By Beth Treffeisen
Last week, Mayor Martin Walsh announced nearly $22 million in funding for 10 affordable housing developments in neighborhoods across Boston. The funding will help preserve or produce 602 housing units with 77 of those units being reserved for homeless or extremely low-income households in Boston.
This announcement follows behind the Mayor’s goal of creating 6,500 new units of affordable housing outlined in “The Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030” housing plan, and supports “Boston’s Way Home”, the administration’s plan to end chronic homelessness by 2018.
“Preserving Boston’s affordability is key to ensuring everyone who wants to live here can afford to do so, and I’m particularly pleased this funding will both preserve and add to our existing affordable housing stock,” said Mayor Walsh in a statement.
He continued, “This will help us continue to build a pipeline of affordable housing, and put us one step closer towards reaching the ambitious goals laid out in our housing plan.”
This funding was made possible through more than $13 million of federal and local resources awarded by the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), and more than $8 million of linkage funds, awarded through Boston’s Neighborhood Housing Trust.
With the inclusion of these funds, the Walsh Administration has now committed nearly $100 million in affordable housing funding since the Mayor took office. In total, the Walsh Administration has helped create or preserve more than 3,000 units of affordable housing, which includes 500 units for housing the homeless.
The recipients of the funding include four developments in Dorchester, two in Jamaica Plain, two in Mattapan, one in downtown and one in the Fenway.
The developments that were chosen follow strict guidelines that follow the goals outlined in the “Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030”.
One of the recipients is 125 Amory Street building, which is part of the 10-year Jackson Square Master Plan. The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) is proposing to create a 44-unit affordable rental development there.
According to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), this housing unit will be for the elderly and disabled. The building will consist of a mix of market-rate housing in order to offset redevelopment costs.
It will be the fourth project to be built under the Jackson Square Master Plan.
“This is one of the first, if not the first new development in the Jamaica Plain and Roxbury area to get city funding commitment,” said Richard Thal the executive director of the JPNDC. “Getting city funding is critical in order to get state funding.”
Thal said that there is a tremendous need for affordable housing in the City. He pointed to a project in Jackson Square that has 39 affordable units that had over 3,000 people apply.
For the 125 Amory Street project, Thal hopes to receive the funding by next year. That way they can break ground by early 2019 and get families moving in three years from now.
“When the city demonstrates a real commitment to a project, it gets the process rolling,” said Thal.
The project slated for 250 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain for 112-unit mixed-income rental development, including 44 affordable units, along with 2,140 square feet of retail space also received funding from the City.
This project is being headed by The Community Builders of Boston; a nonprofit real estate developer that creates housing for families and seniors of all income levels and invests in local businesses and public amenities that strengthen neighborhoods.
“This funding is really a catalyst to meeting federal matching and getting the funding for it,” said Noah Sawyer from Community Builders. “It’s the first step and it shows that the City is behind the project.”
This building will be the fifth project to be constructed under the Jackson Square Master Plan, where community members have been planning over a span of 10 years. Sawyer said while he attended these public meetings he had heard a lot of strong community support for these projects, citing, “It’s all been very positive feedback.”
The funding, Sawyer said, will hopefully come in by the end of this year. He hopes that the project can get started by 2018, but Sawyer said, “It’s still up in the air.”
“Boston is putting money behind it and it’s a wonderful thing. It is great to be in a City that is so committed for affordable housing,” said Sawyer.
Another recipient of the funding is the 48 Boylston Street project that will create 93-unit mixed-income development in downtown Boston. The St. Francis House and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs are heading this project and are still unsure of the upcoming plans.
In the Fenway, the Burbank Gardens also received funding to rehabilitate the expiring 52-unit development. Headed by the Fenway Community Development Corporation (Fenway CDC) this proposed development would protect the existing tenants from displacement and preserve the long-term affordability of this mixed income development.
“I want to thank the Neighborhood Housing Trust for making these funds available and supporting these worthy developments,” said Mayor Walsh in a statement. “Working together with out partners, I am proud we are building a better Boston.”