Nonprofit Urban Edge recently released a report highlighting the priorities and the vision for the future that youth living in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain have for their community. The “Community Assessment of Youth Programs, Services, and Opportunities,” which was conducted by Health Resources in Action, provides a snapshot of these neighborhoods’ demographics and highlights both concerns and opportunities for youth in the Jackson and Egleston Square communities. More than 300 young residents of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain were engaged in the assessment process, through a variety of methods that included phone interviews, virtual focus groups, and an online community survey. “This assessment has reinforced how culturally vibrant and diverse Roxbury and Jamaica Plain are, and the young people who live here are rightly proud of that fact,” said Emilio Dorcely, Urban Edge’s Chief Executive Officer. “But we also see the disparities within the community and the barriers that many of our young people face when it comes to economic opportunity.”
The assessment found that major areas of concern of residents were focused on financial security and economic opportunity – 63% of participants were looking for a new job and almost half (44%) were looking for higher pay while more than a quarter were looking for greater economic advancement.
Construction recently started on the new Holtzer Park housing development which will include 62 new affordable rental units in Jackson Square. The development is part of the Boston Housing Authority’s (BHA) 125 Amory Street redevelopment. The project is a joint venture between The Community Builders, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), and Urban Edge, which are renovating and preserving 199 public housing units as affordable housing, repurposing BHA offices into 12 new affordable units, and building approximately 133 units of affordable housing and 214 market-rate apartments in three new buildings on adjacent BHA-owned property. Holtzer Park will create 41 affordable units for households whose income is less than $76,740 for a family of four and are supported with Low Income Housing Tax Credits, according to a press release. An additional 21 of units will have project-based vouchers to provide more affordability for households whose income is less than $38,350 for a family of four.
The proposed redevelopment of the Mildred C. Hailey Apartments would include a 1-to-1 replacement of the existing 253 public housing units and add 435 more housing units. The proposed project by The Community Building, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), and Urban Edge, is only Phase I of redevelopment the apartment complex in Jackson Square. Phase One is on the southeast portion of the existing apartments, and would include the construction of approximately 435 new affordable and upper middle-income apartments. To reiterate, the current 253 public housing units would be replaced with 253 new public housing units, according to the Boston Planning & Development Agency. There would also be approximately 290 parking spaces, according to the developers' Letter of Intent.
The Urban Edge Resiliency Fund will directly assist families and individuals living in Urban Edge’s housing, as well as low- to moderate-income families in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color in Boston and throughout the country,” said Emilio Dorcely, Urban Edge’s Chief Executive Officer. “A majority of the cases in the city of Boston are among black and brown residents. That means that neighborhoods like Roxbury and Jamaica Plain are particularly vulnerable. This fund is designed to help our residents meet their needs.”
The initial phase of the fund is offering $150 Visa gift cards to residents in Urban Edge housing, as well as low- to moderate-income families living in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, to help them meet their immediate needs.
Boston's foreclosure rate reached a 17-year low in 2019, dropping 61 percent in 2019 compared to 2018. Across the city foreclosure executions went down from 103 in 2018 to 40 in 2019, according to city statistics. Comparatively, 1,215 foreclosures were executed in 2008 during the height of the housing crisis. "I'm proud that through our work with homeowners, we have been able to reduce the number of foreclosures in Boston, and keep more families in their homes," said Mayor Marty Walsh via press release. "These results show that our programs and policies to prevent foreclosures and evictions are working.