New Jamaica Plain apartment building with all affordable units wins approval

Proposed 25 Amory Street

Architect's rendering.

The Board of Appeals today approved a 44-unit apartment building on Amory Street in Jackson Square that will have some units priced low enough for people making under $35,000 a year to afford.

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corp.'s proposal will fill in a vacant lot that has been empty since it was condemned for the I-95 extension that never was, down the street from a mixed-income building the group built.

Backers of the project, who included the mayor, city councilors Matt O'Malley, Michael Flaherty and Tito Jackson, and several residents who got to City Hall for a hearing in the middle of a workday, said the project will bring much needed middle-income and low-income housing to a neighborhood that has become one of the prime examples of gentrification at work.

One resident praised the project for setting aside units even for people who don't make anything near the area median income. He said other JP developers have offered "fake affordable housing" out of reach for many of the area's longtime residents. Although proponents emphasized JP's particularly acute need, apartments would be open to all Boston residents meeting certain income requirements.

Some 29 of the units will have either two or three bedrooms.

The building, located a short walk from the Jackson Square Orange Line station, will have 22 parking spaces.

The BRA approved the building last year.

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That location on

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the map can't be right. It's closer to Green than Jackson Square.

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It's not

It's very far off. The location is 25 Amory, near the chop shops.

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Yep, thanks for spotting that

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Google does that sometimes. I've fixed the map by hard-coding in the rough latitude and longitude.

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Too short

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I think this is the one that is on land zoned for much larger buildings, but the developer couldn't afford to build tall. While it appears to be a win, it's actually a lost opportunity for hundreds more affordable units.

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Maybe. Another hypothetical

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Maybe. Another hypothetical developer would have incentive and precedent to build tall and charge high, were it not JPNDC behind the curtain. They're staking their claim and doing what they can right now, to avoid losing out to someone who won't be building with the locals in mind.

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Falls short

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In the original plan for Jackson Square, these units were supposed to be affordable ownership. Now they're just rentals, or that's what it was last time I looked at it. For all the talk about Jackon Square redevelopment, much of it has fallen short. The ice hockey/part time turf facility where Urban Edge/a parking lot now sits hasn't even come close to funding. I think they're about halfway there as of now--they need more than ten million dollars to afford to build it.

They're having trouble raising the money for a lot of the units--and the retail space even at 225 Centre-which they were able to afford to build first because the units are mainly market rate-sat vacant for years. They stood by their "no chains, only local Boston" retail until this year. Now there's a Perfect Dental, a chain fast food place opening, and coming soon, a Cricket Wireless. I snapped a photo of that banner this morning on my way to the T. It's sad, because they touted this development as bringing shops and increased "walkability" to an area that is otherwise filled with check cashing places, a laundromat, and a liquor store and they haven't been able to deliver.

I live here and I wish they could attract retail tenants that would make me want to stay in the neighborhood instead of driving elsewhere on my weekends, but I think they took a really hard-line approach to who they would accept as tenants at the beginning, and now they are compromising to fill vacant space, scaling back on other planned developments, and just permanently stalling others.

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Falls Short

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225 Centre St LLC owns 225 Centre, Urban Edge was a partner in the development which is common in the development around Jackson Square as they also partner with JPNDC on many projects. The recent cuts for affordable units have everything to do with the recent cuts to HUB not fundraising. Lastly raising half of the goal of 21 million in one year is pretty impressive in my opinion since the campaign for the rec center did not officially start until last April. Perhaps you should attend board and neighborhood meetings of the neighborhood development corporations to be more active in the process and assist with attracting business.

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Affordable?

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Does anybody have more info about 'affordable' housing and salary cutoffs? If you can't make more than, say, $47,000 a year, to rent a unit, is that take-home pay? Or before taxes?

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It is based on your gross

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It is based on your gross annual income. (Think your federal taxes). Basically your income before deductions and taxes.Take a look here if you are not sure what counts as income: https://a806-housingconnect.nyc.gov/nyclottery/instructionPDFs/Income_Gu...

In turn it based on Area Median Income. That is the household income for the median (or middle) household in a region. Each year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) calculates the median income for every metropolitan region in the country. HUD focuses on the region (rather than just the city) because families searching for housing are likely to look beyond the city itself to find a place to live.

In general, qualifications for government housing programs fall into one of three income categories: low income (less than 80% AMI, which is $78,800 for a family of four in this area), very low income (less than 50%or 60% AMI, depending on the program which is $49,450 to $59,100 for a family of four in this area), and extremely low-income (less than 30% AMI which is $29,550 or a family of four in this area). At this level, it is generally housing subsidies in the form of rental assistance, where all or a portion of the occupants’ monthly housing cost is paid for directly by either the state or federal government. Section 8 is an example of a subsidized housing program.

