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Freedom House site to be redeveloped

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Freedom House site to be redeveloped
The Freedom House building at 14 Crawford St.

For more than 60 years, 14 Crawford St. was home to Freedom House, a social service agency that now focuses on providing academic support to youths. But after years of delayed maintenance, the building needed more work than the nonprofit could reasonably afford to perform on the building, which formerly housed a yeshiva.

In 2013, Freedom House moved across the street to the former Grove Hall Library building, which was then renovated into a modern, youth-serving facility. In the meantime, 14 Crawford St. has remained vacant, but not unnoticed by real estate developers.

For several years, Freedom House listed for sale the building, which sits on two-thirds of an acre of land. As potential developers came forward, Freedom House Executive Director Katrina Shaw gained a clearer understanding of what she wanted on the site: workforce housing affordable to the kinds of people who work at and are served by the Roxbury nonprofit.

“We have a real need for workforce housing in our community,” Shaw said. “The kind of housing that sits at the intersection of people who don’t qualify for affordable housing but are struggling to live around here.”

Shaw told the Banner Freedom House has entered into an agreement with a developer to build workforce housing on the site but would not name the developer.

After Shaw selected the developer, a social media post from a competing developer stated that the site had been sold to a firm planning to build 40 luxury units, while Shaw emphasized that Freedom House will co-develop the site and that there is not yet a firm plan on the size of the project or the number of units.

Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association (GTNA) President Louis Elisa said his organization looks forward to discussing the plans with Shaw when they’re finalized.

“We’re holding everyone in the neighborhood to the same standards for density and parking,” Elisa said.

GTNA negotiated with the city on behalf of Freedom House in 2013 to help the organization secure the former Grove Hall Library building.

For now, Freedom House is continuing to provide services to local youths, including tutoring, coaching and credit recovery.

“We’re meeting the needs of the students we serve,” Shaw said.