The Helm on Third

We are listening to community feedback to incorporate changes to the potential project. We look forward to communicating potential revisions to the project with the community.


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A New Permanent Affordable Housing Community

The YMCA of Greater Boston, 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 three committed, mission-driven nonprofits to create permanently affordable housing to include a mix of units for the workforce and formerly homeless, and to include health and wellness offerings while preserving historic neighborhood aesthetics and alleviating housing instability.

Trusted Partners

The joint venture between the YMCA of Greater Boston, St. Francis House and POUA represents a unique partnership between experienced, high-quality nonprofit organizations. All three partners have a long track record of serving at-risk and vulnerable populations. 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. The YMCA of Greater Boston is also committed to relieving housing insecurity and provides families emergency shelter with its Families in Transition (FIT) program and affordable single occupancy housing options at the Huntington House located at its headquarters in Boston.

At The Constitution Inn, POUA’s development experience is combined with the proven track records of St. Francis House and the YMCA of Greater Boston to provide holistic support services to adults and families 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, finding a job and being an active member of the community is impossible. This building will strengthen our mission to provide pathways to stability for individuals experiencing homelessness.”


– Karen LaFrazia, St. Francis House President & CEO


Building a Community at the Constitution Inn

Permanent Affordable Housing for a Diversity of Households

The Constitution Inn will be renovated to serve as a 126-unit apartment building comprised of 100 percent permanently affordable housing units, including:

126 Units of Permanent, Affordable Housing

  • 96 studios for formerly homeless individuals

Individuals earning up to $29,4501

Pay 30% of income towards rent

  • 30 permanently affordable and income-restricted units

Available for individuals and households earning up to approximately $56,000, $67,000 and $75,000, depending on household size
– 2 studios: $1,473/month
– 24 one-bedroom units: $1,315-1,578/month
– 4 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 managing
  • Mix of formerly homeless and workforce housing
  • Average length of tenancy: 6.7 years
  • More than half over than 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

tenant selection

Property Management

  • Will hire professional third-party property management firm
    • Two full-time property management staff
    • Two full-time 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
    • Housing Manager
    • 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
  • Case management

On-Site Services Provided by St. Francis House

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

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 and existing free shuttle service to destinations outside the Navy Yard.
  • In addition, we will provide Helm residents a free shuttle service to destinations outside the Navy Yard (grocery store, 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 Constitution Inn, YMCA members, and residents of Charlestown in mind, body, and spirit. In alignment with that mission, the YMCA will remain in its location for the next five years and continue to serve current and future members throughout renovations of a new, modern multi-functional space welcome to all. There will also be on-site Resident Life Coordinators for The Constitution Inn 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 renovation. 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.

Anticipated Timeline

  • Undertake due diligence and community outreach: Summer – Fall 2022
  • Permitting Approval: November 2022
  • Renovations begin: First Quarter 2023 (approximately 16 months)
    • No additional square footage, height, etc.
    • Minimal exterior renovations
    • Public realm improvements
  • Occupancy: Second/Third Quarter 2024

Community Meeting Dates

Because the partners of The Helm on Third have withdrawn their Article 80 waiver request, the BPDA has cancelled the community meeting scheduled for October 24, 2022 6PM – 8PM.

BPDA Announcement:

Public Meeting | Virtual Meeting

Monday, October 24, 2022 | 06:00 PM – 08:00 PM

The BPDA will be hosting a virtual Public Meeting in connection with the Request to Waive Large Project Review associated with the Constitution Inn project received by the Boston Planning & Development Agency on October 5, 2022.

Tuesday, October 4th

  • Charlestown Neighborhood Coalition
  • In-person, public meeting
  • Knights of Columbus, 545 Medford Street, Charlestown
  • 7-9pm
For more information please contact: