(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
A street that has struggled economically is poised for rebirth as millions of dollars in city, state, federal, and private funds are poured into Quincy Street in Dorchester.
On Thursday, with a fall chill in the air, elected officials, residents, and nonprofit leaders celebrated the $20.5-million investment by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the neighborhood. In addition to the investment by HUD, a number of non-profits using both HUD and private money are working on several large projects in the immediate area that aim to bring jobs, housing, and infrastructure improvements to the community.
“Good housing gives stability to a neighborhood and the people that live there,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino explained after Thursday’s press conference.
“What we are doing here deals with housing, infrastructure, and social services; it builds up all the families not just one family,” Menino added.
In 2011 the Quincy Street Corridor, which stretches a half-mile from Columbia Road to Blue Hill Avenue, was selected as one of the sites for HUD’s Choice Neighborhood Initiative, a country-wide program that aims to holistically tackle challenges lower-income neighborhoods face. Boston was one of five cities selected for the grant.
In addition to the housing and commercial developments utilizing the federal funds, the money is also going to support business façade improvements, the expansion of WiFi in Grove Hall, infrastructure improvements along the roadway, social programs such as English for Speakers of Other Languages, and the renovation of the Haynes Early Education Center and King K-8 School’s schoolyards.
“The truth is if a kid wakes up with a decent roof over their head, but is mugged on the way to school or when they get to school they don’t learn anything that kid is not going to be successful,” explained Shaun Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
“We have to think about the entire neighborhood and everything a child needs to grow up to make a true neighborhood and that’s what we’ve learned and why we are so excited about this effort,” Donovan added.
A number of development projects will utilize funds from HUD.
The Quincy Heights Development, a $56-million effort by the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, will use $12.5-million in federal funds to construct 129 new affordable units. Dorchester Bay’s Pearl Food Production and Small Business Center, a $14.5-million project, will use $3.075-million in federal funds to create the center.
The money is also going to support a Boston Public Health Commission mental health initiative, a community outreach program by the non-profit Project RIGHT, and an expansion of Boston Public School educational activities for neighborhood students.
“This will be a complete transformation,” explained Jeanne DuBois, executive director of the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, one of the non-profits leading the revitalization efforts.
“The project means new good housing, play spaces for kids, jobs, and new infrastructure. For the neighborhood it means a future,” said DuBois.
Although the attention Thursday was focused on projects benefiting from the HUD funds, there are also a number of projects in the immediate area that are tied to efforts to revitalize the neighborhood.
The Quincy Commons development, a $20-million project by the Nuestra Comunidad Community Development Corporation on the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Quincy Street, once completed will provide 44 new affordable units for seniors in addition to ground floor retail.
Dorchester Bay is also working on a $4-million project at 259 Quincy St., which will create a job training and industrial arts space.
The investments and the momentum were apparent Thursday and many said they were excited to see a community come back, but it will be the ones who live in the neighborhood who will see the change when and if it does come.
“I prayed for this day to happen, to see this community revitalized,” exclaimed Carla Fransico, an area resident of 16-years.