission is to eliminate housing discrimination and promote open communities throughout the Boston region including those in Suffolk, Norfolk, Middlesex, Essex and Plymouth counties. The organization provides a wide range of fair housing services including testing, case advocacy, training, community outreach, policy advocacy and research.
Contact the Fair Housing Center at 262 Washington Street in Boston or 617-399-0491.
Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston
Through volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money, land, and materials, Habitat Greater Boston builds or rehabilitates simple decent homes for qualifying households. Families are selected based on their level of need, ability to repay a mortgage, and willingness to complete about 300 hours of "sweat equity" by helping to construct their future home alongside staff and volunteers. Prospective purchasers also participate in special education classes to prepare them for homeownership. The organization also provides interest free financing for the purchasers without down payment requirements. The organization has worked in Needham, developing a house on Bancroft Street.
Contact Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston at 240 Commercial Street in Boston or 617-423-2223.
Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA)
The Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA) is a non-profit housing organization that advocates for affordable homeownership opportunities and provides services to support first-time homebuyers through workshops, credit counseling, budget counseling, etc. It also has an online searchable database of all affordable homeownership opportunities that are available at any point in the state.
Contact MAHA at 1803 Dorchester Avenue in Boston or 617-822-9100.
Metro West Collaborative Development
The Metro West Collaborative Development is a regional Community Development Corporation (CDC) whose mission is to organize residents, mobilize resources and identify opportunities to improve the quality of life for residents living in Metro West communities. In addition to partnering with participating communities on housing development, the organization provides a wide range of information and referrals to housing resources for renters, homebuyers, and landlords.
Contact the Metro West Collaborative Development at 79-B Chapel Street in Newton or 617-923-3505.
Other nearby organizations that provide First-Time Homebuyer and Post-Purchase counseling
The WATCH CDC and Allston-Brighton CDC both provide classes for those considering purchasing their first home. Classes generally include about 12 hours of instruction spread over 2 to 3 evenings. Graduates of these classes can become eligible for special financing and other opportunities.
Contact the WATCH CDC at 781-891-6689 or Allston Brighton CDC at 617-787-3874 for more information on these classes.
Self Help, Inc.
Self Help provides a wide range of services to help low- and moderate-income residents with child care, health, education, employment, and housing needs among others. With respect to housing, they provide the following types of assistance to residents of Needham: Lead Paint Abatement Program to correct common lead-based paint violations and enhance the safety, appearance, and value of the property. Lead paint abatement work can be dangerous, and it is important to hire professional contractors to undertake the deleading. Self Help can help property owners locate a qualified contractor and potentially obtain financial assistance for the necessary remediation work through the Get the Lead Out Program.
The Fuel Assistance Program provides financial assistance in paying for heating costs for those earning within 60% of area median income or at or below $51,798 for a household of 3 in 2014. The Program runs from November 1st through April 30th. Additionally, participants are automatically eligible for energy discount rates from utility companies. Self Help also works with Citizens Energy Corporation’s oil heat program to obtain additional assistance for clients who have expended their Fuel Assistance benefits.
The Energy Conservation Program provides support for weatherization measures in tandem with the agency’s Fuel Assistance Program as well as heating system services for those earning at or below 60% of area median income. A home weatherized by this Program can save up to 30% in heating and cooling costs.
Contact Self Help at 1362 Main Street in Brockton or 508-588-5440.
South Middlesex Opportunity Council, Inc.(SMOC)
SMOC is a multi-service agency whose mission is to enhance the self-sufficiency of low and moderate-income households, also providing a safety net when short-term assistance is required. The organization provides a number of housing-related services that are available to qualifying Needham residents including the following:
Through information and referrals as well as counseling and workshops, the Housing Consumer Education Center provides a variety of services to homeowners, tenants, landlords, future homebuyers, homeless families and individuals facing eviction who are not eligible for Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) services, as well as those confronting possible foreclosure.
The Home Modification Loan Program provides 0% deferred loans of up to $50,000 for those earning up to 200% of area median income in support home improvements to make a home more accessible to an elder or someone with a disability. For example, these modifications could include entrance ramps and chair lifts, kitchen and bathroom modifications, accessory dwelling units, sensory spaces, and fencing among others. The state administers this program in collaboration with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and applicants work directly with a provider in their region throughout the application and loan process, SMOC in the case of Needham.
SMOC also operates an emergency shelter for families at 75 Fountain Street in Framingham.
Contact SMOC at 300 Howard Street in Framingham or 508-620-2645.
