Press Release: Cardinal O’Malley, Governor Baker, and Mayor Walsh celebrate groundbreaking of #48Boylston

SFH POUA logo breaking ground

Cayenne Isaksen
(617) 646 1028


Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, Governor Charlie Baker, and Mayor Martin J. Walsh Celebrate the Groundbreaking of The Union, an Affordable Housing Development in Downtown Boston 

Boston—January 16, 2018 — The Planning Office for Urban Affairs and St. Francis House broke ground today on The Union, an affordable housing redevelopment located at 48 Boylston St. in downtown Boston. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley O.F.M. Cap., Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Planning Office for Urban Affairs President Lisa Alberghini, and President and CEO of St. Francis House Karen LaFrazia, were joined by leaders from business, government and the private sector at today’s ground breaking.

“The Planning Office for Urban Affairs and St. Francis House working together on this critical affordable housing development will help many people in need, especially the most vulnerable among us,” said Cardinal Seán. “This initiative continues the Archdiocesan commitment to develop communities where all people can live with dignity and respect in homes they can afford. I want to thank Governor Baker, Mayor Walsh, and all who are helping get this housing built.”

The Union is the adaptive reuse of the historic Boston Young Men’s Christian Union building into 46 units of affordable housing. The development focuses on providing permanent affordable homes for people of very modest incomes. When the renovation is complete the development will include 26 units for people who are currently homeless or have been homeless, and twenty units for residents with incomes at or below $43,440. In addition to housing, St. Francis House, located across the street, will relocate their administrative offices into the development and will establish a business venture on the first floor of the building to provide job opportunities for the people they serve.

“Creating affordable housing for working families, low-income senior citizens, and the homeless is a top priority for our administration and essential to creating a stronger and more prosperous Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We look forward to the important housing resources the St. Francis House and the Archdiocese will create with the City of Boston through this project and we look forward to working with our colleagues in state and local government to create similar opportunities across the Commonwealth.”

“This project is a strong symbol of how we are working together to end chronic homelessness in Boston and create homes for all,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I thank St. Francis House, the Planning Office for Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese of Boston and all partners involved for their incredible and compassionate vision that will provide supportive housing and a continuum of services to those in need. The strength of our city’s character is measured by how we treat every single member of our community and this groundbreaking is another step of making sure everyone has a place to call home.”

The 48 Boylston Street property was built by the Boston Young Men’s Christian Union (BYMCU) in 1875 to pursue its mission of engaging in charitable work, and was operated by the Union for over 150 years. In honoring that legacy, St. Francis House (SFH) and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese (POUA) will now use the property to continue serving those in need. Deeply rooted in a commitment to social justice and serving others, these two non-profits joined together to combine POUA’s housing development expertise with SFH’s ability and well-known track record for providing extensive supportive services. This innovative partnership was created with the help of funding from the Massachusetts Housing Partnership.

“We are so grateful for our partnership with the Planning Office for Urban Affairs and the extraordinary commitment of the Commonwealth and City for the development of this housing. Together we are creating an inclusive community where men and women once homeless will live a new life contributing to and enjoying in the vitality and prosperity of the neighborhood.” said Karen LaFrazia, President and CEO of St. Francis House.

“Providing housing options for a diverse group of people is key to a vibrant community and illustrates what can happen when we work together for the common good,” said Lisa Alberghini, President of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs. “It is only through the work and commitment of St. Francis House, Governor Baker, Mayor Walsh and all of our partners that developing this housing is possible.”

Financing for The Union includes funding from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development and MassHousing; the City of Boston Neighborhood Housing Trust and Department of Neighborhood Development; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation; Eastern Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.

The adaptive reuse of the building will be completed to the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Historic Preservation and the development is utilizing both Federal Historic Tax Credits, and Massachusetts State Historic Tax Credits provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Construction is expected to be completed in mid-December 2018.

About the Planning Office for Urban Affairs, Inc.  The Planning Office for Urban Affairs, Inc. is a social justice ministry affiliated with the Archdiocese of Boston that creates vibrant communities through the development of high quality affordable and mixed income housing and economic development efforts. As a prominent regional non-profit developer and a leading diocesan housing development ministry for the Catholic Church in America, POUA has completed nearly 3,000 units of affordable and mixed- income housing and has undertaken several neighborhood revitalization initiatives in Massachusetts.  

About St. Francis House. St. Francis House rebuilds lives by providing refuge and pathways to stability for adults experiencing homelessness and poverty. St. Francis House is a welcoming and inclusive community. Every day of the year, we enable individuals to meet their basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. We transform lives using a holistic approach to understanding and addressing behavioral health, housing and employment needs, and commit ourselves to helping those we serve achieve renewed lives of dignity and self-determination.