Brookview House breaks ground on affordable rentals

Assembled for last Tuesday groundbreaking for Brookview III were, from left: Roger Herzog, executive director, Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation; Pamela Feingold, senior VP of Eastern Bank; Mayor Martin J. Walsh; Deborah Hughes, president & CEO of Brookview House; Governor Charlie Baker; Representative Russell E. Holmes, and City Councillor At-Large Annissa Essaibi-George.  
Randy H. Goodman photo

With Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin Walsh looking on approvingly, Brookview House, a Dorchester-based provider of services to homeless women and children, broke ground on a new affordable housing building on Hansborough Street last Tuesday. The building, dubbed “Brookview III,” will include a dozen new two- and three-bedroom apartment units, bringing the total number at Brookview to 54.

“We recognize that family homelessness is a multi-faceted issue, but one of the primary causes of the high rate of family homelessness in Massachusetts is the lack of affordable housing for low-income families,” said Deborah Hughes, the president and CEO of Brookview House Hughes. “This new building will help us assist even more families each year in addressing the trauma of homelessness and set them up for long-term stability and independence.”

The need to address family homelessness has grown more urgent in recent years, with a 2017 Boston Foundation study showing that more than 60 percent of the 13,000 homeless individuals in Massachusetts are children. Family homelessness in the state has nearly doubled since 2016, with Boston ranking as the city with the fourth most homeless families nationwide. Hughes said she hopes Brookview’s new facility with help address this crisis.

Brookview III will be located off Blue Hill Avenue on Hansborough Street, just north of Mattapan Square and a block from the original 12-unit building at 2 Brookview St.

Each year, the facility provides 370 homeless women and children with a safe, supportive living environment as well as a variety of programs and services including health, education, life skills, employment training, civic engagement, and financial, emotional, and behavioral support.

Established in 1990, Brookview House has garnered nationwide acclaim for its successful model; 92 percent of mothers who have lived there maintain permanent housing after leaving and 88 percent of the children who participate in Brookview’s Youth Development Program graduate from high school, compared to the national average of only 25 percent.

In addition to commercial loans and Brookview’s own fundraising, the $5.5 million needed to finance Brookview III was secured with $1.5 million from the city of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) and Boston Community Development, and a $450,000 grant from the Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) facilities improvement fund, which is financed through the state’s capital budget and jointly administered by the Department of Early Education and Care and the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC), and its affiliate, the Children’s Investment Fund (CIF).

Mayor Walsh acknowledged the importance of planning for future affordable housing. “In Boston, we are committed to making sure that every person has a place to call their home,” he said. “Providing families a roof over their heads and the wraparound services needed to build a better life is critical to tackling homelessness. I thank Brookview for their role in creating stable, affordable housing that is vital to the health and success of our neighborhoods.”

Brookview III is slated for occupancy starting next June.