SEEN FROM THE HILL : HOUSING FOR THE PEOPLE ? BARTLETT NUESTRA ISN’T IT

SEEN FROM THE HILL : HOUSING FOR THE PEOPLE ? BARTLETT NUESTRA ISN’T IT

A recent Bay State Banner article interviewing Bartlett Nuestra’s David Price poses the following question nicely: Why aren’t developers like Nuestra trying to figure out how to build quality housing for less than $400,000, rather than asking for subsidies from the government ? (please remember that Nuestra’s acquisition of Bartlett from the MBTA was a steal!)

Said the Banner — “Price occupies a narrow middle ground, calling for subsidies for moderate-income homebuyers earning between $60,000 and $90,000 a year. Those buyers can afford housing in the $300,000 – $350,000 range, Price says. But land acquisition costs often make it impossible to build housing units for less than $400,000.”

I’m very sure lots of people told Steve Jobs that building an iPhone was impossible too ! But here we are years later with nearly half a billion iPhones sold.

Simply put, Nuestra is the wrong developer for Bartlett! Nuestra lacks the vision and innovative know-how to deliver on some very complicated requirements articulated by the community in the RFP. Requirements that are still not being met and have yet to be addressed (see a few questions below, from my last blast sent to many of you, still unanswered for months now :

“1. When will demo start?

2. According to the last press State Government release for affordable housing funding,, Bartlett didn’t make the cut. Given that it has some funding, what funding is needed to complete phase 1 — a detailed list would be helpful. We don’t want history repeating itself: Home ownership opportunities at Atkins Apartments ? This is a remediation site with no housing!

3. Lastly, and most importantly, Nuestra has yet to address home ownership phasing that lags the intent of the RFP and thus the wishes of the community. We know Nuestra also has a history stifling objection for this project by saying it’s just me that’s in objection. It’s not just me. 100 neighbors have signed a petition stating their objection to Phase 1 plans at Bartlett. Are you going to properly address our concerns?”

As supplement to this vilumn i attach alink to the Bay state banner article, in which i am quoted, after which i am reprinting the article and its lead photo :

http://baystatebanner.com/news/2014/sep/10/gentrification-seen-gaining-foothold-roxbury/?page=3

1 Gentrification Williams St

There are few hard statistics to flesh out the existence of gentrification in Roxbury. Median sales prices in the neighborhood have been driven down by the high number of foreclosure sales, and nobody’s tracking displacement of renters.

Perhaps the clearest indication of change in Roxbury is in the 2010 Census, which counted the white population in the historically black neighborhood nearly double the population in the 2000 count, growing from 5.5 percent to 9.6 percent.

While the population in Roxbury grew from 49,795 to 56,827, the Back percentage of the population declined from 62 percent to 52 percent.

And that was before the neighborhood’s housing market recovered from the 2008 real estate market crash. Now, with single family homes selling for more than $500,000 and a red-hot rental market, there’s a general consensus among civic leaders, real estate professionals and affordable housing activists that Roxbury is at the very least in the early stages of gentrification.

That conclusion was bolstered by a study released earlier this year by the First National Bank of Cleveland that identified Boston as the fastest-gentrifying city in the country and identified three census tract areas in Roxbury as at-risk for gentrification: a tract running from Moreland Street to the Newmarket Business District, a cluster of three tracts along the Orange line from Roxbury Crossing to Jackson Square and the Grove Hall area between Quincy Street, Humboldt Avenue, Blue Hill Avenue and Seaver Street.

“If the market is left to itself and developers are left to their own devices, Roxbury could turn into the South End,” said Nuestra Comunidad Community Development Corporation Executive Director David Price. “Roxbury is in much better shape than the South End was 30 years ago.”

The movement of black renters and owners from Roxbury is a classic case of gentrification, according to Price.

“The essence of gentrification is displacement,” he said. “It’s the loss of long-term residents.”

