By SCOTT JACKSON
A newly renovated building with 22 units of affordable housing located in the heart of Quincy Center was dedicated Friday morning.
The building, located at 1433 Hancock St., was named the Joe Finn Building in honor of Finn, a longtime advocate for affordable housing and a former member of the Quincy City Council.
“Joe Finn’s life work has been about helping those that can’t help themselves,” Mayor Thomas Koch said during the dedication.
The mayor later noted that Finn, who is the president and executive director of the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance, remains an advocate for affordable housing to this day.
“I have great admiration for Joe and, as I said earlier on, he really was the conscious on this issue in Quincy for a long, long time,” Koch said. “Now I view he’s the conscious in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on this issue.”
Koch added that the Boston area is sorely in need of new housing to meet demand.
“I know there is times when this administration gets criticized perhaps for what some perceive as overdevelopment,” he said. “The fact of the matter is we are tens of thousands of units short in the metropolitan area of Boston to meet the needs of housing – and that’s all types of housing. Keep in mind that the additional market-rate housing also helps to stabilize rents. It is about getting more affordable units in play, but it is also about the greater number to help stabilize the market rents.”
The building contains 22 units of workforce housing, Koch said, 20 of which are already occupied; the remaining two will be occupied on Oct. 1. The renovation project was partially funded by a $2 million grant from the city’s affordable housing trust.
Leo Martin, the owner of the building, thanked Koch and the Affordable Housing Trust Committee for their support of the project.
“They were absolutely terrific to deal with in every way and very supportive of this,” Martin said.
“I would also like to say congratulations to Joe Finn. He’s a guy that I’ve watched forever. He’s always there for people that need a hand. I think he’s a good example of just a good guy.”
Finn said he was reluctant to have the building named in his honor but agreed to it for two main reasons. The first reason was that Martin was the developer.
“I’m guessing that Leo Martin has done more to house people experiencing homelessness than many of the providers have and he has certainly always helped those at the other end of the housing spectrum,” Finn said. “For that, I believe his name should probably be on this building, quite honestly.”
The second reason Finn gave was Koch’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He never got the full credit that he deserved during the whole COVID crisis,” Finn said of the mayor. “His response was unparalleled, it was extraordinary, because not only did he actually create a situation to protect and stop the spread of that virus, but he also managed to put people back to work who had been laid off because of that.
“As the mayor knows well, we disagreed on a lot of things over time, but I’ll tell you, his response to that was unparalleled. I hope in some way I might be able to honor him as well in accepting this award.”
Also speaking at Friday’s ceremony were Rep. Ron Mariano, the speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and Sen. John Keenan, who served with Finn on the Quincy City Council.
“I can’t say enough about the admiration I have for Joe Finn as an advocate and as a local legislator,” Mariano said. “It’s been a real pleasure to get to know Joe, it’s been a great honor to work with him. Anything I learned about housing, I learned from Joe Finn – I don’t know if that’s good or bad, Joe.”
“Joe brings such commitment to the cause and, as the Senate chair of the Housing Committee, he is an invaluable, invaluable resource to what we do on the committee,” Keenan said. “He has left his mark, not only here in the city of Quincy but all across the commonwealth – there is no denying that at all.”