This is the tag line for the efforts being conducted by Boston’s Community Preservation Committee, the new agency created as a result of the vote taken last November to surcharge homeowners in the quest to grow affordable housing, parks and open space and historic preservation in every neighborhood in Boston.
Property owners pay a 1% surcharge on their real estate tax bill. Lower incomes are exempt, and the average homeowner pays $25. $18 million will be collected annually for affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space. The state will contribute a 10% match to bring the fund close to $20 million
The committee conducted a power point presentation last week in South Boston attended by dozens of residents. The fund is boasting $20 million for Boston with several priorities established in the first year including having visible impact, addressing equity gaps, projects that are shovel ready and touch every neighborhood. These programs seek broad community support, strategically fill funding gaps and promote a sustainable plan for long-lasting benefit.
Stakeholders are presented as everyday residents, voters, Mayor’s administration, City Council, Preservation, parks and housing advocates, businesses and virtually Bostonians of all ages, of all backgrounds, and from all neighborhoods. Saying it’s the people’s law; it’s the people’s money”, they are reaching out to residents through neighborhood forums, local advisory groups and welcoming comments on the City website: boston.gov/community-preservation.
While the members of the committee have impressive credentials and will add value to the discussion and planning, it was noticed by many at the South Boston Forum that no one from South Boston, the center of much development in the City, has a representative on it.
Members are Felicia Jacques from the Boston Landmarks Commission, Kate Bennet from the Boston Housing Authority, Carol Downs from BPDA, John Sullivan from Conservation Commission, Kannan Thiruvengadam of East Boston, Ying Wang of Roslindale. Matt Kiefer of Jamaica Plain and Madeligne Tena.
The Commission is making every effort to align with the Mayor’s 2030 building plan, meet needs in underserved neighborhoods, ensure equity, transparency and civic engagement, increase access and decrease disparities, follow Boston’s resident jobs policy and fill gaps where funding is not available.
Ten percent must be spent in each area on historic preservation, affordable housing & open space. Up to 5% may be spent for administration – just 1.6% will cover admin expenses in 2018. Recipients can be public or private entities, non-profit or for profit
Capital Projects: Build new parks, create affordable housing, restore historic properties, renovate parks, project designs
For Purchase: historic buildings, affordable housing, land for new parks
What’s NOT eligible? maintenance, perations, staff salaries, indoor recreation buildings, programs & activities, special events, astroturf fields
The City states that “This Community Preservation Plan is committed to the acquisition, creation, preservation, and enhancement of open space, historic resources and affordable housing across the City of Boston. Through a transparent process, this Plan will guide the equitable allocation of funds to projects that improve and enrich the quality of life in Boston, celebrate the City’s distinctive neighborhoods and support the diversity of our residents.”