The building, called the Union, includes forty six new units of housing for people who are currently experiencing homelessness
BOSTON, MA (STL.News) – Building on his commitment to build more affordable housing and end chronic homeslessness in the City of Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh Wednesday, May 29, 2019, joined Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, Governor Charlie Baker, President of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese Lisa Alberghini, President and CEO of St. Francis House Karen LaFrazia, and residents to celebrate the ribbon cutting for The Union, a historic redevelopment in downtown Boston that creates 46 units of affordable supportive housing.
“The Union represents our belief that every single person in our City deserves compassion, support, and a safe place to call home,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “This project couldn’t have been possible without the compassionate leadership of The St. Francis House and The Planning Office for Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese, as well as the City and State.”
“The Archdiocese of Boston, through the Planning Office for Urban Affairs, is pleased to have collaborated with St. Francis House as together we received support and assistance from Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh in developing this greatly needed affordable housing,” said Cardinal Seán O’Malley. “The Union’s new residents, those of limited income and those formerly homeless, now have a home from where they can fully participate in civic and community life. It is a blessing for the Archdiocese to be able to work with the Commonwealth and the City of Boston to provide sustainable, dependable and affordable housing for people in need. As we celebrate the successful completion of this project we look forward to further opportunities for continuing the mission of lifting people from the instability and anxiety of not knowing where they will spend the coming day or night to the dignity, respect and confidence of having a home.”
“Our administration remains committed to addressing the Commonwealth’s housing crisis by supporting development at all levels, including boosting affordable housing stock,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The Union is a key step toward that goal, and the project’s focus on supporting people struggling with homelessness is crucially important. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to encourage future development modeled on the successful partnership that made The Union possible.”
This development creates permanent affordable homes for people experiencing homelessness or with low incomes. The Union has 26 units set aside units for people who are currently homeless or have experienced homelessness in the past, and 20 units set aside for residents with incomes at or below 50-60 percent of area median income (households making up to $51,780 a year). In addition to this new housing, St. Francis House, located across the street, has relocated their administrative offices into the development, will provide the wrap around support services needed to ensure the residents are stable and able to thrive in their new homes.
The new homes at The Union were created by renovating the historic Boston Young Men’s Christian Union, completed in 1875 and designated a Boston Landmark in 1977. This adaptive reuse of the 48 Boylston Street property was completed to the standards for historic preservation and utilized both Federal Historic Tax Credits and Massachusetts Historic Tax Credits provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Financing was made possible by funding from the City of Boston Neighborhood Housing Trust; the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development; the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development; MassHousing; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation; and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. Additionally, Eastern Bank is participating in the Bank of America financing.
The Union was developed through a unique partnership between the Planning Office for Urban Affairs (POUA) and St. Francis House, two non-profits rooted in a commitment to social justice and serving others. With the completion of The Union, POUA has developed nearly 3,000 units of affordable and mixed-income housing, over 1,200 of which are in Boston.
“We are so grateful for our partnership with the Planning Office for Urban Affairs and the extraordinary commitment of the City and Commonwealth for the development of this housing. Together we are creating an inclusive community where men and women once homeless will live a new life contributing to and enjoying the vitality and prosperity of the neighborhood.” said Karen LaFrazia, President and CEO of St. Francis House.
“Providing housing options for a diverse group of people is key to a vibrant community and illustrates what can happen when we work together for the common good,” said Lisa Alberghini, President of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs. “We’re grateful to the Commonwealth, the City, our funders and supporters who made this possible, and especially to our partner St. Francis House.”
St. Francis House, which partners with homeless individuals to help them move from the streets and shelters to permanent homes, operates more than 102 units of permanent and supportive housing in downtown Boston. The Union will help St. Francis House meet the growing need for safe, secure and affordable long-term housing solutions.
Creating new permanent supportive housing like these new units at The Union, are an important component of Boston’s Way Home, the Mayor’s action plan to end veteran and chronic homelessness in Boston. Permanent supportive housing provides individuals with subsidized rents and individualized support services so that they receive the assistance needed to stay housed. The housing is designed to build independent living skills and connect people with services such as community-based medical and mental health care, job training and employment services.
“As with many people who end up at the front door of SFH, it has been a long and winding road, filled with pain and shame but ultimately triumph. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of stable housing for people like me. The safety and dignity of a home and the support of people that care about you makes all things possible,” said Andrew Moskevich, a resident at The Union.
Over the past five years, the City has transformed its system so that every homeless veteran in Boston has access to shelter and a path to permanent housing. As a result, Boston has the lowest rate of unsheltered homelessness of any major U.S. city, as well as one of the lowest rates of unsheltered veteran homelessness nationally. Mayor Walsh recently announced that since the inception of the Boston’s Way Home plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness, the City of Boston has housed more than 1,000 homeless veterans.
Since 2016, there has been a 36 percent reduction in veteran homelessness. During that time there has been a 20 percent reduction in the chronically homelessness population and more than 770 chronically homeless individuals have been housed.