The Black community in Boston originally grew on the north side of Beacon Hill in the 18th and 19th century. Beginning in the early 20th century, blacks began moving into the South End. There, many Blacks bought brick row houses, maintaining many as multi-family homes.
In the 1930s, blacks began moving into Roxbury. Over the next four decades, the center of the city’s Black population shifted from the South End to Roxbury, spreading out into parts of Dorchester and Mattapan. By the 1970s, Roxbury’s Jewish, Italian and Irish residents had fled to the suburbs, leaving Roxbury a majority-black neighborhood.

As the South End continued to gentrify through the ’80s and ’90s, Roxbury remained fairly stable, with reliably low real estate values and a large supply of affordable units. Currently, 45 percent of Roxbury residents have rental subsidies — many, but not all, in large subsidized developments like Warren Gardens, Academy Homes and Orchard Gardens.

Although the high percentage of subsidized rents in Roxbury may seem like a hedge against gentrification, currently 41 percent of units in the South End are subsidized, yet that neighborhood is widely considered gentrified.

Price notes that gentrification could happen much more quickly in Roxbury. Of the neighborhood’s 21,522 residences, just 4,993 were owner-occupied in 2010. With a high percentage of fixed-income seniors living in Roxbury, those units could turn over quickly.
The real question is can the 4,900 people who own continue to own in Roxbury,” said longtime Roxbury resident Dan Richardson. “There are not many older folks who want to hang in and do what it takes to stay in a house that’s too big.”

Richardson’s Humboldt Avenue home is not particularly close to a rapid transit line and is relatively far from the city’s hospitals and colleges. Yet it is one of the three Roxbury areas identified as ripe for gentrification in the First National Bank of Cleveland study. Its stock of well-maintained stately Victorian-era homes has attracted a smattering of hipsters, young urban professionals and speculators.

The high cost of housing in Roxbury is not immediately reflected on real estate tracking websites. On Trulia, of the ten single-family homes listed in the 02119 Roxbury zip code, six were in foreclosure and one was a deed restricted affordable home.

Housing activists say many of the homes in foreclosure are being snapped up by speculators who are flipping them, earning handsome profits.

“There are always going to be people looking to get something for nothing, and real estate is the easiest way to do that,” Richardson commented

While the average African American family with a family income between $60,000 and $90,000 can afford a home in the $300,000 range, single-family homes throughout Roxbury are now selling for $500,000.

“No one who lives here can buy a house at that price,” notes Rodney Singleton, who is active in Roxbury development issues. “That’s why we have a problem with gentrification in Roxbury.”

Along with home sale prices, rents in Roxbury are also on the rise. An 850-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment on Williams Street in Dudley Square is listed for $2,950. A two-bedroom apartment on Washington Street in Egleston Square is listed for $1,950.
“I have a client who has a Section 8 voucher and wants to live in Roxbury,” said real estate broker Kensley Dimmott. “I haven’t found any two bedrooms for $1,400 yet. You can still find them, but it’s a lot tougher. There’s not a lot of inventory. And when you have inventory, landlords can get $2,000 for a two bedroom.”

While there are no reliable statistics, Roxbury residents say they’re seeing many longtime tenants forced out of the neighborhood by the rising rents.

“People who are not getting a subsidy, they better have a good paying job,” says retired housing activist Joan Miller, who lives in Academy Homes. “Or they need to have two jobs. Gentrification is happening.”

New housing strategies

While there is near-universal agreement that gentrification is happening in Boston, there’s little consensus on how best to respond. Many in Roxbury fit into one of two camps — those who think the neighborhood has too much affordable housing, and those who think Roxbury needs more.

Price occupies a narrow middle ground, calling for subsidies for moderate-income homebuyers earning between $60,000 and $90,000 a year. Those buyers can afford housing in the $300,000 – $350,000 range, Price says. But land acquisition costs often make it impossible to build housing units for less than $400,000.

Among the ideas Price is floating are public subsidies for homebuyers in the form of $50,000 loans.

