It’s a story familiar to anyone who works at City Hall. You’re waiting for the elevator, the doors open, and a beautiful, modest couple is standing there. They’re nervous. A bouquet in hand, a beautiful dress and a suit. Or maybe just suits.
They’re about to have one of the most important moments of their lives on the sixth floor of City Hall. They’re getting married.
Earlier in the year, we had an idea to document and share these moments with the help of a makeshift photobooth. Starting on the ninth anniversary of marriage equality, we set up a backdrop, some lights, and a camera. And everyone — the couples, the families, the folks in the City Clerk’s office — was excited with the results.
Only a handful of couples get married in City Hall each week. But since 2004, 41,065 couples have registered to get married in the City of Boston. Couples have come from around 1,900 towns and from 78 different countries, including every state in the nation.
These statistics fascinated us. So we dug into the data a little bit more deeply. For example, one fascinating statistic was that since 2004, 37% of same-sex couples changed their names after marriage vs. 74% of female-male couples. And while most couples get married in their late twenties or early thirties, it is a very long tail, with people getting married later in life.
While Boston is a world-class city, Boston remains a remarkably intimate city. Marriages at City Hall remind us of the important moments that are connected to the basic administrative roles of the City. While weddings might be the most personal events conducted at City Hall, there are stories behind each of the City’s transactions and significant consequence to the policies that govern them.
Dave McNulty is a lifelong resident of Hyde Park.He graduated from Boston Latin Academy and Northeastern University. He has worked for the City for 17 years, 9 of them as the Hyde Park and Roslindale coordinator in Neighborhood Services.
Most Common Calls:
I get calls about everything you can imagine, but my top 3 would be:
Volume of cars on certain streets
Issues at a Glance:
Traffic and parking are always huge in issues in Hyde Park and Roslindale. In Hyde Park, any larger residential development is always a big concern. The major project being proposed right now is for 27 units at Fairmount Station. In Roslindale, development around the Village is always big news. The Substation Project and the accompanying 43 residential units is a popular issue at this moment. Improvements to the Roslindale Library have also been talked about for a few years now, and residents would like to see some action taken on that project.
In Roslindale, the Roslindale Village Main Streets Board is the best place to start. In addition to being involved in Main Streets, the board members are all active in local businesses and neighborhood groups. Roslindale also has several neighborhood beautification and green groups like Greening Rozzie and the Roslindale Green and Clean.The Casserly House is a key player in the Archdale/Fawndale area, and its partnership with the Archdale BHA, the Menino Community Center and the Fawndale Apartments has been very effective in the past few years.
In Hyde Park, it is important to get to know the leaders of the four major neighborhood groups: Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, Fairmount Hill Neighborhood Association, East River Street Neighborhood Association and the Readville Neighborhood Watch. The E-18 Community Service Officer is very active through Hyde Park and parts of Roslindale, and has ties into every neighborhood group. The Hyde Park Community Center and the Hyde Park Main Streets are also very engaged organizations, and the Southwest Boston CDC is still very active in development and community concerns in Hyde Park.
Events Not to Miss:
Roslindale hosts farmers markets on Saturdays for 6 months of the year that are great community days. The 4 major events throughout the year are:
Roslindale Day Parade in October
Taste of Roslindale in October
Christmas Tree Lighting - saturday after Thanksgiving
Easter Egg Hunt - saturday of Easter weekend
In Hyde Park, the largest event by far is the Anderson Tree Lighting. It is in its 33rd year in front of the Hyde Park Community Center and is lit the Sunday after Thanksgiving every year. Leading up to the lighting is an all day Christmas Festival with singing and dancing, kiddie rides, a petting zoo, and horse and buggy rides. It is a great family day.
My Favorite Things about Roslindale and Hyde Park:
In Roslindale, it is the success of the Village. The selection of great shops and restaurants. I love to see how the community gets behind the business district and helps to make it successful, which spreads out into the strength of the residential neighborhoods.
