A plane approaches Logan Airport in Boston. (Photo by Michael Philip Manheim, Environmental Protection Agency.)

When Phillip Giffee first met with the East Boston Ecumenical Council to talk about neighborhood housing issues in the basement of Our Savior Lutheran Church in 1987, the first order of business was helping seniors repair their homes.

It was the birth of NOAH, the nickname for Neighborhood of Affordable Housing, now a non-profit, tax-exempt community development corporation. In 1987, the non-profit agency’s first initiative in East Boston was Senior Homeowner Services (SHS), which assisted low-income elderly homeowners with household repairs.

Giffee, now executive director of NOAH, estimates that since then, NOAH has helped more than 2,500 people – seniors and those with disabilities – make about 7,000 repairs, such as leaky faucets, clogged drains, broken window cords and sashes, handicapped accessibility modifications, heating system repairs, leaky roofs, sagging porches and deteriorated foundations.

"Our SHS program ensures that seniors remain integral members of our neighborhoods, both contributing to and benefitting from greater contact with the younger generation..." Phillip Giffee

“We are extremely proud of this work,” said Giffee. “We think we have set the standard for rehabilitation and have been a strong part of the revitalization of East Boston. Our SHS program ensures that seniors remain integral members of our neighborhoods, both contributing to and benefitting from greater contact with the younger generations.”

But NOAH didn’t stop there.

NOAH has affordable housing projects in the city and suburbs, including Shoe Shop Place in Middleborough.
Other services, such as English language classes and bilingual foreclosure prevention workshops, grew out of NOAH’s work to help the growing Latino population.

About 57.6 percent of the East Boston zip code, 02128, identifies as Latino or Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It has a long history of being a gateway neighborhood for immigrants.

All told, NOAH programs have brought private and public investments worth more than $352 million to the Greater Boston Area, according to NOAH’s Annual Report for 2015.

To be eligible for assistance through NOAH, homeowners must be at least 62, living in Charlestown, East Boston, the North End or the West End of Boston and occupying a 1- to 4- family property. The funding source, the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development says the household income must not exceed 80 percent of Area Media Income (AMI) as defined by
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The AMI in these neighborhoods is $62,800 for a two-person household.

Homeowners may receive no-interest deferred loans, grants are available to fund certain projects, and construction specialists are available to provide technical assistance.

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About the Author

Christina Sturgis is an experienced journalist and graduate of Temple University School of Media and Communication. She was a staff writer at the Times Union of Albany, NY, the Daily Gazette of Schenectady, NY, and the Press & Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton, NY. She is a frequent contributor to the Times of Trenton, NJ, and the Zillow Newspaper Consortium. She is a native of East Bridgewater, Mass., currently residing in Burlington, NJ.