During the Tribe’s monthly General Membership meeting on Sunday, April 14 an historic and undoubtedly emotional moment took place for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Community.
Tribal members learned who had been selected by lottery to live in the First Light Wampanoag Homes Development located on Meetinghouse Road in Mashpee.
The historic event capped several weeks of housing related events.
On March 30, an Honorary Partnership Ceremony took place at the site where the 42 unit housing structures will soon be constructed. Sight preparation has been underway since February.
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Housing Director, Michelle Tobey along with the department staff and the Mashpee Wampanoag Housing Commission made up of seven tribal members, organized and hosted the event where some 150 people attended.
Coreen Moore, Chairwoman of the Commission and member since its inception 10 years ago, reflected on the journey and recalled memories of working with Alice Lopez the Tribe’s first Housing Director who passed away unexpectedly in 2011.
“This was a dream that Alice worked so hard for, literally until the day she we lost her. I am so proud of the tireless, important and dedicated work our Commission and department staff focuses on daily in order to make this moment possible.” said Ms. Moore.
“I also want to recognize my fellow commission members, Joan Tavares Avant, Marjorie Seagraves, Joanne Peters, Marie Stone, Laverne Floyd, Denise Kersey and long-time member, now honorary board member Carol Lopez”, she added.
Many of the attendees included invited guests and representatives from both the Department of Housing and Community Development and Raymond James Tax Credit Fund, Inc., an organization based in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
In late 2017 Governor Charlie Baker announced a $1 million grant in addition to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development award of state and federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, totaling upwards of $11 million in equity in support of the housing project.
In addressing the guests gathered at the honoring ceremony, Ms. Tobey praised the state officials from DHCD for their unwavering support in awarding the funding. “The major infrastructure parts already in place likely made the tribe’s bid for the request a good candidate,” Ms. Tobey said. “We have been working diligently; that’s what made this application so attractive,” she added.
Chrystal Kornegay, undersecretary of Massachusetts Housing and Community Development, previously stated it was the first time the department partnered with the tribe. “We are pleased to be supporting this important project,” she said. “I want to congratulate the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on their efforts to bring this development to fruition, including completing the construction of infrastructure critical to the project’s viability.”
Raymond James Tax Credit Funds is one of the leading sponsors of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Funds nationwide. Since the inception of the tax credit program in 1986, the organization has sponsored more than 100 funds, providing equity for more than 2,000 properties in 47 states, making them a leading provider of high-quality affordable housing developments throughout the nation.
Benjamin Shockey, Associate Director of Acquisitions with Raymond James, expressed appreciation for the partnership with the Mashpee’s on this project. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Tribe and we know how meaningful it is, we are glad to be in partnership.”
During the Honorary Ceremony, Mr. Shockey had the opportunity to meet Tribal citizens and leadership, both spiritual and political, “It’s really meaningful, we are a part of many projects but very few have this kind of meaning.” he said.
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell praised the dedication of the Tribal Housing staff, the Housing Commission, investment partners and entire Tribal Community for putting forward such hard work, “They are honoring our ancestors, homeland and maintaining our sovereignty,” he said
“The day has arrived, we are a step closer to providing much-needed housing for our people in the heart of our ancestral homelands; this is an extremely exciting time for our Tribal Nation and a much needed boost,” adding, “The dream is now becoming a reality,” Cromwell said.