Hyde Park is my home, and my favorite parts would have to be the history and the community. Since starting this job I have learned so much about the history of Hyde Park and I’m continuously amazed at how rich it is. Also the parks - Hyde Park has the best collection of green spaces in the City, including a great golf course.
Biggest Challenge of being a coordinator:
The hardest part is dealing with issues that take months, or sometimes years, to fix. It is especially frustrating dealing with Problem Properties where the owners hide behind the law to stall progress and leave the community’s quality of life to suffer.
But the best part is when you can be there to see months or years worth of work resolved.
Return every phone call and email as soon as possible. Attend every meeting and event. Show the people in the neighborhood that even if you can’t always give them the answer that you are looking for, you will still be there to work with them.
The Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), led by Director Sheila Dillon, is tasked with making the City of Boston the most livable city in the nation. DND does this by working with Boston’s neighborhoods to develop public real estate, create housing opportunities, foster thriving business districts, and put public money where it’s needed most.
DND is the City’s recipient of all federal, state and city funds for community development and affordable housing (excluding public housing). It is also responsible for the management and disposition of all tax-foreclosed and surplus municipal properties. This combination of real estate and money sets DND apart from most community development agencies nationally; it enables DND to deliver a very comprehensive neighborhood development agenda.
DND’s FY14 Budget was $77,685,924. These funds come from 25 different funding sources, the most significant of which are the US Department of Housing and Urban Development funded programs. These programs represent 68% of DND’s funding. As a mostly externally funded agency, very little of DND’s budget comes from City of Boston sources.
DND has 151 staff organized into 8 divisions:
Policy Development & Research
Real Estate Management & Sales
Neighborhood Housing Development
Boston Home Center
Office of Business Development
Last week, Next Boston highlighted the work of the Office of Business Development and the City’s nationally-recognized Main Streets program. In the weeks ahead, the blog will highlight other divisions of the Department, and today will focus on the Real Estate Management and Sales (REMS) division, responsible for managing the City’s foreclosed and surplus property portfolio.
REMS KEY PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES
MIDDLE INCOME HOUSING INITIATIVE: The City is at a unique moment in time, where housing prices are outstripping middle-class homeowners’ abilities to enter the housing market. To that end, DND is disposing of 1 million square feet of real estate, which will be sold at below-market prices to smaller contractor-builders who build new homes affordable to the middle class. 312,000 square feet are now underway, with another 224,000 square feet planned for early 2014.
REAL ESTATE SALES: With the real estate market rebounding, DND’s priority has been to get as many of its real estate holdings back into productive use and back on the tax rolls in a manner that is respectful of local community needs and preferences. Currently, there are two million square feet in active disposition, including significant sites such as the former Cote Ford site in Mattapan, the Tremont-Parker site in Jamaica Plain, the Lewis Chemical site in Hyde Park, 65 East Cottage Street in Dorchester, and the Charlestown Armory.
RETURNING PROBLEM PROPERTIES TO PRODUCTIVE USE: Working closely with Treasury and the Law Department, DND is using the tax foreclosure process to rapidly acquire the City’s worst problem properties, getting them out of the hands of absentee landlords and redirecting them to productive ownership. We are piloting the new legal avenues that allow us to rapidly foreclose of blighted vacant properties and dispose of these properties to new owners. Additionally, we are working closely with the Problem Properties Task Force run out of the Mayor’s Office to ensure that we are bringing all City resources to bear on the worst of the worst problem properties.
URBAN AGRICULTURE: DND is using City-owned land to create urban agriculture opportunities by licensing vacant land to non-profit and legally established community groups for urban gardening as well as educational programming. 3 urban agriculture dispositions (50,000 sf) are scheduled to be offered by the end of 2013, and another 6 sites (111,000 sf) are undergoing community review before proceeding in 2014.
PROPERTY DISPOSITION: The City property in REMS’ stewardship includes vacant parcels as well as residential, commercial, and industrial properties. These properties come in to REMS mainly through tax takings, foreclosure, and the City deciding to surplus excess property it owns. REMS manages the process through which land and buildings are disposed, which often entails community meetings, crafting and issuing Requests for Proposals, and overseeing the review selection process of bidders.