“The city could make a soft loan that doesn’t have to be repaid until the house is re-sold,” he said. “If a developer is selling a home for $400,000, it could write down the loan to $350,000.

Price also advocates for public land to be made available for free to developers who agree to build moderate-income housing. In addition to the large swaths of publicly-owned land on Melnea Cass Boulevard and Columbus Avenue in Lower Roxbury, there are dozens of vacant city-owned parcels on and around Blue Hill Avenue.

“The city could make a soft loan that doesn’t have to be repaid until the house is re-sold,” he said. “If a developer is selling a home for $400,000, it could write down the loan to $350,000.

Both Price and Singleton have advocated a housing strategy for Roxbury that prioritizes a balance of market, affordable and moderate-income housing. In crafting a request for proposals for the Bartlett Yard project on Washington Street, Singleton and other project review committee members called for each of the three income levels to occupy a third of all units developed at Bartlett, a commitment Price agreed to adhere to.

That same 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 formula has become somewhat of a mantra among housing activists who weighed in on the Walsh administration’s transition team meetings. The Walsh administration is expected to release its plan for housing and development in Boston later this month. While Walsh administration officials have not leaked any details, housing activists are eagerly awaiting the plan.

“In Roxbury, it will make all the difference,” Price said.

That’s what the Bay state banner wrote…

—- Rodney Singleton / Seen From the Hill

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ROXBURY INNOVATION CENTER FORUM DRAWS FEW RESIDENTS

Here and Sphere

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^ John Barros ; emceeing Roxbury innovation community orum

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It would have been quite the item, had last night’s Forum discussion of the City of Boston’s projected Roxbury Innovation Center drawn a sizeable audience of Roxbury residents looking to get aboard or, at least, to hear more. Certainly the Orchard Gardens School Auditorium was big enough to hold 200 or more. Yet only about 70 people attended , almost all of them part of the 16 presenting teams.

Nonetheless, the project is moving ahead. Mayor Walsh is committed tlo it, his administration invested in its success. We shall see.

John Barros, formerly a Mayor candidate and now Mayor Walsh’s top guy at the Office of Community Development, emceed the Forum, assisted by Dana Whiteside, Deputy Director, and Dr. Dan Willis of G & W Associates in Dorchester. Barros is a convincing salesman for Roxbury innovation : before…

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MAPOLI : SOME CANDIDATES WELL PREPARED, SOME NOT AT ROX-VOTE FORUM

Here and Sphere

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^ impressive at RoxVote Forum : Evandro carvalho, chosen by 5th District voters in a special election last April.

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7th District hopeful Rufus faulk spoke generously on  issues that he had not anticipated being asked about. See the story below.

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Last night the Rox-Vote coalition, which promotes citizen interaction in campaigns much as does the League of Women Voters, held a legislature candidate Forum at Hibernain hall. Present were candidates running in the 7th Suffolk and 5th Suffolk State Representative Districts as well as the 2nd Suffolk State Senate race. About 50 local voters attended, including a delegation from the Winthrop Street Neighborhood association, which has recently surfaced to oppose the City of Boston’s plans to create an in-district charter school at the current Dearborn School location.

Some candidates showed themselves well prepared, others not so much. Candidates spoke from the podium and then interacted with…

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SEEN FROM THE HILL : OPEN LETTER TO ROSIE’S PLACE

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To Ena FoxKate Sullivansmarsh@rosiesplace.org and 34 More…
Jun 20 at 3:43 PM

Thanks Ena,

Your point and perspective is an excellent one!

There’s nothing wrong with a social service organization helping folks in need renting space in our community. Indeed, it’s welcomed if the lion’s share of the benefit belongs to us.

But the facts tell a very different story. Since the spring selling season started, prices for property in the Highland Park/Fort Hill area are up 20-25%. That gets noticed!

Many support the good works at Rosie’s Place and Pine Street. But when will we recognize big institutional expansion for what it is: an opportunity to grow an organization’s assets through investments that take advantage of escalating real estate prices, which in turn improve that organization’s business portfolio?