Springwell is a private, non-profit organization that provides services for seniors, people with disabilities or those who help care for them. All individuals over 60 years of age and caregivers can receive free information and referrals based on the level of assistance required, from just the name of a transportation provider or legal counsel on estate planning to the home delivery of meals to in-depth daily care coordination for example.
Contact at 307 Waverley Oaks Road, Suite 205 in Waltham or 617-926-4100.
WestMetro HOME Consortium
The federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program provides funding to support affordable housing for lower income households. Since 1992, this funding has been available in the Metro West area with the City of Newton serving as the lead member of a HUD-approved Consortium of communities. Needham joined the Consortium in 2008 that now includes the communities of Bedford, Belmont, Concord, Framingham, Lexington, Natick, Sudbury, Waltham, Watertown and Wayland in addition to the lead community of Newton. Needham’s HOME funding has fluctuated over the years from an allocation of $57,521 in fiscal year 2009, to $67,387 by 2011, and down to $36,149 in 2013. The Town has spent $280,000 in HOME funds for the Charles River Association for Retarded Citizen’s group residence at South Street in addition to some operating/administrative funds.
What statewide housing-related programs and services are available?
Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA)
Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) is a non-profit umbrella organization that operates statewide to represent all interests in the affordable housing field including non-profit and for-profit developers, municipal officials, local housing providers and advocates, lenders, property managers, etc. CHAPA pursues its goal of promoting affordable housing through advocacy, research, education, coalition-building, and special programs.
Contact CHAPA at 18 Tremont Street in Boston or 617-742-0820. CHAPA’s website also includes homebuyer class schedules, a registry of handicapped accessible units, a list of all available affordable units through current marketing/lotteries, a wide range of reports related to affordable housing, and links to other important regional, state and federal agencies.
The following public state agencies or quasi-public agencies provide technical and financial support for the production of affordable and special needs housing:
- Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC)
EOHLC’s mission is to strengthen cities, towns and neighborhoods to enhance the quality of life of Massachusetts residents. The agency provides professional assistance and financial resources to promote safe, decent affordable housing opportunities, economic vitality of communities and sound municipal management.
MassHousing is a self-supporting not-for-profit public agency that has provided more than $17 billion in financing for homebuyers and homeowners and for developers and owners of affordable rental housing.
- Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP)
MHP champions new financing tools and new local strategies for the development of affordable housing in Massachusetts including a billion dollar bank loan fund for qualifying homebuyers.
- Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC)
MHIC is a leading private investor and lender specializing in financing affordable housing and community development throughout New England.
- Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC)
CEDAC is a public-private, community development finance institution that provides technical assistance, pre-development lending, and consulting services to non-profit organizations involved in housing development, workforce development, neighborhood economic development, and capital improvements to child care facilities. These organizations may include community or neighborhood development corporations, non-profit developers, and tenants’ associations.
- Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
DDS is dedicated to creating, in partnership with others, innovative and effective opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to participate fully and meaningfully in, and contribute to, their communities as valued members.
- Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH)
DMH, as the State Mental Health Authority, assures and provides access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals of all ages, enabling them to live, work and participate in their communities. The Department establishes standards to ensure effective and culturally competent care to promote recovery and sets policy, promotes self-determination, protects human rights and supports mental health training and research. This critical mission is accomplished by working in partnership with other state agencies, individuals, families, providers and communities.
What is Fair Housing?
It is important to know that you are protected under Fair Housing laws when looking to buy or rent a property. These federal and state laws make it illegal to discriminate against people who want to rent or purchase housing based on any of the following protected classes:
- Religious creed
- National origin
- Genetic information
- Marital status
- Family status (families with children under 18 years of age)
- Veteran status or membership in the armed forces of the United States
- Sexual orientation
- Recipients of federal, state or local public assistance or a tenant receiving federal, state or local subsidies such as rental assistance or rental supplements (Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program subsidies, etc.)
If you are a member of any of these protected classes, it is generally illegal for someone to:
- Refuse to rent to you or sell you housing
- Tell you housing is unavailable when that is not the case
- Show you apartments or homes only in certain neighborhoods
- Set different terms, conditions or privileges in the sale or rental of housing
- Advertise housing to preferred groups only
- Refuse to provide you with information regarding mortgage loans or impose different terms or conditions on mortgage financing
- Deny you property insurance
- Conduct property appraisals in a discriminatory manner
- Refuse to make reasonable accommodations to persons with a disability if the accommodation may be necessary to afford such a person a reasonable and equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling
- Harass, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising or assisting someone else with his/her fair housing rights
The following behaviors may involve housing discrimination:
- You call and get an appointment to look at a house or condominium but when you get there you are told that the unit has just been sold. You later notice that the home is still on the market.