All active disposition projects that are currently underway can be found at DNDPropertyForSale.com – which includes photos, maps, updates on projects’ statuses, and a place for community members to comment if they are unable to attend community meetings.
In order to make sure that City-owned properties are returned to their highest, best use in the community, DND currently has 34 property disposition projects under agreement with developers. These projects represent 109 parcels with 1.1 million square feet of property.
When completed, these dispositions will create 570 new units of housing and establish four new community-owned open space facilities. They will also generate $6.4 million in revenue to Treasury and add $140 million to the City’s tax base, generating $1.3 million annually in new taxes.
Another 57 projects comprising 1,094,000 square feet of real estate are being prepared for disposition through community-centered development planning efforts. 39 projects are already in the community review and disposition process (see listing Appendix 1.) Of these, 8 are planned for commercial development, 12 for residential development, and 14 for community-owned open spaces.
PROPERTY MANAGEMENT: REMS is responsible for ensuring that all of DND’s properties are responsibly maintained, including fencing and grass cutting in summer, removal of debris from storms and illegal dumping as well as snow removal in winter. REMS is also responsible for identifying and addressing any environmental issues (e.g. underground storage tanks, asbestos) that arise. In addition to the Strand Theatre, REMS is responsible for securing and stabilizing 40 buildings, of which 6 are occupied and 5 are individual condominium units.
Charles Zhu is one of the Mayor’s two inaugural Greenovate Boston Fellows. He manages the performance measures, grassroots engagement strategies, and technology platforms for the Greenovate Boston initiative. The Greenovate Boston Fellows report directly to the Chief of Environment & Energy and the Mayor.
What does the green, sustainable Boston of the future look like? As the City updates its Climate Action Plan (CAP) next year, we’ll be working with all of Boston’s residents, businesses and institutions to answer that question.
Our last CAP, updated in 2011, set ambitious targets for reducing Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions—25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050—as well as a vision for a city that is reducing its carbon footprint while preparing for the impacts of an already changing climate.
As recommended by the Climate Action Leadership Committee, a citywide body that helped craft the 2011 CAP, our strategies—which cover everything from transportation and building infrastructure to our tree canopy cover—are updated every three years. And with every subsequent update, we’ll evaluate our current strategies, look at new ones, and re-energize the community as we progress towards 2050.
It’s a long road, but the CAP ensures that we have a map to get there.
One thing is certain: City Hall can’t do this work alone. In order to achieve our goals, every Bostonian must be involved in helping us create a sustainable vision, while taking his or her own actions to help, small or large. That’s why we want to engage at least 10,000 people throughout the 2014 CAP’s planning and implementation process. We’ve already gotten started with the launch of the Engage Greenovate Boston platform, a virtual town hall that allows everyone to submit their comments about what goes into the City’s climate strategies.
Beyond online engagement, we’re also getting out to the neighborhoods, partnering with community organizations to conduct outreach across the entire city. Here are some upcoming events:
Greenovate Boston Community Kick-off Meeting(December 9): This meeting is aimed at key community stakeholders and sustainability leaders to discuss the process and how to get involved.
Co-sponsored Events(January to April): A series of co-sponsored events between Greenovate Boston and partners will educate residents about the CAP as well as everyday actions they can take to reduce their carbon footprints.
Greenovate Boston Community Summit (April/May): We’re aiming to have hundreds of attendees at an event that will feature educational workshops, focused discussions, showcases, and more.
Next year, we’ll also convene a formal committee, just like the original Climate Action Leadership Committee. Along with this overarching committee, we plan to include five strategy groups made up of community representatives, city staff and technical experts.
Finally, and because we want the update process to be action-oriented, Greenovate Boston will continue to promote individual climate actions and highlight all the good work happening across the City. Even as we’re soliciting input and crafting the CAP update together, we’re hoping to reach a much broader audience on everything they can do to create a more sustainable city.
