BOSTON, MA – U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) visited POAH’s Whittier Street redevelopment in Boston on June 15 as part of a national tour of new Opportunity Zones – a program created by last year’s federal tax law that provides new incentives for investment in some of the country’s poorest neighborhoods.
The Whittier Street Apartments are located in Lower Roxbury, one of the 79 communities targeted by the Baker administration as an Opportunity Zone.
Scott joined residents and officials from the Boston Housing Authority, Madison Park Development Corporation, and the Baker administration to promote the program.
“Opportunity zones bring back [capital investment] resources that would not normally take a second look,” he said.
Scott said sites like Whittier Street are “places that have lots of potential but no access. Opportunity Zones are a way to attract some private sector capital to give them an extra lift.”
By pairing the Community Reinvestment Act with the Opportunity Zones program, Scott said “Americans will have another wave of opportunity in every zip code and every corridor.”
The revitalization of the Whittier Street Apartments - called the Whittier Choice Neighborhoods Initiative - is a collaboration between nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing, Madison Park Development Corporation and the Boston Housing Authority.
In order to ensure new investment benefits existing residents and does not drive gentrification or displacement, the initiative will replace existing affordable housing units, add new affordable homes, and add significant programming to promote economic opportunity for Whittier residents and their neighbors.
The Whittier neighborhood is rich in amenities and is home to some of Boston’s anchor educational, civic and cultural institutions. Yet the underlying story of the Whittier neighborhood has been the chronic struggle of the majority of its residents, who are among the poorest in Boston.
Originally built in the early 1950s, Whittier is home to 200 public housing families. As part of a $30 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant, the 200 existing public housing apartments will be replaced with on- and off-site housing, and an expanded program of 509 mixed-income units and 14,000 square feet of commercial space.
When complete, the new development will create a healthier environment and reconnect a vibrant mixed-income/mixed-use development to the neighborhood, while drawing on the community’s strengths to preserve its character and capitalize investment. The plan includes creating safe streets, better access to quality educational and job opportunities that promote family self-sufficiency.
Last year's federal tax law created a massive new incentive for investing in some of the United States' poorest neighborhoods through Opportunity Zones that enable private investors to re-invest their profits into businesses that are located in parts of the country that do not generally receive much outside investment. On April 9, the Treasury Department released the details of the program which could be implemented in 18 eligible states.