The Boston Housing Authority Administrator Kate Bennett was at Monday night’s Orient heights Neighborhood Association meeting to brief residents on plans to completely rehab the Orient Heights Public Housing Development (OHPHD).
At the meeting Bennett explained that the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) picked Orient Heights as one of 12 public housing developments in the state to receive High Leverage Asset Preservation Program (HILAPP) funds for an overhaul of more than half the units there.
The BHA will use HILAPP funds to redevelop 120 units of family housing at the Orient Heights development. In addition to DHCD funds, the project proposes to leverage 4 percent tax credit equity, a grant from the City of Boston, mortgage financing, and Section 8 rental subsidies.
Orient Heights is a 330-unit development and this project is the first of an anticipated 3-phase project to modernize the entire development over time.
“This is going to be a major, major project,” said Bennett. “Over the next six months the BHA and state will begin looking at the site, defining the paths we will take for a comprehensive remodeling, explore different models of construction and cost.”
Bennett said like the Maverick Housing development before it was rehabbed under a HOPE VI federal grant the Orient Heights development is isolated and has an odd layout.
“This will take several years from start to finish but we are excited at the opportunity to reconnect the development with the surrounding neighborhood,” she said. “Similar to what was accomplished at Maverick.”
For many years Eastie’s elected officials have focused their efforts on trying to improve the quality of life for residents at the Orient Heights Development. They all agree that this grant is a step in the right direction and renovating the development to a higher standard.
The BHA will receive $5 million to begin the design phases of the projects. By the conclusion of this first competitive cycle, DHCD will invest up to $27 million in capital dollars to support the BHA’s plans for Orient Heights.
Over the next five years, DHCD will distribute $75M for HILAPP projects, which will in turn leverage millions of dollars from outside sources. DHCD will repeat the competitive award process annually, funding permitting, in order to build and maintain a consistent pipeline of HILAPP projects. The Program will provide competitively bid grants to local housing authorities that are able to secure matching funds from local and or other non-DHCD sources.
City Councilor Sal LaMattina said he was excited to finally see some progress in rehabbing Orient Heights.
“In the city’s Host Community Agreement with Suffolk Downs there was money earmarked for an overhaul of the development,” said LaMattina. “With that being voted down back in November we are back to square one and have had to find other sources of money to get our vision for a better and brighter Orient Heights Development off the ground.”