Boston’s five-year $1.8 billion capital plan is an investment program for the City’s future. The program name, Together We Can, reinforces the idea that cities are neighborhoods, and the capital plan is a strategic tool shaped by many hands and designed to enhance the livability of a City that draws strength from its neighborhoods.
The City’s Capital Plan is managed by the Office of Budget Management. OBM coordinates the evaluation of capital requests and recommends the allocation of current and future capital resources.
The FY14-18 Capital Plan is broken down along the program areas below.
72% of the FY14-18 capital plan is financed with bonds issued by the City. Roughly 1/4 of the capital plan is funded through state and federal grant programs. Construction costs for most of the major road or bridge projects in the plan rely heavily on state and federal funds. 6% of the plan is funded by other sources, including City surplus property funds, street cut fees and private grants.
A Five-year Plan:
Like many municipalities, Boston plans its capital investments using a five-year plan. Not only does a five-year plan accommodate multi-year projects more readily than an annual budget, it also provides a snapshot of how the City will be investing in its infrastructure in the near future. Some projects, like street reconstruction, are done on a yearly basis, but other projects, such as the reconstruction of the traffic flow, pedestrian access and parking issues are done over multiple years. The entire Capital Plan is revisited each year, so FY18 will look very different four years from now than it does today as the final year in the current plan, but by plotting out projects we can better plan for the future of the City’s infrastructure.
The charts below illustrate the actual process for the study, design and build-out of the East Boston Branch Library and a typical School Yard renovation project which has been completed at over 80 BPS schools.
The Capital Plan and Transforming Neighborhoods:
In addition to the practical aspects of planning out a multi-year capital plan, the five-year plan also allows the City to look at the bigger picture and how one project can lead to a total transformation of a city street, a block or an entire neighborhood. For example, when the decision was made to invest $119 million in a new Dudley Municipal Center, we knew that more needed to be done to change the face of Dudley Square. The capital plan also called for a new piece of art to be commissioned outside of that building; a new entryway to be installed at the Library to make it more inviting and obvious; a redesign of the surrounding streets to improve traffic flow for cars, pedestrians and cyclists; and the demolition of the old B-2 police station to make way for other development. Each of those projects by themselves would be a nice improvement, but together they can transform Dudley Square for the people who live, work and shop there.
The Year Ahead:
The projects listed below have scheduled completion dates for the years ahead.
Prevention and Partnerships: A Public Health Approach to Reducing Violence
Recently analyzed data from the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) paint a troubling picture of the number of young people that are exposed to violence in their homes, communities, and relationships:
48% of Boston public high school students know a family member or close friend that was killed.
16% of Boston high public school students experience violence in their home.
13% of Boston high public school students report having been forced to engage in sexual intercourse against their will.
High school students who carried a gun in the last 30 days were twice as likely as high school students who were non-gun carriers to report that they seriously considered suicide.
Nearly 30% of parents across the city felt their child was not safe in their neighborhood.
While violence can occur anywhere, it disproportionately affects communities of color in Boston, where the homicide rate for young black males is more than 32 times the rate for young white males.
Boston is fortunate, however, to have a tremendous group of partners that are committed to preventing and addressing the root causes of violence through a public health approach.Our law enforcement officials understand that we cannot merely arrest our way out of violence.Our healthcare community understands the need to provide strong trauma support services to victims of violence.Our schools understand the value of teaching children skills that foster social emotional wellness.Community-based organizations understand how they contribute to building trust and cohesion in our neighborhoods.And most importantly, our residents are eager to engage in every aspect of building peace in the City of Boston.
Ending the cycle of violence begins with supporting our children and families and working with them to change the social norms associated with violence.This approach is simple in theory but complicated in practice.
To that end, BPHC has developed a continuum of effective violence prevention strategies that engage different stakeholders within Boston in a way that fosters collaboration:
Supporting parents: Parents in Boston have continuously expressed a need for support from one another and from their communities to build parenting skills and develop a network of parents and caregivers that face similar challenges raising children under difficult circumstances.To respond to this need, BPHC is implementing an evidence-based Family Nurturing Program in partnership with 11 community organizations that will reach over 130 families.The culturally-sensitive program promotes healthy relationships within a family and creates community connections that support positive parenting.
