In October 2000, a concerned group of Hyde Park and Roslindale residents met around their kitchen tables to voice neighborhood concerns on issues such as housing prices, abandoned lots, empty buildings, and the need for economic development and job training for residents. At that initial meeting, the neighbors agreed to take action to organize a new community development corporation in Hyde Park and Roslindale. After hosting a number of ‘kitchen table discussions’ and larger community forums, the Southwest Boston CDC was incorporated in the spring of 2001 by a committed group of volunteers, with a mission to:
Develop and preserve affordable housing for low- and moderate-income people; prevent displacement of neighborhood residents, particularly elders and those of limited means; and strengthen the commercial base of the neighborhoods.
In the fall of 2002, Southwest Boston CDC elected its first Board of Directors, representing the diversity within Hyde Park and Roslindale. In the years since, Southwest Boston CDC has experienced substantial growth in programs and staffing. We look toward the future with great anticipation.
Between 2002 and 2007 SWBCDC was actively involved in campaigns to preserve section 8 expiring use housing in the CDC’s service area. Weld Park Apartments and Florence Apartments were preserved as affordable housing with the help of SWBCDC’s community organizers
At the urging of some local artists, in 2003 SWBCDC brought together a Coalition of Hyde Park artists, arts organizations and businesses which promoted Hyde Park arts and encouraged patronage of local businesses. Out of this effort came the annual Hyde Park Artscene outdoor art and music festival which ran every July until 2008, when the Menino Arts Center stepped in to represent the interests of Hyde Park artists.
In 2009 SWBCDC secured funding from the Dept of Health and Human Services to conduct a community needs assessment. The assessment was conducted by James Johnson and colleagues at UMass Boston. Two new initiatives were launched as a result of the needs assessment 02136, All Things Hyde Park, and the Hyde Park Community Resources. 02136, All Things Hyde Park was spurred by business leaders’ and residents’ that identified a priority to revitalize the business district and promote Hyde Park as a great place to live. This neighborhood-wide committee including neighborhood associations, business leader and elected officials planned and executed two sold out ‘Taste of Hyde Park’ trolley tours to promote businesses around Hyde Park. Hyde Park Community Resources was established as a service providers’ coalition to secure better services for low income and newcomer families. HPCR initially focused on improving accessibility to services for all Hyde Park residents. HPCR created Hyde Park’s first service directory, sponsored two service information fairs (each attend by 200 residents and 25 agencies) and collaborated with the Boston Public Health Commission to convene community meetings on the health of Hyde Park. SWBCDC has been the fiscal sponsor for 02136, All Things Hyde Park and is the convener of HPCR.
Also in 2009 Mayor Thomas Menino worked with SWBCDC to establish a summer youth jobs program, initially focused on keeping the business district of Logan Square/Cleary Square clean. The program grew into the Hyde Park Green team, which employs high school students to maintain and restore the Urban Wilds in Hyde Park which are owned by Boston Parks and Recreation. The Hyde Park Green Team continues to grow and has restored 7 urban wilds. It also includes the Goatscaping Program, and has worked on Placemaking projects as well.
Since 2004 SWBCDC has been a member of the Fairmount Indigo Line CDC Collaborative. Through the FICC SWBCDC commissioned an urban designer to craft a conceptual vision for the development of Logan Square, organized to secure public investment in the addition of new stations on the Fairmount Rail Line, organized to lower fares at the Logan Square (Fairmount Ave) station on the line, participated in and shaped the BRA Fairmount Indigo Planning Process and identified priority parcels for open space development as part of the Fairmount Greenway.
SWBCDC worked to advance many affordable housing developments over its early years. However, most housing development efforts were stymied by high development costs and objections to developments that would provide needed affordable housing and revitalize a struggling business district.
However, 2016 SWBCDC started to develop its housing portfolio in earnest. We purchased an 8-unit building in Roslindale in order to preserve the homes as affordable, and secured an award of state financing for our first new construction project: a 27-unit rental housing development, an important transit oriented development adjacent to Fairmount station.