May 2021: Latest updates from the Department of Neighborhood Development

Welcome to the Department of Neighborhood Development’s monthly newsletter. This May update focuses on our ongoing work: building affordable housing, ending homelessness, and supporting homeowners and homebuyers.

Building Affordable Housing

Request for Proposals: Blue Hill Ave B1 Parcels

blue hill ave

A Request for Proposals (RFP) for the first ten parcels to be made available under the Blue Hill Avenue Action Plan was released on May 3rd. This RFP for Blue Hill Avenue B1 Parcels is the first group of 30 City-owned parcels being offered.

Redevelopment goals are to support the creation of new mixed-use development, such as affordable housing with first floor retail, food markets, cafes/dine-in restaurants, and cultural arts centers. This RFP was shaped by the feedback the City received through online community meetings, multiple walking tours, interactive multilingual signage on designated parcels, and multilingual online surveys about potential site uses. The community process also called for promoting opportunities for residents and businesses to participate in neighborhood development, and to maximize efforts to increase equity and inclusion. To ensure that there is plenty of time for continued public engagement, the RFP will be open for responses for 90 days, rather than the typical 30 days.

Boston Contracting Opportunity Grants are Now Available

The City of Boston is trying to increase the pool of certified small and locally-owned businesses applying for City contracts. Grants of up to $15,000 to help build capacity for these businesses to successfully compete for contracts are now available to women-owned (WBE), minority-owned (MBE), and veteran-owned (VOSB/SDVOSB) businesses working in construction building and design, professional and support services, goods, and supplies. For more information please visit Boston Contracting Opportunity Fund. Grant applications are due by May 17, 2021.

Ending Homelessness

Homeless Census

homeless census

The results of the 2021 Homeless Census are in. Mayor Janey participated in this year’s count which was significantly altered to meet COVID safety requirements. The 2021 Census was conducted by a smaller group of volunteers that included City and State officials, homeless services providers, public health, and first responders. While there was a slight increase in the number of individuals living unsheltered on Boston’s streets, there were declines in: the number of individuals in emergency shelters and transitional housing;  the number of families in emergency shelters and transitional housing; individuals and families seeking emergency shelter due to domestic violence. For more details, read the full census here.

Pictured: Volunteers conducting the 2021 Census

Preventing Youth Homelessness

Supportive Housing is participating in the Youth Count 2021 conducted by the MA Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth. Young adults experiencing homelessness or housing instability can complete this confidential survey to help state, regional, and local providers better understand their housing and service needs. The results of past surveys have helped persuade the Legislature to invest a total of $20 million in housing and services for young people who are experiencing housing instability. The Supportive Housing Division’s participation is part of their work on ending Youth and Young Adult homelessness as described in the plan Rising to the Challenge.

Supporting Homeowners and Homebuyers

CPA Awards $5 Million to ONE+Boston

The City of Boston's Community Preservation Committee (CPC) awarded $5 million to the Boston Home Center’s ONE+Boston First-Time Homebuyer Program.

The ONE+Boston program gives income-qualified, first-time Boston homebuyers a greater ability to purchase a home in Boston by combining a discount on a low-interest rate mortgage product with downpayment/closing assistance.

The ONE+Boston program is the City’s first affordable mortgage product to be created specifically for low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers who currently live in Boston.

Since ONE+Boston was rolled out in June 2020, the Boston Home Center has received and processed more than 247 applications, and more than 52 Boston residents have successfully purchased new homes. Of these new homebuyers assisted by ONE+Boston, more than 70 percent are households of color, and 60 percent earn at or below 80 person of AMI ($76,200 for a two-person household).

 Housing Innovation Lab

ADU 2.0 Homeowner Cohort
adu cohort

The Mayor's Housing Innovation Lab is collaborating with the Department of Neighborhood Development, the Boston Planning & Development Agency, and the Inspectional Services Department in co-hosting a pilot program for homeowners in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, and Roslindale who are interested in turning existing exterior structures like carriage houses or underutilized garages into livable space. For this 2.0 Pilot of the Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU) Program, the iLab is hoping to partner with owners who are interested in learning with us as we set out to understand the barriers, gaps, and opportunities to creating ADUs in existing exterior structures. By being part of this exploration, participants will inform and help build the foundation for future programming and efforts around ADUs in Boston.

Co-Creating Boston's Future-Decker

future decker

The iLab is partnering with the Boston Society for Architecture to launch a Request for Ideas (RFI) where individuals and teams are invited to imagine new housing models that can be built on small sites in Boston. Participants will draw inspiration from Boston’s beloved triple-decker and share ideas that prioritize affordability and livability, and promote healthy neighborhoods. The RFI marks the first phase of this year's Housing Innovation Competition and will be released in mid-May. Stay tuned!

Upcoming Meetings and Hearings

Centre/Linwood Community Meeting

On May 13, DND, in partnership with Highland Park Project Review Committee, will seek feedback on the proposed permanent use of these parcels as open space, including a community garden. Click here for more information.

Egleston Square Branch Library Study Public Meeting 

On May 18, join us for the fourth community meeting for the Egleston Square Branch Library Study. The meeting will include a presentation of the proposed new library spaces, potential housing opportunities, and fit test options for a future mixed use building on the site. Click here for more information.

61-65 Woodrow Avenue Public Meeting

On May 20, DND staff will present the City-owned parcels at 61-65 Woodrow Avenue and take feedback from the community at the May meeting of the Woodrow Avenue Neighborhood Association. Click here for more information.

legal clinic


Job Postings

now hiring

DND has been supporting the development of community gardens, urban farms, food forests and other open spaces for over 25 years through the Grassroots Program. 

This summer, the Grassroots Program is looking for a fellow to inventory and help map existing and possible future food production sites in the City of Boston. This is a paid 10-week opportunity for a passionate student who is interested in exploring urban growing and land use. 

To apply, please complete the fellowship application by Sunday, May 23. If you have any questions, please contact Shani Fletcher, Grassroots Program Manager, at


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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