When City Councilor Lydia Edwards was negotiating Suffolk Downs mitigation for East Boston she not only ensured that HYM would up the affordable component from 13 percent to 20 percent and construct more family-sized units she also helped create the first ever neighborhood stabilization fund attached to a development project in Boston.
Now, Edwards is seeking nominations of Eastie residents that are willing to serve on the trust of the neighborhood’s new housing stabilization fund.
“This fund is the first of its kind in the city and is a huge win that the neighborhood got during the Suffolk Downs negotiations,” said Edwards. “I’m incredibly excited to move into the next phase of the process and get Eastie residents on the trust to start distributing the money to help keep the neighborhood affordable.”
Instead of reaching out to constituents in the neighborhood that Edwards thought might be interested in serving as a trustee she wanted interest to percolate up from the community.
“I wanted community members to come forward and say that they’re interested in doing this versus me calling people and asking,” she explained. “I felt it was more transparent to open the process up to anyone who may be interested instead of a select few. I feel like someone who would take that kind of initiative to apply would be someone who’s really dedicated to making good decisions on behalf of the neighborhood.”
The fund has an initial investment of $2.5 million from HYM, the Suffolk Downs developer, with an additional $2.5 million coming later.
Edwards said the money must be used on affordable housing projects in Eastie. Developers doing work in the neighborhood are able to contribute and Edwards is actively working with developers to contribute.
Councilor Edwards is seeking East Boston residents from a wide variety of perspectives to serve on the trust. Those interested in serving should email the councilor’s Director of Policy Jesse Purvis at [email protected]
“I pushed for the council to create the trust, which is awesome,” said Edwards. “We created it to be able to receive this money from HYM so now we need trustees to make decisions on how to spend the money with transparency. Again, this is the first of its kind for any neighborhood in Boston and East Boston residents need to be the driving force behind this fund and make the decisions on how best to spend the money.”
Edwards said once the trustees are in place and meetings begin, the entire Eastie community will be able to provide input and ideas.
“I’ve already heard people suggest wanting to start cooperatives or use some of the money as a fund that helps low-income residents purchase their first home or pay rent,” said Edwards. “I really envision the trustees that apply and are picked will be residents wanting to see this money spent in the best way possible with an eye towards community and housing stability.”
Aside from negotiating the creation of this trust Edwards and the city also made sure that there was some immediate relief given to Eastie from HYM due to the pandemic. Edwards and the city were able to secure an $800,000 commitment from HYM up front for those facing displacement caused by the pandemic.