Transformation of one of Boston's most historic neighborhoods from a neighborhood of deteriorated row-houses into a vibrant community with $1 million condominiums and a wide array of high-quality affordable housing.
For over 45 years, The Community Builders, Inc. (TCB) has been a leader in the revitalization of Boston's historic South End neighborhood. TCB was instrumental in transforming the South End from a neighborhood of deteriorated row-houses into a vibrant community with $1 million condominiums and a wide array of high-quality affordable housing. TCB's headquarters was based in the South End in the 1960s and was reestablished there in the late 1980s with its development of a nonprofit office building that serves as its headquarters.
In 1964, United South End Settlements (USES) recognized the urgent need for quality affordable housing in the South End. USES formed South End Community Development (SECD), later to be known as The Community Builders, to solve the neighborhood's affordable housing needs. SECD began an innovative HUD-funded demonstration project that resulted in the renovation of 83 abandoned South End row-houses. In 1970, SECD reorganized as Greater Boston Community Development (GBCD) and continued the organization's commitment to the South End. GBCD assisted Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion, a strong, community-based organization, with its 680-unit Villa Victoria community. It was the first non-profit sponsored equity investment for tax benefits and was a predecessor to the popular Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program.
GBCD reorganized as The Community Builders, Inc. in 1988 and celebrated the completion of its most ambitious South End project, the 270-unit Tent City. A product of TCB's partnership with Tent City Corporation, Tent City is now a national model of mixed-income housing, with ¼ of its units reserved for low-income tenants, ½ moderate, and ¼ market-rate. When Tent City was developed, no subsidies for moderate income residents existed. TCB worked with the local government to create subsidies for moderate incomes residents and secured funding from more than fourteen sources. Tent City successfully ties together the inviting, neighborhood setting of the South End with the high-rise, commercial environment of Copley Place. It has won multiple awards, including the Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence, the United Nations World Habitat Award, and the Fannie Mae Foundation Award for Excellence.
Langham Court is another example of an award-winning South End project that is the product of TCB's partnership with a nonprofit neighborhood-based organization. Completed in 1991, Langham Court was one of the last parcels of land available for redevelopment in the South End. A group of neighbors formed a nonprofit development organization and TCB worked with them to create a microcosm of their mixed-income neighborhood. At the time, there were no deep subsidies available under federal housing programs, so TCB secured the necessary state and local funding. Langham Court's units are evenly split between low-income, moderate income, and market-rate and it has an active, cooperative board. It received the American Institute of Architects Urban Design Honor Award and is another example of attractive, affordable housing that serves the South End's diverse population.
In 2005, TCB worked with another South End nonprofit development organization, Tenants Development Corporation (TDC), on the refinancing and preservation of almost 300 units of South End row-houses. Known as the South End Tenant Houses (SETH), all buildings are in the South End Landmarks district and are of historic value. The portfolio was substantially renovated in 1972 under TDC's direction, and with TCB's assistance, and resyndicated in 1985, but three decades of wear had taken their toll and the buildings' major systems were in need of replacement. At the time, the properties also did not comply with current accessibility and building codes. TDC pursued substantial capital upgrades and TCB, acting as financial consultant, designed and implemented a program of substantial rehabilitation for all buildings. The properties were refinanced using tax-exempt bonds and the attending 4% low-income housing tax credits. The properties also used Federal Historic Tax Credits and equity to finance the rehabilitation. TCB also assisted TDC in renewing its Section 8 contract for 20 years under the Mark-Up-To Market program, ensuring the development's long-term affordability.