Metro, Politics, Newton

Newton Affordable Housing Trust Discusses Funding Allocation, Funding Priorities Task Force At Thursday Meeting

The Newton Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT) approved a payment to the Newton Housing Authority for the 1114 Beacon St. project, named the final member of the Funding Priorities Task Force, and discussed future funding proposals during their meeting Thursday night.

“I think the city has really set that as a priority that enormous attention be paid to people that are impacted [by our projects], and I think we need to keep that tradition,” committee chair Anne Houston said.

The NAHT received an inclusionary zoning payment from the 1114 Beacon St. Special Permit project and unanimously agreed to send half the check to the Newton Housing Authority to oversee the development of more low-income housing projects. 

“I am so excited to see this project go forward, because in addition to these payments, there are actually [affordable] units in this building as well,” Ward 6 Councilor-at-Large Alicia Bowman said.

The City approved the 1114 Beacon St. project, and because of Newton’s inclusionary zoning requirements, the developers could either have built a certain number of affordable units or made a cash payment to the municipality. The developer, Bodwell Pines Corporation, ended up both paying the NAHT and including six affordable units in their building plans.

“We received as part of the special permit for this project on Beacon St. an inclusionary zoning payment that was a partial payment of $231,295.50 that came to us, half of which goes to the Housing Authority,” Barney Heath, Newton’s director of planning and development, said. 

After confirming this payment to the Newton Housing Authority, the NAHT discussed the establishment of a Funding Priorities Task Force, which would examine data and make recommendations to the city about what to prioritize. Bowman volunteered to join as the final member needed for the force’s establishment.

The NAHT then discussed potential funding projects. Among those discussed were the developments at the Warren House and the Riverside Station, as well as the temporary housing project FamilyAid, although it may already be adequately funded by the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program.

“They are facing costs beyond what they had anticipated,” Houston said. “But I think that from what you said, your guess is right, they are all in CDBG range.”

Community member Josephine McNeill shared her thoughts on inclusivity’s importance in the NAHT’s decision-making process.

“We have reached a point as we address the issues facing low-income people and marginalized people that it is important that those voices be heard at the various tables, because many of us make decisions about what’s good for people without asking them, ‘What is it that you need?’” McNeill said.

September 24, 2023