Boston Housing Authority Competes for $30 Million to Redevelop Whittier Site

Plan envisions physical redevelopment of the Whittier Street public housing development and community wide strategies to transform Lower Roxbury

BOSTON – (RealEstateRama) — Mayor Martin J. Walsh is pleased to announce the submission of a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods federal grant application to revitalize the Boston Housing Authority’s Whittier Street public housing development in Roxbury. The application follows a lengthy community process that culminated in an ambitious plan for the site and surrounding neighborhood.

“The Whittier Choice Plan is impressive and seeks to bring a comprehensive approach to revitalizing the Lower Roxbury neighborhood,” said Mayor Walsh.  “We’re looking forward to presenting a winning proposal to HUD so that we can fulfill the potential for the Whittier Street area and its residents.”

This is the BHA’s second application for funds to redevelop and transform the Whittier site and surrounding community.

Called Whittier Choice, the community collaboration strives to transform the Lower Roxbury neighborhood in and around Dudley Square and in particular the Whittier Street public housing development. It takes its name from the federal Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which promotes community development through a focus on neighborhood, housing and people.  BHA embarked on this initiative after receiving a $300,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2012.

Together the BHA, Madison Park Development Corporation (MPDC), Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), city agencies and many community partners have drafted strategies that build on the strengths of the community to capitalize on planned investment while maintaining the fabric and character of Lower Roxbury.  The Plan provides new, vibrant housing to Whittier Street development residents and includes a targeted and strategic focus on educational opportunities for children and young adults.

The plan focuses on four key areas:

Housing:  Whittier Choice will bring more than $200 million in new housing investment, replacing 200 units of deeply subsidized housing and adding an additional 272 new units of moderate and market housing, totaling 472 new units of housing, to create a vibrant new mixed-income neighborhood which will not displace current residents.

Neighborhood: Knitted into the broader Roxbury Master Plan, Whittier Choice targets investment in infrastructure, public safety, walkability improvements, and community facilities that support and emphasize breaking the isolation of Whittier Street residents.

People:  Whittier Choice addresses community transformation and opportunity and not just physical improvements, where the Whittier community is a connected community whose members enjoy a broad spectrum of quality programs and services, and have tangible pathways to educational and economic opportunity.

Jobs and Economic Opportunities:  Whittier Choice will create hundreds of construction jobs as well as pathways to careers for public housing and low-income residents.

“We really want to improve people’s lives in a comprehensive way through housing but also through insuring they have the supports they need to learn, grow, and improve their economic circumstances,” said BHA Administrator Bill McGonagle.  “This Plan, if implemented, would transform Lower Roxbury and the lives of the people who live there.”

BHA chose Whittier as the site for its Choice Neighborhoods Initiative due to the physical and infrastructure needs of the Whittier public housing development as well as for the rich opportunities for partnership within the surrounding community.

If funding is approved, POAH and MPDC will act as co-developers for the project with POAH developing the housing component on the current Whittier site and MPDC developing the housing component off the current Whittier site.  The City’s Department of Neighborhood Development and MPDC will lead the process for the neighborhood goals in the plan and BHA will lead the process for the people goals in the plan.

Contact:                                                                       
Lori Nelson, BHA, 617-988-4405

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