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Developer, Pine Street Inn propose turning old YWCA building on Clarendon Street into affordable apartments

Beacon Communities and the Pine Street Inn are teaming up on a plan to convert the YW Boston building at 140 Clarendon St. into 240 affordable apartments aimed at people trying to get out of homelessness or who cannot afford Boston's high rents.

In a letter of intent filed with the BPDA today, Beacon said the Snowden International School and the Lyric Stage of Boston, along with YW Boston offices and the Viga restaurant, will be allowed to stay in their current spaces in the building. The letter signals that Beacon, which has a purchase-and-sale agreement with YW Boston, will soon file detailed plans for BPDA consideration.

Beacon said it would use space now occupied by 63 SRO units, 56 small apartments, the 66-room Hotel 140 and some currently vacant office space to create 240 apartments - all with their own kitchens and bathrooms, and all rented to people making no more than 60% of the Boston-area median income.

All the units, aimed at "some of the city's most vulnerable residents," would be eligible for Section 8 vouchers, the company writes, adding that, in addition to apartments, the building would get new space for health and fitness programs.

Beacon said the Pine Street Inn would provide intensive case-management services for residents who might need help. Pine Street Inn won approval earlier this year to build a similarly staffed apartment building on Washington Street in Jamaica Plain.

The YWCA building went up in 1929.

140 Clarendon St. letter of intent (71.5k PDF).

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Comments

This building needs a redo. However, I worry about that block becoming a magnet for drug users and homeless sleeping on the street. Since the pandemic, the back bay station is not being used much and the street behind the station and the kid's park have become a problem. Many instances of the red cross boxes being broken into, needles on the street in that area, and trash being left in the park. If they can really rent as affordable housing that is great, as long as they keep the drug users out. I also think the city needs more affordable housing for families (not single units).

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I agree, want to see progress made here to get people off the streets, but this location puts recovering addicts in the center of the problem where they're surrounded by the life they tried to escape. Not to mention the short walk to Mass and Cass. It seems like thier best chance is to get as a far away from the city as possible but I understand they need to have access to treatment not easily found outside the city. Again it seems like we really need help from the state to get people treatment away from the open air drug market on Mass Ave.

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If your first thought when hearing about helping people out of, or helping them avoid homelessness is "BUT DRUGS" you are part of the problem. Who said anything about drugs but you? We're talking about affordable housing apartments.

As for 140 Clarendon being walking distance to Mass & Cass, sure, it is. It's a mile and a half or so by foot, so a half hour each way at a good walking pace. But if we are going to exclude affordable housing from anywhere within a mile and a half (why not make it 2 miles? 2 is just as walk-able as 1.5), you are excluding a large circle from even being considered for that purpose.

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The Pine Street Inn website has a video explaining what they do labelled "they're struggling with substance abuse problems" They are the ones highlighting that they serve this community.

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If it makes you feel high and mighty on your soap box to ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of Boston homeless struggle with past and present substance abuse issues just so you can tell yourself that you care the most then by all means proceed but it's hardly helpful.

The fact is the State of Massachusetts has done little to help with the state's homeless and opiod problems and continues to send people to Boston for help where they become trapped in a cycle of abuse. I realize not all homeless are in this situation but many are and many included in this proposal are in recovery. I don't think the solution is to house them in walking distance at all, even if it's a half hour walk (it's less) or an hour. Let's not ignore that copley square across the street is also overwhelmed with open drug and alcohol abuse and isn't a whole lot better.

I'm not exactly sure what problem I'm part of as you claim so I'll give you more details of where I stand so you can judge me. I'm a liberal voting long term south end resident who is all for housing homeless and willing to pay increased taxes for it. I firmly believe based on facts that providing housing for homeless, helping them deal with addiction and helping them find work is an actionable solution and with a proven rate of sucess in other countries. I donate to food banks regularly to help feed hungry families. At the same time I'm also frustrated by the clearly overwhelmed system we have in the area and every day I step over a used needle on the side walk or in a park my frustration grows and my patience gets shorter. Judge away.

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Legit concerns but unwarranted given who is managing the property, their target tenant market, and its current usage.

This isn't a treatment center; it's an apartment complex.

Pine Street has more people living in apartments around the city than they have stay overnight on Harrison Ave. Surprised? That's because they are neighbors you don't even notice.

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Give us all a break. We know that we need at the very least 1,000 of these type apartments. It's time for Baker and Walsh to step in and build it bigger, Next they should find a way to ship the hundreds of homeless sex offenders on the Boston streets to an island in the harbor like Washington State does.

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Boston has plenty of family-sized housing stock. It lacks small, affordable units for single people, both for those who need help overcoming or avoiding homelessness and people who don’t want to live with random roommates they find on Craigslist. It’s this lack of small, affordable units that drives the prices up on larger units.
Roommate arrangements have pushed families out because they can pay $1000 and up per bedroom. If you want evidence, look at what is happening now with the missing college students no longer doubling or tripling up in apartments, the rents have dropped 20% or more in some areas. They’d drop more too but some landlords are sitting on empty units anticipating those kids coming back in the fall and will take a loss in rent before they fill the unit with a family that they will have a hard time evicting when they raise the rents when things return to normal.

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Also a lot of people stuck in two year leases paying what's now way over market value until next Sept. first. This year's may signings of september leases is going to be very interesting... I see another big drop in advertised rents unless all the schools guarantee they're doing in-person starting in sept, fairly soon.

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Why are you associating low-income housing -- targeted for people earning up to 60% median income -- with drugs and such?

A single person can earn up to $50k and qualify for this housing. Someone working minimum wage, even at 50 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, is still only at 30k per year.

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What do we say all the time?

Boston needs more diversity. Boston needs less class segregation.

Then someone proposes this and you become here with that scare tactic BS. What a pompous prick.

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Despite the disagreement about drug use vs. no drug problem, this is the wrong neighborhood for low income people who rely on affordable retail and other services or conveniences. Yes, the Back Bay T station is nearby, but what is within walking distance? No inexpensive stores like Dollar Tree or Walmart, no affordable restaurants or grocery stores (please don’t say Star Market is affordable!). No public elementary school in Back Bay.

Yes, yes, yes to affordable housing, but only in an established neighborhood that already offers support services and features responsive to the needs of low income families, elders and yes, those in recovery.

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AKA "only let people of limited means live near other people of limited means".

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star market is affordable compared to pretty much every other grocery store in metro boston not named Market Basket. and its far cheaper than wegmans and whole foods.

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What about the existing SRO units and small apartments? Don't they effectively serve as affordable housing?

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have likely been low income. The housing at the YW has been long standing without issue. They only difference between the housing then and future would be the wonderful hole in the wall restaurant with very good (and nutritious) food at a low price. It would be great to see space allocated on the first floor for a Haley House or comparable retail program.

We need to incorporate multi-economic housing in all of our neighborhoods. Our 'tony' neighbors will always find reasons to keep out low income and section 8 out.

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Yes, 140 has been a weird combination of budget hotel/SRO. I am thinking of poor families...think of a single mother with a couple of small children. There are no affordable or free-care neighborhood health centers, or pre-schools, or any built-in neighborhood support services. I doubt they will come to Copley Square. More struggle for those families without a car, trying to get around in all kinds of weather to do everyday things like getting groceries, taking a child to school or medical/dental appointments, or daycare.

The projected development could work if it consists of one bedroom apartments, but I would hate to see a single parent with small children struggle to navigate around there. If the developer and Pine Street Inn will offer transportation to necessary destinations and on-site food support, that’s different. It will be a huge task ahead.

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