Newton Affordable Housing Lottery To Accept Applications Through May 23

A new affordable housing development at 15 Riverdale Avenue is now accepting lottery applications for future tenants through May 23. 

Allee on the Charles is a new development spearheaded by SEB Housing, a leader in affordable housing in Greater Boston, according to its website

The high cost of living in Newton is one of the main driving forces of the initiative to expand affordable housing options in the city, according to Ward 8 Councilor-at-Large Richard Lipof. 

“We need units that are for all income levels,” Lipof said. “We have an issue right now with middle-income units. This all has to do with it, with how expensive land is in Newton. If you start off with the underlying land being too expensive, it’s expensive when you develop because you’ve paid so much for the land.”

According to Zillow, a real estate company, the current median monthly rent for one-bedroom properties in Newton is $2,495, which is a $395 increase from the previous year and 49 percent higher than the national median. The price range for one-bedroom properties ranges from $1,600 to $10,514, according to Zillow estimates.

Allee on the Charles will offer a total of 52 low-income and affordable housing units out of the building’s 204 rental units, according to an information packet provided by SEB Housing. Fifty apartments will be available to households earning 80 percent or less of the Area Median Income (AMI), one apartment will be available to households earning 65 percent or less of the AMI, and one apartment will be made available to households earning 50 percent or less of the AMI. 

“We need to have housing opportunities at every level, not only to support the ecosystem of Newton but to support Greater Boston and to support all of us,” Lipof said. “It’s important and it’s really hard to create them in a city like Newton where the underlying land is so expensive.”

The lottery drawing will occur via Zoom on June 5 at 6 p.m. and will include both a general drawing and a local preference drawing. 

The debate out there is, you know, should we be favoring people in Newton because it’s Newton, or should we be going outside of Newton for a more multicultural, multiracial base to draw from,” Lipof said. “The philosophy has changed to going outside of the local preference for more diversity.”

Several different apartment styles are available, including one-bedroom units, two-bedroom units, three-bedroom units, and studio units, according to the packet. A handful of units are also specifically designed to be accessible for people with disabilities or hearing or vision impairments, according to the packet. 

Other affordable housing opportunities are in the works as well, such as the multi-year project to repurpose the decommissioned West Newton Armory at 1135 Washington Street, according to Lipof.

“We bought it for $1 from the state, and we’re turning that into 100 percent affordable housing,” Lipof said. 

Chapter 40B, the state statute, allows local zoning boards to approve affordable housing developments if at least 20 to 25 percent of the units have long-term affordability restrictions

The Allee on the Charles development is projected to be completed and ready for occupancy by the fall of 2026, according to the developer’s presentation to Newton’s Zoning Board of Appeals. The renovated Armory will add 43 new units open to a variety of income levels to Newton’s growing stock of affordable housing opportunities, according to the presentation.

“We don’t want a Newton that is only for the wealthy,” Lipof said. “We need those middle units I was telling you about where if somebody wants to sell their home and stay in Newton, they need to be able to afford to stay in Newton … they would like to live in the city or town that they grew up in.”

April 23, 2023