Harborlight Community Partners: Making Homes Available to All, Even Against Impossible Odds

Harborlight Community Partners Receives the 2021 Non-Profit Organization of the Year Award

BOSTON- Harborlight Community Partners (HCP) is a non-profit, Massachusetts-certified Community Development Corporation. HCP develops, manages, and advocates for quality, service-enriched housing that is affordable and inclusive. HCP collaborates with communities to cultivate just, equitable and sustainable housing opportunities, vital to the health and strength of the North Shore region.  What makes HCP unique is that the organization not only manages its own properties, but also provides a service-enriched model across its portfolio. This allows for seniors to age in place as long as possible and families to sustain their housing. HCP focuses on the housing needs of underserved populations and strives to make homes available to all, because everyone deserves a home.

HCP supports affordable homes in 12 communities north of Boston, serving over 600 residents in 421 units of affordable housing. HCP has 491 in its current development pipeline, including collaborative projects, which have total development costs of over $210 million; this work is advanced by a real estate development team of only four staff members (HCP has less than 30 employees total.) HCP serves fixed-income elders, families and individuals who have experienced homelessness, essential workers and their families, and those with disabilities; 98% of its residents are below or well below Area Median Income. Currently, more than 500 households comprise the HCP housing waiting list.

The organization today is led by its Executive Director Andrew DeFranza, having served as the Executive Director since 2007. Under DeFranza’s leadership, HCP has grown dramatically. HCP, in its earliest form, began as the housing ministry of the First Baptist Church in Beverly (FBC) in the 1960s, which created homes for vulnerable seniors. In 2007, this housing ministry was merged with seven smaller affordable housing organizations in need of scale and economic efficiency, thus forming the nonprofit development and management organization. Today, HCP has an active project pipeline that is slated to more than double the number of homes in the next 5 years. HCP has projects in 12 communities north of Boston including Lynn, Marblehead, Salem, Peabody, Beverly, Hamilton, Wenham, Ipswich, Saugus, Rowley, Gloucester, and Rockport.

HCP is unyielding in getting this vital work done in the region and expertly engineers discussions with and submissions to various funding vehicles (state and federal levels), balancing these with local resources, such as Housing Trusts or Community Preservation Act funds. HCP also relies on philanthropy including individual donors, corporate donations and grants to support resident services, capacity, advocacy and family housing needs.  HCP’s mission-driven tenacity brings projects, often with impossible odds, to fruition. It has also been honored by Senior Care, named a “Housing Hero” by Mass Housing Partnership, honored by the North Shore Realtors Association, the MA Housing Investment Corporation, and was named Nonprofit of the Year by the Greater Beverly Chamber of Commerce.

Harborlight Community Partners is mission driven and DeFranza’s passionate leadership style has motivated community leaders, the HCP board, and donors to understand the importance of a safe, affordable home. DeFranza describes himself as a “short, working class, Italian guy from New Jersey with an accidental white-collar education.” It was in New Jersey, while working the second shift in an Atlantic City men’s homeless shelter, that he witnessed the very real, pressing issues related to homelessness and its harsh challenges.  With his conviction to social justice rooted in this experience, DeFranza remains passionately dedicated to housing creation and access, while challenging the systems which stand in the way of affordable housing development. Toward that end, DeFranza boldly addresses in public forums these barriers to housing creation, racial equity and access, and actively engages in dialogues with communities to address their housing needs and goals.

DeFranza is married with 4 children. He has been in nonprofit leadership roles for over 25 years, in both New England and the Midwest.  Prior to leading HCP, he was the Executive Director of an organization serving the homeless in Milwaukee. He holds an M.A. in Theology (Social Ethics) and an M.A. in Community Economic Development. In his work with HCP, he has been recognized as the 2020 Businessperson of the Year by the Greater Beverly Chamber of Commerce; the 2019 Distinguished Leadership Award from the North Shore Chamber of Commerce; and the Peter J. Gomes Service Award in 2017 from Congressman Seth Moulton for commitment to affordable housing creation/preservation.

Harborlight Community Partners received the 2021 Non-Profit Organization of the Year Award at the Boston Real Estate Times Excellence Awards on October 29 in a virtual ceremony via Zoom. To see a recording of the ceremony, click here to watch.

To learn more about Harborlight Community Partners, please visit their website at harborlightcp.org


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