Reducing children’s exposure to violence: BPHC’s Defending Childhood Initiative is creating trauma-informed spaces that reduce traumatic stressors and support individual and community healing from the impacts of violence.This work is being piloted in six early education centers over an 18-month period to develop and implement practices, policies, procedures, and systems that prevent exposure to violence, protect children, help children who have been exposed to violence heal, and support families to help children thrive.The six sites serve about 300 children and families, and if successful, this model could be replicated in all early childcare settings in Boston, as well as in schools and afterschool programs.
Teaching children peaceful conflict resolution: Violence is a learned behavior, which means we need to teach children the skills they need to resolve conflicts peacefully early in life.Supported by a $1 million donation from Partners HealthCare, BPHC has joined with the Boston Public Schools to implement a Social Emotional Learning curriculum in 22 elementary and K- schools.Over two years, 7,000 students and 750 teachers, assistants, and school administrators will learn about cooperation, speaking up, and expressing anger appropriately.Weekly interactive meetings help to improve the climate within schools and promote positive social orientation.
Creating positive opportunities for teens: Empowering teens to become peer leaders allows young people to develop decision-making abilities that ultimately improve the quality of their relationships with other teens and give them skills for future education and employment.BPHC’s Start Strong initiative is a peer leadership program that helps youth build healthy relationships and prevent dating violence.57 Start Strong teens have provided over 24,000 hours of education to other youth around the city, in addition to coordinating popular events such as the annual Break Up Summit where participants learn about engaging in healthy break ups.
Addressing domestic and sexual violence: The Family Justice Center brings together 14 agencies to provide services and training in the areas of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and child sexual abuse.The center partners with the Boston Police Department, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the Children’s Advocacy Center, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and several domestic violence prevention and anti-human trafficking programs to serve thousands of people annually.
Engaging residents in violence prevention: Our residents are our most important partner and asset.Together with hundreds of our neighbors, we created the Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) initiative to address high rates of gun violence by mobilizing the community to change the norms around violence over the long term.In 5 micro-neighborhoods of up to 900 households each, coalitions develop initiatives that help prevent violence.This fall, community members in Mattapan helped produce “Our Mattapan. Many Pasts. One Future.,” a highly-visible media campaign that told the stories of community members impacted by violence in a variety of ways.
Intervening with at-risk youth and families: Offering direct services to those most affected by violence is a fundamental aspect of prevention strategies.Serving nearly 500 people in 2012, BPHC works with Boston Medical Center to provide everything from legal and housing support to education and employment counseling for gun and knife violence victims who present at the hospital.Partners Advancing Communities Together (PACT) unites city, state, and community partners to increase access to positive opportunities for over 270 court-involved clients and their families.BPHC’s Director of Trauma services is able to coordinate immediate neighborhood support, such as behavioral health services, following a violent or traumatic event.This year, BPHC will also train 90 clinicians from 20 community health centers in trauma treatment to support children and families exposed to violence.
While gun violence receives all of the headlines, all types of violence are interconnected.In order to effectively prevent, reduce, and respond to acts of violence, our strategies must find the overlap where people are exposed to different forms of it so we can address the root causes.BPHC will continue to develop a continuum of programs and partnerships to accomplish this exact goal, with the hope that peace will one day define all our communities.
Boston Public Schools: Making one of the best urban school districts in the nation even better
By John McDonough, Interim Superintendent
Raising the quality of every school is something we work on every day in the Boston Public Schools. We survey our teachers, parents and students each spring and this year 94% of our parents reported that their child’s school is a good or great place to learn. While some schools are highly successful, others are still struggling, despite years of sustained effort. There are still persistent achievement gaps and early literacy rates are still too low.
