The Boston Redevelopment Authority last week approved the construction of an $18 million affordable housing site and community center in Charlestown as part of the mayor’s affordable housing plan, according to the authority.
The Bridgeview Apartment Development, at Rutherford Avenue and A Street, will have 60 apartments, a daycare center and an approximately 12,000-square-foot center providing services for the disabled and homeless.
Human service agency Life Focus Center of Charlestown will manage the complex. The center specializes in services for people with disabilities, including counseling, rehabilitation and job training.
Life Focus Center Executive Director Jack Millerick said that the center has been “chronically short of operational space.”
“We have multiple layers of programs,” Millerick said. “By having our own space, designing our own space, we’re accomplishing a dream.”
Millerick said the shortage of affordable housing in Charlestown motivated him to build the complex.
“Charlestown has gentrified and become a very expensive place to live,” he said.
People who make up to 60 percent of the city’s median income will be eligible to rent one of the one, two or three bedroom apartments, according to the BRA. A three-bedroom apartment will cost approximately $1,000, said Millerick.
Up to 20 percent of the apartments will be reserved for the homeless or previously homeless. Residents who qualify for Section 8 housing will be able to use a voucher to cover the cost of rent, according to the BRA.
In 2009, Mayor Menino extended the “Leading the Way” housing plan to its third campaign, intended in part to increase the construction of affordable housing sites such as the Bridgeview development. Since 2000, the plan has led to the construction of 5,000 affordable housing units, according to the city’s Web site.
The Bridgeview Community Center
Millerick said that the apartments would provide residents with not only a place to live but also with financial guidance. He said that by signing a lease, residents would agree to take classes about financing, building credit and managing a household budget so that they could eventually buy a home.
In addition, Millerick said that he would like the development’s community center and daycare to be state-of-the-art facilities.
“We’re just getting into seeing how affordable that will be,” Millerick said.
For example, he said he wants the community center to accommodate people who cannot speak with touch screen computer tablets that would generate artificial speech. Other residents will use the tablets to learn social skills, Millerick said.
The community center will also offer counseling and speech and occupational therapy to non-residents who qualify for day habilitation through Medicaid. In addition, the center will provide the homeless with classes on budgeting, saving and handling credit.
The Next Steps
Now Life Focus Center and its developers have to gather city and state funding and sell tax credits to banks and corporations to pay for the residential part of the complex, said Geoffrey Lewis, the senior project manager of the development review department at BRA.
Developers will begin collecting city funding within a few weeks and will solicit state funding in March, according to Lewis. If they gather enough funding, they will need to get a building permit and then start building. Life Focus Center will pay rent on the commercial space, which houses the community center and daycare, once the complex is completed.