Pine Street Inn and Community Builders Present Informal Proposal for Affordable Housing

Homeless and housing services provider Pine Street Inn and non-profit developer Community Builders presented an informal proposal for their proposed affordable housing building at 3368 Washington St. at the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Housing & Development Committee meeting on March 19.

This was purely an informational meeting and a time to ask questions— the JPNC did not vote on this matter. It will be heard many more times in the coming months as the plans are finalized.

Jan Griffin, Vice President of Housing Development for Pine Street Inn, gave a little bit of background about the organization and its foray into housing development, which she said began in 1984. “Today, Pine Street Inn now has more housing units than we do shelter beds,” Griffin said. “That was our goal ten years ago, to get to that point.” She said that 50 people live in the Bowditch School on Green St., and this is the largest housing building that Pine Street Inn currently manages.

Griffin said that Pine Street Inn has owned the building at 3368 Washington St. for almost 20 years, and they are “excited to be teaming up and partnering with the Community Builders,” she said. In the past, the building has been used for such things as a thrift store, but right now, it’s used for Pine Street Inn’s purchasing, facilities, and supportive housing departments, as well as a storage place for things like ice melt and blankets. “It’s a very multi-purpose use building for us,” Griffin said.

Lydia Scott, Project Manager for the Community Builders, presented the informal proposal to the group. She said they have been working on this concept with Pine Street Inn for about a year, and that the Community Builders are “very familiar with working in JP.”

Right now, the building is a single story, but they are proposing to demolish that building, relocate existing uses offsite, and then move them back to a six-story, mixed use building with 225 residential units and about 18,000 square feet on the ground floor for the replacement offices, Community Builders management office, a community room, and amenities for residents. There will be 60-65 parking spaces divided between Pine Street Inn staff and the residents, as well as 13,000 square feet of open space for residents, according to Scott.

For the units themselves, there will be 140 studios at 30 percent Area Median Income (AMI)—these will be the supportive housing units for chronically homeless individuals, Scott said.. The remaining 85 units would be a mix of 60 percent to 80 percent AMI, and these would be from studios up to two bedroom units. “The building is 100 percent income restricted,” Scott said.

Scott said that the goal is to fund services to all 140 Pine Street Inn supportive housing units at about $1 million annually. The services funded by reserve will include: case management, services supervisor, client transportation, licensed clinician, and more.

Scott said that the goal is to get permitting by this fall, and get to construction by next summer. She added that this building is currently zoned in an industrial area, so they will have to get a zoning variance for residential use, among other things.

Scott said that this will be founded by a mix of public and private funding sources, including state and federal tax credits.

Griffin said that some money will come from Boston’s Way Home Fund, which was created out of Mayor Walsh’s desire to develop 200 units of housing for the chronically homeless in the city of Boston. “Together we’ve been raising the funding into that fund,” Griffin said. “At this point, we have about five million dollars toward the fund.” She said that if there is an operating deficit, Pine Street Inn doesn’t want that to affect services, sos they will control the support service money for this project, as well as have other sources of funding.

Scott added that a portion of the rental income received from the 140 units will be put into that funding reserve.

There were several comments and concerns about renewable energy and building green. Scott said that they are keeping net zero in mind, but sometimes it “can be cost prohibitive,” she said. “We are looking into solar for this building,” she said, and there will be 80 bicycle parking spaces onsite to encourage people to use alternative modes of transportation.

Overall, the feedback from the room was very positive. People are generally in support of supportive housing and were happy to see a 100 percent affordable development.

Scott said there will be a website for this project with FAQs, community presentations, and more information about the proposal that will be up by the end of the week. This is the first of many community meetings and people will be able to ask questions and provide feedback as the project gets closer to reality. 

“Our goal is to be a good neighbor,” Scott said.

SHATTUCK HOSPITAL

The JPNC Housing & Development Committee also talked about the Shattuck Hospital and discussed different ideas of how the space could be used. It has been said that the hospital will move to the South End in 2021-2022, leaving many JP residents to wonder what will happen to the Shattuck campus.

The campus is 13 acres of land that used to belong to Franklin Park, but was turned over to the state and must be used for public health, said JPNC member Carolyn Royce. The state has said that it would like to build 75-100 units of supportive housing on the campus, and there will be at least one more public meeting before the Request for Proposal goes out for what can be there.

“We lack so much clarity about what the state is thinking about,” Royce said. She said that they have said they would like to have some kind of public/private partnership and they would like to keep 600,000 square feet of building on the campus.

JPNC member Kevin Rainsford read off a list of programs that currently exist on the campus, including a methadone treatment program, detox treatment facilities, and the Shattuck Shelter, which is operated by the Pine Street Inn. Rainsford said that there was a question of whether or not these programs would return to Long Island when the bridge is built, and that it was something to think about when they plan. “There would be a need to reconstruct buildings to accommodate these programs [on the Shattuck campus],” he said.

There was another comment made about this proposed supportive housing on the campus being surrounded by detox programs and “no neighbors.” Others felt that the supportive housing will not be as secluded as others were saying, and that it will be on a beautiful section of Franklin Park.

Celeste Walker, a member of the Jamaica Hills Association, said she attended some community meetings where she felt that the park advocates were very serious about their wishes to have the land returned to the Emerald Necklace. Others who attended community meetings said that there was lots of strong support for the housing element as well.

The group came to a consensus that partnerships with non-non-profits would be better, though defining what a non-profit was seemed to be a sticking point. People wanted organizations that are familiar with the community, and someone said she didn’t want to see state land being used to help for-profit companies make money.             There are still conversations to be had and more solidified information to be given about the Shattuck Hospital site.

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