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February 22, 2014

Citizens for Adequate Housing makes room for big family in Peabody

PEABODY — One size does not fit all. That goes for people and it goes for families. Which is why Peabody’s nonprofit Citizens for Adequate Housing is cheered whenever an apartment with multiple bedrooms comes its way.

That happened recently when the city turned over a two-family house on Elm Street for the agency to manage, with an almost-unheard-of four bedrooms in the upstairs apartment.

The building was purchased by the Historical Commission, using Community Preservation Act funds, and with the help of a variety of local agencies. The property is a historic structure, built in 1870 — just a few years after the end of the Civil War.

“There just isn’t a lot of affordable housing for large families,” said a delighted Corey Jackson, director of Citizens for Adequate Housing.

He quickly found families with Peabody ties for both the downstairs and the roomy upstairs apartments. “We tend to put a high premium on helping Peabody residents,” he said.

They moved into a home that CAH had upgraded to the tune of $125,000. “It’s beautiful,” he said, estimating its value on the free market as being in the range of $400,000.

Citizens for Adequate Housing manages five properties with 15 individual apartments. It also has 29 families in shelters. Their goal, Jackson said, is far-reaching. Getting people out of shelters and into the sort of housing now available on Elm Street is only one step. Ultimately, he looks forward to seeing the residents move up and out, finding their own housing at market rates after a period of assistance.

While the rents and utilities charged are little more than half of what for-profit landlords would demand, they’re not cheap. The four-bedroom apartment on Elm Street rents for $1,300, for example, including utilities. Jackson guesses it would rent for $2,000 on the open market.

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