The Stratford Capital Group's plans to build affordable senior housing at an old school property in Fairhaven will be propelled by state and federal tax credits.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Oct. 21 announced that the Oxford School Residences project will gain support under the state’s Affordable Rental Housing Program. The administration this month provided $105.7 million in direct funding and allocated $53 million in state and federal tax credits to 28 housing projects in 19 communities.

“Our administration has made housing a priority, including injecting $1.1 billion into the affordable housing ecosystem, filing zoning reform legislation, and signing the largest Housing Bond Bill in our state’s history,” Baker said in a media release. “Keeping families stable and increasing the supply of affordable housing in Massachusetts is vital for our future and I am pleased to celebrate this most recent round of housing development awards and the new homes they will provide for residents.”

Stratford, working with the non-profit CHOICE, plans 54 units for income-qualified seniors at Fairhaven’s former Oxford Elementary School. Ten units will be located in the old school building and the rest will be created with new construction.

Plans for adaptive reuse of the former elementary school have been underway since 2016, when a comprehensive permit application was filed with the town. The town that year agreed to sell the building to Stratford, unloading a building last used by the school department in 2012.

On Monday, state Sen. Mark Montigny praised news of the tax credits.

“Increasing quality, affordable housing options for senior citizens is a primary concern for my constituents,” Montingy said. “I greatly appreciate the steadfast commitment by the town and all stakeholders to ensuring this development will finally come to fruition and provide some much needed housing relief in Fairhaven.”

Montigny's office noted that the senator previously advanced a land swap bill on Beacon Hill that made the project possible.

The school was built in 1895 to serve a sudden surge in population that followed the construction of the Coggeshall  Bridge in 1892. The bridge over the Acuhsnet River allowed new residents, many of French Canadian origin, to live in Fairhaven and work in the New Bedford mills, Stratford said in its project application.

The Baker administration in its announcement did not provide specific information about project finance at the Oxford School. However, Stratford previously told the town it would request $1 million of Affordable Tax Credits per year from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development. Tax credits help leverage private investment. The 2016 application described a $17.7 million project buoyed by $11 million in investor capital.

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