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"I am thankful to the Knights of Columbus for partnering with Affirmative Investments and the East Boston CDC to create affordable apartments for 23 senior households, being the first new affordable housing built in the North End in many years," said Mayor Walsh. "As Boston's residents continue to age, the need for safe, affordable housing remains essential. This new development will be an incredible asset to the neighborhood. I look forward to our work ahead to make more of these projects a reality."
The new building will create much needed affordable housing for older Bostonians in the North End, as well as new meeting space for the Knights of Columbus to continue their work in the community. Developer Affirmative Investments, Inc. will renovate the vacant building, creating a mixed-use development with 23 affordable one-bedroom and studio apartments for older Bostonians, a 2,000 square foot new meeting hall for the Knights of Columbus Ausonia Council #1513, and 13 off-street parking spaces. Six of the new units will be for extremely low-income senior households earning less than 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or $26,850 yearly, with three units set aside for formerly homeless individuals and 17 of the units will be affordable to those earning less than 60% of AMI or $53,760 yearly.
"The Knights of Columbus came to the East Boston CDC and Affirmative Investments hoping to use their property in the North End to meet the pressing housing needs in the community they have been dedicated to for over 50 years," said David Ennis, President of Affirmative Investments. "We are extremely grateful to Mayor Walsh, the City, and our partners at the State for providing the funding and support for this project."
The building infrastructure will undergo a complete gut renovation including a new HVAC system, plumbing, mechanical, electrical, fire alarm, and elevator. The highest standards of universal design possible will be used throughout the new building and site to accommodate residents of all physical abilities. The building will meet LEED Silver energy standards.
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"The members of Ausonia Council 1513, Knights of Columbus, are excited to work with East Boston CDC, Affirmative Investments and the City of Boston to provide 23 affordable, elderly apartments to give residents an opportunity to remain in the neighborhood," said John Pagliuca, the Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus. "We believe that using our property to address a shortage of affordable housing in the North End fulfills our charitable mission to improve the quality of life for people in need."
The total development cost for the renovation of the building is $16.7 million. This project is made possible in part by a $5.6 million investment by the City of Boston, more than $1.9 million from Boston's Community Preservation Act funding, $2.3 million in funds from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, $4.9 million of 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity from Boston Capital, a $1.1 million permanent loan and $5.8 million in construction financing from Eastern Bank, and $800,000 from the Knights of Columbus.
This project will revitalize a portion of Boston's North End community, bringing an entire vacant site back to productive use. Throughout the community process, it had received overwhelming support from the community, local businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Recently, the Knights of Columbus offered to incorporate the Christopher Columbus statue into their new development after being recently vandalized in June. The City reached an agreement to have the statue live permanently in the development at 41 Margin Street after the City repairs it.
The construction at 41 North Margin Street strongly aligns with the City's housing goals to produce more affordable housing for seniors as outlined in Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030. 2014 was the last year that the Federal 202 program funded our elderly production. The Housing and Urban Development 202 program provides capital advances to finance the construction, rehabilitation, or acquisition of structures that will serve as supportive housing for very low-income elderly persons and provides rent subsidies for the projects to help make them affordable. In that same year, the new HB2030 Plan committed to restarting elderly production despite the Federal withdrawal, and shortly after that, a first-of-its-kind new line-item in the City's General Fund budget was created to advance that goal. Since then, year-by-year, the City's pace of production has increased as it has worked toward fulfilling that promise.
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Through Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030, the City's housing plan, the City set a target of creating 2,000 low-income elderly units by 2030. Along with Grace Apartments, The Barton Rogers School in Hyde Park, Hearth at Four Corners in Dorchester and a number of other projects, the City has permitted or constructed 627 of the 2,000 units of new low-income units for older residents to date.
Since the release of the original Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030 plan in 2014, income-restricted housing stock has grown along with overall new production resulting in nearly 20 percent of newly-developed housing units designated as income-restricted, and 25 percent of rental units designated as income-restricted. Based on the Mayor's housing plan, in total, after creating an additional 15,820 units of income-restricted housing, Boston will have nearly 70,000 units of income-restricted housing by 2030.
About the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND)
The Department of Neighborhood Development is responsible for housing the homeless, developing affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can find, maintain, and stay in their homes. As part of the ongoing coronavirus response, the Office of Housing Stability is also conducting tenant's rights workshops to educate residents about the eviction moratorium and their rights. The Boston Home Center continues to provide down payment assistance to first-time home buyers and home repairs for seniors and low-income residents. The Supportive Housing Division is working with various partners around the city to rapidly house individuals who are experiencing homelessness. For more information, please visit the DND website.
About the Community Preservation Act (CPA)
After Boston voters adopted the CPA in November 2016, the City created a Community Preservation Fund. This fund is capitalized primarily by a one percent property tax-based surcharge on residential and business property tax bills that began in July 2017. The City uses this revenue to fund initiatives consistent with statewide CPA guidelines: affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space, and public recreation. The funding of any project requires a recommendation from the Community Preservation Committee and appropriation by the City. For more information, please visit the Community Preservation webpage.
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