Zoning board says no to Wales Street homeless housing

The plan for 37 Wales Street

The Zoning Board of Appeal on Tuesday rejected a proposal by the non-profit Heading Home to replace a crumbling 10-unit apartment building at 37 Wales St. in Dorchester with 23 new apartments rented to families trying to get out of homelessness. Heading Home had planned a building with no parking spaces for residents. The current building has ten. 

“Most clients don’t have cars,” Heading Home CEO Danielle Ferrier told the board. Residents would be “transitioning out of homelessness” and allowed to earn no more than 30 percent of the Boston-area median income. But neighbors who testified against the plan said they didn’t believe that new residents wouldn’t promptly fill up the already parking-short Wales Street with cars.

“They’re trying to shove this down our throats,” one resident said. “From 10 [units] to 23 is crazy.” Residents also cited flooding issues caused by failing retaining walls at the site.

In addressing Heading Home, ZBA Chairwoman Christine Araujo only cited the parking in calling on the group to try to work with neighbors: “Obviously, there are issues that should be addressed,” she said.

Board member Mark Erlich agreed that “10 to 23 is a big jump” and moved to reject the proposal - which the BPDA board had approved in January - without prejudice. The board then voted 6-1 for that, which means Heading Home can file new plans in less than a year.

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