Three-decker rehab program deemed a success

City officials are declaring a program focused on improving three-deckers a success, pointing to figures that show more homeowners than investors are purchasing the iconic houses. The three-decker market is stabilizing, Department of Neighborhood Development Sheila Dillon told the Reporter in noting that 51 percent of the homes had been bought by homeowners last year.

Home values and sales prices have also increased, with three-deckers selling at a median price of $375,000 at the end of the 2012, up from a $330,000 price in 2011.

Boston boasts an estimated 9,000 three-deckers, a distinct type of home once popular across the city with lower-class residents, immigrants, and mill workers. The city’s improvement program, also known as the “3D Club,” currently has 280 members, Dillon said. Membership in the club offers entrée to classes, hardware stores, and retail establishments. The program also provides funds for owners to fix up their properties or to buy a home.

According to a DND map laying out its assistance to homebuyers and owners, ten rehabilitations had been completed in Dorchester as of this month, with more than 20 others under way. In Mattapan, six rehabs had been completed and ten more were being worked on. “In the last year we assisted 80 homeowners and city has put in a little over $1 million in this effort,” Dillon said.

Gail Hoyte, who owns a Fairmount Street three-decker with her husband Frankie, is one of those homeowners. Her son stumbled onto the program online, and Gail, who has owned the three-decker for sixteen years, decided to apply. “It was beginning to get a little run down,” said the Trinidad native, who ended up getting the back porch fixed up, the roof replaced, and a splash of new paint on the property.

She and her husband were first drawn to the house when they came to view a three-decker across the street from their current residence. “It just had to us a presence,” she said. “It’s a corner house, an extra piece of land, and attracted us. It was old but we loved it when we saw it.”

Hoyte said the work on her house was completed in six weeks during last August and September, adding that she has recommended the program to her friends. “My house looks beautiful on the street,” she said.

Dillon said a membership survey will be released in the spring, so members can say what training they found useful and which retail establishments they want to receive discounts from. Dillon called the program the “brainchild” of Mayor Thomas Menino. “It was a response to him driving around the neighborhood and not being pleased about how the triple-deckers looked,” she said.