Look Back at 2022
Throughout the year, MOH supported Bostonians through our core work, including: creating and preserving income-restricted housing; housing our unhoused neighbors; assisting Bostonians in buying, repairing, and preventing foreclosure of their homes; helping renters with rental and utility assistance to remain stably housed or helping them find new affordable housing; and developing and enacting new policies and programs to further help residents achieve their goals of stable housing and homeownership.
To further support these goals, Mayor Wu committed $200 million for housing in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, including $60 million for affordable homeownership development and financial assistance to first-generation homebuyers, $57 million for strategic acquisitions to combat displacement and create deeply-affordable development on City-owned land, $20 million for a nation-leading pilot for energy retrofits in triple-deckers and other multi-family homes while maintaining affordability, $20 million to develop new permanent supportive housing with specialized services for people with substance use disorder, $16 million to maintain low-threshold shelter sites in response to the Mass-Cass humanitarian crisis, and $33 million for upgrades to Boston Housing Authority properties.
In the fall of 2022, MOH capitalized on this infusion of ARPA money to launch Welcome Home, Boston. This new initiative aims to create new affordable homeownership opportunities. All new housing will be located in neighborhoods with primarily BIPOC residents.
In 2022, MOH also launched GrowBoston, GrowBoston is the City of Boston's new Office of Urban Agriculture. GrowBoston's goal is to increase food production and support local food producers in Boston, including gardeners, farmers, beekeepers, and more.
2022 was a record breaking year for income-restricted housing production. The count for permits pulled to build affordable housing units was 1,322. This is the third year in a row that Boston has started construction on more than 1,000 units of affordable housing, but far exceeds the 1,149 started in 2020 and the 1,108 started in 2021.
Overall, 3,849 new housing units were permitted in Boston in 2022, with 78 percent of all approved units and 88 percent of affordable units within a ten minute walk of transit.
Of the 1,279 income-restricted units that are currently permitted, more than half of them are reserved for households earning less than 60 percent of Area Median Income, which is $67,320 per year for a household of two. These new units will be built in a broad range of Boston’s neighborhoods, including 124 new income-restricted units in Allston and Brighton, 135 in East Boston, 117 in the Fenway, 85 in Chinatown, and 60 in West Roxbury. There are additional units in almost every neighborhood in Boston.
In addition, 10 percent of all income-restricted units permitted in 2022 are reserved for Boston’s seniors, whose need for housing with appropriate services only continues to increase.
Boston achieved these goals by investing new federal COVID relief funds to create more affordable housing: Community Development Block Grant COVID Funds (CDBG-CV) and American Rescue Plan Act Funds (ARPA) were the largest single funding sources used by the City in calendar year 2022. These investments are increasing. In FY23, Mayor Wu invested $380 million in housing affordability through the City’s Operating budget, the Capital budget, and federal recovery funds from ARPA.
In the fall of 2022, MOH capitalized on the infusion of ARPA money to launch Welcome Home, Boston. The City allotted $58 million in American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funding to fast track the production of new affordable homes by making 150 parcels of City-owned land available for new homeownership opportunities and providing enhanced financial assistance to income-eligible homebuyers.
The first 70 of these parcels are located to the north and south of Talbot Avenue in both Dorchester and Mattapan. Community engagement efforts to ensure that all of the current residents have a voice in what is built on this land has been ongoing.
A multilingual mailing was sent to more than 20,000 residents in the neighborhood, inviting residents to attend a public event about the new program, and to fill out a survey. There have also been meetings and focus groups with various stakeholders, as well as office hours, and a neighborhood walk of some of the proposed sites.
The RFP for the first group of parcels is expected to be issued in the first quarter of 2023.
In 2022, the Office of Housing Stability (OHS) assisted households with the following services: emergency rental and utility funding assistance, eviction prevention, homelessness prevention, housing counseling, emergency fire assistance, and landlord/tenant assistance.
This support averted 150 evictions and prevented potential homelessness. These numbers include 50 recently arrived immigrant families, as Boston began seeing a sharp uptick in migrant families requiring assistance in the last quarter of the year. Working with partners in the state, OHS is assisting in addressing this evolving crisis. In addition, OHS assisted 203 households who were displaced due to a fire.
2022’s rising costs of living and energy prices saw the number of requests for utility assistance to OHS continue to rise throughout the calendar year. OHS provided rental and utility assistance to more than 2,500 households, hosted weekly legal clinics for over 1,000 constituents over the course of 2022, and held 12 housing search workshops as well.
