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Boston to use $60 million in ARPA funds and dozens of vacant lots to build affordable homes

Mayor Wu today announced a program to use up to 150 vacant city-owned lots to build lower-cost homes - and to offer grants to help people buy homes in a city that has some of the highest housing costs in the country.

Wu said the city will use $60 million in federal ARPA funds for income-restricted houses and financial assistance to buyers that will include lower than market-rate interest and grants up to $50,000 for down payments and closing costs to eligible first-time home buyers. The money will also help set up a program aimed specifically at helping residents of residents of BHA developments or who use a Section 8 voucher buy a home.

Wu said:

In Boston this is an urgent issue that impacts every neighborhood, every generation, every demographic. We are moving as fast as possible with every single lever that the City has, making land available in partnership with community developers and making the financing possible with increased down payment assistance to ensure every resident has access to affordable home ownership opportunities.

City Councilor Brian Worrell (Dorchester) hopes the program will particularly help residents of his district, which has roughly 70 of the vacant lots targeted for new construction.

This initiative is an important investment in addressing our housing shortage and allowing families to realize the dream of home ownership.

The vacant lots would be deeded to developers for construction of single-family homes, townhouses and some condo buildings - on the condition the units be sold to people making no more than 100% of the Boston area median income.

“Investments that both create new affordable homes and provide meaningful financial assistance will allow more families to buy in Boston,” said Sheila Dillon, Chief of Housing. “In the upcoming months, we will be working hard with our partners to make sure that Boston residents learn of, and act on, these important opportunities.”

More details on the purchasing helpd from the city:

Income-qualified buyers will be eligible for downpayment and closing cost assistance of up to 5% of the purchase price, not to exceed $50,000 through the BHC first-time homebuyer assistance program. The City’s down-payment assistance can be matched with the State’s 5% down-payment program, allowing homeowners to receive a grant of up to 10% of the purchase price of a home.

Down-payment assistance can be used with the ONE+Boston program which provides discounts on interest rates for first-time homebuyers. With the ONE+Boston program, qualified Boston residents who earn between 81% and 100% AMI will receive a half percent (0.5%) discount rate off the reduced interest rate offered through the ONE Mortgage product (currently about 6.625%). Boston residents who earn below 80% AMI will receive up to one percent (1%) off of the current ONE Mortgage rate. The downpayment assistance combined with the discounted mortgage rates through the ONE+Boston program will greatly increase the buying options for qualified residents.

This targeted funding will also enhance the STASH program. The STASH program is the first-in-the-nation matched-savings program for first-generation homebuyers who are earning below the area median income and are buying in the City of Boston. The program, designed and managed by the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA) provides first-generation homebuyers with education and counseling on purchasing a home. In addition, first-generation buyers that complete the program and save $2,000 towards a home purchase are eligible to receive a 10-1 match if they buy a home in Boston.

To assist Boston’s public housing residents and voucher participants in purchasing their first homes, the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) has created a new program in partnership with the City of Boston. BHA’s First Home Program is providing eligible BHA residents with enhanced down payment assistance of up to $75,000 for a home purchased within the City of Boston. This program is available to all qualifying BHA public housing and Section 8 residents who purchase a home within the City of Boston. BHA has a goal to reach 100 households through this program. Section 8 voucher participants can use their housing subsidy towards their mortgage payments through the Section 8 (HCV) to Homeownership Program, a program the BHA is expanding through this initiative. BHA applicants will receive home buying counseling support from the new BHA Homeownership advisor. BHA residents can learn more about the program at bostonhousing.org/firsthome.

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Comments

If they made a few of the “affordable housing” projects strictly for 50% and lower then it could solve a good chunk (I believe). The problem is that the current model isn’t for actual low income people. Many of the buildings have vacancies because these property managers don’t want to house what they believe to be low quality people.

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That's true more of the rental program than the sales one. The purchasing program is a "qualified or not" and building management, even for condos in those big luxury buildings, really don't have any say in accepting someone or not. The bigger issue with the purchasing program is it's really complicated and involves a lot of hoops, which really cuts down on people without higher education / first gen buyers / english learners / etc.

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did they same with the large amounts of empty lots in South Boston which are no longer affordable units. Be careful what you wish for.

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Has no one checked the interest rates lately? Let me see if I have this straight: the city is going to give rich real-estate developers free land to build homes and then sell back to poor people who will then be in debt to the bank to pay a mortgage where the bank collects all the huge interest? And if the new owners suffer any financial misfortune in the life of a 30 year loan they will lose their home to the bank. What a terrible idea.

Instead of just funneling money to the builders and the banks, how about the the city using the $60 million dollars to pay for homes on the land and give the new home and the land free and clear of any debt to the people who need it.

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