$1 Million Affordable Commercial Space Assistance Fund to Support Local Small Businesses
Mayor Michelle Wu announced that the City of Boston has released a request for proposals (RFP) for the Affordable Commercial Assistance Fund (ACAF). The ACAF will make $1 million available to help sustain local businesses and community-based nonprofits operating in affordable housing buildings. ACAF will do this by enabling property owners to lower their commercial rents and support the growth of businesses invested in local neighborhoods. The funding will be available to owners of buildings with city-supported affordable housing, including both rental and homeownership properties, that includes commercial space. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, allowing the application process to remain open until funds are exhausted. The City anticipates that this new fund will ensure the affordability of approximately 35,000 square feet of commercial space accessible to local small businesses and nonprofits that would otherwise be unable to afford market rents.
"Small businesses are the backbone of Boston’s economy,” said Sheila Dillon, Chief of Housing. “Recognizing their important role in building wealth for local families, the Wu administration through the Office of Housing is committing $1 million to lower rents for commercial spaces in affordable housing properties. These rental subsidies will help local businesses and nonprofits find space that will allow them to thrive and support their communities.”
The RFP requires that affordable housing developers set rents for their commercial spaces at least 10% below market. Eligible applicants must have existing commercial space or space that will be available to lease within 6 months of the application. Developers who have already leased commercial space to an eligible tenant may also apply to reduce or stabilize their existing commercial rents.
“We create commercial spaces to support vibrant neighborhoods. During the pandemic, many of our commercial tenants struggled to keep up with expenses,” said Teronda Ellis, Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation. “The City’s ACAF program helps organizations like JPNDC maintain our commitment to affordability to both residential and commercial tenants.”
The Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) will prioritize applications for commercial spaces that are either on the ground floor or contribute to an active street space and proposals that can demonstrate significant community and neighborhood ties for the proposed tenants.ABOUT THE MAYOR’S OFFICE OF HOUSING (MOH)
The Mayor’s Office of Housing is responsible for housing people experiencing homelessness, developing affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can find, maintain, and stay in their homes. As part of the ongoing coronavirus response, the Office of Housing Stability is administering Boston’s Rental Relief Fund, which has given out $17 million to more than 3,000 households, and is also conducting tenant’s rights workshops to educate residents about the eviction moratorium and their rights. The Boston Home Center continues to provide down payment assistance to first-time home buyers and home repairs for seniors and low-income residents. The Supportive Housing Division works with various partners around the city to rapidly house individuals who are experiencing homelessness. For more information, visit the MOH website.