Boston: Mayor Walsh announces the opening of phase one of Flat 9 at Whittier, groundbreaking of phase two

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Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) and community partners Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) and MassHousing to celebrate the first grand opening at the award-winning Flat 9 at Whittier, Phase One of the redevelopment of the Whittier Street Apartments in Roxbury, a public housing community which first opened in 1953.

Once all three phases are completed, the redevelopment will replace 200 existing public housing rental apartments with 210 deeply affordable units, and create 262 additional units of mixed-income rental housing. The redevelopment of the Whittier Street public housing development will also create 14,000 square feet of commercial space.

"As we shape Boston's growth, we must make sure our progress benefits everyone, especially long-term residents of the City," said Mayor Walsh. "I'm incredibly proud of the dedication of our partners who have come together to create a brighter future for the residents of Whittier Street and the surrounding neighborhood."

The celebration also marks the groundbreaking of Phase Two of the transformative redevelopment at Tremont, Ruggles and Whittier Streets. Due to concerns over in-person events, the development partners released a 5-minute Virtual Ribbon Cutting & Tour video to mark the occasion.

"Our resident leaders, BHA staff and Roxbury neighbors fought hard to secure a bright new future for the Whittier community," said BHA Administrator Kate Bennett. "This was a hard-earned triumph that will set the foundation for hundreds of low income families to live and thrive in Roxbury for decades to come."

The redevelopment is made possible by a $30 million federal Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant awarded by the Obama Administration. The BHA and City of Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development will leverage ten times that amount in private and public funds for commercial and residential development and public facilities in the Whittier neighborhood.

Phase One, which commenced in 2018, included the demolition of 68 apartments and the construction of 92 new mixed-income apartments in three new buildings at the original Whittier site. Phase One includes a new management office, community room, and outdoor recreational space. Offsite, Phase One created 76 additional new mixed-income apartments, including 43 BHA-replacement units, nearby in Madison Park Village that were completed last summer by Madison Park Development Corporation.

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In order to achieve complete replacement of all 200 original units of public housing, the redevelopment will create 210 new deeply subsidized units-one-for-one replacement on a bedroom-by-bedroom basis-through the Section 8 Project-Based Voucher program.

Whittier Choice Housing Phase Two, which is currently under construction, will create 52 mixed-income units, including 24 BHA replacement units. Forty-eight of the units will be restricted for renters earning 30%, 50%, 60%, 80%, and 110% of Area Median Income, along with 4 market units. The remainder of the BHA site will be redeveloped as Phase 3. The entire Whittier redevelopment is expected to be completed by 2021.

"Flat 9 at Whittier is the result of an extensive collaboration between the community, public housing residents, the Boston Housing Authority, Madison Park Development Corporation and POAH," said Rodger Brown, POAH Managing Director, Real Estate Development. "The three phase development reflects the vision of a mixed-income community that celebrates the vibrant diversity of Boston and the Roxbury neighborhood."

"This latest milestone in the revitalization of the Whittier Street neighborhood provides 52 new affordable homes and economic opportunity for households in Roxbury across a range of incomes," said MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay. "Having a quality place to call home is crucial for the success and prosperity of these families at Flat 9 and MassHousing was very pleased to collaborate again with the City of Boston, the BHA, POAH, the Whittier tenants, and all the other partners involved in this transformative project ."

The newly named Flat 9 at Whittier housing development is part of the larger neighborhood of Roxbury, with an area of roughly one square mile and 2,418 households. The Whittier Street Apartments were over 60 years old, and the HUD Choice Neighborhood grant has allowed the property to be transformed into a mixed income and mixed-use development that will be an asset to the greater Roxbury neighborhood in the long-term. Flat 9 was also the winner of the 2020 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award in the HUD Housing Preservation Category earlier this year.

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The new name, "Flat 9 at Whittier," which was chosen with resident participation, is a reference to a distinctive jazz chord and honors the musical history of Roxbury.

The Whittier Choice partnership is led by the Boston Housing Authority, the City of Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development, the Whittier Street Tenant Task Force, Preservation of Affordable Housing, Madison Park Development Corporation, and EMPath (Economic Mobility Pathways). The grant incorporates strategies for Neighborhood, Housing, and People as a way to provide a coordinated transformation for the community in and around the original housing development footprint.

  • The Neighborhood Strategy seeks to break down barriers that isolate residents, to promote physical and social connections, and to link the neighborhood to the regional economy. There is a priority focus on creating a livelier streetscape, including a vibrant pedestrian corridor along Ruggles Street.

  • The Housing Strategy aims to preserve affordability while creating a better balance of housing options in the neighborhood. This plan creates a livable site with outdoor play spaces, a mix of building types to accommodate diverse family needs, and new through-streets to re-integrate the site into the broader neighborhood.

  • The People Strategy addresses a range of priority needs among public housing residents:  income and asset building, health, education, and youth development.  At the center, EMPath will provide counseling and personal coaching through its intensive Mobility Mentoring™ model. Boston Housing Authority, in partnership with EMPath and local service providers, relocation counselors, property management staff, and resident leaders will connect residents to new and existing services and newly leveraged programs in the community.

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 homebuyers 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.

ABOUT THE BOSTON HOUSING AUTHORITY (BHA)
Boston Housing Authority (BHA) provides affordable housing to more than 58,000 residents in and around the City of Boston. Residents are assisted through a combination of public housing and federal and state voucher subsidy programs that provide a wide variety of housing opportunities. As the largest public housing authority in New England, the BHA houses close to 9 percent of the city's residents. Our mission is to provide stable, quality affordable housing for low and moderate-income persons; to deliver these services with integrity and mutual accountability, and to create living environments that serve as catalysts for the transformation from dependency to economic self-sufficiency.stats

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