The Neighborhood Developers (TND) and Roca announced on Tuesday afternoon the completion of Lewis Latimer Place in Chelsea – a four-unit supportive housing development on the Shawmut Street site of the birthplace of Lewis Latimer.
With the support of the City of Chelsea, and other funding partners, The Neighborhood Developers has redeveloped the formerly vacant site into four, two-bedroom homes. The newly constructed apartments at Lewis Latimer Place will soon provide homes for at-risk, or high-risk young pregnant or parenting families. The new apartments will provide affordable, energy efficient and healthy living located not far from the many amenities in downtown Chelsea.
“We wanted to think of solutions for high-risk people with children who don’t have housing,” said TND Director Ann Houston. “It’s hard enough to change risky behaviors and then to be a parent when you don’t have a home makes it so much harder. We thought about what we needed and looked at what would work and the Lewis Latimer home was born. This is four units and that’s a small drop in the bucket, but please see this as the first of many locations providing these types of housing and supports.”
The new building is named after Lewis Latimer, who was born in 1848 in a building that formerly occupied this site. The son of a runaway slave, Latimer executed the drawings for Alexander Graham Bell’s patent for the telephone and invented a carbon filament to make electric lights longer lasting and more affordable. The ribbon cutting will include the unveiling of a plaque in Latimer’s honor. The plaque is a collaboration with Chelsea’s Lewis H. Latimer Society – headed up by City Councillor Leo Robinson and his brother, Ron Robinson.
“This is a big day for us,” said Ron. “We’ve been at it 18 years now to try to get something in Chelsea named for Lewis Latimer. We wanted to build a legacy and it’s forming now. Hopefully, three blocks up the street will be the Lewis Latimer Park…When we first started, there wasn’t a lot of information about him – a paragraph here or a museum there. We are now part of an organization united all along the eastern seaboard. We found this organization to use Latimer as a role model for young people to show that you can accomplish anything and overcome any obstacle with education.”
Lewis Latimer Place represents a new collaborative effort between TND and Roca pairing affordable homes with supportive services tailored to family needs. Roca is an experienced and nationally-recognized service provider that has helped more than 20,000 young people change their behaviors and transform their lives. Roca has partnered with TND to provide supportive services to residents, addressing interpersonal relationships, stage-based education, life skills and parenting supports, and employment programming.
“This is an exciting day. We are honored to collaborate with TND, the City of Chelsea and the funders on this great project, said Molly Baldwin, Founder and CEO of Roca. “Supporting young people, one cluster of apartments at a time, will promise that our community helps young parents and families move towards stable and happy lives.”
The Lewis Latimer project team included Timberline Construction Corporation and Horne + Johnson / StepONE architects.
The project was also made possible with the support of the City of Chelsea, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, Boston Private Bank, Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, North Suburban Consortium, MassDevelopment, MassHousing, and Charlesbank Homes.
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