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August 2021: Latest updates from the Department of Neighborhood Development

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Neighborhood Development

Welcome to the Department of Neighborhood Development’s monthly newsletter. This August update focuses on our ongoing work: assisting renters, building affordable housing, creating green space, and supporting homeowners and homebuyers.

ASSISTING RENTERS

Eviction Prevention Resources

rental relief graphic

The federal eviction moratorium has been extended until October 3, 2021 due to rising rates of COVID-19 positivity. Renters at-risk of eviction and landlords who have tenants who are behind on rent should know about these available resources:

  • There are millions of dollars available to tenants through the City’s Rental Relief Fund and the State’s RAFT program. Landlords can also access funds to help pay mortgages through the State’s ERMA program. To date, the City has distributed more than $16 million to more than 3,000 families.
  • Tenants should be aware that there are State protections for any tenant who has applied for rental assistance from the above programs. The City also requires that any landlord planning to end a tenancy provides tenants with a Notice of Tenant’s Rights and Resources.
  • The Office of Housing Stability (OHS) has partnered with Greater Boston Legal Services to ensure that tenants who come to court have legal representation. OHS also has counselors available by email, phone or in person who can assist tenants. Tenants should visit boston.gov/housingstability or email rrf@boston.gov to learn more about how to access available resources.
  • OHS runs weekly virtual legal clinics and office hours for tenants needing assistance. Through the clinics and office hours, OHS can connect tenants with a landlord mediator. Tenants can find information on the steps to take if they are facing eviction on the OHS website.
  • If you have an urgent housing issue or have further questions about resources, please call 617-635-4200 for assistance. Tenants are also welcome to visit OHS in person at 43 Hawkins Street from 9am to 5pm on Mondays through Fridays.
Utility Shut-Off Moratorium Ending

The moratorium on utility shut offs has ended. Both Eversource and National Grid offer discounted rates for income eligible households. The City encourages any Boston tenant who is experiencing financial hardship to apply. Applications are available here for Eversource and here for National Grid.

Both Eversource and National Grid also offer repayment and forgiveness programs that can lessen and in some cases clear outstanding balances.

If tenants are still finding it difficult to pay for utilities, they are encouraged to apply to the Rental Relief Fund for utility payment assistance.


BUILDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Hattie Kelton Apartment Opening

hattie kelton

On July 17, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, DND, and partners celebrated the grand opening of Hattie Kelton Apartments. This $18M affordable transit-oriented housing development created 47 affordable rentals in Jackson Square on 10 formerly city-owned vacant lots. Hattie Kelton Apartments was awarded more than $1.6 million in Federal and local funding from the City of Boston, including $750,000 from the Neighborhood Housing Trust. The project was also supported by $13.4 million in State and Federal Low Income Housing funding and Tax Credits from the MA Department of Housing and Community Development and other partners, including $1.4 million from the MA Affordable Housing Trust.

The Hattie Kelton Apartments are named in honor of community activist and former Boston Public Schools employee Hattie Kelton (1924-1998), who raised her 10 children in the neighborhood, primarily as a young widow. After her retirement, Hattie devoted her skills, energy, and passion to making her neighborhood a better place as a full-time job. Hattie was a co-founder of the Martha Eliot Health Center. She was an active participant in the Home and School Association, and a founding member and leader of the Back of the Hill Community Development Corporation.

The Boston Foundation Grant for Blue Hill Ave Technical Assistance

Neighborhood Housing Development has been awarded $50,000 by The Boston Foundation’s New Commonwealth Fund to hire a development consultant to provide technical assistance to applicants and selected developers who are interested in redeveloping Blue Hill Ave Action Plan parcels.

This development consultant is an important element of DND’s plan to increase diversity in RFP responses and developer selection by increasing the capacity of smaller developers or those who are new to the field.

Visit the the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund website for more information.

DND Announces Funding Round

The City of Boston is releasing a request for proposals (RFP) for $30M in funding to support the creation and preservation of rental, cooperative and homeownership housing for low- and moderate- income residents in  Boston. This annual funding round uses numerous City of Boston funding sources, including Neighborhood Housing Trust and Community Preservation Act funds. Applicants are encouraged to leverage these funds with other public and private funding sources that are also available for affordable housing development.

This year’s funding round will provide grants to those eligible developments that encourage innovative approaches to increase the production of housing that is affordable to a mix of incomes, support housing developments that seek to maintain mixed-income communities, as well as those that help preserve existing “at risk” developments.

All applicants will need to design and submit a comprehensive program for achieving diversity and inclusion as described in the evaluation section for this RFP. This year, DND also asks that development teams report on how each project is providing opportunities for minority-owned businesses to grow through related development activities. This RFP also prioritizes development in neighborhoods that do not currently meet the city-wide average of 19.1% of all housing units being income-restricted.

Visit our RFP page for additional information; details can be found under the title "Rental, Cooperative and Ownership Development Funding."


