City Budget Includes $19 Million for Public Housing Project

Last week, acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey proposed her administration’s recommended $3.75 billion Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) operating budget and $3.2 billion Fiscal Year 2022-2026 (FY22-FY26) Capital Plan. Janey said the budget focuses on providing the resources for the city’s continued robust public health response to COVID-19, making strategic investments in Boston’s neighborhoods and residents, and setting the stage for Boston’s equitable reopening, recovery and long-term renewal. 

One of those investments highlighted in the budget is $19 million for the final phase of the Boston Housing Authority’s Orient Heights Public Housing Development project. 

Janey said she recognizes the importance of making sure that residents of all incomes are able to access quality, affordable and safe housing options that meet their needs, and this budget helps support additional affordable housing opportunities. 

“Orient Heights has been a staple of the East Boston community for seven decades, and this investment will help to finish its redevelopment,” said Janey Tuesday. “This investment preserves a vital housing resource and will secure a better quality of life for hundreds of East Boston families for decades to come.”

Four years after kicking off the three-phase redevelopment of the Orient Heights Public Housing Development Trinity Financial began construction on Phase III of the project in January. 

Like Phase I and Phase II, Phase III will tear down the old post World War II-era brick housing on Vallar Road and portions of Faywood Avenue and be replaced with 81 units of new public housing. 

Eva Erlich, vice president of development for Trinity Financial said an additional 42 units would be modernized as part of Phase III. 

Phase III will also include the construction of a centrally located park for residents, the demolition of the existing community center and the expansion of open space. 

The $51. 6 million Phase II portion of the project wrapped up last summer on Vallar Road. There, crews demolished 87 old units in four buildings and constructed 88 replacement state-funded public housing units in two townhouse buildings and one mid-rise building. Phase II also included improvements to the existing infrastructure and open spaces. Phase II leveraged $10 million in proceeds from the sale of the Winthrop Square Garage, as well as $1.83 million in Inclusionary Development Policy Funds, secured from the Davis Companies’ 99 Sumner Street development in East Boston.

Phase III is part of the larger effort to transform the 331-unit of BHA owned public housing development that was originally built in 1951. Trinity completed Phase I of the project in 2018 where 90 units of public housing were replaced with 120 units of public housing both in townhouse and apartment-style buildings.

“Orient Heights has come a long way in the four years since we first broke ground for phase one. Hundreds of BHA families have seen their quality of life improve as they’ve settled into newer, more modern homes,” said BHA Administrator Kate Bennett Tuesday. “I want to thank Mayor Janey for her commitment to helping us finish what we’ve started and complete this critical work for our residents and for the neighborhood at large.”

In January 2015, the BHA selected the development team of Trinity Financial and East Boston Community Development Corp. to work with BHA and Department of Housing and Community Development (DCHD) and finalize a redevelopment strategy for the site. This development team secured financing to implement the redevelopment, and will own and manage the buildings post-redevelopment.

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