Boston awards $28 million to a dozen housing projects

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BOSTON – Working toward offsetting a housing crunch that has rents soaring, the city awarded $28 million in funding to help finance more than 800 new housing units, drawing from developers’ linkage fees and a mix of federal and local money, according to a statement Tuesday from Mayor Marty Walsh.

The financing is expected to spur $323 million in public and private residential investments, and will create 125 units for “homeless or extremely low-income families,” the statement said.

“We are committed to creating a Boston where everyone who wants to live here, can afford to,” Walsh said in the statement.

Like San Francisco and New York, climbing home prices and rents in Boston threaten to force out many lower- and middle-income residents who don’t qualify for subsidies and can’t afford luxury. According to a Boston Foundation report, building costs in the city have surged to the point where a family-size 1,600-square foot residence takes over $438,000 to build, meaning a market-rate rent would top $3,200 a month.

Previous steps by the Walsh administration have put it more than halfway to its goal of creating 53,000 housing units by 2030, the mayor told the Boston Municipal Research Bureau in a speech earlier this month, including approvals issued last year for almost 4,200 units. A project detailed Monday by private developer Leggat McCall Properties is slated to add 710 residences in the South End, and projects announced by the Boston Redevelopment Authority last week will add almost 600 more across the city.

In Tuesday’s announcement, Walsh detailed a dozen projects from downtown to Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan and South Boston.

For example, one proposed project would convert the former Young Men’s Christian Union building at 48 Boylston St. downtown into 46 affordable apartments, including 26 set aside for homeless and extremely low-income single people. The proposal for the historic structure near the Tremont Street intersection was from St. Francis House and the city’s Planning Office for Urban Affairs.

Another slated for Chinatown would preserve 161 units of affordable elderly housing in a complex known as Quincy Towers. It was proposed by Beacon Communities, according to Walsh’s statement.

To qualify for funding under the program, developers were evaluated based on criteria that included using city-owned property; costs that fall below certain thresholds, and supplying units for disadvantaged residents, elders, veterans and artists.

Including previous awards under the program, the Walsh administration has made more than $66 million available to build affordable housing since the mayor took office, according to the statement.