Boston also has affordable housing for medium earners. City of Boston’s Inclusionary Development Policy is 80-100% and workforce units(110% AMI $107,950 for a family of 4). It sometimes will go up to 130% AMI. None of these units are for middle income.
http://www.bostonplans.org/housing/finding-housing/income,-asset,-and-pr...

Most of these units are priced at LIHTC @<60%AMI:
There are 11 One bedrooms renting for $971. Maximum annual gross household income is $41,220
There are 17 Two bedrooms renting for $1,150. Maximum annual gross household income is $47,100
There are 3 Three bedrooms renting for $1,320. Maximum annual gross household income is $52,980.

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Thank you!

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I thought this might be the case.

Too bad it's based on gross income. Mine isn't so bad - high-50s - but this is significantly less manageable when you deduct taxes (down to high-30s) and then mandatory student loan payments (high-20s).

I also don't have kids and am not married, so maybe I deserve to spend half of my take-home pay in rent.

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Income guidelines

Sorry for the double post, someone else posted a much more detailed reply just above this. Thanks!

I will also add that I was successful in purchasing a condo marketed as "affordable" - for one person, my maximum income was $67,800 per year and I couldn't have more than $100k in assets (although IRAs/401ks don't count toward the asset limit). The process from lottery application (it was my 12th lottery entry, one per project is allowed) to closing took 6.5 months and the income/asset verification process took 9 weeks. I am obligated to always live in the condo (one bedroom) - not rent it out, and the property value increases 3% each year, with the resale price set by the regulating authority so there is no opportunity to speculate on increased neighborhood value.

These were the 2016 income guidelines from HUD:

http://www.bostonplans.org/housing/finding-housing/income,-asset,-and-pr...

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Just a curiosity, but how

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Just a curiosity, but how strict are the income verifications? I have a coworker currently who would qualify, but her fiancée makes good money and puts them waaay over the limit for two people - her current plan is to qualify and buy the place before they're married, then have him move in. Seems like cheating to me, hoping she won't qualify.

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Seems short sighted

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"affordable housing" is a misnomer in which a small amount of people will get subsidized by everyone else who will have to pay that much more on average because of lack of market rate stock. That housing is likely to be left in disarray over time since they can't charge appropriately.

Rough news for those making slightly more than the cut off who will then have it that much harder. These policies pretty much ensure a faster race to a sort of upper/under class with no room in the middle like in SF and NYC as the broad middle is squeezed even faster.

The answer is to build like mad and tell the NIMBYs to stuff it like they are in Denver and Seattle where rents are stabelizing or even finally dropping.

Its feel good fluff for virtue signalers who can afford not understanding economics regardless though

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Yes it would be great

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if someone would divulge the full economics for this subsidized housing project so we could decide for ourselves if it would be feasible for a private company not supported by government, grants, corporate donations, HUD money, tax credits, etc.

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Why don't you ask them?

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If you really care, you'll look up their phone number or e-mail and contact them. And do report back here.

For the rest of us, the fact that developers in Boston are only building what affordable units they do because the city makes them is proof nobody wants to build large amounts of housing for the middle class. Except, perhaps for Related Beal, which is building an entire "workforce" building (sort of like "affordable," but with even higher income) on Beverly Street, but if you ask them how they're doing it, they'll tell you about all the financial machinations they had to go through - from using credits from other projects they're building, to tax breaks to dedicating revenue from the hotel that's part of the project.

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If public investment creates

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If public investment creates a significant pool of reasonably priced housing-- affordable to the working class & middle class workers that Boston needs-- then private developers will need to compete against that. If we don't want to rely only on public investment to create and expand this pool, and we want to protect the middle/working class housing that exists, then we should rewrite & reinstate rent control laws. Small property owners (for example,owners of 5 non-owner occupied units or fewer) should written out, but developers and LLCs who own current stock should not be.

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Statewide Initiative Petition

Rent control was abolished by statewide initiative petition.

It could be reinstated by an initiative petition that abolishes the ban.

If you really want a return of rent control, legalizing it is the first step.

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Why are all the new

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Why are all the new developments this ugly combo of colors? One thing I love about the city is the chaos of colors that we have and these are always so drab and boring.

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Where can I go to fill out an

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Where can I go to fill out an application for the waitlist for these Apartments?

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Location