July 2021: Latest updates from the Department of Neighborhood Development
Building Affordable Housing
Hearth at Four Corners Grand Opening
On June 30th, Mayor Janey and the DND team participated in the grand opening event for Hearth at Four Corners (16 Ronald St.) in Dorchester. It was DND’s first housing ribbon cutting in person since last March. The project is a 54-unit affordable senior housing development that was built on vacant, City-owned land adjacent to the Indigo Line. The building is operated by Hearth, an organization dedicated to serving homeless seniors. Fifty new residents have already moved in, including those who are transitioning from homeless shelters into their very own space. The new housing development serves individuals age 62 or older who have a range of incomes, and includes units for formerly homeless individuals and clients of the Department of Mental Health.
Blue Hill Ave Bidder’s Conference and Networking
DND held a pre-applicant networking session on June 29th for the Blue Hill Ave B1 Parcels RFP. The session followed-up a previous event, both of which sought to educate the public and simplify the RFP process. The networking also allowed participants to share resources and make connections with DND, Office of Economic Development, Local Support Initiatives Corporation, and industry professionals. The RFP deadline is August 3rd.
Creating Green Space
Sprouts Garden Opening
Mayor Janey joined the Charlestown Sprouts Gardeners, Charlestown residents, and local elected officials on June 26th for the Grand Re-Opening Celebration of the first phase of redevelopment of the Charlestown Sprouts Community Garden’s. This first phase of redevelopment was funded with $92,000 from DND’s Grassroots and Open Space Development Program, which helped to build 38 brand-new gardening plots, most of which have been assigned to individual gardening families for the 2021 growing year.
West 2nd Street Park Opening
On June 22, Mayor Janey, Friends of West 2nd Street Park, State Senator Nick Collins, Parks Commissioner Ryan Woods and others celebrated the completion of the new park and community garden at West 2nd Street Park in South Boston. Formerly a vacant lot, the 16,000 square feet of new park and community garden space includes a patio area, trees, benches, flower containers, and 21 community garden plots, providing shared amenities like compost bins and a tool shed. A total of 31 new trees have been added to Boston’s urban canopy as a result of the project.
This project was funded by a community benefits contribution from Breakthrough Properties as part of Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) project approval for the 105 West 1st Street development, as well as a joint contract between the Parks and Recreation Department and Department of Neighborhood Development for the design phase of the project.
On Monday, June 28, the Supportive Housing Division hosted an in-person Landlord Fair to share information on the Landlord Incentive Program. The program, which supports landlords who rent to Boston households moving out of homelessness, provides signing bonuses, holding fees, and a dedicated customer service provider. Fifteen landlords attended the Fair. Several clients have viewings set up for the coming weeks. A second Landlord Fair will take place later this summer.
Rental Relief Fund
If you or someone you know is at risk of eviction, please apply to the Rental Relief Fund. To date the fund has distributed more than $15.5 million to more than 2,900 households. The City of Boston wants to help you stay in your home. Please visit boston.gov/rental-relief for more information and to apply.
Supporting Homeowners and Homebuyers
First-Time Homebuyer Program Expansion
Mayor Kim Janey recently announced that the Boston Home Center's first-time Homebuyer Program has been expanded to provide up to $40,000 in assistance to income-eligible, first-time homebuyers who seek to purchase a home in Boston. This change more than triples the average amount of assistance previously offered by the City. Condominiums, one-, two-, and three-family properties are eligible. The expanded program will also provide eligible homebuyers with pre-qualification letters, to ease the homebuying process. Historically, more than 70% of homebuyer program participants have been households of color.
Foreclosure Moratorium Ending
The U.S. Department of Agriculture extended through July 31, 2021, the moratorium on foreclosures from properties financed by USDA Single-Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loans. The Boston Home Center offers free Foreclosure Prevention and Intervention Counseling and Home Preservation Services. The City services are free and confidential. Homeowners and renters can click here for more information on how the City of Boston can help.
Condominium and Cooperative Conversion Ordinance
Earlier this year, the City of Boston amended the Condominium and Cooperative Conversion Ordinance. The ordinance applies to any residential property built before December 1983 that has four or more rental units, and where the owner intends to convert the property to a residential condominium or cooperative use. This would be done either through the conversion of the existing units, or through the demolition of the current units and replacement of them with a new condominium or cooperative building.
The ordinance requires that tenants be provided notice of the intent to convert. The notice informs tenants of the rights and benefits they have in a conversion. All tenants have certain rights. Tenants eligible for additional rights are those who are disabled, aged 62 or older, or of low- or moderate-income.
The conversion process begins as soon as the owner forms an intent to convert the property to a condominium or cooperative. The owner must immediately provide tenants a one-year notice.
The ordinance requires any landlord planning to convert a property with four or more residential units into condominiums or a cooperative to secure a Conversion Plan from the Department of Neighborhood Development, and a Conversion Permit from the Inspectional Services Department.
Landlords must apply to the Department of Neighborhood Development for a Condominium or Cooperative Conversion Plan, even if all the units are vacant. The landlord must submit an application within one month of notifying tenants of the intent to convert. Fees for the Conversion Plan and Permit are $1,000 per unit, payable to the City of Boston, upon applying for a Conversion Plan.
Brownfield Award Winner
Jamie Smith, Senior Environmental Compliance Manager at DND, was awarded the Geoffrey R. Forrest Outstanding Individual Achievement Award from the Northeast Sustainable Communities Workshop. A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. All recipients have helped move Brownfield remediation and redevelopment projects forward and are dedicated to resilient and sustainable projects that enhance environmental justice priorities. We are so proud to have one of our own win this prestigious award!
Co-Creating Boston's Future-Decker Sketch Night
On July 19th, the Boston Society for Architecture and the Housing Innovation Lab present Sketch Night. Bring your thoughts, site information, and any examples of what you’d like to see and iLab and BSA will match you with someone who can bring it to life on paper. They will be working with Boston artists, architects, and designers to create images for your RFI idea. This is a drop-in event where you will get one-on-one time to talk through your proposal while the other person sketches it out in real time. Register for Sketch Night here.
The Boston Society for Architecture (BSA) and the Housing Innovation Lab (Housing iLab) released a Request for Ideas (RFI) where individuals and teams are invited to imagine new housing models that can be built on small sites. The RFI marks the first phase of this year's Housing Innovation Competition.
DND oversees programs that create and preserve affordable housing, support homeowners, assist small businesses and neighborhood commercial districts, provide housing and support services to homeless individuals and families and dispose of city-owned property. Under the direction of the Director for the Department of Neighborhood Development and Cabinet Chief for Housing, the Director of Operations is responsible for overseeing the day-today management and operations of DND. To learn more, click here. The application will be open through July 12th.
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.