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Last updated: 5/8/18

Community Preservation

We use funds to support historic preservation, affordable housing, and parks and open space.

The application deadline has passed. We'll update this page with information about our next application period in the fall.


Organizations with “shovel-ready” affordable housing, historic preservation, and parks and open space proposals may apply for spring funding. To apply, first review our pilot program application guide. Then, complete our online application. You can view the application before you click the button below.

Have questions? Contact:

Christine Poff
Read the plan

Check out the first-year priorities for Boston in the 2018 Community Preservation Plan.

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Program requirements

PILOT PROGRAM

The spring Pilot will fund ready-to-go affordable housing, historic preservation, and parks and open space projects. These projects would need no more than $500,000 in order to start and complete construction. Our Pilot has two goals:

  1. to show Boston residents the difference Community Preservation funds can make in their neighborhoods, and
  2. to help us test application materials and the review process before we begin a larger round of funding in fall 2018.

If your project isn't ready for the Pilot, you'll be able to apply in the fall. Boston will have $20 million every year to fund transformative projects!

QUESTIONS?

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you're unsure of your eligibility or have any questions about the Pilot application. Call 617-635-0277 or email thadine.brown@boston.gov.

Is your project eligible?

Check out our eligibility tables. Funds can only support capital projects for affordable housing, historic preservation, and parks and open space. It can't be used for operations, maintenance, or programming.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

You'll find funding priorities outlined in the Community Preservation Plan and Pilot Application Guide

IS YOUR PROJECT shovel-READY?

For the initial Pilot Program the Community Preservation Committee seeks projects where:

  • the applicant has site control of the proposed project parcel or resource
  • all funding is committed and documented, except for the Community Preservation funding request
  • a community process has been completed and community support for the project is demonstrated from elected officials, abutters, user groups, civic associations, and community organizations
  • all zoning and relevant approvals are in hand, and
  • implementation and construction can begin within 30 to 45 days of a funding and the project will be completed within a year of funding.

Please keep in mind: a request for a historic house of worship must be for publicly visible facade work only that does not include religious imagery.

What is Community Preservation?

Background

The Massachusetts legislature passed the Community Preservation Act in 2000. The law gave individual cities and towns a chance to mount a ballot campaign to add a surcharge on real estate taxes. The money raised supports three program areas for local communities:

  • historic preservation
  • affordable housing, and
  • parks and open space, including outdoor recreation facilities.
State trust fund

A statewide Community Preservation Trust Fund gives cities and towns that passed the act a “match.” Real estate transfer fees from across the state provide money for the Trust Fund. When a property changes hands anywhere in Massachusetts, a $20 fee is rolled into the closing costs.

Boston joins

Many cities and towns passed the Community Preservation Act soon after the law was enacted. They've received millions for affordable housing, preservation, and parks and conservation land. Boston is now among the other 171 communities that have passed the act. We start reaping the benefits in 2018.

City of Boston planning

During Mayor Walsh’s first term, ambitious planning took place. Imagine Boston 2030 and individual plans inform the Community Preservation Plan and guide project decision-making.  Plans include:

Other plans include making Boston more elder-friendly, supporting Veterans, and ending chronic homelessness through the Boston's Way Home program.

How the act will work in Boston

Staffing

The City hired Christine Poff, the program’s director, in the summer of 2017. She’s begun the work of building Boston's Community Preservation Act program. Her team may grow as the project review process gets underway.

Community Preservation Committee

A nine-member committee approves an administrative budget and annual Community Preservation Plan. They review all applications and make recommendations to the Mayor and City Council for funding. By law, five members represent City commissions and boards. The City Council chooses four at-large members from the general public.

All members must be Boston residents for the duration of their three-year term. Members may serve for a maximum of two terms.

Funding Cycles

We hope to announce an application for funds twice annually for small and large projects. At least 10% must be spent in each of the three areas: affordable housing, historic preservation, and parks and open space. Groups who can apply for funding of capital projects include:

  • community organizations
  • housing developers
  • park friends groups
  • historical societies, and
  • City agencies.

Start thinking about how these funds could help your neighborhood! We can connect you with community organizations and resources for help developing a proposal. 

What funds can be used on

All projects must be capital projects involving building or restoration. These funds can’t be used for maintenance or programming. You can view a table of allowable uses for Community Preservation funds.

Transparency

We’ll work to be as transparent as possible in our work. We plan to update this website regularly. Our meetings will be open to the public. We’ll also offer technical support to project applicants, where needed. This is YOUR program, Boston!

Community Preservation Committee

The committee is made up of nine Boston residents. They make decisions about Community Preservation funding priorities. Members meet monthly — or more often — as needed. The committee’s responsibilities include:

VOTING on an annual administrative budget. Five percent of funds may be spent on staff and expenses for the committee and program. Administration funds may also go towards planning, for example:

  • a design for an affordable housing site
  • a survey of a neighborhood’s historic sites, or
  • a park renovation plan.

The City must spend at least 10 percent in each of the three program areas.

DEVELOPING an annual Community Preservation Plan with several possible features, including:

  • needs assessment
  • principles and goals
  • guidelines and requirements for projects, and
  • priority project areas.

REVIEWING projects to recommend to the Mayor and City Council for final approval.

Experts from the City of Boston will help the committee review projects. City staff that will help evaluate applications include:

Committee members

Community Preservation Committee members serve three-year terms, with the possibility of serving a total of two terms. Staggered appointments make sure that all members do not rotate off at once. All members must be residents of Boston for the duration of their term.

at-large members

The City Council selects four at-large members to serve on the committee. More than 115 people applied for seats on the inaugural committee, representing nearly every neighborhood and the diversity of Boston. City law requires: 

  • one from the business community
  • one with expertise in one or more of the three areas, and
  • two with civic engagement experience.
Other members

State law requires that five members be selected from Boston's boards, commissions, and authorities. They represent: