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April 12, 2023

BOSTON, MA - Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Mayor Michelle Wu, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Adrienne Todman, the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), Preservation of Affordable Housing, residents, and partners celebrated the completion of affordable family housing at the former Whittier Street Apartments in Lower Roxbury Thursday and broke ground on the final phase of the development.

Flat 9 at Whittier is a collaboration between Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) and the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), the City of Boston, and Madison Park Development Corporation (MPDC) to preserve and transform the Whittier Street Apartments public housing community in Roxbury. POAH is the lead for the on-site redevelopment component which involved the creation of a mixed-income, mixed-use site of 316 apartments along with substantial new commercial space.

“The Flat 9 at Whittier is a great example of what is possible when we use every possible resource and partner across sectors to make Boston a City for everyone. I'm grateful to all of our partners for their leadership and look forward to accelerating our efforts for affordability across our neighborhoods,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

“Safe, healthy, and affordable housing is a fundamental human right, and critical projects like the Flat 9 at Whittier will go a long way towards affirming that right for communities in Boston and all across the Massachusetts 7th,” said Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. “I was proud to celebrate this important milestone for Flat 9, which will help us meet our housing goals while empowering residents with a sense of belonging, protecting their dignity, and affirming their place in our community. I am grateful to our state and local partners, housing advocates, and residents who understood the assignment and have worked so closely to make today a reality.”

Residents and community stakeholders were involved in the planning of the redevelopment which began in 2013. Following the completion of Phase 1 in 2020 and Phase 2 in the fall of 2021, Phase 3 will include 172 apartments and 9,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial retail and shared community space, roof decks, fitness and other shared community amenities, and landscaped outdoor space. The final phase will implement transit-oriented amenities, such as the creation of an additional new public street, Tenor Lane, parallel to Choice Way which was created as part of Phase 1, and establish more connectivity for the residents throughout the site and the surrounding neighborhood. The site is also adjacent to Orange Line Ruggles Station and is accessible to Blue Bikes.

“The Whittier Choice initiative has transformed an entire neighborhood and MassHousing is excited to celebrate the completion of Flat 9 at Whittier Phase 2 and breaking ground for the third and final phase of this major redevelopment project for the residents of Roxbury,” said MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay. 

In 2016, the BHA was awarded a $30 million federal Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant by the Obama Administration to support the housing development, resident support services and the surrounding neighborhood. As part of the Neighborhood and People goals for the grant, POAH established a partnership with community partners including Madison Park Regional Technical Vocational High School. Bank of America Community Development Banking also helped finance the redevelopment project, bringing much-needed affordable housing to families in Lower Roxbury.

“The Flat 9 at Whittier project is an example of how federal, state and local government can work with private and non-profit partners to build and preserve affordable housing and, very importantly, invest in people and communities,” said Adrianne Todman, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided the initial Choice Neighborhood grant funding that supports this locally-driven initiative, and I am pleased to be here to celebrate this thriving community and the people who will live here.”

“The Whittier Choice Neighborhood Program has shown us what public housing redevelopment should look like,” said BHA Administrator, Kate Bennett. “This incredible partnership has secured Whittier’s legacy, and built a thriving future for hundreds of low-income families here in Roxbury. We are excited to see this final phase of construction move forward.”

Flat 9 at Whittier is one of the pilot sites for POAH’s Resilient Communities Project which uses human-centered design to create a more effective and equitable model for affordable housing with increased benefits for all stakeholders including staff-well-being and retention, enhanced residence experience, and improved property performance. 

“Today’s ribbon cutting and groundbreaking are yet more milestones in the development of this very special community in the heart of Lower Roxbury,” said Aaron Gornstein, President and CEO of POAH. “Years of resident- centered planning and involvement and the support of many partners has created this award-winning, sustainable community.”

See event photos here