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Monday, August 16, 2021

Chinatown welcomes first time homebuyers with unique approach to ownership

 Chinatown welcomes first time homebuyers with unique approach to ownership

From CCLT.

Mayor Kim Janey and other officials joined the Chinatown Community Land Trust and successful first-time homebuyers at a Welcome Home event today in Chinatown.

As housing instability and racial inequity is worsened by the pandemic, Chinatown CLT welcomed first time, low income homebuyers who are purchasing the city's first permanently affordable condo units on a 99-year community land trust ground lease.  In the face of an economic and displacement crisis, with properties rapidly changing hands, Community Land Trusts protect land for the community against the ups and downs of the speculative market, offering a compelling model for stabilizing working class neighborhoods and historic communities of color.

“These units will remain affordable even if they change hands, through a renewable 99-year ground lease owned by the community,” said executive director Lydia Lowe.  “This model offers individual families some of the wealth building opportunities of ownership and, in the face of gentrification, community stability for generations to come.”

Chinatown CLT President Suzanne Lee noted that many of the neighborhood’s 19th century row houses had been emptied by speculative investors for short term, Airbnb type rental in recent years, but noted that the organization’s goal was to return them to be homes working class families.

City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who played a role in introducing the Trust leaders to the prior owner to negotiate a purchase, said, “I never thought I would see a situation in which an investor decided to sell back to the community!”

Lowe emphasized that community organizing was key to reclaiming the row houses, thanking “the hundreds of community members who signed petitions, marched, attended zoning hearings, and held press conferences over the years, because you created the conditions for this property acquisition to happen.”

Mayor Janey noted that she felt a personal connection to Chinatown’s struggles, as she spent part of her childhood in a South End row house until her family was displaced in the 1980s. She thanked community members for their work and pledged to continue working with the community to increase neighborhood stabilization policies and affordable housing opportunities.  Representative Aaron Michlewitz, City Councilors Ed Flynn and Lydia Edwards were also in attendance.

Rowhouse preservation is part of how Chinatown is using historic and cultural preservation as an anti-displacement strategy.  In addition to reclaiming individual properties, community members are organizing to call for a Row House Protection Area in the zoning code, a subdistrict category that exists in neighborhoods like the South End but not in Chinatown, which was not recognized as a residential neighborhood for 150 years.

The Chinatown Community Land Trust is calling for a Row House Protection Area to correct inequity in the city’s zoning history, and also calling for a Historic Conservation District, similar to an ongoing effort in Highland Park.  An Immigrant History Trail will launch this year as a public art project that lifts up the stories of immigrant, working class families since the 1800s. (From CCLT)

MAYOR JANEY AND THE CHINATOWN COMMUNITY LAND TRUST CELEBRATE NEW AFFORDABLE HOMEOWNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES IN CHINATOWN 

Two row houses have been purchased, renovated and are deeded for long-term affordability

BOSTON - Tuesday, August 17, 2021 - Mayor Kim Janey and the Chinatown Community Land Trust yesterday welcomed first-time, low-income homebuyers who purchased the Chinatown Land Trust’s (Chinatown CLT) first permanently affordable condo units on a 99-year community land trust ground lease. The Chinatown CLT preserved and renovated these seven units with funding from the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development and the Community Preservation Act. These seven homes on 20 Oak Street (three units) and 95 Hudson Street (four units) are the Chinatown CLT's first permanently affordable homes created on the land trust.

“I'm proud that together with our partners, we've preserved and renovated these affordable homes for Chinatown residents and families,” said Mayor Janey. “These homes are an example of our commitment to growing our affordable homeownership options in our City, and making sure those options are near public transit hubs.”

The Chinatown CLT row houses are transit-oriented development, being a two-minute walk from the MBTA Tufts Medical Center station.  

“Through community ownership of the land, we are protecting Chinatown's historic brick row houses as permanently affordable housing for lower-income families,” said Lydia Lowe, Executive Director for the Chinatown Community Land Trust. “Many of these homes were lost to short-term rental investors in recent years, but today we are working to reclaim Chinatown's small-scale row houses to continue to be an anchor for working-class families for generations to come.”

"We are a family with two young children who have been living in Chinatown since 2016,” said new homeowner Meidan Lin. “We can now have a stable home for our children's education, medical care, our jobs--we feel a sense of security in our heart."

The renovation of the row houses is part of how Chinatown is using historic and cultural preservation as an anti-displacement strategy. In addition to reclaiming individual properties, the City is investing in the creation and protection of affordable housing, as well as supporting local businesses. An Immigrant History Trail is slated to launch this year as a transformative public art project that lifts the stories of immigrant, working-class families since the 1800s.

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