Greater Boston affordable housing solutions under way | City of Ideas

Posted 06/10/2016 by Rebecca Koepnick

And with federal resources for developing affordable housing shrinking, while the cost of developing that housing is at a high of $350,000 in Boston, old ways of developing affordable housing are becoming less and less of an option.

In the face of these challenges, cities across the nation have had to make strategic choices about how to react. In Greater Boston, cities like Boston and Somerville have led the charge to think about how to create more affordable housing with less money.

The City of Somerville has launched its 100 Homes program with the Somerville Community Corporation to purchase existing properties when they go on the market and maintain them as affordable to residents of the city. And just last week the City of Boston announced its Acquisition Opportunity Program and has dedicated $7.5 million of City funds to assist responsible developer-investors in acquiring existing properties in the market and convert them to affordable housing for 50 years.

The Acquisition Opportunity Program has the potential to prevent properties from evolving --or devolving?--into more and more expensive housing, as well as ensure that neighborhoods that are gentrifying remain affordable to residents.

Sheila Dillon, Chief and Director of Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development, says of the program, "Lending money to responsible investor-owners who commit to keeping rents affordable for the long-term will permit residents to stay in their homes."

The Boston program was developed in collaboration with a wide group of stakeholders, including for-profit and non-profit developers, as well as financing agencies and tenant advocates - all of whom will play important roles in making the program a success.

The Boston Foundation and our partner LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corp.) are grateful to jointly pull these groups together and help the City of Boston outline this program.

But if we want to truly solve the region's housing challenges, it will take more than the efforts of Somerville and Boston. There are over 100 cities and towns in the Greater Boston area and 351 throughout the Commonwealth. To keep our economy growing, we need more communities to commit to creating more opportunities to develop new housing and maintain the affordable housing they already have.


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