On January 16, 2018, St. Francis House and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs broke ground on The Union, an affordable housing redevelopment located at 48 Boylston St. in downtown Boston. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley O.F.M. Cap., Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin joined President and CEO of St. Francis House Karen LaFrazia, and Planning Office for Urban Affairs President Lisa Alberghini, as well as leaders from business, government and the private sector for the groundbreaking event.
“The Planning Office for Urban Affairs and St. Francis House working together on this critical affordable housing development will help many people in need, especially the most vulnerable among us,” said Cardinal Seán. “This initiative continues the Archdiocesan commitment to develop communities where all people can live with dignity and respect in homes they can afford. I want to thank Governor Baker, Mayor Walsh, and all who are helping get this housing built.”
The Union is renovating the historic Boston Young Men’s Christian Union building into 46 units of affordable housing – twenty-six units for people who are currently homeless or have been homeless and twenty units for residents with incomes at or below $43,440. This project focuses on providing permanent affordable homes for people of very modest incomes. Additionally, St. Francis House, located across the street, will relocate their administrative offices into the development and will establish a business venture on the first floor of the building to provide job opportunities for the people they serve.
“Creating affordable housing for working families, low-income senior citizens, and the homeless is a top priority for our administration and essential to creating a stronger and more prosperous Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We look forward to the important housing resources St. Francis House and the Archdiocese will create with the City of Boston through this project and we look forward to working with our colleagues in state and local government to create similar opportunities across the Commonwealth.”
“This project is a strong symbol of how we are working together to end chronic homelessness in Boston and create home for all,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I thank St. Francis House, the Planning Office for Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese of Boston and all partners involved for their incredible and compassionate vision that will provide supportive housing and a continuum of services to those in need. The strength of our city’s character is measured by how we treat every single member of our community and this groundbreaking is another step of making sure everyone has a place to call home.”
The 48 Boylston Street property was originally built by the Boston Young Men’s Christian Union in 1875 to pursue its mission of engaging in charitable work, and was operated by the Union for over 150 years. St. Francis House and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese are honoring that legacy by continuing to use the property by serving those in need. Both St. Francis House and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs are deeply rooted in a commitment to social justice and serving others and saw an opportunity to join together for this project. This innovative partnership was created with the help of funding from the Massachusetts Housing Partnership.
Financing for The Union includes funding from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development and MassHousing; the City of Boston Neighborhood Housing Trust and Department of Neighborhood Development; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation; Eastern Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.
The adaptive reuse of the building will be completed to the to the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Historic Preservation and the development is utilizing both Federal Historic Tax Credits, and Massachusetts State Historic Tax Credits provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Construction is expected to be completed in mid-December 2018.