To tackle these issues we are focused on raising quality in every school. This includes offering hiring autonomy to all of our schools this year – which will allow school leaders to pick their teams and hire great teachers earlier, which makes BPS much more competitive. We’re also expanding inclusion opportunities across our city, which will allow students with disabilities to learn alongside their general education peers. Research shows this helps all students do better, regardless of whether they have a disability or not. We’re also focused on early literacy and are developing a long-term facilities plan that will help us welcome more students and set us on a path toward expanding early education opportunities, which we already offer to more than 2,300 students.
In 2010 BPS was named one of the 20 ‘most improved school districts in the world’ and last year the Council of the Great City Schools cited BPS as the only district in the country to have caught up with national academic benchmarks after having started significantly below them.
In 1996 fewer than 25% of high school students earned passing grades on statewide mathematics exams. Today, 84 percent pass on the first attempt. The chart above references a national mathematics exam that measures performance among 8th grade African-American students across the nation – and our 8th graders outperform them all! Our graduation rate is the highest it has ever been since we started keeping track, at 65.9 percent, and we have cut the drop-out rate by a third in just five years. Thanks to partnerships we have added weekly arts and music experiences for more than 14,000 students and we now offer extended days for one out of every five students. We have also expanded summer learning opportunities so twenty percent of our students now spend their summer breaks in academically-powerful programs, taught by our own teachers and designed to help students excel.
We also serve a more diverse population than nearly any other school district in the country. More than 20% of our students have a disability and almost 50% speak a language other than English at home. About three out of every four BPS families lives at or near the poverty line. Our families also have more educational choices than almost anywhere else in the nation – here in Boston they can choose BPS, a charter school, METCO, and an array of private and parochial schools. All told, BPS educates about 75% of the school-age children in the city.
The calendar says the school year starts in September and ends in June. Actually, our goal is to keep students engaged and learning all year long – including in vacation-week Acceleration Academies and in our free summer programs.
There are other important dates to remember. Families in Boston get to take part in a school choice process that began in November when we asked new-to-BPS families to visit schools they’re interested in attending for the next school year. In January, parents of students entering Kindergarten, 6th grade and 9th grade list their school choices and find out their school assignment in March.
Statewide assessment exams are an important part of what we do. This year, spring MCAS assessments begin on March 18, but there’s a change – the state is also field testing PARCC, which is the new assessment system that will help support our shift to the strengthened Common Core standards. Many students will take a trial run of the PARCC in March and April.
Our budget process also follows a schedule. This year we will release our weighted student funding budget allocations to schools on December 13, which kicks off a school-level planning process in partnership with principals, teachers and parents. These groups will then submit proposed budgets a few weeks later. After that, we’ll begin a staffing process to figure out how many teachers and staff we’ll need in each school to serve the students we project will enroll there.
On February 5, I will submit our recommended FY15 budget to the School Committee. This is followed by another community engagement process in which we’ll respond to what we are hearing from parents, students and staff. The School Committee will vote on the revised budget on March 26, at which point it becomes part of the Mayor’s budget submission to the City Council.
The Office of Civil Rights was created in 1995 as a human rights umbrella agency responsible for enforcing and coordinating several anti-discrimination ordinances in the City of Boston. The office of Civil Rights enforces the city’s Fair Housing, Human Rights and CORI ordinances, which fall under two main program areas:
The Fair Housing Commission and
The Human Rights Commission
The Fair Housing Commission (FHC), founded in 1982, works to eliminate discrimination and increase access to housing. The five member board conducts housing discrimination hearings, and may levy fines and damages. The Investigation and Enforcement unit looks into possible cases of discrimination and brings forward those with probable cause. FHC also operates a robust Affirmative Marketing Program to ensure that housing developments receiving city assistance have fair tenant selection and marketing plans.
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has a mayoral appointed board working to fulfill a mission that all persons are treated fairly and equally. The HRC coordinates or facilitates investigation of complaints of discrimination in the workplace, credit transactions, education, and public accommodations. When necessary they hold investigatory hearings, and the conciliation of complaints. The HRC, after being dormant, has recently been reactivated, and currently investigates complaints under the city’sCORI Ordinance, which requires that persons and businesses supplying goods or services to the City of Boston deploy fair policies throughout the hiring process related to the screening and identification of persons with criminal backgrounds through the CORI system.
