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City announces rehab at Lenox/Camden

Trea Lavery
City announces rehab at Lenox/Camden
Mayor Martin Walsh kicks of the first phase of a 51-month redevelopment plan at Lenox/Camden. PHOTO: MAYOR’S OFFICE

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other elected officials on Tuesday celebrated the beginning of construction on the Lenox and Camden public housing developments in Lower Roxbury.

Lenox and Camden, built in 1939 and 1949 respectively and managed by the Boston Housing Authority, contain 357 units which will be renovated over the course of the construction project.

“Today we are celebrating the first phase of what will be a comprehensive redevelopment of the Lenox/Camden public housing community to ensure that this community remains a deeply affordable public housing development for our residents that live here now and for future generations,” said BHA Administrator Bill McGonagle. “We will preserve each and every unit here for long-term affordability.”

The construction will include modernizing buildings, making them energy efficient, safer and more accessible, and creating green space within the developments.

The BHA first began plans for the renovations in 2015, and partnered with developer Beacon Communities to complete the project. The planning has included input from members of the community to decide what renovations are needed and how they can be completed without displacing residents.

The project will be funded in part by the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which allows BHA and Beacon Communities to raise private funds, as well as by state funding.

Construction on the Camden Street portion of the development is underway. On the Lenox Street side, construction is expected to begin in 2020.

Push for housing

Walsh noted that in the past five years, the city has built more affordable housing than any other five-year period on record, but said that it still wasn’t enough to support residents.

“Affordable housing is the bedrock, quite honestly, of a strong community. It makes things possible for people, it makes people stay healthy, it gives them stability, it helps them connect to school and work, it helps people get back on their feet,” Walsh said. “It’s a chance to get them moving forward.”

McGonagle and Walsh both praised the project for providing jobs to local residents, as the work will be completed by Cruz Construction, a third-generation Roxbury-based construction company.

“[We have] adopted a very aggressive minority participation,” McGonagle said. “Fifty-one percent of the workers working on this construction site will be minority workers and from this neighborhood.”

Chrystal Kornegay, executive director of MassHousing, expressed joy at the prospect of helping the residents of the community.

“It’s all about the folks who live here. I find them smart and energizing and resourceful and scrappy,” she said. “It’s not easy all the time not having enough. Of all the things that you have to worry about, I don’t want you to have to worry about where you’re going to sleep tonight.”