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Roxbury Proposal Wins 2017 Affordable Housing Development Competition

A plan to create a mix of 46 housing units and community spaces for low- to moderate-income families, including families at risk of homelessness, in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood received the first-place prize at the 17th Annual Affordable Housing Development Competition.

The first-place winner was announced during a special awards ceremony at the Boston Society of Architects/AIA on April 26. The competition drew six entries from groups of graduate students interested in architecture, real estate, planning, finance, and policy who teamed up with local affordable housing organizations.

The winning proposal, The Batson, was presented by a student team from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in collaboration with Doma Homes and Urban Edge Housing Corp. The Batson aims to transform a half-acre site with two boarded-up homes and another residence in Roxbury's Egleston Square into a community of 46 housing units for families across a range of incomes, including very low-income families at risk of homelessness, and low- to moderate-income families. More than 80 percent of the units include two or three bedrooms, and the development features community spaces on the ground floor for mingling, supportive services and play space.

The first-place team received $10,000.

"We are proud to once again sponsor this important competition. The participants successfully embraced the real-world challenges of building much-needed affordable housing in high-cost areas, stabilizing neighborhoods where residents are being displaced due to rapidly rising housing costs, and addressing the needs of seniors who are aging in place," said Susan Elliott, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston's chief business officer and emcee of the awards ceremony. "I congratulate all of the participants who worked hard over several weeks to come up with innovative proposals to provide economic stability and housing security in diverse settings."

Lisa Wong, former mayor of Fitchburg, Mass., and a senior fellow with the Governing Institute, was the keynote speaker.

"Thinking creatively about affordable housing in Massachusetts communities will be integral moving forward. I was impressed by all of the teams' thoughtful approach to developing and preserving low-cost housing, while also encouraging community and incorporating sustainable design features," said Wong.

The competition was sponsored by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, Kevin P. Martin & Associates, P.C., Boston Society of Architects/AIA, Kuehn Charitable Foundation, ICON Architecture Inc., and Citizens' Housing and Planning Association. The competition was judged by Chris Bonarrigo, Studio G Architects; Soni Gupta, Home Funders; Aeron Hodges, Stantec Architecture; David Linhart, Goulston & Storrs; David Rockwell, Massachusetts Housing Partnership; and Ashley Wisse, New Ecology Inc.

Awards were also presented to:

  • Second place: Harmony Grove, a mixed-used development of 50 units of new affordable and workforce housing in downtown Framingham proposed by students from Harvard University and MIT, in collaboration with Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc.
  • Third place: Tandem House, a substantial rehabilitation and construction of transit-oriented housing in Cambridge's Central Square that more than doubles the number of existing units, enhances the existing facilities, and includes robust programming centered on health through art, movement, and nature. The development was proposed by students from Harvard University and MIT, who worked with Cambridge Housing Authority.
  • Honorable mention: Arbor Haven, a public-private partnership that transforms a 3.9-acre industrial lot on Martha's Vineyard into 81 units of mix-income housing and a 3,500-square-foot daycare center. Arbor Haven was proposed by students from Harvard University and MIT in partnership with Island Housing Trust and Island Food Realty Trust LLC.
Batson Team

The winning team pictured from left front row: Hannah Weiss, Doug McPherson, Aliya Bhatia; second row: Ben Stillwell, Tamara Knox, Reed Jordan, Irena Matulic, Johanna Faust, Jing Ng, Chi-Chi Lin, and Kristen Hunter.