Mission Main gets state funds for renovation

The largest public housing development in Mission Hill is preparing to go through major physical and structural changes next year – with the state awarding tax credits last month to the ownership team for extensive renovations to every unit.

Mission Main is a Boston Housing Authority (BHA) property, but changed its ownership model 20 years ago when the HOPE VI grant refurbished the housing in the 1990s. Now, WinnDevelopment and Mission Main Tenant Task Force operate the development under a ground lease from the BHA. All three entities celebrated funding last month from the state, with Gov. Charlie Baker granting low-income tax credits to the property and other resources to allow for a major update.

“Mission Main is a BHA public housing community that went through a transformative redevelopment through the federal HOPE VI program 20 years ago,” read a statement from the BHA. “Today there are 535 apartments at the site, 445 of which are public housing units… The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recently awarded Mission Main an allocation of state low-income housing tax credits and other resources, which will allow the renovations to go forward next year.”

Gov. Charlie Baker said investing in affordable housing and preserving existing affordable housing has been a priority that will continue despite COVID-19.

“Our administration has made housing a priority, including injecting $1.1 billion into the affordable housing ecosystem, filing zoning reform legislation, and signing the largest Housing Bond Bill in our state’s history,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Keeping families stable and increasing the supply of affordable housing in Massachusetts is vital for our future and I am pleased to celebrate this most recent round of housing development awards and the new homes they will provide for residents.”

The Mission Main proposal is a large-scale preservation/rehabilitation project. The project consists of multiple buildings with over 500 rental units. The construction work now proposed will result in extensive and necessary rehabilitation to most of the buildings and units in the project – all of which were re-built under the HOPE VI grant years ago. DHCD will support the rehabilitation with federal and state low-income housing tax credits. When work is complete, Mission Main will feature 535 total units. Approximately 445 units will be affordable to households earning less than 60% of AMI, with 81 units further restricted for households earning less than 30% of AMI.

At the same time, BHA has successfully received permission to change the format of the public housing units in Mission Main. BHA officials said they are planning a refinancing transaction in order to carry out the renovations and that will keep the property modern and up-to-date. However, to make this process easier in the future, they are looking to convert Mission Main away from traditional public housing and into the new federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. 

BHA officials said RAD is similar to the project-based Section 8 voucher program that is used in mixed-income rehabilitation projects right now. BHA said RAD would preserve all the benefits and tenant protections of public housing, while also providing increased funding stability and predictability – making updates easier to finance.

RAD would operate on 20-year subsidy contracts tied to the properties that would automatically renew.

“BHA has secured approval to convert Mission Main from conventional public housing to the new federal Rental Assistance Demonstration—or RAD—program,” confirmed a statement from BHA.

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