The Fair Housing Commission’s (FHC) Metrolist program, its investigation & enforcement ability, and its judicial authority are required by a 1991 court agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This agreement was part of the settlement of a lawsuit brought against HUD by the Boston Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The agreement also requires that the city uses a portion of its annual Community Development Block Grant to fund the FHC.
TOP THREE CHALLENGES MOVING FORWARD:
1. Human Rights & Jobs for ex-offenders
Re-establishing a Human Rights Commission and filling our seven member board by mayoral appointment, to aid in developing a human rights agenda that complements the work of the fair housing commission, and helps to build an inclusive city where progress and diversity is spread throughout all of our neighborhoods. Furthering the spirit of the city’s CORI ordinance to improve the chances that all residents can find meaningful employment, even when impacted by negative CORI screening results.
2. Increase access to housing opportunities for families and other protected classes.
Boston is a growing, thriving city, middle income and family sized housing units are in high demand. However too many families with children face obstacles in finding housing dues to rising costs, but also due housing discrimination rooted in housing units that are not lead safe. With more than 50% of our housing stock being built prior to 1950, we must make our housing safer and more accessible by comprehensively addressing the cost issues around de-leading, by outreach and education around de-leading resources, fair housing awareness, and the dangers of lead paint to our children.
3.Fair Housing & Community Planning
Our city is diverse, but not as integrated as we would hope or expect, and the quality of life is not up to our standards in all parts of Boston. We are challenged to increase the diversity of Boston’s neighborhoods and schools, while eliminating disparities in health outcomes, job access, housing choice, public safety, and quality of life.
Alwyn Mcleod has been the Mayor’s Roxbury Coordinator in Neighborhood Services since March, 2012. Alwyn was born and raised on Elm Hill Ave in the Grove Hall section of Roxbury. He is a graduate of TechBoston Academy and Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
Most Common Calls:
I receive a lot of calls for basic city service requests. I get some noise complaints, but the top 3 are:
Missed Trash Pick-up
Resident Parking Questions
Issues at a Glance:
Dudley Square is an exciting place right now. With developments like the Ferdinand Municipal Building, a new hotel, an upgraded Tropical Foods supermarket - Dudley is going to be booming again in the very near future.
The Melnea Cass expansion plan is also looking to provide improvements to transportation in the area, which will also help make Dudley Square a destination spot within Boston.
The Dudley Branch Library has been a staple in the Roxbury community for years, providing the resources to foster ideas and expand minds through reading. The community centers like the Grove Hall Community Center, Boys and Girls Club Yawkey Club, the Shelbourne Community Center, Orchard Gardens Community Center and Vine Street Community Center all have been great assets to youth and families in the area.
Events Not to Miss:
June - Juneteenth celebrations and the Kite Festival are both held at Franklin Park
July - the Puerto Rican Festival
August - the Dominican Festival and the Carribean Carnival
My Favorite Thing about Roxbury:
I love the rich history and arts and culture that Roxbury has brought to the City and to the country as a whole.
Biggest Challenge of being a coordinator:
The hardest part about this job has been responding to emergencies and meeting with people who have just gone through a life-altering experience. But on the flip side, the best part is getting to really help people who need it the most and seeing them recover and get through their situation.
The best advice I received before starting was to stay on my toes and be ready for anything. Even if there are challenges, get creative and work through to find a solution.
My advice to future coordinators is to be kind and be responsive to the constituents. It’s always about the people.
There is no shortage of Holiday Cheer in the City of Boston. Starting in mid-November, there are more than 40 Holiday Strolls, tree lightings, wreath lightings and menorah lightings throughout the City. A full-listing of lightings, holiday specials, 1/2 price theatre tickets and more can be found at www.cityofboston.gov/arts or by looking at the City’s Winter Brochure.