The Helm on Third

Updated March 2023

 We have been listening to community feedback and based on that feedback, we have incorporated changes to the potential project. A revised program model is described in the following pages. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with the Charlestown community in large and small group meetings to provide updates, answer questions and to ultimately create a strong model of permanent affordable housing.


We are having small group zoom meetings with up to 20 people at a time in attendance. We encourage anyone who is interested in participating in one of these discussions to sign up here. 

We have worked with the Charlestown Neighborhood Coalition to schedule an in-person community meeting on Thursday, April 13th, from 7:00pm-9:30pm at the Knights of Columbus, 545 Medford Street, Charlestown, MA 02129.


A New Permanent Affordable Housing Community

St. Francis House and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs have come together to meet a critical need and create more affordable housing opportunities at The Constitution Inn in Charlestown. Located in the Navy Yard, this historic building will be renovated by two committed, mission-driven nonprofits to create permanently affordable housing to include a mix of units for the workforce, those in recovery, formerly homeless individuals who have demonstrated housing stability and homeless women and veterans.

The Charlestown YMCA

The Charlestown YMCA will remain on-site and continue to provide important health and wellness programs and services to its members and the Charlestown community including a renovated fitness center, swimming lessons, social services, and community engagement events.

Trusted Partners

The joint venture between St. Francis House and POUA represents a unique partnership between experienced, high-quality nonprofit organizations. Both partners have a long track record of serving at-risk and vulnerable populations. Since 1997, St. Francis House has operated 56 units of supported housing for formerly homeless individuals in their main building in Downtown Boston. More recently, St. Francis House and POUA have successfully worked together on two high impact, mission-oriented developments in Downtown Boston. In 2016, St. Francis House and POUA acquired the former Boston Young Men’s Christian Union building and converted the historic building into 46 units of affordable housing, with 26 of the units set aside for formerly homeless households. They have also successfully worked with the City of Boston and the Boston Planning and Development Agency to permit a 19-story, 126-unit tower that will provide affordable and workforce housing in an integrated environment with a significant portion of the units set aside for formerly homeless households.

Both St. Francis House and POUA have a long partnership with Maloney Properties to provide property management services and they will provide onsite property management for the Helm. Maloney Properties provides customized property management services for over 10,000 units of mixed-use, market rate, and affordable housing in over 80 communities across New England. Maloney will be a strategic partner in the creation and management of the Helm as a successful new addition to the Charlestown community.

At The Constitution Inn, POUA’s development experience is combined with the proven track record of St. Francis House to provide permanent affordable housing opportunities for a wide range of individuals and families, including holistic support services to adults experiencing homelessness. St. Francis House’s demonstrated success will ensure that future residents of the property will achieve renewed lives of dignity, stability, and self-determination. Collectively, the YMCA of Greater Boston, POUA, and St. Francis House have the experience, capacity, commitment, and networks to successfully create a strong new community at The Constitution Inn.


“Without an affordable home, living a healthy life and being an active member of the community is impossible. This housing community will enable individuals currently experiencing homelessness and those experiencing housing insecurity to enjoy the peace and security that only a home can provide.”


– Karen LaFrazia, St. Francis House President & CEO


Building a Community at the Constitution Inn

Permanent Affordable Housing for a Diversity of Households

What is permanent affordable housing?

Permanent Affordable Housing:
• Permanent: all tenants have a one-year lease
• Affordable: household pays no more than 30% of income towards rent

Permanent Supportive Housing:
• Housing: not shelter, not transitional
• On-site case management
• Provides supportive services to assist homeless households with a disability in achieving housing stability

Income-Restricted Housing:
• Permanent housing reserved for households earning below a certain income, with eligibility based on household size and total income

Revised Proposal (March 2023)

The Constitution Inn will be renovated to serve as a 120-unit apartment building comprised of 100 percent permanently affordable housing units, including:

  • 64 permanent supported studio apartments
    • 32 units for veterans moving out of homelessness
    • 32 units for women moving out of homelessness
  • 32 permanent affordable studio apartments
    • 16 units for individuals moving from recovery programs
    • 16 units for individuals with a minimum of 18 months demonstrated successful tenancies
  • 24 permanent affordable and income-restricted units
    • Available for individuals and families earning up to approximately $56,000, $67,000 and $75,000, depending on household size
    • 16 one-bedroom units: $1,315-1,578/month
    • 8 two-bedroom units: $1,893/month

Resident Profiles

St. Francis House Developments: The Next Step & The Union               

  • Over 25 years of experience owning, operating, and providing support services
  • Mix of formerly homeless and workforce housing
  • Next Step: Average length of tenancy: 6.7 years (opened 26 years ago)
  • The Union: Average length of tenancy: 2.7 years (opened 3 years ago)
  • More than half over 55 years of age

POUA Developments

  • 50 years of experience acquiring and developing more than 3,000 housing units
  • 1,500 units across a diverse range of neighborhoods in Boston
  • Average length of tenancy:
    • Uphams Crossing: 4-5 years
    • Rollins Square: some lifetime tenants
  • Income levels from formerly homeless to 100% AMI

