New $30 million affordable housing funding round
July 23, 2019
BOSTON - Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the City of Boston has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for affordable housing projects seeking City of Boston financial support. This $30 million funding round is almost twice the size of last year's $16 million funding round, and is the largest affordable housing funding round since Mayor Walsh took office in 2014, and likely the largest in Boston's history.
"Building and preserving affordable housing in our city is one of our biggest efforts in Boston, and my administration will continue to invest heavily in these critical funds," said Mayor Walsh. "These projects bring our commitment to affordable housing to more than $130 million, with more investments planned in the future. We will keep working to ensure all families are able to stay in their neighborhoods, and continue to call Boston home."
This $30 million 2019 funding round stipulates that winning proposals that provide deeper affordability -- at least an additional ten percent of units for extremely low-income households -- will be ranked most favorably. This stipulation for deep affordability goes beyond Boston's standard set-aside of ten percent for formerly homeless households.
In addition, the City of Boston has strengthened its requirements for anti-displacement measures and is requiring that an additional 10 percent of units be made available to those earning less than 50 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), which is less than $50,000 for a two person household. Winning bidders must prove that they have not only earned the support of the communities where they propose to build, but also must document how their new development will not permanently displace current residents and businesses. Finally, special consideration will be given to any proposal that meets this criteria, and is a zero emission building.
Based on the goals outlined in Mayor Walsh's housing strategy Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030 and the Imagine Boston 2030 Planning Process, the City of Boston has established priority criteria which proposals must meet, including:
Affordable housing developments targeting a mix of incomes: from units for homeless households to units targeted and restricted to incomes representative of Boston's workforce, including the low-income earners mentioned in this RFP;
Affordable housing developments that serve the disabled community, vulnerable or special needs populations, older Bostonians, veterans, artists, and/or aging out youth;
Acquisition of unrestricted housing developments in order to stabilize residents' tenancies, and provide long term affordability for a mix of incomes; or
Affordable housing developments that utilize City-owned land;
Affordable housing developments that have reduced the cost to build and use public funding most efficiently;
Developments that are at risk of losing their affordability within five years.
Projects creating new affordable units in high-cost neighborhoods where most of the Inclusionary Development Program and Neighborhood Housing Trust Funds are generated.
"This new funding is groundbreaking not only because of the amount of money being offered to build affordable housing in Boston, but also because Mayor Walsh is investing new City resources to drive development of housing that provides deeper affordability," said Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, Chief Executive Officer of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, and co-chair of the Mayor's Housing Advisory Task Force. "This is a tremendous investment, and one that recognizes the importance of new development without displacement. I look forward to seeing the projects these new funds will generate."
"As a private developer of both affordable and market-rate properties, Beacon Communities appreciates Mayor Walsh's commitment to increasing the housing supply for a range of incomes," said CEO of the Beacon Communities Dara Kovel. "We've got a pipeline of affordable housing developments that we are anxious to advance. The City of Boston's financial investment, often the first investment in, makes it possible for us to leverage other public and private resources.
"By releasing this new funding round, Mayor Walsh is illustrating that he is listening to the recommendations of Boston's community in executing the Housing Boston 2030 plan," said Amy Schectman, 2Life Communities President and CEO. "This RFP underscores that the City of Boston is willing to take the extra steps necessary to provide deeper affordability, a move that can only benefit our seniors and those in need of more affordable, supportive housing options."
Funds will be awarded from three sources: the first, of approximately $10 million, consists of funds administered by the Department of Neighborhood Development, including funds from the Federal HOME Investment Partnerships and Community Development Block Grant programs, the City's Housing Boston 2030 Fund, and the Inclusionary Development Policy Fund. The second source utilizes $10 million in funds from the Neighborhood Housing Trust (NHT). NHT disburses funds collected through the City's Linkage policy, which extracts affordable housing funds from developers of large commercial projects. The third source is $10 million in Community Preservation Act Funds (CPA), which are collected through the one percent property tax surcharge approved by Boston voters in 2016 to help strengthen Boston neighborhoods through strategic investment in affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space. This is one of the CPA's largest investments in housing.
About Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030
In 2018, Mayor Martin J. Walsh updated his comprehensive housing strategy, Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030 to increase the City's overall housing goal from 53,000 to 69,000 new units by 2030, to meet Boston's faster than expected population growth. These 69,000 new units include 15,820 new income-restricted units, which would elevate Boston's income- restricted inventory total to 70,000, or one in five of all housing units. In addition, the 2018 update plan set a goal to preserve 85 percent of Boston's most at-risk privately-owned affordable units, and to purchase 1,000 units of rental housing stock from the speculative market and income-restrict it for perpetuity.
Mayor Walsh's 2019 housing security legislative package focuses on expanding upon the work that Boston has done to address the region's affordable housing crisis and displacement risks for tenants by proposing new and strengthening current tools to leverage Boston's prosperity and create sustainable wealth opportunities that make Boston a more inclusive and equitable city. The housing security bills proposed seek to help existing tenants, particularly the elderly, remain in their homes, and creates additional funding for affordable housing.