Addressing Boston’s Housing Needs Amidst COVID-19

Department of Neighborhood Development Plays Key Role

In FY21, the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) is the key city department addressing Boston’s housing needs amidst the ongoing pandemic, local economic uncertainty, and residential instability. The Department’s operating and external funds budget are bolstered by $56.6M from three sources of CARES Act federal funding specifically for COVID-19 response:

  • Community Development Block Grants (CDBG-CV) – $20.0M
  • Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) – $8.0M
  • Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG-CV) – $28.5M

Federal Funding for Pandemic Housing Needs

The state-wide eviction moratorium is in effect until October 17. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council estimates that 80,000 households in Boston will struggle to pay their rent in October. On October 12, the Baker Administration announced $171M in support for renters and landowners, but it is unclear how much this will limit the scale of evictions.

DND Use of Federal COVID-19 Funding (in millions)*
Source Use Amount Expended Balance Expiration Date
ESG-CV Homelessness Services $28.5 $2.2 $26.3 9/30/2022
CDBG-CV Eviction Prevention/Rental Assistance $20.0 $2.5 $17.5 5/26/2026
CRF Homeless Services/Eviction Prevention $8.0 $3.0 $5.0 12/30/2020
Total Amount $56.6 $7.7 $48.9  
*Does not include additional $449,562 in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants through the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) Program.

DND’s Office of Housing Stability is partnering with three nonprofit organizations – Metro Housing Boston, Neighborhood of Affordable Housing, and Project Hope – to distribute $8M of federal stimulus funds committed to date to assist families with rental payments. Of that $8M commitment, DND has expended $5.5M from two CARES Act funding sources as of September 2020: $3M in Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and $2.5M in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG-CV). DND is also in the process of awarding $23.5M of Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG-CV) to homelessness service providers for adding shelter capacity and expanding rapid rehousing programs. All these funds are designated for use in FY21 and later.

Other Key Initiatives and New Programs in the FY21 Budget

The Department’s FY21 operating budget of $29.1M reflects an increase of $8.5M, or 41.4%, from FY20. This includes an additional $2.0M from the reallocation of the Boston Police Department (BPD) overtime budget for family & youth homelessness, fair housing & eviction prevention, and services for first-time homeowners. The $8.5M increase also includes $2.5M to create a city-funded rental voucher, $2.4M for homebuyer’s assistance, and $2.2M to connect homeless individuals to housing and support services ($7.1M total). The $8.5M increase reflects net year-over-year changes in various items of DND’s operating budget, which accounts for the difference between the total of the highlighted new investments ($9.1M) and the overall FY20-21 change ($8.5M).

The FY21 budget otherwise reflects additional resources for DND to continue addressing homelessness and evictions. In response to these escalating issues, from FY17 through FY21, DND’s General Fund appropriations have risen 125%, from $12.9M to $29.1M. Most of the increase has been in DND’s special appropriations, which are typically for initiatives not covered by federal funding, such as the Boston Housing 2030 Fund. Special/other appropriations account for 78.6% of DND’s total FY21 appropriations and have increased from $8.6M to $22.9M (167.4%) since FY17.

DND is especially reliant on external funding to complement its General Fund appropriations and support initiatives addressing local housing challenges. DND’s $87.8M FY21 external funds budget is the second largest of all departments, accounting for 23.5% of city external funds budgeted in FY21 ($374.1M). The majority of these funds come from a combination of federal sources and state and private grants.

 

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