Jamaica Plain – or JP as the locals call it – sits just half an hour from downtown Boston on the T, Boston’s subway line. JP is a diverse community, including 22 percent Hispanic and 13.5 percent black residents. The neighborhood around Francis Grady Apartments features a sprawling park, tree-lined streets and easy access to public transit. But it’s one of the most expensive communities in Boston, with just 26 percent of homes considered affordable to households earning at or below 30 percent of Area Median Income.
Once a blight on the neighborhood after lying vacant for eight years, this former nursing home reopened in 2016 as Francis Grady Apartments. No longer an eyesore, the building is an architectural statement, adding to the color and liveliness of the community. The completely renovated community contains 30 studio apartments for formerly homeless residents, all of which are affordable to people making at or below 30 percent of Area Median Income, with rent supported by Massachusetts Rental Vouchers.
Francis Grady is more than just a home for its 30 residents.In the warmer months, residents gather on the patio to grill, while year round they meet in the community room and kitchen. Pine Street Inn, an organization that helps homeless people and a key partner on the development, provides on-site social services to help residents transition, including case management, crisis intervention, assistance in daily living skills, job readiness and basic budgeting skills.
This building’s history as Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program’s (BHCHP) medical respite facility and nursing home naturally lent itself to a creative combination of health care services and housing for homeless and formerly homeless Bostonians. The first floor now houses the Stacy Kirkpatrick House, a 20-bed medical respite facility operated by BHCHP for medically-vulnerable homeless adults.
After living in the same apartment for 15 years, Annette Rascoe’s life was thrown into upheaval when she suddenly lost her home. But moving into Francis Grady was the fresh start she needed to get back on track. “The day I moved in here, I was so excited I couldn’t even sleep. Because it was quiet. You know ... being in a shelter with all the noise and the fighting and the arguing. I couldn’t even sleep because I wasn’t used to the peace and quiet,” she says of her transition back to a stable home. Read Annette’s story in her own words.
For Warren Magee, who has cerebral palsy, calling Francis Grady home has meant a different kind of stability. Of the transition to a permanent home, Warren says, “Now that I live here, getting healthcare is definitely convenient. When I was homeless, I just had my health card, and if I got sick, I went to the ER. That's how it is for 90 percent of anybody who's homeless because they don't trust anybody and everybody.” Read Warren’s story in his own words.
Matt Henzy, a senior project manager with Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, who developed Francis Grady, says he is most proud of being able to provide access to homes for residents who may not have had stability since childhood. But he believes the residents are the ones who should be most proud, saying, “It’s not just handed to them. These are people who, with support and help, got themselves here. They just needed somebody to meet them halfway.”
Enterprise is proud to have partnered with Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation to renovate and redesign Francis Grady Apartments:
- Equity: $5.1 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity (UnitedHealthcare was the investor)
- Transit Accessible: Francis Grady is a five-minute walk to the bus and a five-minute bus ride to the T, Boston’s subway line.
- Health & Housing: Enterprise has produced a series of reports showing how better housing improves health and saves money.