A major effort to house Boston’s homeless took an important step forward Thursday night.
The Boston Planning & Development Agency board approved plans for a 202-unit apartment building on Washington Street in Jamaica Plain that would include 140 studio spaces for formerly homeless people, along with social services they need.
The complex, being developed by Pine Street Inn and two partners, could break ground within a year, if financing comes together, said Lyndia Downie, Pine Street’s executive director. It would be the largest such “permanent supportive housing” development of its kind in Boston, she said.
“This is the kind of stuff people like us dream about,” Downie said. “We know this works for people who are stuck in homelessness. This is the answer for a lot of people.”
This type of housing, which combines affordable rents with on-site services, has become a big part of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s bid to end chronic homelessness in Boston, a problem that was exacerbated by the 2015 closure of the Long Island shelter. Walsh has pushed to raise $10 million for Boston’s Way Home Fund, which would fund ongoing services at the planned building, Downie said.
“We are committed to making sure that every individual has a place to call home and build a better life,” Walsh said in a statement. “This project is only possible because of the commitment of Pine Street Inn, The Community Builders [an affordable housing developer], and many partners and stakeholders across the city who have joined our call to bring an end to chronic homelessness.”
To go forward, the building will probably need city and state funding, along with federal low-income housing tax credits, to help finance construction. Developers expect the 144,000-square-foot building to cost about $81 million in all.
Along with 140 units run by Pine Street Inn, The Community Builders would build and run 62 apartments dedicated to low- and middle-income renters. That’s 23 fewer units than were originally proposed, the reduction coming partly in response to neighborhood concerns about the project’s size and the traffic it might generate. It’s also one floor shorter than designers RODE Architects initially envisioned. But over the course of numerous community meetings since this spring, neighbors were generally supportive, said Dana Whiteside, who oversaw review of the project for the BPDA.
“Support for the project was quite good,” he said.
The complex, near Green Street, is one of the first large buildings proposed on a stretch of Washington Street where the BPDA two years ago approved plans for thousands of new apartments and condos. Some 40 percent of those housing units are required to be affordable.
This project will make a dent in that number, BPDA director Brian Golden said, while creating a much-needed place to help homeless Bostonians get back on their feet.
“This is a really good outcome,” he said.
The BPDA on Thursday also approved a six-building, 344-unit condo and apartment complex at the corner of Harvard Avenue and Cambridge Street in Allston Square, a 60-unit affordable housing development in West Roxbury by B’Nai B’rith Housing New England, and tweaks to Millennium Partners’ Winthrop Center tower downtown. The board also gave WS Development permission to convert a planned housing building at its Seaport Square complex into an office building instead.