What is Community Preservation?
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 over $20 million annually to fund:
- affordable housing
- historic preservation, and
- open space and 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, historic preservation, open space and recreation projects. Boston is now among the other cities and towns that have adopted the act. We implemented our first round of funding in 2018.
How the act works in Boston
- Community organizations
- Housing and neighborhood developers
- Park friends groups
- Historical societies
- Recreation associations
- Neighborhood coalitions
- Public agencies
The application and funding round will be announced every spring with a deadline to submit your Eligibility Determination Form at the end of August. We're happy to connect you with community organizations and resources to help develop a proposal.
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.
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.
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
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 over 185 CPA cities and towns across the Commonwealth that have adopted CPA, the Trust Fund match has recently increased. The decade-long effort to stabilize the CPA Trust Fund concluded in 2019 with the signing of legislation increasing the Registries of Deeds fees that generate revenue for the fund. This was a legislative priority to institute a permanent increase in the recording fees to raise the state match to over 30 percent. A huge success for CPA communities, the increased state match will bring Boston over $2 million more dollars every year!
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 Plan
It is important for the Community Preservation Plan to consider the established goals of the City. The City of Boston has several planning documents that establish community goals related to the Community Preservation Act funding categories. These include the:
- 2018-2019 Community Preservation Plan
- Imagine Boston 2030
- Housing Boston 2030
- 2015-2021 Boston Open Space and Recreation Plan
- Resilient Boston 2017
- 2021 Boston Climate Action Report
- 2016 Economic Inclusion and Equity Agenda
- 2020 Boston Parks & Rec Department Annual Report