Examples of current residents in other properties


  • Retired veteran, 14-year resident, 23 years sober, delivery driver
  • Formerly homeless individual, 8 years in recovery, event and party planner
  • 6-year resident, formerly homeless, valet parking attendant
  • A retired Veteran, 7-year resident, loves rhythm and soul classical music, enjoys spending time with his children, and his grandchildren.
  • 9-year resident, employed fulltime at the Boston Rescue Mission for past 5 years, Co-parenting daughter.
  • Resident for 3 years, enjoys painting at the St. Francis House Art Studio, Member of The Recovery Support center at St. Francis House, attends church weekly with his friends and neighbors
  • 14-year resident, volunteers in the dining room at St. Francis House for breakfast, and lunch every day for ten years, checks on all the elders on his floor, enjoys going to the Boston Commons to feed the birds, bike riding, and planting flowers in his unit.
  • Worker in fulfillment stocking cards at Hallmark
  • Working single mother supporting her 4-year-old daughter
  • Single working mother with son and daughter, who found a job in the neighborhood
  • Woman who is a victim of domestic violence and has two children
  • Single mother who works as a phlebotomist
  • Very young mother from the foster care system who recently went back to school to continue her education

Tenant Selection Plan

Residents’ Path to the Helm

Property Management

  • Maloney Properties: professional property management firm
    • Two full-time on-site property management staff
    • Two full-time on-site property maintenance staff
  • Building will have 24/7 on-site security/concierge
  • Renovation will include installation of interior and exterior cameras
  • All residents will have one-year leases
    • Property management will enforce compliance with leases, rules and regulations


Amenities will include:

    • Indoor and outdoor community space
    • Access to on-site fitness and wellness facilities
    • Secure mailroom
    • Bike storage
    • On-site property management
    • 24/7 on-site building security

Wraparound Services

St. Francis House will leverage its existing resources and extensive network of partners and providers to offer residents access to:

  • Behavioral health counseling
  • Appropriate health care resources
  • Employment readiness resources and job search assistance

On-Site Services Provided by St. Francis House

  • On-site staff presence 7 days a week
  • Full time Housing Manager
  • Two full time resident life coordinators
  • Four full time housing stabilization case managers
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (full time)

Parking & Transportation

  • There will be no on-site parking for residents or staff
  • Across our portfolio of comparable developments, approximately only 5% of residents have a vehicle.
  • Staff and residents will primarily utilize MBTA bus service, MBTA Ride, and existing free shuttle service to destinations outside the Navy Yard
  • In addition, we will purchase a van and provide Helm residents a free shuttle service to destinations outside the Navy Yard (grocery store, medical appointments, MBTA stations, etc.)

Community Health & Wellness

St. Francis House, POUA, and the YMCA of Greater Boston are committed to supporting and strengthening future residents of The Helm, YMCA members, and residents of Charlestown in mind, body, and spirit. In alignment with that mission, the YMCA will remain in the building, renovate, and update the Y’s facilities, convert the gymnasium to an expanded fitness center, and maintain the pool while exploring options with local partners and developers to identify additional complementary space. There will also be on-site SFH Resident Life Coordinators for the Helm to strengthen the bond between residents and the neighborhood and facilitate new partnerships and local collaborations.

Outreach & Community Engagement

All three partners are committed to investing in the Charlestown community and leading a transparent and collaborative community engagement process throughout the proposal and renovation phases. Throughout this process, St. Francis House, POUA, and the YMCA will ensure continuous communication, share timely and important progress updates, and be sensitive to the needs of the Charlestown community and current YMCA members. View our letter to request to withdraw the large project review waiver here.

As new members of the neighborhood, St. Francis House and POUA are excited to build new partnerships with civic groups, neighborhood leaders, and organizations aligned with their shared mission of rebuilding lives.


  • Undertake due diligence and community outreach: Summer 2022 – ongoing
  • File Article 80 application to the BPDA: TBD
  • Regular meetings with the community to provide updates
  • BPDA public meetings and formation of Impact Advisory Group
  • BPDA permitting approval: TBD
  • Renovations: (approximately 16 months)
    • No additional square footage, height
    • Minimal exterior renovations
    • Public realm improvements

Community Meeting Dates

Tuesday, October 4th

  • Charlestown Neighborhood Coalition
  • In-person, public meeting
  • Knights of Columbus, 545 Medford Street, Charlestown
  • 7-9pm

March 2023

As part of our community outreach process to provide updates, listen to feedback, answer questions and to encourage meaningful dialogue, throughout the month of March, we are having small group meetings by zoom with up to 20 people at a time in attendance.

We encourage anyone who is interested in participating in one of these discussions to sign up here.

Thursday, April 13th

  • Charlestown Neighborhood Coalition
  • In-person public meeting
  • Location to be determined
  • 7-9 pm

View our community meeting presentation (March 2023).

For more information please contact: