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February 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 February update focuses on our ongoing work: housing our homeless neighbors, creating new affordable housing, assisting renters, managing the City’s tax-foreclosed real estate portfolio, and helping Bostonians buy and maintain their homes.

Ending Homelessness

On January 27, Mayor Walsh and census volunteers participated in the City's 41st annual street count of those experiencing homelessness. The street count is part of the comprehensive census of homeless adults and families in emergency shelters, transitional housing, and domestic violence programs, and individuals staying outside in Boston each year.

Census organizers intentionally reduced the number of volunteers this year as a safety measure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The street count also started later and did not include the usual kickoff event at City Hall in order to prevent volunteers from gathering as a large group.

The homeless census is conducted annually by the City of Boston and helps to inform development of homelessness prevention policy and allocation of resources. The information gained by the census is shared with other homeless service providers. Housing Bostonians living on the streets in permanent supportive housing is the ultimate goal of all Boston’s street outreach programs.

The results from this year’s homeless census will be available in the coming months.


New Affordable Housing


The Clarion Opens And Includes New Home For Future Chefs

The Clarion, a mixed-income, mixed-use housing development in Grove Hall opened in mid-January. This residence, developed by The Community Builders, consists of 39 units of rental housing, including 32 income-restricted units and seven market-rate units.

The Clarion has 27 new affordable apartments for households earning at or below 60% of area median income (AMI). Seven of these units are set-aside for households who earn at or below 30% AMI.

The building also includes the 5,750 square foot new home of Future Chefs, a youth development non-profit that uses a work-based learning model to engage teens in paid work to develop culinary and essential life skills, setting them up for success.

The Clarion meets rigorous energy-efficient goals and is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified building.

The Clarion development was made possible by a contribution of $1.5 million from the Department of Neighborhood Development funding and $750,000 in Neighborhood Housing Trust Funds. The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) contributed $1.25 million via CATNHP and HSF funds, $1 million from Massachusetts Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC) provided $450,000 in Community Based Housing (CBH) funds. TD Bank provided the $10.2 million construction loan and Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) is providing permanent funding via a $2.8 million permanent loan. Boston Capital was the tax credit syndicator for $6.2 million in Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity and $3 million State Low-Income Housing Tax credits. Additionally, The Community Builders provided a $1.35 million sponsor loan.

54 Units Purchased Through Boston's Acquisition Opportunity Program

The City of Boston is pleased to announce that partnerships with the Mount Vernon Company and TLee Development have

resulted in the acquisition and preservation of 54 units of naturally occurring affordable housing through the Acquisition Opportunity Program (AOP). The new acquisitions are:

  • 119 Berkeley St (pictured), securing 23 units of affordable housing off of the private market in the Back Bay. Developer: MVC 119 Berkeley LLC (Mount Vernon Company)
  • 56-58 Bowdoin Ave, securing another 31 previously unrestricted units in Dorchester. Developer: TLee Development LLC (Travis Lee)

The AOP was created in 2016 to assist affordable housing developers in purchasing rental units out of the private housing market and protecting tenants from escalating, market-rate rents, by income restricting the property. The AOP allows developer partners to act quickly and compete with speculative buyers to purchase rental units at below-market rates for low-income Bostonians, while increasing the City's protected affordable housing stock.


Assisting Renters

The Office of Housing Stability (OHS) has a wide array of programs and services to assist both renters and landlords to remain safely and stably housed during this pandemic. If you or your tenant are having difficulty paying the rent, the Rental Relief Fund is just one way that the City of Boston can help you. Need more information? OHS offers a weekly legal clinic and has virtual walk-in hours where you can have a Zoom conversation with a team member. To learn more, go to the OHS website, or call 617.635.4200.


Virtual Legal Clinics

Every Tuesday from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., the Office of Housing Stability hosts a virtual legal clinic for small landlords and tenants.

This legal clinic begins with a presentation on the eviction process, followed by breakout groups with attorneys, a landlord mediator, and OHS staff.

Fill out this Google Form to RSVP.

Virtual Walk-In Hours

Every Wednesday from 12 - 2 p.m., Office Housing Stability staff hosts walk-in hours, where they are available via Zoom to answer housing questions.

Fill out this Google Form to RSVP.


Leveraging City Property

In late January, the Strand Theater (pictured left) became a City location for free COVID-19 tests. The testing days are Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30am to 4pm. Eventually, the City plans to also offer vaccinations outside the Strand.

Opened in 1918, the Strand was billed as "Dorchester's million-dollar movie palace", and also served as a Vaudeville theater. It opened on the evening of November 11, 1918, billed as Dorchester's million-dollar movie palace. The theater closed in 1974 due to declining building conditions, only to be reopened again in 1979 after the City of Boston made extensive renovations. It continues to be a historic and cultural landmark in Dorchester.


Supporting Homeowners and Homebuyers

The Boston Home Center helps Bostonians purchase and maintain their homes, offering a suite of services designed to help Bostonians become and remain successful homeowners. Foreclosure prevention assistance is also offered. To find out how the Boston Home Center can help you, go to the BHC website or call 617.635.4663.

BHC Featured Program: Lead Safe Boston

Lead is a dangerous but very durable metal that was a common ingredient in paint before 1978, and plumbing before 1986. Exposure to lead in children under the age of six can lead to serious neurological damage, including learning difficulties. The Boston Home Center can help you determine if your home has lead, and then help you mitigate the problem. The LeadSafe Program offers:

  • Forgivable loans of up to $10,000 for each unit in your home
  • Technical advice from City lead specialists
  • Free lead paint inspections
  • Help complying with state lead laws

Visit the LeadSafe Boston page for additional information and a link to the application.

Request for Quotes to Help Condo Associations

The Boston Home Center (BHC) is looking to offer technical assistance and guidance in order to promote and encourage strong, healthy and sustainable long-term condominium homeownership opportunities. This assistance will be available to small and income restricted condominium associations.

BHC has issued a Request for Quotes for Technical Assistance for Small and Affordable Condominium Associations. BHC is looking for quotes from qualified contractors who can provide  technical assistance and guidance on issues like creating and maintaining an inclusive and strong association, developing a good budget and dealing with special assessments. 

If you are interested in submitting a request, please email Christine McCrorey at Christine.McCrorey@boston.gov.