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OCTOBER JLC 1997 Building an Affordable Empire Mass. builder profitably serves low end Peter Bovenzi didn't really mean to get into affordable housing, or housing at all. But when he became involved in supporting a proposed affordable housing project for older residents in his Leominster, Mass., neighborhood in the early 1980s, Bovenzi, who had recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a degree in planning, suddenly found himself leading the search for a site. Once he had a site, he found himself planning the financing, then the construction. "The next thing I knew, I'd borrowed $105,000 at 16% and hired a contractor," says Bovenzi. "We built nine apartments. I remember really worrying that they wouldn't rent after