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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Mayor Walsh to pursue increase in linkage

Mayor Walsh to pursue increase in linkage
Leveraging strong development market to support affordable housing and job training
 
Boston – Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that he is pursuing an increase in the linkage fees paid by developers in Boston, as part of continuing efforts to increase funding for affordable housing and job training.  Increasing linkage leverages the current strong development market in Boston to bring additional benefits to the residents of Boston. The Mayor’s proposal will increase the current linkage rates by 8 percent, to $9.03 per square foot for housing contributions, and to $1.78 per square foot for jobs contribution, for a total of $10.81. 

“By asking developers to contribute more for affordable housing and job training, we are taking advantage of Boston’s strong market to support opportunities for our residents across the entire City,” said Mayor Walsh. “Increasing linkage builds on the progress we’ve made to create access to affordable housing and job training for our residents.”  

Linkage ensures that large-scale real estate development brings direct benefits to the City of Boston’s residents through payments to the Neighborhood Housing Trust and the Neighborhood Jobs Trust. Linkage was last increased in 2013 to the current rates of $8.34 per square foot for housing and $1.67 per square foot for jobs, for a total of $10.01 per square foot. Linkage may be increased on three-year cycles to reflect the rise in inflation based on the Consumer Price Index and on economic, housing and employment trends. 

Since 2014, $31.4 million in housing linkage has leveraged a total of $562 million in public funds in 39 developments that cost $837 million in total. Those projects have created 1,268 affordable units and preserved 548 existing affordable units.

Between 2015 and 2016, linkage helped more than 2,300 low- and moderate-income residents access job training and education programs. After job placement, graduates of the training programs earned an average wage of $15.23 per hour with 72 percent earning benefits as well.

"JVS strongly supports this important step by the Walsh Administration to increase funding going into the Neighborhood Jobs Trust,” said Jerry Rubin, President and CEO of Jewish Vocational Services (JVS). “With employers searching for talent in our near full-employment economy, this is the right moment to open up opportunities for Boston residents who aren’t able to fully participate in our booming economy without access to further education and skills training.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with the City of Boston and outstanding employers throughout the city to make these opportunities a reality."

“We are incredibly grateful to Mayor Walsh and his Administration for leading the charge on increased funding for job training in the City of Boston,” said Joan Cirillo, President & CEO Operation A.B.L.E. of Greater Boston, Inc. “An increase of 8 percent in the linkage fees will help ensure that all Boston residents are able to partake in the economic prosperity of our city.  The added resources generated by this increase will ensure that job training providers can continue to help Boston residents find and maintain jobs with a livable wage and a career path to prosperity.”

Recent workforce development programs that have benefited from the Neighborhood Jobs Trust include:

The Mayor’s Tuition Free Community College Program 
The Mayor’s Tuition Free Community College Program provides a path to free community college for eligible Boston residents. The plan matches students with coaches from Success Boston to help them navigate the challenges of higher education. Through this two-fold approach, the plan aims to help more Boston students afford, attend, and complete college.

Since its launch in 2016, the Tuition Free Community College program has enrolled 137 students. Of those students, 93 percent are students of color, with an average GPA of 2.97 and and average family income of $26,736.

Locksmithing and Carpentry at the North Bennet Street School
Training programs in locksmithing and carpentry at the North Bennet Street School connect students to high demand careers. The most recent program had a 100 percent graduation rate, 75 percent job placement rate, with an average hourly wage of $17.83. 

Cooking and Life Skills Training at Community Servings 
Community Servings, a not-for-profit food and nutrition program providing services to individuals and families living with critical and chronic illnesses, provides a twelve-week cooking and life skills training program that produces 2,000 meals a day. The most recent program had a 100 percent graduation rate, 72 percent job placement rate, with an average hourly wage of $12.24. 

In the past year, Neighborhood Housing Trust funded projects that have started construction include:

132 Chestnut Hill Avenue in Brightona 61 unit affordable senior housing project, developed by Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly, and built on BPDA land.

48 Boylston Street in Downtowna 46 unit adaptive rehabilitation of the historic YMCU building. The project is being developed by the Planning Office for Urban Affairs in conjunction with St Francis House and will provide housing for the formerly homeless.

The Residences and Brighton Marine at 1465 Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton, which is a 102 unit affordable housing project being developed by the Winn Residential and will gave a preference for veterans.

The proposed increase is scheduled to be voted on by the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board of Directors on Thursday, June 14.
About the Boston Planning & Development Agency
As the City of Boston’s urban planning and economic development agency, the BPDA works in partnership with the community to plan Boston's future while respecting its past. The agency’s passionate and knowledgeable staff guides physical, social, and economic change in Boston’s neighborhoods and its downtown to shape a more prosperous, resilient, and vibrant city for all. The BPDA also prepares residents for new opportunities through employment training, human services and job creation. Learn more at www.bostonplans.org, and follow us on Twitter @BostonPlans.