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City of Boston creates $4 million fund to help Allston-Brighton renters buy homes

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Houses in Allston. The Allston-Brighton Homeowner Fund, authorized by the City of Boston during a committee hearing Tuesday, will allow working-class renters and potential homebuyers in the area to obtain steady homeownership. KATIE GODERE/ DFP FILE

The Boston City Council Committee on Housing and Development authorized a future vote on the Allston-Brighton Homeowner Fund — a newly formed $4 million grant poised to help renters obtain steady homeownership — in a virtual committee hearing Tuesday. 

Income-qualified applicants must live in the Allston-Brighton area. 

The grant will allow “working class renters” and potential homebuyers residing in the area to take out a no-interest loan through the Boston Home Center to help them purchase a home and compete against wealthier private real estate development investor groups. 

“This program will allow the city to expand these investments by supporting the development of over 225 new homeownership units, over 150 of which will be affordable,” Jessica Boatright, Deputy Director for Neighborhood Housing and Development, said. 

Lydia Edwards, chair of the Committee on Housing and Community Development meeting, said the grant was awarded by the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the funds will be distributed by the Department of Neighborhood Development. 

“The grant will fund programming to foster affordable homeownership and homeowner stability in Allston-Brighton,” Edwards said. 

John Woods, executive director of the Allston-Brighton Community Development Corporation, said in an interview the area has a very low rate of stable homeownership. 

“Owner-occupants, instead, are impacted by the fact that investors can come in and realize a greater return on their investment by renting properties, the traditional two- or three-family homes that were often the source of people’s first homes,” Woods said.

Deputy Director of the Boston Home Center Maureen Flynn said at the hearing $3 million of the $4 million grant will go to first time homebuyers. Another $600,000 will go to seniors over the age of 60 as a part of the Senior Save program and the remaining $400,000 will go to the Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation, which will help educate residents on purchasing a home in Allston-Brighton. 

“Once we announce the program, we will translate all the materials for the fund into 11 languages,” Flynn said, “and have interpretation services available for both homebuyers and senior homebuyers through the mayor’s opposite language access-line.”

The program could be ready for the public to apply for hopefully within a month, Flynn said in an interview. 

There are already buyers out there who are interested in buying in Allston-Brighton that simply can’t afford the prices that are for the homes and the condos that are for sale,” Flynn said. “So they’re kind of your frustrated buyer and we know they exist.

Woods said his organization helps renters educate themselves on what constitutes a good home to buy in the area and how to be fiscal with their finances, helping them achieve their goal of owning a home for the first time. 

“[Buyers are] competing often with investors who are not interested in living there,” he said, “but rather benefiting from the scarcity of the product.” 

The Allston-Brighton area has many new condominiums being built by developers, he said, but by the time they’re complete, funds from the grant could be available to renters to use and buy their first home.

“You just got to keep trying, and I think this new fund is that embodied,” Woods said. “We’re still trying to create opportunities.”

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