Construction has begun on the long-anticipated affordable and supportive housing project at 3368 Washington St.
The mixed-use building is a joint effort between Pine Street Inn and The Community Builders, and will consist of 202 total affordable units,140 of which will be supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals. The remaining 62 units will be income restricted for families who make between 60 and 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). Once complete, the building will be the city’s largest supportive housing development. The building will also include a new office for Pine Street Inn’s case management staff.
Additionally, the building includes community and amenity space for residents, as well as bike storage and 39 parking spots.
A lawsuit was brought against the project by landlord Monty Gold in 2020, who said he had concerns with the size of the project and that it would create parking issues on Washington St. That suit was eventually settled in May of 2021. Gold owns the building across the street at 3377 Washington St., which is home to Turtle Swamp Brewery, though owners of Turtle Swamp said that they were not party to this lawsuit.
The Jamaica Plain community at-large strongly supported the construction of this building, saying that this type of housing is much needed in the neighborhood and in the city as a whole.
According to a Jan. 24 press release from the city, “The project was funded in part through the Boston’s Way Home Fund, started by the City of Boston to create permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals.” Other funding comes from “a diverse combination of public, private philanthropic support to finance the building construction, property operations, and resident services.”
Construction was originally intended to begin a year ago, according to Bart Mitchell, President and CEO of The Community Builders. Due to the delay, costs have now gone up nine to 10 percent, he said, but “thankfully, it has not changed anything about the project.”
Lyndia Downie, President and Executive Director of Pine Street Inn, told the Gazette about the supportive services that this new building will offer the formerly homeless.
She said that staff will be on-site round-the-clock, and there will also be case management folks to help people adjust to living in housing. People will be able to receive support for things like money management, cooking, and employment.
Downie also said that many formerly homeless people have “complicated medical issues,” and supports will also be available to help them with that aspect of their lives.
Mitchell said that “Community Life staff” from The Community Builders will also provide resources for the families living in the 62 affordable units on things like employment and education.
Downie said that “we’ve got one ell of the building,” which is built around a courtyard and features shared common spaces for all residents on the ground floor.
Mitchell also shared some information about the roughly 13,000 square feet of outdoor space that will be available to residents of this building. At the second floor, there is an outdoor roof space where the building is set back from the front, and can be “directly accessed through a lot of the common spaces,” he said.
He said this space will be “such a place of respite” and will have “so much light and air that I think it’s going to feel really great.”
While the second floor deck is the main one, there will also be a small deck on the fifth floor.
Downie said that to become a resident of the supportive housing, people will need to be on the [Boston Housing Authority] waitlist and meet the income and homeless criteria to be selected.”
The building is expected to be completed in “just about two years,” Mitchell said, with an anticipated grand opening in early 2024.
The beginning of construction for this project comes at a time when Mayor Wu is working on addressing the crisis as Mass and Cass, and aiming to support those dealing with homelessness and/or substance abuse and mental illness, though the issue is prevalent in other places throughout the city as well.
“I think this project started before Mass/Cass grew substantially,” Downie said. “Supportive housing doesn’t solve every problem that people have,” she added, but said that it does help to stabilize them in a way that allows them to take advantage of other opportunities that they would not have been able to otherwise.
“Some people just need a little bit of support,” she said, and supportive housing is the way to do that.
“This is such an incredible model that can be replicated,”: Mitchell said, adding that the building will be constructed with “healthy building materials” and will feature “great air quality.”
He continued, “there are generous community spaces in the building, including the tremendous outdoor space.” Mitchell also said that at five stories tall, “it fits on the street” and it’s “not some gigantic building.”
Downie also thanked the Jamaica Plain residents who supported the project at community meetings and otherwise. “It is a groundbreaking project in so many ways. It wouldn’t have happened without their support.” She and Mitchell also thanked the city and state agencies for their support as well in making this a reality.
“This is the first, I hope, of other projects like this,” Downie said.
Mitchell, who has been a JP resident for nearly 40 years, noted that Pine Street Inn has been housing people in the neighborhood “for at least 20 years.”
He added, “every neighborhood is a neighborhood that has room for all of our households. That was really heartwarming.”
In the press release, Mayor Michelle Wu said: “This project, with units for individuals moving out of homelessness, and wrap-around support services, is a significant step towards ending homelessness in the city,, Once complete, these apartments will represent the largest supportive housing development in the city, delivering stable, affordable homes to those who require it most. I’m thankful to the community and all our partners who helped make this development possible.”