April 2023: Latest Updates from the Mayor's Office of Housing
GEOTHERMAL GREENHOUSE OPENS IN EASTIE WITH HELP FROM MOH
On March 22, Mayor Michelle Wu joined Eastie Farm employees and volunteers, the Mayor’s Office of Housing’s GrowBoston Office of Urban Agriculture, local elected officials, and residents to celebrate the Grand Opening of the new Eastie Farm’s Geothermal Greenhouse. Eastie Farm, an East Boston nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture, manages the new greenhouse. The community-driven project, which was supported by the City of Boston, now provides year-round growing conditions for a variety of crops, using geothermal energy to maintain a consistent temperature.
First inspired by Boston Public Schools students asking for farm visits through the winter of 2019, Eastie Farm’s geothermal greenhouse has been a multiyear community-driven project. The East Boston Geothermal Greenhouse, the first in Massachusetts, now serves as a hub for community gardening, education, and food production, with a focus on providing access to fresh, healthy, and locally grown produce. The greenhouse will grow a variety of crops, including vegetables, herbs, and fruits, and will distribute the produce to local residents, businesses, and community organizations year-round.
The greenhouse is built on land conveyed to Eastie Farm by the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Housing. The City has also supported the development of the space through its GrowBoston’s Grassroots Program and Community Preservation Act funds. The Office of Food Justice and GrowBoston have been instrumental City partners, while the state has contributed funds through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR).
ARTIST HOUSING SAVED AT HUMPHREYS STREET STUDIOS
Mayor Wu and the Mayor’s Offices of Arts and Culture, Housing, and Economic Opportunity and Inclusion announced that following work to preserve the artist workspaces and an unprecedented financial investment from the City of Boston, Humphreys Street Studios (HSS) in Dorchester is now majority artist-owned and operated. They also announced that the vacant backlot of the studio property will become new below market, income-restricted housing. The deal secures more than three dozen artist workspaces that house over 45 artists and creative small businesses across 26,000 square feet.
CITY HELPS SAVE 114 UNITS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN EAST BOSTON
Mayor Wu recently announced the acquisition of 36 multi-family buildings comprising a 114-unit housing portfolio by the newly created East Boston Neighborhood Trust. The deal will establish the state’s first Mixed Income Neighborhood Trust (MINT) and ensure the affordability of these family-sized units in perpetuity.
The East Boston Community Development Corporation (East Boston CDC) worked in partnership with the City and local investors to convert the portfolio to the state’s first ever Mixed Income Neighborhood Trust (MINT). The MINT model places governance and control of the portfolio in the hands of a local purpose trust, while financial investors hold the economic interest in the portfolio.
In addition to a City deed restriction which will ensure that the units are income restricted in perpetuity, this new model empowers the local community to address displacement by placing governance, ownership, and management in the hands of a community trust. The units are spread throughout East Boston, a neighborhood that has historically been an affordable place for immigrants and families to call home, but which has seen some of the highest percentage rent increases in the City over the last decade.
THREE SENIOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECTS IN THE CITY RECEIVE STATE FUNDING
The State of Massachusetts recently awarded more than $20 million in funds and rental vouchers to three senior supportive housing projects in Boston. These projects will provide affordable rental housing for seniors and couples aged 62 years and older, with on-site supportive services and care centers.
The first project, 3371 Washington Street, is being developed by Jamaica Plain NDC and New Atlantic Development. This 39-unit building will be located in the JP/Rox corridor and is solely for senior rental housing.
The second project, Hamilton at Mount Everett, is being developed by VietAID and Hebrew Senior Life. This 36-unit building is designed for individuals and couples aged 62 years and older and will provide on-site supportive services.
The third project, Cheney Homes Apartments, is being developed by the Uphams Corner Health Center and will provide 48 units of affordable senior supportive rental housing. The project includes an onsite Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Care Center that will serve the building and the neighborhood.
The State’s support of these projects will help the City of Boston address the affordable housing crisis and provide support to seniors in need. The funding for these projects will help to ensure that senior residents have access to safe, affordable housing and the necessary supportive services for them to age in place.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AWARDS RECORD FUNDING TO THE CITY FOR HOMELESSNESS PREVENTION
Mayor Wu recently announced the City of Boston has received more than $42 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support nonprofit organizations providing services to individuals experiencing homelessness. This award represents the largest Continuum of Care award ever for the City of Boston. The funds will be distributed among 14 nonprofit organizations that provide critical services and support to Boston’s unhoused residents and advance Mayor Wu’s goals to end homelessness in the city.
The funding is made available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) annual Continuum of Care awards, a grant program that the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) has applied for and been awarded every year since 1995. Over the last 8 years, MOH has grown the funding the City receives from this grant by more than 85 percent, from $22.6 million in 2015 to $42 million this year, as a result of their competitive application and demonstrated ability to deliver results in collaboration with partner agencies.
The City will allocate this federal HUD funding to organizations that offer a range of services and supports including housing search, the creation of housing for people experiencing long-term homelessness, rapid re-housing funds, and stabilization services to allow newly housed households and long-term-homeless individuals to receive the support they need to succeed.
THE CITY LAUNCHES PROGRAM TO MAKE EXISTING AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT
Mayor Wu visited the Brian Honan Apartments in Allston-Brighton to announce the new Large Building Green Energy Retrofits Program administered by the Mayor’s Office of Housing.
This is a grant-based program supported by $10 million of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to be used to foster energy performance improvements for affordable housing developments. The program will significantly reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint of Boston’s existing affordable housing.
Additionally, Mayor Wu announced the City’s intention to adopt a new, green building code that will strengthen energy efficiency requirements for new construction in Boston. To achieve this, Mayor Wu will file an ordinance with the Boston City Council to adopt the State Department of Energy Resources’ Municipal Opt-in Specialized Stretch Energy Code, a transformative green update that will further reduce climate-polluting emissions in buildings in municipalities that have adopted the code across the state. Together, these efforts will further the City’s work to increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, transition away from fossil fuels, and support the City’s carbon neutrality goals.