- You are notified that the apartment you have an appointment to view has been rented but you later see it listed in the paper or Internet again.
- You are given a higher selling price or rent that what was advertised or what others are being told.
- You are provided with terms of a rental or sale which are different from those given to others, such as different fees and deposits.
- You are told that the landlord cannot rent to families because the unit has lead-based paint.
- You are directed to or away from certain properties or neighborhoods based on race, national origin, religion, disability, etc.
- You are told that the landlord does not accept rental assistance such as Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
The Massachusetts lead law, in conjunction with Fair Housing laws, makes it illegal for a property owner or real estate agent to refuse to rent or sell a dwelling unit to a family with children because of the presence of lead-based paint.
- For rentals: It is the landlord’s obligation to de-lead their units.
- For sales: It is the seller’s obligation to inform you of the dangers of lead paint, the lead law, and all information they have about the presence of lead paint in the property such as copies of lead inspection reports. Once you own a home, it is your responsibility to de-lead if you have children under the age of six.
What should I do if I think I’ve been a victim of housing discrimination?
You can file a complaint if you think that you have been discriminated against and receive the following benefits:
- The housing you wanted
- Compensation for costs such as temporary housing or moving expenses
- Compensation for any emotional damages you may have suffered as a result of the discrimination
- An order prohibiting future discrimination or requiring the owner/agent to rent to other qualified members of a protected class who are seeking housing
- Your legal fees paid (some attorneys will take cases with the understanding that they will only be paid if you win the case)
- The satisfaction of knowing that you challenged discrimination and that other people may not go through what you experienced
Contact any of the following organizations if you think that you have experienced housing discrimination:
- Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston is a private advocacy organization that can assist victims of discrimination with filing a complaint in court with MCAD or HUD and may act as an advocate on your behalf.
59 Temple Place
Boston, MA 02111
- Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) handles all discrimination complaints that fall under state law and can also assist with complaints under the federal Fair Housing Act.
One Ashburton Place, Room 601
Boston, MA 02108
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency which receives and investigates housing discrimination complaints that violate federal law.
10 Causeway Street, Room 321
Boston, MA 02222
617-565-5308 or 800-827-5005
Lead-based Paint Poisoning Prevention
Why is lead-based paint a problem?
Lead, which was used in paint before 1978, can stay in the body for a long time and young children absorb lead more easily than adults. The harm done by lead may never go away and possible physical damage can include:
- Problems with the brain, kidneys, and nervous system
- Slow down of growth and development
- Learning challenges
- Hearing and speech damage
- Behavioral problems
Because of these health problems, the federal government banned the use of lead-based paint in 1978 and therefore many homes that were built before that time may still have traces of lead-based paint. This paint is usually not a hazard if it is in good condition. However, deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking or otherwise damaged) is a hazard and requires immediate attention as does such paint on surfaces that children can chew or which get a great deal of wear-and-tear such as windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, banisters, and porches.
What should I do if I think I have lead-based paint?
You cannot just paint over the hazard with regular paint but have to hire someone with special training for correcting lead problems. Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules established by the state and federal governments. Once the work has been completed, cleanup activities must be repeated until testing indicates that lead dust levels are below government standards.
Additionally, landlords must delead their properties as the Massachusetts lead law, in conjunction with Fair Housing laws, makes it illegal for a property owner or real estate agent to refuse to rent or sell a dwelling unit to a family with children because of the presence of lead-based paint (see Fair Housing information included above). Call Needham’s Board of Health at 781-455-7500 ext. 262 to get more information and help in locating certified contractors. Information is also available from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 800-532-9571 or 617-624-5757.
You may also qualify for financial assistance in removing lead-based paint. A state agency, MassHousing, administers the Get the Lead Out Program which provides financing at excellent terms. Owners who want to delead their homes for preventive purposes may qualify for an amortizing loan at 3% interest if they earn within 80% of area median income ($65,750 for a 3-person household based on 2016 income limits) and 5% interest if they earn more than this limit. All income eligible homeowners who are under court order to delead or have a child under case management with the Commonwealth’s Lead Paint Prevention Program, will receive 0% deferred loans that do not have to be prepaid until the property is transferred or sold. Contact Self Help, Inc. at 508-588-4049 for more information on this program.