Back to top
Last updated: 12/14/17

Community Preservation

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

In November 2016, 74% of Boston voters approved the Community Preservation Act. Starting in 2018, about $20 million will be available every year for:

  • affordable housing
  • parks and open space improvements (including outdoor recreation facilities), and
  • historic restoration.

Boston’s Community Preservation director, Christine Poff, will work with a volunteer Community Preservation Committee to build and manage the program. Nine Boston residents sit on the committee, which will help make project and funding decisions.

Have questions? Contact:

Christine Poff

Stay tuned!

Please bookmark this page and check back often. We'll post a draft of the "Community Preservation Plan" outlining our goals and priorities in early 2018. The plan will include a place for your input.

Applying for funds

Project interest form

Interested in applying for Community Preservation funds for your neighborhood project?

We created a simple, one page project interest form so you can let us know. We hope to have full application details posted by March 1, 2018.

Project Interest Form

Is your project not fully developed?

We'd still like to know about it, and may be able to help you with your application, designs, or budget. Complete the project interest form, and we'll be in touch.

Not sure what's eligible for funds?

Check out the eligible funds chart. The fund only supports capital projects for affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space. The fund can’t be used for operations, maintenance, or programming.

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'll start reaping the benefits in 2018.

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

The Mayor and the City Council will appoint a nine-member, decision-making committee. By law, the Mayor picks five members from City commissions and agencies. The City Council chooses four at-large members from the general public, including:

  • one business person
  • one person with expertise in one of three areas (historic preservation, open space, or affordable housing), and
  • two who have a background of civic involvement.

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 will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for small and large projects in 2018, and every year after that. 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 groups to develop a proposal. Check this website starting in March 2018 for application and instruction links.

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 chart 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 webpage 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 our 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.

We’ll make the budget public once it’s approved. 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
  • funding distribution
  • 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:

During Mayor Walsh’s first term, ambitious planning took place. The Housing Plan, the Open Space Plan, the Climate Action Plan, and others will inform the Community Preservation Plan.

committee timeline

Thanks to everyone who applied to serve on Boston's first Community Preservation Committee! The 113 applicants represent nearly every neighborhood and the diversity of our City. The City Council will hold a hearing on the four finalists on December 5th and vote to approve them on December 13, 2017.

Committee timeline

Applicants

Thanks to everyone who applied to serve on Boston's first Community Preservation Committee (CPC)! The 113 applicants represent nearly every neighborhood and the diversity of our City.

Committee decision

The City Council hosts a hearing on December 5, 2017, at 10 a.m. in the Council Chamber on the 5th floor of City Hall. They will present the four Community Preservation Committee finalists. Members of the public are welcome to attend and comment.

The council will vote to approve the four on December 13. At that time, we will announce the full committee. Please check back here for updates.