And expanding social services is the elephant in the room that everybody is comfortable ignoring these days. All the while, somehow it’s OK for the city to fail at educating our kids, fail to be inclusive when hiring, award lucrative construction contracts in our neighborhoods to businesses outside of the city, or fail to recognize a fair days work with a fair days wage . The sobering reality for us is our lifeline to stay and exist in this city is increasingly on social services and non-profits that have become saturated in our neighborhood in lieu of every other development plan – including sorely needed business development and a healthy TAX base.
Again, I think many of us have no problem with social service non-profits. But why gentrify possible mom and pop businesses and a host of home-grown social service non-profits that have been doing great work in our neighborhood for years?

If Rosie’s Place or Pine Street are committed to helping folks in need renting space in our community, they could support Hawthorne Youth and Community Center (http://www.catalogueforphilanthropy.org/ma/2005/hawthorne_youth_5618.htm) and the Cooper Center with badly needed funds to continue the great work each has done for decades! This wouldn’t use up sparse retail space in John Eliot Square for local business folks already feeling the space pinch Dudley (Dudley Square fixture feeling sting of gentrification: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/06/17/dudley-fixture-floyd-williams-feeling-sting-gentrification-his-botanic-business-faces-closure/2DGLgqAk2a2vcPuJtCzWEM/story.html). This can be done by writing a check.

In the end, the choice for the retail space at 10 John Eliot Square will be made by voting members of the Norfolk House Condo Association. That said, this issue and discussion is much bigger than a Condo Association. We as a neighborhood should be calling on our elected officials to hear the all the concerns of the neighborhood.

Thanks again for your engagement!

—- Rodney Singleton / SEEN FROM THE HILL

Mary Churchill : Community Businesses Should Get First Crack at the Ferdinand Building

  1. The Editors : Yesterday one of Roxbury’s most aware and far-seeing activists posted this response to Shirley Leung’s Boston Globe article about uses of the newly rebuilt Ferdinand Building, which when opened soon will completely reconfigure the activity, noise, and social connections of Dudley Square. We of course are big fans of Haley House, the community eatery that is already setting a cutting edge of style and tone for the new Roxbury.
    We reprint Ms. Churchill’s post in full for our Roxbury Here readers :
    “Yesterday morning Shirley Leung from the Boston Globe asked me what I thought of the retail mix proposed for the Ferdinand Building in Dudley. My response: Just read it. I think it’s a bad mix and one that will neither serve the neighborhood nor the tenants. I am happy to see Clover, Parish Cafe group and Shanti. However, I am not thrilled that Clover won out over Haley House. Clover does not currently have a presence in the neighborhood or the loyal following that Haley House has. Additionally, none of the proposed tenants has invested in Dudley/Roxbury the way that Haley House and Discover Roxbury have. The neighborhood is desperate for places that will be open in the evenings and on the weekends – it’s a ghost town after 6 pm – and this municipal building that will be otherwise empty will really need a lively first floor in the evenings and on the weekends to offset the empty floors above. The apparel shop and eye-care place are just wrong for this building – they could go elsewhere in the square. 

    “That is the other point that people seem to be missing – there is a lot of open retail space in Dudley Square, right now! And much more coming online in the next year or so. I would like to see the city be intentional, thoughtful, and strategic about what goes into the Ferdinand – it represents the future of Roxbury. A Starbucks could go in to a nearby spot today and I am not opposed to a Starbucks in the square. If a Starbucks were to go into the Ferdinand, I would want it to subsidize the rent of a smaller, more financially vulnerable initiative and perhaps that is an innovative way to create a mix that will be successful for the neighbors, tenants, and financially.
     — by Mary Churchill

SEEN FROM THE HILL : Mayor Walsh Walks Dudley Thursday, May 8, 2014 – 5:00pm to 7:00pm

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Very troubled by all of the CDC’s present tat the walk, o bend the ear, so to speak, of the new Mayor as he walked the Dudley Square area. CDC’s are not community leaders, albeit they are very active in their own interests, rarely ours, and shouldn’t be seen as ours.