The Supportive Housing Division (SHD) is proud to announce a number of successes over the course of the year in housing Boston’s unhoused residents. All told, 1,021 individuals and 148 veterans have successfully exited homelessness and secured permanent housing.
These numbers reflect the work of a number of different programs and services targeting at-risk individuals. For example, 250 unhoused individuals have been successfully housed through the efforts of the coordinated Street to Home Initiative. Another 223 people who were previously sleeping at Mass/Cass were also housed in 2022.
In addition, there was significant progress made to reduce homelessness among Youth and Young Adults. From 2021 to 2022, SHD and its collaborators were able to reduce Youth and Young Adult homelessness by 44 percent. This sharp reduction is the result of the strong focus and efforts by the team to house this at-risk population – more than 500 youth and young adults were housed, and more than 275 units of housing for this population were added, up from just 40 units in 2019.
In 2022, the SHD team submitted a Continuum of Care application totaling more than $41 million and consisting of 42 individual project applications which represent the renewal of over 2,000 slots of housing and services for people experiencing homelessness in Boston. The application also includes over $3 million in new project funding requests, in pursuit of critical permanent supportive housing and housing resources for people experiencing domestic violence.
In addition, SHD submitted a grant to HUD for more than $16 million in new funding over three years for new programs and services targeted to people who are unsheltered. If awarded, these new funds will create 311 new dedicated units of Permanent Supportive Housing for unsheltered individuals, including housing for youth and families with severe service needs. This housing will also leverage flexible healthcare services, housing stabilization and income and benefits resources for all households served.
The Boston Home Center had a successful year helping many of Boston’s residents buy, maintain or stay in their homes. In 2022, the Boston Home Center Homeowner Services team achieved a record-breaking 254 completed projects, their highest since 2013. The BHC helped 153 households buy their first home, providing a total of $3.1 million in financial assistance, and discounting $1.4 million in mortgage interest for those new homebuyers.
For established homeowners in trouble, the Foreclosure Emergency Fund came to the rescue of 140 homeowners, offering $1.1 million in financial assistance, including almost $700,000 in ARPA funds. All in all, the BHC received 287 applications for various programs in 2022 including Homeworks, ADU, Senior Home Moderate Repair, and Seniors Save, as well as emergency cases. Of these applications, 60 Seniors Save projects were completed.
The BHC’s Emergency Senior Home Repair team received 224 emergency 311 senior home repair calls throughout the year. Typically, these calls tend to occur around extreme weather events.
This summer, the BHC received many calls from seniors whose cooling systems were not working. During a prolonged heat wave in August, the BHC received an urgent weekend call for a broken air conditioning system in the home of a senior. When the team went to the house to assess what was happening, they found the senior unresponsive. He was able to be revived by EMS, but the outcome could have been very different. The BHC is committed to continuing to work with lower-income seniors to ensure that they are comfortable and safe, in all adverse weather circumstances.
2022 has been a year of incredible growth and accomplishment for the City of Boston’s new urban agriculture program, GrowBoston, as it moves forward with its mission of creating sustainable, green spaces and supporting urban agriculture and food sustainability.
In the past year, GrowBoston has successfully completed five new open space projects including gardens, parks, and food forests, providing even more opportunities for Bostonians to connect with nature. Additionally, GrowBoston funded capital improvements to four existing gardens and farms to enhance their functionality and beauty.
GrowBoston also funded 10 farms and gardens, furthering a central mission of this new program: to bring fresh, locally-grown produce to communities and improve access to healthy food. Sustainability of these green spaces is key, so GrowBoston is proud to have sold 4 parcels of land to preserve a community garden and expand another, ensuring that these vital green spaces will remain accessible for generations to come.
Nine of GrowBoston’s funded projects completed construction in 2022, including Barnard Place Park, Codman Square Micro Healing Forest, River Street Food Forest, 6 Chelsea Terrace, Magnolia Street Garden, Westville Farm, West Cottage Farm, Charlestown Sprouts and Codman Academy. All completed projects that will enable them to improve their open spaces and agriculture operations to further engage the community.
Finally, GrowBoston awarded more than $625,000 to nonprofit organizations to help build and improve gardens and farms. This investment will go a long way in supporting the growth and sustainability of these important community spaces.
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- Published by: Housing