Kids running near housing

Neighborhoods + Housing

All residents of Greater Boston should have a safe, affordable and decent home in healthy, thriving neighborhoods

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Overview

A constrained supply and high cost of housing have the greatest impact on lower-income households. These households already pay a significant share of income toward housing. Within this universe of cost-burdened households, renters face greater challenges than those who own their homes. In Greater Boston, nearly half of renter households are paying more than 30% of their gross income in rent. For extremely low-income households, housing costs burdens are so extreme that even a small increase in rent or the loss of hourly wages could lead to an inability to pay rent and set up a spiral into homelessness.

Our vision for the Neighborhoods and Housing strategy is that all residents of Greater Boston will have access to safe, affordable, quality homes in healthy, thriving neighborhoods. Residents will have increased options for renting and owning homes in all communities of Greater Boston. They will have supports to help them find affordable homes, keep their homes, and increase their assets.

We do this with a focus on two strategies described in detail below: Increasing the supply of available housing, and improving housing stability and access.

Neighborhoods and Housing also collaborates with Boston Indicators to produce the annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card.  The report uses research and data to highlight housing metrics and proposes impactful policy solutions.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the police brutality and killings of Black people, Neighborhoods and Housing is aligning it’s grantmaking and efforts to address social justice and racial equity in housing. In particular, we will aim to address housing impacts on BIPOC households with programs and policies that disrupt decades of housing discrimination and also create housing-related pathways for economic mobility.

Our strategy

To reform the systems that impede regional housing production and fill affordable housing gaps for underserved populations.

To support programs and policies that help individuals and families find and maintain suitable affordable housing and support services.

To support community-level planning, policy development and programs to ensure that residents of communities have access to services and investments that are priorities to them.


Strategy in Detail

Increase the supply of housing

Our goal for this strategy is to reform the systems that impede regional housing production and fill affordable housing gaps for underserved populations, such as low and extremely low income households with children.

The Boston Foundation supports organizations that advocate for land use reform at the state and municipal level and who organize and educate diverse stakeholders to also participate in this process. In addition to advocacy, the Foundation participates in affordable housing production initiatives that fill gaps within the existing system.

We support the following activities in pursuit of this vision:

  • Promote affordable housing production for extremely low-income families, around transit and to meet promote health through low-cost capital. These are long-term commitments to collaboratives such as Home Funders, Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Accelerator Fund (ETODAF), and the Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund (HNEF).
  • Support zoning reform that promotes affordable housing production in geographies and locations of opportunity, such as transit nodes in suburban communities.

Housing stability and access

For our Housing Stability and Access strategy, our goal is to support programs and policies that help individuals and families find and maintain suitable affordable housing and support services. We support pathways between healthcare and housing to better serve low income households to achieve better health outcomes.

For low income households, the struggle to find or maintain affordable housing can be an insurmountable challenge. The Boston Foundation promotes investments in services that help households achieve housing stability and avoid homelessness, and creates a pathway for improved health, educational and economic outcomes.

  • Policy solutions that prevent displacement of low-income renter households
  • Pooling capital to support preservation of existing affordable housing, and acquisition of market properties. In addition to communities of color, this strategy will also support acquisitions that create affordable housing in exclusionary communities
  • Broad-based solutions to prevent foreclosure amongst lower-income homeowners.
  • Strategies that promote access to asset-building and income mobility programs such as Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS)
  • Demonstrate the inextricable link between housing stability and positive health outcomes for low income families. In particular, focus on the outcomes for young children in these families.  Health Starts at Home is a multi-year initiative that consists of four healthcare and housing partnerships. The programs and interventions of the partnerships are accompanied by a robust evaluation which will be available in early 2021.

Housing Report Card

For nearly two decades, the Greater Boston Housing Report Card has shed light on the key issues and challenges facing the Greater Boston housing market. The 2019 Report Card features a town-by-town examination of affordable housing practices and recommendations for changes that could bolster local housing production. 
Read the 2019 Housing Report Card


Thriving neighborhoods

Our goal for this strategy is to support community-level planning, policy development and programs to ensure that residents of communities have access to services and investments that are priorities to them, particularly in the areas of equitable housing development, tenant organizing and eviction prevention.

Grantee Spotlight: GreenRoots

GreenRoots logo

GreenRoots is a community-based organization dedicated to improving and enhancing the urban environment and public health in Chelsea and surrounding communities. They do so through deep community engagement and empowerment, youth leadership and implementation of innovative projects and campaigns. 

With funding from Boston Foundation, GreenRoots will facilitate a Chelsea anti-displacement roundtable, engaging a number of community-based housing advocacy and service organizations, as well as members of the Chelsea city Council, the city manager, board and commission members and resident leaders. One of the key elements will be a proposal to create a new anti-displacement zoning district abutting the Chelsea Creek.

  Contact our team

For more information on the Boston Foundation's Neighborhoods and Housing work, please contact:

Soni Gupta
Director, Neighborhoods and Housing
Email

Helen Murphy
Associate, Neighborhoods and Housing
Email