Last week, Chelsea’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board voted to endorse the sale and redevelopment of 41-43 Orange Street by Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust and Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston in cooperation with the City of Chelsea’s Department of Housing and Community Development, pending finalization of the land disposition agreement.
Working in partnership, Communidades Enraizadas and Habitat Greater Boston plan to develop four to five affordable condo units on the site, adding critically needed affordable homeownership opportunities.
This vote marks a milestone for both the City of Chelsea and Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust in their shared commitment to permanently affordable homeownership in Chelsea.
The Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board vote follows 15 years of organizing by Latina immigrant housing activists in Chelsea in response to the crisis of displacement in their city. Comunidades Enraizadas (“Rooted Communities”) Community Land Trust was founded by, and is led by, majority Central American immigrant residents who have been uprooted and forced to migrate from their home countries and are now facing displacement again as housing prices continue to rise.
“This Project is an open door of opportunities for the Chelsea community,” said Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust Board Co-Clerk Ana Vanegas. “This is our collective moment we have been waiting for, to bring a strong voice forward in response to our housing crisis. In Chelsea, like so many cities, we are struggling to remain in our homes. We deserve access to stable housing for our families and to live full lives.”
Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust Founder and Board Co-President Suyapa Perez said the land trust, Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston, and affordable housing advocates applauded the Affordable Housing Trust Fund decision.
“We have fought hard for permanent and affordable housing in Chelsea for years,” said Perez. “This victory is a testament to all our labor and to our shared vision that everyone should be housed and have access to safe and stable homes.”
In 2020, the City of Chelsea secured a home rule petition allowing the City Council to allocate properties acquired through foreclosure, due to non-payment of taxes, to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The 41-43 Orange Street property is a vacant, dormant site repurposed by the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board and Department of Housing and Community Development as an affordable housing opportunity, with the goal of addressing racial wealth disparities and housing instability.
Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust and Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston partnered to respond to the Request for Proposals in a competitive process put out by the City of Chelsea Department of Housing and Community Development.
“We’re honored to receive the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board’s endorsement and to see this project reach an important milestone,” Habitat Greater Boston President and CEO Jim Kostaras said. “We look forward to continuing to work alongside our partners at Comunidades Enraizadas and the City of Chelsea to move this project forward and make affordable homeownership a reality for five hardworking families.”
The endorsement to award the 41-43 Orange Street Project to Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust and Habitat for Humanity Greater is a significant step in realizing a resilient homeownership model where the land is owned and stewarded by the community and where low income residents, regardless of their immigration status, have access to permanently affordable and stable homes, according to the land trust officials.
Local families will partner with Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston and work alongside staff and volunteers to help build their own homes. The families will also receive ongoing support as part of Comunidades Enraizadas and as they navigate first-time homeownership. The ultimate goal of the Orange Street Project is to root individuals and communities in Chelsea through community land ownership, individual home ownership, and collective community power.