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March 2021: Latest updates from the Department of Neighborhood Development

Welcome to the Department of Neighborhood Development’s monthly newsletter. This March update focuses on our ongoing work: housing our homeless neighbors, creating new affordable housing, managing the City’s tax-foreclosed real estate portfolio and returning it to productive use for the community, assisting renters, and helping Bostonians buy and maintain their homes.

Ending Homelessness

Continuum of Care Award

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The City of Boston has received more than $38 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to be distributed among 17 nonprofit organizations that provide critical services and support to Boston’s unsheltered residents. This funding represents the largest Continuum of Care award that the City has received. Over the last six years, DND has grown the funding the city receives from this grant by more than 70 percent, from $22.6 million in 2015 to $38.6 million this year, as a result of a competitive application to HUD, and the ability to deliver results together with partner agencies.

The funds will support the work of the nonprofits and advance the goals of Boston’s Way Home, the city’s action plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness. This funding comes at a critical time for organizations providing services to homeless residents, and will bolster their ability to care for populations experiencing homelessness amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is made available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) annual McKinney Homeless Continuum of Care awards, a grant program that the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) applies to annually.

Pictured: The Continuum of Care team working on evaluating applications in early 2020 for the 2020 awards.

Building Affordable Housing

Funding Round

More than $34 million in new and recommended funding from the Department of Neighborhood Development, the Neighborhood Housing Trust (NHT), and the Community Preservation Fund (CPA) has been awarded to development teams to create and preserve 841 income-restricted units of housing in Allston, Back Bay, Dorchester, Fenway, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Roxbury, and the South End.  In supporting the city’s work to end homelessness, 198 of the units funded will create permanent housing opportunities for homeless individuals and families experiencing homelessness. This year’s awards for new construction will net zero-emissions designs to implement Mayor Walsh’s Carbon Free Boston guidelines

This new funding will create 608 new income-restricted housing units and preserve 233 units of existing income-restricted housing stock. The new units are a combination of homeownership and rental opportunities and include housing developments with units set aside for formerly homeless households, adults in substance use recovery, and seniors. 

To ensure that all units receiving City funding will remain affordable, developers are required to agree to long-term affordability for all income-restricted units. All rental projects are permanently deed-restricted, and all homeownership projects are deed-restricted for 50 years. All rental projects are required to set aside at least 10% of their units for homeless households, and projects that offer additional units at lower AMI levels receive priority in the evaluation process.

For a full list of projects receiving funding, view the full press release.

Walter Street Wetlands and Affordable Housing

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In a cross-departmental effort to support both Boston’s climate-ready resiliency and the creation of new affordable home ownership units, the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) acquired 104-108 Walter Street in Roslindale. The BPDA transferred the parcel at 108 Walter Street to the Conservation Commission to be designated as a permanently protected wetland resource, which will expand the Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild and accessible open space. The parcel at 104 Walter Street will be designated for affordable housing homeownership units, following a BPDA-issued Request for Proposals (RFP) written with the assistance of the Department of Neighborhood Development.

Building on the partnerships formed around the design and passage of Boston’s local wetlands ordinance in December 2019, the City worked collaboratively with neighborhood stakeholders and local advocates to protect natural climate-resilient resources and affordable housing assets in the densely built up neighborhood of Roslindale. To strengthen the City’s efforts to maintain accessible open space, neighborhood volunteers are in the early stages of planning strategies to widen access, and are exploring the creation of audio tours and maps.

Pictured: 104 Walter Street

Leveraging City Property

Grassroots Project Highlights

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The Grassroots program supports the development of community gardens and other open spaces. The program provides grant funds, City-owned land, and technical assistance to neighborhood groups and nonprofits that want to organize, develop, own, manage, and maintain community gardens and open space in the low and moderate income neighborhoods. Two recent project highlights include:

6 Chelsea Terrace Urban Farm

The Urban Farm, located in East Boston, will feature food grown by the community, for the community. It will serve as a new site for Eastie Farm, which is a communal farm that has been growing food for donation as well as neighborhood consumption for years. Once completed, the project will feature:

  • raised beds
  • a greenhouse
  • rain catchment systems
  • a performance and gathering space, and
  • the preservation of the existing fruit trees.

