First developers selected to create new homes on City-owned parcels for Welcome Home, Boston
Boston – Thursday, October 19, 2023 – Mayor Michelle Wu today announced that the City of Boston’s Public Facilities Commission has tentatively designated the first set of development teams to create homeownership opportunities on City-owned parcels in Dorchester as the first phase of the Welcome Home, Boston initiative. Mayor Wu also announced the release of a request for proposal (RFP) for an additional 26 parcels as the second phase of the initiative. Additional RFPs for the remaining parcels will be issued over the next 12 months. Mayor Wu first announced Welcome Home, Boston during her 2023 State of the City address.
“By creating new affordable homes on formerly vacant City-owned land with development teams reflecting the talent and diversity of our communities, we’re delivering on a mission to make Boston the best city for families through building community in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m excited to welcome these four development teams and look forward to their partnership.”
In November 2022, Mayor Wu allocated $60 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the development of income-restricted housing and financial assistance programs to support Boston residents in purchasing homes. The City is making 150 parcels of land available to developers to build income-restricted homeownership opportunities. The City will also offer grants to eligible first-time homebuyers that provide reduced mortgage interest rates and up to $50,000 in direct assistance, including down payment and closing cost assistance. These include the Boston Home Center (BHC) First Time Homebuyer program, the Saving Toward Affordable Sustainable Homeownership (STASH) program, and the ONE+Boston program. Funding will also facilitate the launch of a homeownership program tailored for qualified Boston Housing Authority residents.
“Celebrating the designation of developers for the first set of parcels in the Welcome Home, Boston program marks a significant step towards realizing our commitment to affordable housing,” said Sheila Dillon, Chief of Housing. “This initiative is a testament to the collaborative efforts that underscore our mission to make homeownership accessible to all. I’m proud of our selected developers who will play a crucial role in shaping the future of Dorchester and the broader community, as we continue to build a more equitable and prosperous Boston.”
The vacant land from this first set of parcels released through Welcome Home, Boston, comprising 52,677 square feet, has been in the City of Boston’s inventory for an average of more than 34 years. This land was identified as underutilized through the Citywide land audit announced by Mayor Wu in January of 2022.
Boston currently has an overall homeownership rate of 35%, considerably lower than the statewide rate of 62%. Homeownership rates in Boston vary significantly by race and ethnicity, with 44% of white households being homeowners, compared to 31% of Black or African American households, 30% of Asian or Pacific Islander households, and 17% of Hispanic/Latinx households. The development of these and other City-owned parcels will provide opportunities for homeownership in neighborhoods that have high percentages of rental properties.
The four teams selected to develop this first set of parcels are the African Community Economic Development Organization of New England (ACEDONE), Boston Communities, Dorchester Design Collaborative, and Norfolk Design and Construction. These state-certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and/or Women Business Enterprise (WBE), Veteran Business Enterprise (VBE), or Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC), companies have demonstrated their dedication to diversity and inclusion within their leadership teams and received overwhelming support from the local community. They will undertake the development of vacant parcels in Dorchester under the guidance of the Mayor’s Office of Housing. Each proposal includes a comprehensive plan to hire local and minority contractors and subcontractors, furthering diversity through hiring and bidding processes.
“The demand for high-quality homes to purchase in communities of color is strong, and MassHousing is pleased to partner with the city of Boston to produce new homeownership opportunities for working households where market forces have historically failed to produce those opportunities, reinforcing the racial homeownership gap,” said MassHousing CEO Chrystal Kornegay. “Every opportunity is important, and we are excited to use the CommonWealth Builder program and other resources to help transform these vacant parcels into new, moderately priced homes where people of color can sink down roots, strengthen neighborhoods and start to accumulate wealth from owning homes that will eventually be passed onto future generations.”
The construction will result in roughly 63 new affordable homes situated on Erie Street, Geneva Ave, Glenway Street, Harvard Street, and Norwell Street, comprising multi-unit condominiums structures intended for homeownership. These new residences will be available to families with incomes below 80% and 100% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Notably, the new buildings will be fully electric, multi-unit developments, aligning with the City of Boston’s commitment to fostering generational wealth while minimizing environmental impact. The projects will adhere to the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Homes Gold certifiable standard and comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star standards.
The recent vote by the Public Facilities Commission grants tentative designation to the selected development teams, triggering a period during which the developers will collaborate with the City to finalize the design and financial aspects of their plans, undergo the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s Article 80 Design Review, and secure project funding. After this period, the Public Facilities Commission will vote to convey the property to the developer, at which point MOH will conclude the sale of the property, paving the way for construction to commence.
Welcome Home, Boston is part of Mayor Wu’s ambitious growth agenda for Boston, which is focused on advancing the City’s resilience, affordability, and equity goals in order to make Boston the best city in the country to raise a family. The City recently updated its linkage policy that requires commercial developments to allocate funds for affordable housing, and the inclusionary zoning policy has been revamped to streamline the construction of affordable housing. Additionally, the Mayor has signed an Executive Order aimed at expediting the affordable housing creation process.
In Fiscal Year 2023, Mayor Wu has allocated increased resources to address Boston’s housing crisis. Of the $200 million committed to housing in ARPA funds, $60 million is designated for affordable homeownership development and financial assistance for first-generation homebuyers; $57 million for strategic acquisitions to combat displacement and create deeply affordable homeownership on City-owned land; $20 million for a pioneering pilot program for energy retrofits in triple-decker 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 sustain low-threshold shelter sites in response to the Mass-Cass humanitarian crisis, and $33 million for upgrades to Boston Housing Authority properties.
About the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH)
The Mayor’s Office of Housing is responsible for housing people experiencing homelessness, creating and preserving affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can obtain, maintain, and remain in safe, stable housing. The department develops and implements the City of Boston’s housing creation and homelessness prevention plans and collaborates with local and national partners to find new solutions and build more housing affordable to all, particularly those with lower incomes. For more information, please visit the MOH website.