CREATING GREEN SPACE

Eastie Farm Event

eastie farm

Mayor Kim Janey joined the East Boston community to celebrate all the work Eastie Farm, Inc. has been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic. This urban farm was created on land formerly owned by the City of Boston, which has continued to support the project, awarding $332,400 in Grassroots and Community Preservation Act funding — spread across three sites on Summer Street and Meridian Street. There was also a recent land conveyance on Chelsea Terrace from the City of Boston’s Grassroots Program to Eastie Farm. The renovation of 6 Chelsea Terrace will create a community gathering space and a geothermal greenhouse for growing food and engaging school children in experiential learning.


SUPPORTING HOMEOWNERS AND HOMEBUYERS

Division of Banks Funding

The MA Division of Banks awarded the Boston Home Center $225,625 to fund first-time homeownership education programs and foreclosure prevention counseling centers. These funds are from the Chapter 206 grant program, which assists homeowners who are experiencing financial hardship caused by either a loss of or reduction in income or a medical issue. 

foreclosure assistance

Homeowners at risk of foreclosure should visit this webpage for assistance from the Boston Home Center and our partner organizations.


commonwealth kitchen

commonwealth kitchen

CommonWealth Kitchen, the Department of Neighborhood Development, and Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation have reached an agreement that will enable CommonWealth Kitchen to buy their facility, a 36,000-square-foot former meatpacking factory, with the help of a new $2.5 million forgivable loan from the City.

CommonWealth Kitchen's acquisition of the site — a facility that supports about 40 food startups and another 15 more mature businesses with its shared kitchen space and contract manufacturing work — will enable the nonprofit to continue to offer low rates and rents to its kitchen users while allowing room for a future expansion. DND was able to allow CommonWealth Kitchen to assume favorable financing from the original development of the site as well as an additional loan with Program Income funding from the Choice Neighborhood Grant, which must be used in the Quincy Heights area.


DND Staff news

New Deputy Director for the Office of Housing Stability

taylor cain

Dr. Taylor Cain has been hired as Deputy Director of the City of Boston’s Office of Housing Stability (OHS). As Deputy Director, Dr. Cain will lead citywide efforts to prevent evictions and ensure housing stability for the residents of Boston who rent their homes. During the pandemic, she stepped in to help DND create and manage the City of Boston’s Rental Relief Fund, ensuring that thousands of Bostonians remained safely housed in their homes.

Dr. Cain, a Jamaica Plain resident, has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Boston University, and also holds a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University. In addition to her academic pursuits, Dr. Cain has worked with local nonprofit organizations and institutions on evaluation and research projects that focus on a range of issues, including economic development, racial equity, and displacement.

Dr. Cain has proven her creativity, people centered approach, and commitment to advancing equity in her work most recently as the Director of the City’s Housing Innovation Lab. During her tenure, she was able to spearhead the work coming out of the lab including the recently launched competition Co-Creating Boston’s Future Decker and the Additional Dwelling Unit 2.0 pilot.

New Staff at the Boston Home Center
India Holmes

India Holmes joined DND as a Program Assistant for the Boston Home Center, assisting on various projects. She has over ten years of experience in marketing, customer service, and business management.

Eloisa Depina

Eloisa Depina joined DND as a Program Manager for the Boston Home Center, working on homeowner programs. For the past 14 years, Eloisa has worked with and assisted Boston residents, most recently as a Senior Financial Counselor with the Dothouse Health Center.

Samantha Riche

Samantha Riche joined DND as a Program Manager for the Boston Home Center, working on homebuying programs. Samantha comes from TD Bank with over six years' of banking experience.

summer fellows
Setarreh Massihzadegan

Setarreh Massihzadegan is spending the 10 weeks of her Rappaport Fellowship with Neighborhood Housing Development working on two projects — better understanding the cost of senior supportive services and researching creative locally-driven affordable housing funding sources. Setarreh just completed her first year as a Gerontology PhD student at UMass Boston and is a Research Assistant in its Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging.

Miguel Dávila Uzcátegui

Miguel Dávila Uzcátegui is spending the 10 weeks of his Rappaport Fellowship with Neighborhood Housing Development working on two projects — supporting the activities of AOP, including a long-overdue update to the RFP, and helping quantify and track the ongoing impact of the pandemic on project costs.  Miguel just completed his first year in the Master in City Planning program at MIT.

Grace Abe

Grace Abe joins the Neighborhood Housing Division as a summer Grassroots Program Fellow. She will be working on creating directories of gardens and farms, mapping all Grassroots projects created over the last 25 plus years, and assessing and mapping potential growing space on public and private land, including rooftops. Grace is a rising Junior at Tufts University, where she is double majoring in Biology and Environmental Studies.


METROLIST

Find affordable rental and home ownership opportunities in the Metro-Boston area by using the Metrolist. Use it to determine what kind of home you’re eligible for and search for homes based on your needs. Don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list to be alerted to the latest housing opportunities.

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