Edgewater Food Forest

The parcel, located in Mattapan, is almost completely landlocked and was used primarily as a cut-through for decades. Once completed, the Food Forest will feature:

  • multiple paths
  • art installations
  • a platform and other areas for gathering
  • a walnut processing station
  • a rain catchment system
  • a shade garden
  • berry bushes
  • fruit trees, and
  • a tiny free "library."

This project is being created by Boston Food Forest Coalition and will be managed by them in partnership with Edgewater Drive Neighborhood Association.

Pictured: Adriana Torres harvesting radishes at Eastie Farm.

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? To learn more, go to the OHS website, or call 617.635.4200.

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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.

Highlighted Program: HomeWorks HELP

The Boston Home Center offers loans through our HomeWorks Home Equity Loan Program. The loans are interest-free and cover many repairs inside and outside of your home.

The amount differs depending on what type of home you have. We'll give you up to:

  • $10,000 for condominiums owners
  • $20,000 for one- to four-family homes, and
  • $30,000 for triple deckers.

We can help you through the whole process, including:

  • collecting and reviewing bids from contractors
  • checking on work quality, and
  • getting a final inspection once everything is complete.
Upcoming Lottery: Terrace Street Artist Condos, 14 condominiums in Mission Hill
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40 Terrace Street includes seven two-bedroom, one-bathroom condominiums priced at $250,000. 132 Terrace Street includes seven one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominiums priced at $225,000.

All units have hardwood floors, central air, washer and dryer, and security system. Both buildings include common studio space. One unit in each building is built out for persons with mobility impairments.

Homes are sold by lottery. Certified artists preferred. Applicants must be first-time homebuyers and have an annual income equal or less to 80% Area Median Income. Preferences include Boston Residency preference, preference for households with a mobility impairment for accessible units, preference for households who meet or exceed the number of bedrooms.

Buyers will be selected by lottery. Deadline for lottery applications is April 2, 2021. Visit the Neighborhood Homes Initiative website to apply.

Upcoming Meetings and Hearings

Action Plan Hearing (3/10)

DND requests your input on a plan to identify key housing and community development needs and priorities to work on over the year. The Plan is part of the City’s comprehensive housing strategy, Housing Boston 2030 and will guide how we invest the $28 million that DND expects to receive from these federal grant programs:

  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG),
  • HOME Investment Partnerships Initiative (HOME),
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA), and
  • Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG).

We scheduled two meetings to encourage Boston residents and other interested parties to participate:

  • Virtual Meeting #1: Wednesday, 3/10/21, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, will focus on housing and economic development needs and priorities to help us draft the annual plan.
  • Virtual Meeting #2: Tuesday, 4/27/21, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, is an opportunity to comment on the draft Plan before it is formally submitted to HUD on or about 5/14/21.

Interpreter services (Spanish-English) and (Chinese-English) will be available during the meetings. If interpreter services are needed in other languages, including ASL, please call 617-635-3880 at least 7 days prior  to the hearing date. Every effort will be made to accommodate your request.

For more information about how to attend this virtual hearing, go to our hearings and public comment webpage.

Job Posting

The City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) is hiring a Housing Development Officer for ESG-CV to join the Supportive Housing team in its work to end homelessness in Boston.

The job description and application portal can be found hereApplications close 3/31/2021. 

Do you want to contribute towards the City’s efforts to end homelessness for all Bostonians?  Under the direct supervision of the Senior Housing Development Officer, the Housing Development Officer is responsible for implementing and managing programs created through an unprecedented investment from the Federal CARES Act in Emergency Solutions Grant - COVID 19 (ESG-CV) Program funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  ESG-CV funds can be used to fund emergency shelter, rapid rehousing and homelessness prevention activities that are necessary to respond to the public health and economic ramifications of COVID-19. This is a time-limited, grant funded position, expected to last through 9/30/2022.

The ESG-CV Housing Development Officer will be responsible for the planning, development, implementation, oversight, programmatic and financial reporting, monitoring, and compliance of the ESG-CV funding received through the Federal CARES Act. The primary role of this position is to ensure that ESG-CV funding is used effectively, efficiently, and in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations as stipulated in the Federal CARES Act and as required by the City of Boston as the ESG recipient. This position will work closely and in collaboration with the sub-grantees providing direct client services using ESG-CV funding.

Homelessness disproportionately affects people of color, people with disabilities, and other populations; we strongly encourage applications from people who are members of marginalized communities and/or who have lived experience relevant to the work.

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    Published by: Housing
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