May 6 at 5:14 PM

Today at 12:15 PM
Below is a facebook post and reply to my dear Aunt Viola who happened to notice some of the goings on from the WalkBoston tour in Dudley yesterday.

Viola Howard fb post: “Fond memories of Hibernian Hall during the late fifties early sixties attending the Cape Verdean dances….Great memories, fun times and oh the music!!!……”
@Auntie Vi: You probably wouldn’t recognize Dudley now from the 50’s and 60’s. There’s a lot happening. I credit the mayor for sharing his parent’s experience of Hibernian as a dance hall and his voiced commitment to work on preserving Dudley’s history and its people. But sadly, the context and narrative that could speak to your fond memories of Cape Verdean dances at Hibernian, along with the mayor’s reflections, were sorely missing from the actual WalkBoston tour of Dudley that proceeded the gathering at Hibernian.
That’s because the WalkBoston tour was co-opted by the community development corporations that helped sponsor the walk. From the eyes of many the walking tour was strategically designed and meant to promote their various development projects in and around Dudley Square.

Your comment about “oh the music” speaks to the missed opportunity around art and culture and the transformative power of each to engage and bring us together. To have our account hijacked in the interest of gaining favor with the new mayor to promote the development agendas and interests of a cohort of CDC’s over our interests is unconscionable!

I trust the mayor sees this walk for what it was: money and power trying to steer policy! Policy that very often is not the will of the people!

Really a shame!

Love Rodney

—- Rodney Singleton / seen From the Hill

YES : MONEY IS COMING TO ROXBURY

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^ Access to Capital panel : Ed Merritt, Ron Walker, Teri Williams, Richard Soo Hoo, Rafael Carbonell, Bruce Bickerstaff

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Big changes are afoot in the part of Boston called Roxbury. The 120 million dollar reconstruction of the Ferdinand Building in Dudley Square has reached the leasing stage, with many enterprises competing for street-level retail spaces. Above them will be the 500 employees of Boston’s Public School administration, re-locating from its present Downtown digs.

This by itself i big economic news. 500 well-paid employees will be eating lunch in Dudley Square. Some will do a bit of shopping there. many will stop for coffee before the work day or stay for coffee after it. If the 500 employees spend an average of just $ 10 a day in Dudley, it adds up to $ 25,000 every work week, $ 1,250,000 a year.

Spread over the entire Roxbury community, that’s not a huge amount, but it’s not to be shooed away. If anything, this million-plus dollars has already started the big money ball rolling through Roxbury’s business district. thus it was excellent timing to find Roxbury’s City Councillor, Tito Jackson, emceeing an “Access to Capital” Forum last night, to help channel some of that money ball into the area’s entrepreneurs and business hopefuls.

There, at the Boys and Girls Club, were seven major money and business players, including Rafael Carbonell from the City of Boston’s Neighborhood Development Office, Bruce Bickerstaff of the Zoning Board of Appeals, two bank presidents (Ed Merritt of Mt Washington Bank and Teri Williams of one United), a venture capitalist, and an advisor from the Boston Foundation. Successful entrepreneur Glynn Lloyd (of City Fresh Foods) also spoke.

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^ Glynn Lloyd of City Fresh foods

About 50 community business owners and hopefuls attended. They learned a lot about what is needed if one wants access to capital : a financial statement,m tax returns, cash flow, earnings, equity in real estate. All of this is standard stuff. Apply for a small business loan at any bank, and these are what the loan officer will ask for. I heard no exceptions, no deals offered that would waive these basics. There was also talk, by CPA Richard Soo Hoo, of how to assure that a business retains some of the money it takes ion — basic accounting. Again, no exceptions, and no compromising the requirements.

