By John Lynds
Two East Boston residents that were instrumental in lobbying for federal funding to revamp the old and decaying Maverick Housing Projects into the new Maverick Landing development under a federal HOPE VI grant were honored last week for their years of service.
Ruth Capone and Elly Saraceni, both members of the Executive Board of Maverick Tenant Organization for over 20 years, recently retired from their leadership positions.
However, the duo were the driving forces behind getting the Maverick Projects redeveloped into what we now know as Maverick Landing, a mix of affordable and market rate housing along Eastie waterfront.
Last Tuesday, Councilor Sal LaMattina, Bill McGonagle from the Boston Housing Authority and Al Caldarelli of the East Boston Community Development Corporation all paid tribute to Capone and Saraceni.
“I have worked with Ruth and Elly for over 20 years and it’s because of their tireless effort that makes Maverick Landing the place that it is today,” said LaMattina. “They worked countless hours to improve the lives of so many people living in public housing.” “Although they will not be in the leadership position of the Maverick Tennant Organization they promise that they will still remain active in the neighborhood which is a good thing for East Boston.”
LaMattina passed on a chance to meet President Barack Obama when he was in town visiting Boston schools in order to honor Capone and Saraceni.
“I would not have missed it,” he said. “They mean too much to so many people in Maverick and the neighborhood.”
Maverick Landing has been recognized nationally for what was accomplished in a few short years. The development won the 2009 I. Donald Terner Prize, which recognizes successful and innovative affordable housing projects and their leadership teams.
For months leading up to its redevelopment Capone and Saraceni helped architects and planners design the multi-block development which implemented mid-rise to low-rise structures to accommodate various living arrangements from elderly apartments to market-rate townhouses.
A transit-oriented development, Maverick Landing, which is Massachusetts’ first green, affordable multi-family housing development, adhering to “healthy homes” principles and achieving LEED certification, is a model for projects funded through the Federal Housing and Urban Development HOPE VI program.
The CDC’s Caldarelli said, “all the honors and recognition of the efforts at Maverick are a tribute to not only the development team but also to the Maverick Tenant Organization and people like Capone and Saraceni.”
The project restored historic street patterns and reconnects residents with the surrounding community. The site offers public open spaces including a park at one corner of the development, a crescent shape of townhouses that invites the public waterfront park into the development and broad walkways that link a community center with housing on all sides.
“_We now live in the decent, quality housing that we’ve deserved for a long time,” said Capone of the HOPE VI redevelopment of Maverick.