1986 Finalist
City of Boston, Massachusetts
Innovations in American Government Awards
Innovations in American Government Awards

The Boston Housing Partnership was designed to address the housing problems of lower-income families in Boston. These problems were threefold: The lack of affordable housing was serious; rents in Boston had increased at an annual rate of 18 to 31 percent for the previous years; and some neighborhoods had deteriorated such that there were an estimated 800 abandoned buildings in the city. In some other neighborhoods, property values were escalating rapidly and many long-term residents could no longer afford to remain in those neighborhoods. This situation was exacerbated by condominium conversions: there had been 1,869 conversions in the city in 1983 alone.

Several circumstances led to the formation of the Boston Housing Partnership (BHP). The massive withdrawal of the federal government from its previous support of affordable housing development triggered the formation of the BHP. The Partnership has been able to respond to diminished federal involvement by creatively pooling a wide variety of resources to enable the kinds of innovative financing techniques necessary to continue the production of affordable housing.

The need for an increase in the supply of affordable housing had never been greater. In strong market areas of Boston, moderately priced rental housing was being lost to higher priced condominium conversion, while in weak market areas lower cost rental housing was being lost to abandonment. The success of BHP in fostering the availability of affordable housing is evident: The Partnership's first program has rehabilitated 700 units of affordable housing and its second program will rehabilitate an additional 1000 units. The city has also committed $4.5 million in grants to this project which leveraged $33 million in private financing (including syndication proceeds). In addition, planning for the Partnership's second program is now well underway. This program will assist community development corporations in the acquisition and rehabilitation of approximately 1,000 units of United States Department of Housing and Urban Development-foreclosed housing. Also, the Partnership's success has led to the formation of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership. Finally, a number of cities in other parts of the country are also now in the process of setting up public-private initiatives based on the Boston Housing Partnership model.

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