GARDNER, Mass. – It seemed like little more than serendipity back in March, 2001 when a local community development group began to have clients ready financially to buy some homes. The city of Gardner made some land available and a local technical school lost a bid for its students to construct a home. All that was needed was a little financing, and that was where Gardner Federal Credit Union stepped in to help. "It really just did seem to come together," said Richard Franciosi, development officer for the $187 million community chartered institution. "We had worked with the Greater Gardener CDC before, and financed other projects, but what made this really exciting was that it was like a little development." The project's likeness to a development stemmed from the fact that it involved the construction and sale of three homes, not just one, and as such represented a strong opportunity for both the CDC and the credit union, Franciosi explained. Gardner will finance a large portion of the mortgage for each of the three homes, Franciosi explained, each of which will not go above $100,000. The loans will stay on the credit union's books as well, he said. But the credit union has also helped finance different aspects of the project, like the transportation of the vocational student workers from their school to the job sites each day. Both the credit union and the CDC shared a desire not to have the homes look like low-income homes might look like, Franciosi explained. There will be distinctive architectural features like porches to make them stand out more, he said.

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