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City of Boston American Rescue Plan Housing Funding

The City of Boston has allocated $234 million in American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funding to housing.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 delivered $350 billion to  state and local governments across the country to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Boston was allocated $560 million of this funding, which is intended to support a strong, resilient and equitable recovery. Given the critical role of safe, stable and affordable housing in the City’s recovery, $234 million in ARPA funding has been allocated for housing. ARPA regulations require the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) to commit these funds by the end of 2024 and spend them by the end of 2026.

Specific Projects (Ongoing)

Specific Projects (Ongoing)

Welcome Home, Boston will fast track the production of new affordable homes by making 150 parcels of City-owned land available for new homeownership opportunities in Boston’s neighborhoods. ARPA funding will be used to subsidize development on these sites to ensure the homeownership is accessible to low, moderate, and middle income households.  We first engaged the community about 70 City-owned lots just north and south of Harambee Park on Blue Hill Avenue where we propose to make these new homes a reality, with the first request for proposals set to be released in April 2023 and two more to follow in 2023. For more details, please email antonio.leite@boston.gov.

MOH  is using ARPA funding to help responsible developers buy property in areas where lower-income tenants are at risk of displacement. Working with community partners, this project keeps tenants in place and guarantees permanent affordability. As of March 2023, 138 units have been purchased:

For more details, please email christine.okeefe@boston.gov.

The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) is using ARPA funding to improve ventilation and windows across 1,040 public housing units. These investments will improve air quality, increase efficiency and improve resident comfort and lower the risk of environmentally-triggered health conditions like asthma. For more details, please email joel.wool@bostonhousing.org.

ARPA funding is being used to transform unused or underutilized public land into vibrant mixed-income, eco-friendly communities with deeply affordable multi-family rental housing. These communities will be designed to be carbon neutral and transit-oriented and may explore the use of innovative approaches such as prefabricated or modular housing.

MOH  partnered with BPDA and the Streets cabinet to identify priority sites and conduct feasibility analyses for sites in Chinatown, Roxbury and Charlestown. MOH and BPDA collected community feedback for the sites in Charlestown and Chinatown and requested proposals in 2023. Community engagement on the Roxbury site is currently also underway. Read more from the BPDA.

The BPDA Board has designated a partnership between affordable housing developers Asian Community Development Corporation and The Community Builders as Tentative Developer for Parcel P-12C in Chinatown.

For more details, please email christine.okeefe@boston.gov.

Emissions from buildings account for 70 percent of Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions. In order to achieve a Green New Deal for Boston, it is necessary to retrofit existing buildings with components like new roofs and exterior insulation that save energy and cut emissions. These upgrades help eliminate fossil fuel usage, improve indoor air quality, make the buildings healthier and more comfortable, and help lower energy bills.

In partnership with the Boston Environment Department, MOH is developing two programs that will use ARPA funds to support energy retrofits—one for larger affordable buildings launched in March 2023 (view the bid page), and one to help owner-occupants and other small building owners access these technologies. The first phase of the small building project is set to start in Summer 2023. These programs will transform housing for owners and residents, and demonstrate that zero-carbon, energy-efficient and resilient design can and should be accessible to all.  For more details, please email joseph.backer@boston.gov.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the humanitarian crisis at Mass/Cass have highlighted the urgent need for permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness and struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. ARPA funding will be used to support the creation of permanent supportive housing with specialized services, like social work and medical support. MOH is working with a variety of partners to acquire sites, identify existing buildings that can be repurposed, and secure ongoing funding for services with a goal of creating 1,000 units. For more details, please email adam.goldstein@boston.gov.

In response to the humanitarian crisis at Mass/Cass, MOH partnered with the Boston Public Health Commission and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in late 2021 to create six low threshold transitional housing sites for people experiencing homelessness who also have a substance use disorder. These sites offer a safe place to live and vital support services, including housing search and placement for vulnerable individuals. ARPA funding is being used to extend the four City-funded sites through at least Fiscal Year 2024 while we work to find permanent housing for the inhabitants.  For more details, please email jtracey@bphc.org.

GrowBoston, a department within MOH, and the Office of Food Justice (OFJ) are deploying ARPA funds to expand funding for neighborhood food systems. 

