Mayor Menino has attained national recognition for his leadership on housing issues. He has raised the standard for affordable housing, built partnerships to increase housing production, and developed a nationally replicated model to stem the tide of foreclosures in Boston.
Realizing that it is not enough to simply create new housing units, Mayor Menino has brought together housing and homelessness advocates to reduce the impact of homelessness and keep working class families in their homes. Among his current priorities are workforce housing production, rental housing preservation, revitalization of high foreclosure neighborhoods, and a plan to reduce long-term and family homelessness by 50% by 2012.
Nearly a decade ago, long before concerns over subprime lending hit the national spotlight, Mayor Menino recognized the need to educate first time homebuyers and create a network of resources to combat troubled lending and foreclosures. His proactive leadership has allowed Boston to weather the current foreclosure crisis better than many other major cities around the country.
In 1999, Mayor Menino created the Don’t Borrow Trouble campaign – now nationally replicated - to help people avoid lending scams. He has led efforts to track foreclosure rates in Boston since the late 1990s, and he launched a full scale Foreclosure Prevention initiative in 2006, recognizing the first signs of a looming foreclosure crisis. Since then, the City has been able to help more than 575 homeowners avert foreclosure, preserving over $170 million dollars in home values. Today, the Mayor’s Foreclosure Intervention Team (FIT), created in 2008, continues to reduce the spread of foreclosures by targeting areas of the city affected by high numbers of abandoned properties. His efforts to educate residents through a series of homeowner and foreclosure prevention workshops have brought together borrowers and mortgage providers to promote healthy homeowner options.
Leading the Way
The Mayor’s Leading the Way campaigns have helped increase access to quality housing while stabilizing housing costs in Boston. Since launching the initiative in 2000, the City has overseen the creation of over 18,000 new units of housing, 5,000 of which are affordable, and preserved another 9,500 units. Altogether, these projects represent nearly $5 billion in private and public investment for the City of Boston.
The Mayor’s housing strategy continues to evolve, and in March, he announced Leading the Way III, a $200 million plan that in part aims to cut the number of homeless families in half by 2012. The strategy will also add 6,000 new housing units for working families, including 1,000 affordable rentals, save 1,000 homes from foreclosure, and help purchase 500 foreclosed and abandoned homes.
Mayor Menino’s vision for affordable housing is a record the United States National Conference of Mayors declared a “Best Practice” for all American mayors. In collaboration with the Boston Housing Authority, Mayor Menino has rebuilt and significantly improved housing options for Boston’s low-income and vulnerable populations. He has overseen major improvements to the Orchard Gardens, Mission Main and Maverick housing developments. With the new funding from the federal stimulus package, he broke ground this year on the Washington-Beech housing development in Roslindale, which will undergo full redevelopment to offer more housing units by 2011.