$30 million in new affordable housing funding announced
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the City of Boston has released two Requests for Proposals (RFP) offering approximately $30 million for affordable housing developments seeking City of Boston financial support. This is the first affordable housing funding the City of Boston has offered since restarting affordable housing construction in June when Boston began its phased reopening plan in line with its COVID-19 guidelines.
"The work of creating affordable housing in Boston must continue," said Mayor Walsh. "Affordable housing for all families is crucial now more than ever, and the urgency for safe, stable income-restricted housing has been highlighted by this pandemic. We're dedicated to creating sustainable, affordable housing, in line with our housing and environment goals, for all families in Boston."
Developers can apply to the City with proposals to build new affordable housing or preserve existing affordable housing. The City, the Community Preservation Commission and the Neighborhood Housing Trust will prioritize projects that produce significant percentages of housing for extremely low-income Bostonians, that serve special populations such as homeless, seniors or special needs households, promote City goals to affirmatively further fair housing, and that efficiently use City resources and/or land to increase the supply of housing available to low- and moderate-income households.
The RFPs also require that developers prove that their team -- from the executive suite to construction workers in the field -- reflects the diversity of Boston's population. New affordable housing development proposals must provide an explanation for how they will prevent displacement of both residents and businesses and provide an eviction prevention plan that builds on existing sound management practices.
This year's funding announcement is paired with an update to DND's Design Standards with two key enhancements. The first is a requirement that all new affordable housing construction funded by the City must meet Carbon Neutral performance standards, consistent with the Carbon Free Boston by 2050 that Mayor Walsh set in 2017. These new standards are the result of a year-long collaborative effort between multiple City departments, the Boston Planning & Development Agency, a consulting team, and many practitioners and experts in the field. The second enhancement is an expansion of the agency's focus on Universal Design, forwarding the work of the Mayor's Disability Housing Task Force. The updated design standards not only clarify the City's goals for a minimum of fully accessible units that is double the state's requirement, but they also request new enhancements in all apartment types to make it easier for owners to adapt all units to be accessible to people throughout their lifetimes.
"We are thrilled to see the City taking a zero-emission buildings approach to its affordable housing efforts," said Rickie Harvey, steering team member of the Boston Clean Energy Coalition. "Zero-emission requirements are an urgent and crucial step toward reducing the huge carbon impact of Boston's built environment. BCEC and its member organizations look forward to continuing to partner with the City in order to ensure that all new development uses an equity lens and produces healthy, safe, and energy-efficient buildings."
The City of Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development and the Community Preservation Act (CPA) are issuing $20 million dollars consisting of HOME, CDBG, Housing Boston 2030, Inclusionary Development Policy Funds and Community Preservation Funding. Approximately $16 million dollars of resources will support qualified proposals from non-profit and for-profit developers of affordable rental, cooperative and homeownership developments. DND will prioritize up to $4 million dollars of funding for supportive housing for homeless and/or aging populations.
"The City of Boston has again proven itself a leader in the production and preservation of affordable housing, this time in the midst of an unprecedented crisis," said Dara Kovel, CEO of Beacon Communities. "Bringing resources to create affordable housing counters the pressures of the economic downturn and helps alleviate Boston's housing crisis. This funding, including resiliency measures and targeting those most in need, puts Boston at the front of the pack."
In addition, the Neighborhood Housing Trust Fund (NHT) is reviewing applications for up to $10 million to support the creation and preservation of affordable housing developments that meet the needs of the homeless, low- and moderate-income individuals and households in Boston. The NHT is funded through a project linkage fee system for commercial development projects in excess of 100,000 square feet, and supports homeownership, rental, cooperative, transitional, or permanent housing. Projects serving households earning incomes of 50 percent AMI or less and special needs populations receive preference.
"Housing Stability continues to be a top issue for Boston residents," said Karen Chen, Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association. "The City of Boston is putting out critical funding to create and preserve additional affordable housing that is so badly needed, especially now as the pandemic has amplified housing struggles. As we work hard to address equity issues in our city and country, it is important that this work include creating housing that our residents can afford. Working with the City, we will continue to fight for housing policies and resources so that no resident is displaced and that every neighborhood has affordable housing." Based on the goals outlined in Mayor Walsh's housing strategy Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030, the City of Boston has established priority criteria which proposals must meet, including:
Income-restricted, affordable housing developments targeting a mix of incomes: from units for homeless households, to units targeted and restricted to incomes representative of Boston's workforce. Funding awards will prioritize proposals that, in addition to the homeless set-aside, provide some portion of units targeting extremely low income tenancies (less than or equal to 30% AMI).
Income-restricted affordable housing developments that have reduced the cost to build and or efficiently use subsidy (i.e. requests that do not exceed program limits, cost caps, and that maximize private debt and equity), maximizing the benefits of the LIHTC program and improving the projects ability to move into construction more quickly.
Income-restricted affordable housing developments that provide units that serve the disabled community, vulnerable or special needs populations, elders, veterans, artists, aging out youth, etc., (information on appropriate services or amenities must be provided) and that advance the City's goals of affirmatively furthering fair housing.
Acquisition of unrestricted housing developments, extension of existing restrictions and/or deepening of affordability in order to stabilize the tenancies, and provide long term affordability for a mix of incomes (i.e. unrestricted properties).
Developments that are at risk of losing their affordability within 5 Years. Proposals must score in accordance with the states matrix as very high risk (Preservation Projects Only).
Projects creating new income-restricted affordable units in high-cost neighborhoods where most of the IDP and NHT funds are generated.
Income-restricted affordable housing developments that utilize City-owned land.
Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030 is Mayor Walsh's Administration's comprehensive housing plan to create 69,000 new units of housing for a variety of income levels. Since the policy was enacted in 2014, Boston has permitted 34,321 of them as of the end of the second quarter in 2020. More than 6,450 of those permitted units are income-restricted, and more than 2,950 of these are reserved for Bostonians earning low and extremely low wages.