City promises to work toward compromise on Harmon Apartments

As Mayor Martin Walsh rolled out his first report on progress toward the his housing goals for 2030 on Wednesday, the head of neighborhood development reiterated the need for "compromise" in an embattled Ashmont housing development.

In the first three months of 2015, the city made $20 million available for affordable housing for the first time. One recipient of those funds is Harmon Apartments in Dorchester, a development along Dorchester Avenue that proposes a mix of low-income rental housing for handicapped residents suffering from degenerative neurological diseases. Some neighbors have pushed back against the development, saying the proposal does not fit into the neighborhood.

“Just because we’re funding them doesn’t mean we’re not going to continue to work with neighbors to find a compromise,” Sheila Dillon, director of the Department of Neighborhood Development told the Reporter today. “I’m aware that they’ve got work to do with their neighbors.”

The Boston Home, which proposed the 38-unit apartment complex which includes 31 units of affordable housing, has not yet completed its Article 80 process with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which requires community consensus on a proposal.

“The mayor really likes The Boston Home and the need for people with physical disabilities not to live in nursing homes is huge,” Dillon said. “We do need to find a compromise here. We’re very interested in a compromise.”

13,000 units of housing have either been completed or are in construction during the first quarter of 2015, Mayor Martin Walsh announced today.

The announcement comes as a part of the first quarterly report of Walsh’s housing plan, which aims to create 53,000 new units of housing in the city by 2030. The first quarter’s numbers, which span from January 1 to March 31 of 2015 shows the city is on track to meet those goals.

In total, 21,200 housing units have been permitted or approved to date.

For the first time, housing affordable to the middle class represented 46 percent of new housing starts in the first quarter of 2015, the report found. By comparison, only 26 percent were affordable to the middle class in 2014.

Much of the development in the city has been transit-oriented: 75 percent of new housing starts were within a five-minute walk of major transit.

The report identified an area of improvement for the city: No new low-income, non-elderly units were started this quarter, “but there are 822 units currently in construction,” the report said.

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