Specifically, GrowBoston will build two rooftop farms over the next three years, with produce directed towards low-income residents, as well 1,000 raised beds for low-income households, to be built at homes as well as at partner public agencies and community-based organizations. For more details please email emily.reckardmota@boston.gov

Working with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Advancement, Immigrant Family Services Institute (IFSI), and other community organizations, MOH used ARPA funding to address the influx of migrants coming to health centers and hospital emergency rooms by creating more temporary-to-permanent housing solutions outside of the shelter and hotel system. For more details, please email danielle.johnson@boston.gov.

The Office of Returning Citizens will use ARPA funding to create a rapid rehousing program for City of Boston residents leaving incarceration who are at risk of homelessness. 

The participants in the program will be provided rental assistance and intensive case management as well as supportive services to help them secure employment and/or benefits and transition to permanent housing. 

The Office of Returning Citizens will be selecting an organization(s) to run the program this Summer, with a plan to start accepting individual program participants in early Fall 2023.  For more details, please email kimberly.rhoten@boston.gov.

The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) wired 17 public housing communities across Boston in order to provide free Wi-Fi and expand internet access for some of Boston’s most vulnerable residents. Alongside the installation of hardware, BHA is continuing its ongoing digital equity efforts related to infrastructure investments, digital literacy, and technology. For more details, please email joel.wool@bostonhousing.org.

The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) expanded programming to support the hardest hit renters with housing search and stabilization services. For more details, please email joel.wool@bostonhousing.org.

Specific Projects (Completed)

Specific Projects (Completed)

The Boston Home Center is helping more Bostonians become homeowners. BHC teaches potential homeowners what they need to know to buy a home, repair their credit, and pre-qualify for new City of Boston-backed mortgage products. The Boston Home Center is using ARPA funding to help low, moderate, and middle-income buyers qualify for lower mortgage interest rates and contribute to their down payments. This project has helped dozens of new homeowners already, with enhanced down payment grants of up to $50,000 and interest rate subsidies of up to $75,000. For more details, please email homecenter@boston.gov.

The East Boston Blue Line Portfolio was the biggest ARPA-funded housing acquisition to date and resulted in 114 unrestricted units becoming permanently affordable housing. The units are spread throughout East Boston, a neighborhood that has historically been an affordable place for immigrants and families to call home, but which has seen some of the highest percentage rent increases in the City over the last decade. 

The $47 million acquisition was made possible by a $12 million investment by the City, including $9 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, $2 million from the CARES Act,  $1 million in Inclusionary Development funds and other philanthropic support. The East Boston Community Development Corporation worked in partnership with local investors to convert the portfolio to the state’s first ever Mixed Income Neighborhood Trust (MINT). The MINT model places governance and control of the portfolio in the hands of a local purpose trust, while financial investors hold the economic interest in the portfolio.

In addition to a City deed restriction which will ensure that the units are income restricted in perpetuity, this new model empowers the local community to address displacement by placing governance, ownership, and management in the hands of a community trust.

This program helped Boston homeowners at risk for foreclosure remain in their homes, providing stability for those homeowners and neighborhoods who have historically experienced high foreclosure rates, all of them majority-minority neighborhoods. In total, MOH provided financial assistance to 98 low- and moderate-income homeowners facing foreclosure.

This was a pilot program that provided cash assistance to 500 BHA households with children. Modeled after cash relief programs across the U.S., the goals of this pilot were to promote stability for low income households with children transitioning into BHA housing programs and to foster economic mobility during the pandemic and recovery. Pilot participants were randomly selected by lottery to receive a one-time, non-recurring payment of $1,500.

These payments were unconditional and enabled recipients to make their own decision on how to spend the assistance. BHA will be evaluating this pilot in collaboration with the BU Metrobridge program to understand the impact of cash relief on family well being, economic stability, and the ability to access food. 

Humphreys Street Studios, located at 11-13 Humphreys Street in Uphams Corner, is an important hub of artistic and creative sector businesses. After the property was listed for sale, the tenants worked to buy the property and preserve over three dozen artist studios. The acquisition of the property was curated by New Atlantic Development, with funding from nonprofit funders BlueHub Capital and LISC,  and a total $1.7 million investment from the City of Boston. This project was supported by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, MOH, and the surrounding community and local elected officials.

In 2022, MOH used ARPA funding to unite social service providers, medical providers, and other relevant stakeholders to coordinate care for households who have been impacted by violence in their communities. Many of the households assisted through this coordination are households of color, oftentimes single female heads of household, who are caring for children and other loved ones in the aftermath of community violence. 

This project helps impacted households reestablish a sense of safety by facilitating connections to new housing. As of March 2023 , the City has provided support to 22 families.

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