For Immediate Release
March 03, 2009
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Executive Summary Details Focus on Workforce Housing; Continued Foreclosure Reclamation; Homelessness Reduction, Rental Housing Preservation
Mayor Menino today unveiled the City's Leading the Way III housing strategy, the third comprehensive campaign since 2000, designed to meet Boston's evolving housing needs. Joined by many the City's housing and homelessness advocates, as well as Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, several of the state's top housing officials, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness director, Philip Mangano, the Mayor outlined the report's focus on workforce housing production, rental housing preservation, revitalization of high foreclosure neighborhoods, and a plan to reduce long-term and family homelessness by 50% by 2012.
"We know that strength of Boston's neighborhoods is about a strong housing market. That's why this strategy addresses the housing needs of every neighborhood and every income bracket within those communities," said Mayor Menino. "While this approach has been crafted around the drastically different economic state from years past, we must move forward in the sprit of the progress made in the last decade."
Since first launching the initiative in 2000, the City of Boston has overseen the creation of more than 18,000 new units of housing have been built, 5,000 of which have been affordable, and nearly 9,500 affordable units have been preserved. In total, over this ten-year period, Boston has benefited from upwards of $5 billion in private and public investment.
Mayor Menino's "Housing 2000" campaign challenged the his administration to meet the booming housing demand of the late 90s by doubling housing production in one year – from below 1000 units in 1998, to 2000 units by the end of 1999. Having surpassed this goal by creating more than 2,200 new units, the City expanded its efforts and developed the first "Leading the Way" campaign. Until now, the two housing strategies, Leading the Way I and Leading the Way II have responded to the housing boom that brought unprecedented increases in home prices and rents; focused primarily on the production of new market rate and affordable housing, and the prevention the loss of existing affordable housing to market rate conversion or to financial or physical distress.
With the success of both of earlier Leading the Way strategies in mind, and early indications of a changing economic landscape on the horizon, Boston hosted a national conference in the spring of 2007 as it looked to create its next overarching housing policy. At Boston 2012, which drew accomplished housing leaders from around the country; best practices were conceived and distilled for the consideration of the Mayor's Housing Advisory Panel, convened by Mayor Menino in 2008.
This year's Leading The Way III strategy approaches Boston's changing housing needs in four key areas:
1. Addressing the Foreclosure Crisis through targeted initiatives focusing on foreclosure intervention and stabilization of those hardest hit neighborhoods.
2. Reversing the Rise in Homelessness through a targeted approach of prevention, placement, and production of permanent housing designed to reduce long-term and family homelessness by 50% by 2012.
3. Preserving & Stabilizing Boston's Rental Housing by preventing the loss of publically assisted affordable housing and helping stabilize tenancies in the open market.
4. Housing Boston's Workforce by meeting the diverse housing needs of the City's workforce; from the highly paid professional to the minimum wage worker.
At today's announcement, which was attended by dozens of homeless and housing providers, Mayor Menino referenced the results of last December's Annual Homeless Census, noting that his Leading the Way III approach would specifically target the 900 individuals from Boston who have been homeless for more than a year, and 1,100 homeless families from Boston, in an effort to reduce both groups by 50% by 2012. In recognition of these ambitious goals, the Mayor cited new federal leadership and resources from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including the recently awarded over $20 million McKinney-Vento funds and $8.2 million in federal stimulus monies.
Leading the Way III also details the City's priority of increasing the development of housing for Boston's workforce sector, including the call for additional market-rate and affordable units. Menino also spoke about the City's commitment to the reclamation of 500 units of bank-owned properties throughout the City's neighborhoods, and the goal of saving 1,000 homeowners from foreclosure by 2012.
Finally, the Mayor highlighted the report's focus on the preservation of existing affordable rental housing, of which Boston currently boasts nearly 50,000 units. Menino noted that the MacArthur Foundation recently selected Massachusetts as one of several recipients of grant and loan funds for rental housing preservation work, based in part on Boston's strong track record.
The Leading the Way III housing strategy will be published in its entirety before the end of March and will be available on the City's website at www.cityofboston.gov.