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Old 06-23-2015, 08:13 PM   #1
Scipio
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BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

The Boston Housing Authoritiy released an RFP for the redevelopment of 1,100 of their low-income apartments spread across 41 buildings in Charlestown. The twist here is the lack of public funding for the project: the developer will be expected to find their own funds for redeveloping the low-income housing, most likely by building a large number of market-rate units on site. How the developer pays for building 1,100 low-income units is pretty open ended, and the RFP says that retail and other non-housing uses are allowable on site.

There's been a little coverage here and there but things seem to be proceeding quietly towards the August RFP deadline. The RFP doesn't put numbers on anything, but press coverage suggests hundreds to thousands of market-rate units being built to fund construction of the new low-income housing. The projects here make up about 10% of the residential area of Charlestown, and the finished neighborhood will look very different from what's there now.

This is low-profile for now and on the edge of both the neighborhood and the city, but should be very interesting to follow!
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Old 09-20-2015, 10:29 AM   #2
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

The Globe has a piece on the project and what it means for the current tenants and for Charlestown :http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/...hCP/story.html

Four developers responded to the Boston Housing Authority,proposing up to 2,700 units in place of the 1,100 there. The article has some discussion on the income mix, which is still undetermined. Having only the poorest of the poor and the wealthy doesn't sound like the start of a good neighborhood. Two of the developers proposed building middle-income units as well to avoid a completely polarized community.
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Old 09-20-2015, 04:34 PM   #3
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

$B! Sounds risky...I wouldn't want to live next to someone like...for so many reasons...I'm sure I'm not the only one.
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Old 09-20-2015, 06:27 PM   #4
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

That's going to be a tough sell... Not to be an insensitive jerk about it, but I'd be very hesitant to pay market or anywhere near market to live with Section 8 neighbors and I don't think that is an extreme opinion either because (1) there are probably units near the same cost somewhere else in the city and (2) large concerns about crime.
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Old 09-20-2015, 09:02 PM   #5
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

Boston has the lowest level of income segregation amongst major American metros, if this model can work anywhere, it can work here. I think the onus of living next to Section 8s might dissuade a few people, but there's enough latent demand that I don't see it as being much of an issue. The current residents are poor, they aren't criminals - yeah that's the perception, but all it takes is for a small cohort to figure out that these apts might be well-priced and located close to a lot of stuff to do for that perception to fray.

Let them try it at least, the housing projects have been a failure - there's no reason we should continue to repair and maintain a failed, heavy on social engineering, system. If mixed developments don't work, fine, but HUD isn't always going to be able to run to our rescue in financing and maintaining our current stock, let alone improving them.
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Old 09-20-2015, 09:41 PM   #6
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

I bike along the Dorchester Harborwalk a bit and Columbia Point looks like a nice place to live. Granted I'm just cycling alongside it. But isn't the new BHA plan roughly based on that?
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Old 09-20-2015, 09:56 PM   #7
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

Part of the reason for high crime rates being associated with section 8 housing is because the low income housing projects both destroyed functioning neighborhoods and supports when they were built and because the concentrate any of the social issues that are more likely to be in existence in a low income family even more and by mixing income levels in the redevelopment of this area it should help stabilize the area and reduce crime.
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Old 09-20-2015, 10:21 PM   #8
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

Quote:
Originally Posted by 617 View Post
$B! Sounds risky...I wouldn't want to live next to someone like...for so many reasons...I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by meddlepal View Post
That's going to be a tough sell... Not to be an insensitive jerk about it, but I'd be very hesitant to pay market or anywhere near market to live with Section 8 neighbors and I don't think that is an extreme opinion either because (1) there are probably units near the same cost somewhere else in the city and (2) large concerns about crime.
I'm sorry, but I can't stay silent on these comments. This demonization of Section 8 residents is disgusting. These are people simply trying to make ends meet and survive in an economically unequal world.

The proof that this kind of mixed development works is in Chelsea. I am happy to pay market rate in a building that is literally behind a newer Section 8 building (Spencer Green). The building is tastefully designed, well integrated into the community and houses its residents with dignity giving them large windows, unlike projects of the past that looked like jails. There's no crime problem from the residents in that building at all and the members are well integrated into the diverse community. That is the key. Putting all of the low income people in projects did not work and it never will. We need to integrate all incomes back into our communities. A mutual sense of community & dignity is what is going to bring neighborhoods back together and lower crime.

