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A $50 million renovation for Mildred Hailey Apts.

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
A $50 million renovation for Mildred Hailey Apts.
District 6 Councilor Kendra Hicks addresses reporters while Mayor Michelle Wu looks on. BANNER PHOTO

The administration of Mayor Michelle Wu has committed $50 million for renovations at the Mildred C. Hailey Apartments public housing development in Jamaica Plain.

The funding, which will pay for long-overdue updates to heating, plumbing, windows, kitchens and bathrooms at the 779-unit complex, will come from the city’s capital budget and federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Speaking during a press conference at the development, Wu said the investment is part of her administration’s commitment to affordable housing in Boston.

“We plan to make affordable housing a top priority when it comes to putting federal recovery money to use,” she told reporters. “That means preserving and improving affordable housing that already exists, as well as adding more affordable housing options for residents across the city.”

Tenants in the development have fought for decades with the Boston Housing Authority over the maintenance and upkeep of their apartments. In 1975, tenants of the development, named for the late tenant organizer Mildred Hailey, sued the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) over conditions at the development and eventually were granted by a judge the right to manage the HUD-funded development independent of the city agency.

As federal funding for HUD declined in recent decades, the development again faced maintenance problems. It was returned to BHA control in 2012.

Because HUD no longer provides funding for maintenance of public housing, many housing authorities across the country have opted to take part in public-private partnership programs pushed by the federal agency that have helped redevelop housing projects into mixed-income communities, as has been the case in the BHA’s Mission Main and Whittier Street developments.

While the Mildred Hailey C. Hailey complex is undergoing a similar project, managed by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, The Community Builders and Urban Edge, the redevelopment will not diminish the number of affordable units and aims to create 420 new affordable and middle-income units.

The $50 million investment will cover renovations in more than 500 units, but not in 253 units that will be razed and replaced by the JPNDC, The Community Builders and Urban Edge.

District 6 City Councilor Kendra Hicks recalled meeting with Mildred Hailey while working as a teen organizer and said that tenant activism was a driving force that has brought about the renovations.

“We’re here today for you,” Hicks said. “But we’re also here because of you, and because you remain steadfast in your fight and in your affirmation that everyone and all of your neighbors deserve safe, healthy and accessible homes.”

Yolanda Torres, president of the development’s tenant taskforce, thanked Wu for moving the $50 million forward.

“I cannot overstate how important this investment is for residents here at Mildred C. Hailey Apartments,” Torres said.

BHA officials say they plan to start work on the renovations this year.

“This funding will significantly improve the lives of hundreds of families in a community that truly needs the help,” BHA Administrator Kate Bennett said.

jamaica plain, Mildred C. Hailey Apartments