$15.4m Harmon Apartments to help disabled live affordably on Dot Ave

The scene at the ceremonial groundbreaking for Harmon Apartments. Jonathan Innocent photo

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and other city and state officials gathered Tuesday for a groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of The Boston Home’s new accessible supportive housing complex, Harmon Apartments. The $15.4 million mixed-income apartment building, located at 2045 Dorchester Ave. two blocks away from Ashmont Station, will rise from the ground adjacent to The Boston Home’s original building with a three story facade looking out over the avenue.

It will feature 36 completely accessible units with specialized supportive technology and services, making it one of the first of its kind that is both affordable and accessible, allowing disabled tenants to live independently.

Of the 36 apartment units, 30 will be marketed to those with an income of $43,440 or less for a single-person household, with eight of these 30 units marketed to those with an income of $21,700 or less for a single-person household. The six other apartments will be offered at market rate. In all, the building will have 26 one-bedroom apartments and 10 two-bedroom apartments.

At the ceremony, David Ennis, president of co-developer Affirmative Investments, said, “the goal is to create a home that doesn’t separate people with disabilities, but lets them play an important role in the world and stay in the community.”

Carol R. Steinberg, an attorney, writer and speaker on accessibility issues, who is also a member of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board, shared her support for the new development project.

“I’m a strong advocate for all efforts to facilitate more affordable and accessible housing in the Boston area-both because I see the need all the time among my community of people with disabilities, and because I recognize this need in my own life,” she said. “I thank all partners involved in this project for creating housing where those with disabilities can be both safe and independent.”

Since the implementation of the City’s housing plan in 2014, 13,551 new units of housing have been created with an additional 8,412 units currently under construction. With this development, the City has secured housing for an estimated 25,000 residents, making significant progress towards providing housing options for the City’s rising population.

However, this shortage in housing opportunities for disabled people is particularly acute.

“Nearly 12 percent of Boston’s population has a disability, and we need new buildings like this to ensure all of Boston’s residents have a home that meets their needs,” said Kristen McCosh, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities. “This development showcases Boston’s work to include all members of our community in each and every plan the City develops.”

In terms of creating a living environment that provides holistic supports and accessible features for tenants with disabilities, the building is set to go above and beyond the norm. Qualified tenants will be offered specialized programming opportunities and “Accessible+Plus” apartments. These innovative features will include: automatic door openers; control of heating and cooling systems and lights via smartphone or tablet; on-site wellness, fitness and social programs; caregiver training and coordination; counseling and support for accessing community services; easy access to medical care; wheelchair seating, positioning, and customization services, including mounting of communication devices and assistive technologies; and comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation program staffed by neurological specialists. There will also be a Case Manager to assist with arrangements for services and supports upon request.

In his remarks at the event, Mayor Walsh stressed the importance of the city’s support for developments such as this. “Our goal in Boston is to create a city that works for everyone -- and that includes creating homes that are affordable, accessible, and allow our residents to live independently,” said Mayor Walsh.

“This innovative solution for needed accessible supportive housing is a snapshot of the progress we’re making citywide. It takes a team to move our housing goals forward, and I’m proud of Boston’s commitment to this project, and to our commitment to keeping Boston a diverse city where all are welcome.”

The portfoilo of funds needed to execute the $15.4 million project, led by co-developers The Boston Home and Affirmative Investments, comes from a variety of sources. The Boston Home contributed $2.8 million, the City of Boston invested $2 million, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development invested $750,000, and MassHousing put forward $1 million. Capital One Bank provided a grant of $200,000, $9 million in equity financing, and $1.2 million in debt.