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What is Community Preservation?

In November 2016, 74% of Boston voters approved the Community Preservation Act (CPA) by voting “yes” on Ballot Question 5.

With the adopted Community Preservation Act, the City created a special Community Preservation Fund. Financed by a 1-percent property tax surcharge and a state match, the City raises about $25 million annually to fund: 

  • affordable housing
  • historic preservation, and
  • open space, parks, and outdoor recreation.

Many cities and towns adopted the Community Preservation Act soon after the law was passed in 2000. They've received millions for affordable housing, preservation, and parks and conservation land. With Mayor Walsh's support, Boston is now among the other 175 communities that have adopted the act. We implemented our first round of funding in 2018.

 

Have questions? Contact:

Christine Poff
Community Preservation program

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

Funding information

How the act works in Boston

WHO CAN APPLY FOR CPA FUNDS
  • Community organizations
  • Housing and neighborhood developers
  • Park friends groups
  • Historical societies
  • Recreation associations
  • Non-profits
  • Neighborhood coalitions
  • Public agencies

The application and funding round will be announced every summer with a late September deadline. We're happy to connect you with community organizations and resources to help develop a proposal.  

HOW funds can be used

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. Please reach out to our staff to learn if your project is eligible. We can help you decipher the legal nuances of the state law.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • CPA can't fund artificial turf.
  • Funds can be used for acquisition (purchase) for new open space, to save a historic building, or to preserve affordable housing.
  • Streetscapes that are not pocket parks or open space aren't eligible. 
  • Public art, unless it is an integral part of a park design, can't be funded.

 

Who decides what should be funded?

A nine-member Community Preservation Committee (CPC) reviews all applications. 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. The Community Preservation Committee recommends a slate of projects to the Mayor. The Mayor sends the recommendations to the City Council for a public hearing and final vote.

Meet the committee

Community outreach

We are frequently in the community to talk about Community Preservation opportunities for Boston neighborhoods.  This includes:

  • presentations at neighborhood association meetings,
  • Q & A with community coalitions,
  • meet and greets at local branch libraries, 
  • community conversations and forums with non-profit partners, and
  • mingling at coffee hours and neighborhood events.

Invite us! We are always looking to spread the word about what projects have been funded and outline the application process.  CPA staff try to visit as many potential project sites as possible. We can't do this in the weeks just before an application is due, but contact us throughout the year to visit your site.

About the funds

STATE TRUST FUND

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

With 175 CPA communities across the Commonwealth, the Trust Fund match in recent years dropped to just 11-percent. A priority for Mayor Walsh's legislative agenda this year was to institute a permanent increase in the recording fee to raise the match to almost 30-percent. A huge success for Boston, the increased state match will bring Boston about $2 million more dollars every year!

CALCULATING THE SURCHARGE

We calculate the surcharge by first deducting $100,000 from the value of your property. Next, we recalculate the tax and apply your residential exemption and any personal exemptions, if you have them. The remainder or "revised net tax" is used to determine the 1% surcharge. This is divided over your four quarterly tax bills.

Many seniors and lower income property owners are exempt from the CPA surcharge. Contact the City's Assessing Department if you think you may be exempt.

We have more information on surcharges, and how they are calculated:

Community Preservation Act surcharges

Community Preservation Plan

The plans that drive Community Preservation

Imagine Boston 2030 and the plans below inform the Community Preservation Plan and guide project decision-making.

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

Read the Community Preservation Plan

WHAT'S BEEN FUNDED

See the map

 

Image for cpa map