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^ Ed Merritt, President of Mt Washington Bank

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^ Teri Williams, President of One United, the nation’s largest Black-owned bank

Little was said about access to venture capital and nothing at all about access to start-up funding — “angel” investing, as it’s called. mayor Walsh has stated that the Ferdinand Building will set aside space for local start-up businesses; but how are these to start if there’s no start-up financing ? Start-up entrepreneurs don’t always have equity in real estate, or credit, or more than survival money at all. What they have is an idea and a business plan. What they need is ‘angel” investing. It would have been nice had an ‘angel” investor or two been on offer at the Forum.

Still, there was one-on-one networking after the formal Forum time ended, and many local entrepreneur hopefuls talked privately with the bank presidents and with each other. The process of bringing money into Roxbury businesses will not happen on a finger snap. It will take years to establish. Yet last night seemed a decent first step. Hopefully money people will follow it up. Certainly they should, because money is coming into Roxbury — real estate, business, city administration. What demographic shape that money will create for Roxbury — will the money empower local residents first, newcomers to the neighborhood later ? — is not yet clear, but vast change has already started and is gaining momentum.

—- Mike Freedberg / Roxbury Here

below : the emcee himself : District City Councillor Tito Jackson

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SEEN FROM THE HILL : SUPPORTING THE FERDINAND BUILDING & HALEY HOUSE — UPDATE

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Today at 10:53 AM
FYI Recap: Rounding Up the Square, by Executive Director of Discover Roxbury….

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Derek Lumpkins <write.derek@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Apr 12, 2014 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Recap: Rounding Up the Square

2011 logo

 If you’re a casual observer of the redevelopment happening at the Ferdinand Building, there’s a good chance that you saw more about it in the media in the last seven days than you have in the previous seven months combined.

On March 27, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) organized an open house for retail bidders to present their visions to the public at the Dudley Branch Library. Although the BRA stated that the open house would have no impact on the decision of the selection committee, roughly half of the 22 bidders appeared to talk to visitors.

 But, it wasn’t until the following Monday that conversation about the project and its impact really became the talk of the town. First, there was an article explaining (as well as feeding off the usual stereotypes and furthering stigma) that Dudley Square’s comeback was linked to bids submitted by national chains for space at the Ferdinand Building [Boston Globe]. Unfortunately, that article lacked any reference to bids also submitted by local businesses and organizations, including a pair of complementary bids by Discover Roxbury and Haley House Bakery Café. In response, Discover Roxbury’s board of directors issued a petition asking for public comments and support for our work and our submissions.

 By the end of last week, the conversation about the Ferdinand and the bids morphed into a conversation about local vs. national brands, or more specifically, Haley House vs. Starbucks  [Boston Globe]. Although the BRA doesn’t have a mechanism to solicit public input, we at Discover Roxbury are excited by the level of public participation being shown via the online petition, on social media, and in conversations that we’re having around the city.

As we all eagerly wait for the BRA to announce the winning bids, we hope you will continue to stay abreast of the ongoing conversation around the redevelopment of Dudley Square and continue to be part of it. The current conversation risks being reduced to a simple binary discussion of the little guys vs. national corporations. Yet, we all know there’s more to the situation than that. Beneath the surface are questions of how new tenants envision civic and community engagement (particularly in a publicly funded municipal building); the degree to which there will be displacement in the wake of so much new development; and the role of the City in shaping the changes in the neighborhood.

 If we only had that casino in East Boston. We could place bets on what the answers to those questions might be.

—- Rodney Singleton / Seen From the Hill

SEEN FROM THE HILL : SIGN THE DUDLEY SQUARE PETITION

 

 

Monday 3:07pm
Rodney Singleton

Support Discover Roxbury and Haley House at the Ferdinand in Dudley Square!
 
