Thanks to nonprofit group, families move into new homes for the holidays

Thanks to nonprofit group, families move into new homes for the holidays

Carmen Catalan, center, is joined by her family in her new Central Falls housing unit. From left are Katrina Rivera, Jesus Rodriguez, Pawtucket Central Falls Development executive director Linda Weisinger, Catalan, Celines Pereza, Brittney Torres and PCF program coordinator Jessica Thigpen. In front is Joslianys Cruzado.

CENTRAL FALLS – Carmen Catalan says she couldn’t be happier to be home for the holidays this year. She and her family settled into a newly renovated affordable housing unit at 39-41 Knight St. in Central Falls on Dec. 1.

During a Nov. 27 ribbon-cutting ceremony with more than 100 people in attendance, Catalan shed tears of happiness as she stood in her new kitchen, surrounded by family, friends and local officials.

Struggling to put into words how happy she was, Catalan pointed to the front bay window as the spot where she plans to put her Christmas tree.

“This unit is beautiful. I am very happy and feel excited about moving into our new home,” she said. “I feel that making this move is going to be helpful to my family because it is going to be affordable for my family. Having opportunities like affordable housing is needed for all families.”

The building is part of the nonprofit Pawtucket Central Falls (PCF) Development Corporation’s investment of $11 million in affordable housing in Pawtucket and Central Falls. First to be completed, the Knight Street home is part of a 46-unit Branch Blackstone Development. Scattered throughout Pawtucket and Central Falls, the project is made up of six sites, which with 29 homes, and 17 apartments.

Two other recipient families at the Knight Street building did not to attend the ceremony, but Linda Weisinger, PCF Development Corporation’s executive director, spoke about their sentiments, saying both are grateful for the opportunity to have affordable housing.

“It takes more than housing to build and sustain strong communities,” Weisinger said. “Today we celebrate the three families who will make this their home. The families will move in and celebrate the holidays in their new home.”

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebian said PCF Development’s effort will help revitalize the city, and welcomed the new families home.

“I welcome the families to our communities and wish them a happy holiday in their new homes,” he said.

Though unable to attend, Central Falls Mayor James Diossa said in a statement he considers PCF Development a “trusted partner.”

“The transformation of 39 Knight St. is yet another demonstration of the work that we can accomplish together, creating opportunities for families to live in beautiful apartments that help revitalize our city,” he said.

Catalan’s first-floor home has refurbished wooden floors and new carpeting. All the fixtures are new and designed to complement each other, from the dark wooden cabinets in the kitchen to the shiny white tile in the bathroom. The attention to detail shone through, making the apartment and home appear brand new.

Emphasizing the affordability factor, Weisinger said renters at 39-41 Knight St. pay $776 in rent a month, substantially less than the average $983 a month to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Central Falls. She said 75 percent of Central Falls residents are renters, and 60 percent are “cost-burdened.”

Rhode Island Housing Executive Director Barbara Fields said creating new homes is the best way to revitalize the community, because new homes mean new business and new jobs.

“Each investment leverages additional investment,” she said.

Fields said the building is symbolic of how Rhode Island Housing is putting federal low-income housing tax credit to work.

Additional buildings are located on Branch Street, East Street, Japonica Street, Middle Street, John Street and Woodbine Street in Pawtucket, scheduled for completion in 2018. Applications for leasing the remaining homes are still available through PCF Development and Maloney Properties.

Funding for Branch Blackstone Development comes from the cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls, the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, Housing Ministries of New England, LISC Rhode Island, National Equity Fund, Pawtucket Credit Union, Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency, Rhode Island Housing and TD Bank.

This building on Knight Street in Central Falls is part of the nonprofit Pawtucket Central Falls (PCF) Development Corporation’s investment of $11 million in affordable housing in Pawtucket and Central Falls. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)