Right here in this same neighborhood, the French Club development (TND - same developer as Spencer Green) that was discussed in the Chelsea thread was killed by my racist snobby neighbors that demanded the project be luxury housing and not affordable housing on this exact premise of Section 8 demonization.
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Old 09-20-2015, 11:00 PM   #9
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

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Originally Posted by datadyne007 View Post
I'm sorry, but I can't stay silent on these comments. This demonization of Section 8 residents is disgusting. These are people simply trying to make ends meet and survive in an economically unequal world.

.
ditto growing up next to the Rindge Av towers and Jefferson Park.
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Old 09-20-2015, 11:03 PM   #10
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

You're going to have to get into specifics here. I don't think "Section 8" recipients live in public housing projects. Am I right? they are two different programs.
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Old 09-20-2015, 11:33 PM   #11
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

Echoing Data and ASAP: I lived, walked through, and ate in the new Charlesview. No issues at all, and the market rate townhouses seemed to sell out immediately.

They were better neighbors then most of the townies in the existing neighborhood.

The problem is the entire concept of "projects". Not the people in them.
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Old 09-20-2015, 11:52 PM   #12
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

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You're going to have to get into specifics here. I don't think "Section 8" recipients live in public housing projects. Am I right? they are two different programs.
They are separate programs, but as always there's overlap. Cambridge and Boston host Section 8 vouchers in public housing projects occasionally (especially while Cambridge renos and rebuilds some of the state-sponsored housing projects). I'm reading (and using) Section 8 in the this convo as just shorthand for people receiving public support for housing.

Last edited by CantabAmager; 09-21-2015 at 12:26 AM.
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Old 09-21-2015, 12:04 AM   #13
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

As a rule, I support this change. I think it will make for a more vibrant and peaceful neighborhood.

However, does the city really need more $2600 one and two bedroom apartments?

What about basic 2-3 bedroom apartments for less than $2000? That way you can bring in more working class families who aren't subsidized by the government.
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Old 09-21-2015, 12:31 AM   #14
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

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What about basic 2-3 bedroom apartments for less than $2000? That way you can bring in more working class families who aren't subsidized by the government.
If the developer's claims are true (and I'm inclined to believe there's a kernel of truth in them, if a bit exaggerated), then "workforce" housing would also require a tax abatement (aka a governmental subsidy) to make the redevelopment financial viable. I get the working class ethic, but I think it's about time we recognize that working class families will need to receive some amount of subsidy to afford to live in Boston under our current economic circumstances.
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Old 09-21-2015, 06:45 AM   #15
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

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ditto growing up next to the Rindge Av towers and Jefferson Park.
Well let's hope there's more people like you and data in Boston willing to pay $2,600 to live next to someone getting the same thing for ~$300.

Take the 93 bus in Charlestown for a good idea of who your future neighbors would be.

I personally would never do that, same goes for rindge ave area. When those brickworks condos were first built it took some time for them to sell out and resale was spotty, kids would throw rocks at the development from the tracks.
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Old 09-21-2015, 09:00 AM   #16
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

Just watched "Show Me a Hero" on HBO. Would recommend. Mostly because it is just good television, but it does speak to these matters.
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Old 09-21-2015, 09:22 AM   #17
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

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Just watched "Show Me a Hero" on HBO. Would recommend. Mostly because it is just good television, but it does speak to these matters.
+ 1!
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Old 09-21-2015, 09:37 AM   #18
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

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Take the 93 bus in Charlestown for a good idea of who your future neighbors would be.
Yes, please do. And then realize how ridiculous this statement is.
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Old 09-21-2015, 10:11 AM   #19
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

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Yes, please do. And then realize how ridiculous this statement is.
Maybe the way I wrote it was insensitive...but the reality that people may not want to live in a development like this paying full boat is very "not ridiculous"

That's really the only downside, and it's only a risk to the developers, I'd like to see this development happen.
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Old 09-22-2015, 11:26 AM   #20
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Re: BHA Charlestown/Bunker Hill redevelopment

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Maybe the way I wrote it was insensitive...but the reality that people may not want to live in a development like this paying full boat is very "not ridiculous"

That's really the only downside, and it's only a risk to the developers, I'd like to see this development happen.
But the mixed-income model has already been successful in several areas of Boston - Columbia Point, Tent City, Rollins Square, etc. The rules of thumb on a mixed-income development is to have it be no more than 25% very low income. And have a sizeable component of "moderate income" (e.g., 80% of AMI), to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich.
As an added bonus mixed-income developments like this increase the social mobility of the poorest residents far more than a luxury development with a small low income set aside.
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