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Two thoughts: “We foster cultural equity so that Roxbury’s rich heritage and vibrant present become an integral part of Boston’s cultural landscape.” and “We believe in food with purpose and the power of community.” Not only powerful words, but also the creed by which Discover Roxbury and Haley House respectively live, breathe and vitally contribute to Roxbury and Boston every day! To continue this work, Discover Roxbury and Haley House have submitted proposals for retail space in the new Dudley Square Municipal Building/Ferdinand Building at 2300 Washington Street in the heart of Dudley Square. Competition is strong and we need your support to create a new space in Roxbury that will build upon and strengthen our community.
 
Let’s show the city and the rest of Boston our strong support for Discover Roxbury and Haley House at Dudley! Sign below and share with neighbors and friends. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/support-discover-roxbury?source=c.em.mt&r_by=8091516
 
Together with Discover Roxbury and Haley House, the community has the opportunity to create the space so many of us have dreamed of for so long – a space to gather and work together to continue to build a community-based vision of the future of Roxbury that builds upon its rich history and culture. As strong community partners, both Discover Roxbury and Haley House have proven time and time again their deep commitment to the people of Roxbury. Discover Roxbury provides a platform where the existing talents of Roxbury are made central to the understanding and appreciation of the community, and where residents and visitors can partake in authentic neighborhood-based experiences.
 
At the Ferdinand, Discover Roxbury will create a welcoming environment with interactive programming and spaces that include: gallery openings and exhibitions; retail highlighting local entrepreneurs that changes seasonally; musical and theatrical performances by local groups; and shared office space/public work-bar for entrepreneurs. Discover Roxbury is well positioned to bridge the knowledge and interaction gaps between commuters, visitors, and residents as a welcoming hub representing the vibrant history and culture of Roxbury.
 
Haley House, long known for their innovative solutions to social injustice, will bring their organic wholewheat pizza dough – smothered in all things good for you – to the Ferdinand Building. Their shop will also feature the whole range of coffee drinks – all prepared with fairly traded, organic coffee from Equal Exchange. Daily, made from scratch soups and salads will be topped off by Haley House’s renowned baked goods. Haley House seeks ways to serve the community’s health while it promotes economic justice. Working together, Discover Roxbury and Haley House will create a space that meets the desires of the city and the community in creating a vibrant presence in the square from early-morning coffee right on through the evening and weekend hours. Our current community partners deserve our support as we work together to build the future of Roxbury.
 
— Thank you!
 
—- Board of Directors Discover Roxbury

SEEN FROM THE HILL : DND/CITY FUNDING AWARDS FOR RENTAL HOUSING — JUNE 2009

Tuesday 3:38pm
Rodney Singleton

DND/City Funding Awards for Rental Housing — June 2009

Hi John: I beg your pardon for not quoting the DND funding round information precisely last night. The DND/city rental funding awards that I made reference to were from June of 2009 (tabulated below) .

The total award for that round was $22,383,755, of which non-profits received $20,316,430. This represents nearly 91% – a disproportionate share indeed – of all city funding for that round awarded to the CDC non-profit sector. A share of funding did go to for-profit developers (Frank Thomas, Trinity, and Mitchel Properties) of a little over 9%, representing $2,067,325, but we’ve been having this discussion for spell now (see Banner letters below).
I quoted a lower number of 85% or 87% of the funding going to non-profits, indicating the disparity of city rental awards was more acute for the funding round in June of 2009. The point remains though, and we can argue the precise numbers and if they have changed much since 2009 (in lieu of arguing and to promote full transparency the city can also just provide the information — it’s a freedom of information issue — and a metric that helps establish a direction for change), but it’s clear the city spends more money with non-profits than it does with for-profit firms to develop rental housing. This has the effect of eroding the local business sector that provides the service of providing rental housing because winning city bids builds the kind of capacity that not only sustains the business and helps it grow, but also helps sustain and grow the community the local business is part of. So the city is in fact culpable in some measure for the capacity problems we face in our neighborhoods.
Add to Mr Guscott’s point, if he knew or the city had worked with his firm to locate the school department at Ferdinand’s, he would have been able to go to nearly any bank with lease in-hand and secure the funds required to develop the Ferdinand building.

— Rodney Singleton / Seen from the Hill