New measures to boost homeownership, wages, and economic equity in Boston
Mayor Kim Janey today announced a pair of measures to promote economic opportunity in the City as part of her agenda for Boston’s equitable recovery, reopening, and renewal. With $2.4 million committed to this program in the Mayor’s FY22 budget proposal, the Boston Home Center's first-time Homebuyer Program has been expanded to provide up to $40,000 in assistance to income-eligible, first-time homebuyers who seek to purchase a home in Boston. This change more than triples the average amount of assistance previously offered by the City. These homebuyers will also be informed earlier in the buying process about the amount of financing they are eligible to receive from the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) Boston Home Center. The Mayor has also issued an executive order today, guaranteeing the prevailing wage set by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards for workers on key City of Boston service contracts, starting July 1, 2021.
“Homeownership provides economic stability and a chance for working families to build wealth that can be passed from generation to generation,” said Mayor Janey. “Increasing opportunities for Boston families to buy their own homes is essential to closing the racial wealth gap in our city. I am proud of the work of the Boston Home Center to make the dream of owning a home a reality for more Boston residents through the Homebuyer Assistance Program.”
The First Time Homebuyer Assistance Program will offer $30,000 to $40,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, depending on home type. Condominiums, one-, two-, and three-family properties are eligible. Historically, the average financial assistance awarded to a first-time homebuyer had been about $10,000 and over 70% of program participants were households of color. The expanded program will also now provide eligible homebuyers with pre-qualification letters, to ease the homebuying process. For more information about the Boston Home Center Homebuying programs, please visit here.
“The work that the Department of Neighborhood Development does is not only about homeownership, it’s also about planting seeds for the next generation,” said Shimika Callender, a resident of Dorchester who was recently able to buy a home in her own neighborhood. “My 13-year-old son has witnessed his mom buy a home, and now he is interested in real estate himself. For every family that DND is able to help, there is likely a child bearing witness to the process and dreaming big. The work that DND does contributes to giving families and children the vision to turn their dreams into reality.”
In a separate measure, Mayor Janey signed an executive order that adopts the prevailing wage rate set by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards for all city contracts for cleaning and security services going out to bid after July 1, 2021. The current State prevailing wage rate is $14.85 to $20 per hour, with an additional $6.26 to $6.70 in health and pension benefits.
“This executive order recognizes the importance of family-sustaining wages and benefits as well as maintaining high quality services in our public buildings,” said Mayor Janey. “The City of Boston is setting a standard for other employers to follow that supports the wellbeing of Boston’s working families and promotes a more equitable recovery for our economy.”
The City of Boston is the city’s largest employer, with more than 18,000 public workers across a wide range of roles. While the executive order targets city contractors, Mayor Janey intends to work with city unions through the collective bargaining process to extend prevailing wages to city employees in related positions. This executive order provides an equitable platform for wage progression, helping to achieve family sustaining wages for low-wage workers, and seeks to promote economic mobility. The City will lead by example and encourage other private employers in and around Boston to join in the effort.
"I commend Mayor Janey for this important and needed executive order, as so many of these essential workers have supported our City so well, especially during this stressful time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Natalicia Tracy, PhD, of the Brazilian Worker Center. “This executive order will level the playing field somewhat so that these hard-working people can provide for their own families, as they continue to maintain our buildings to ensure they are safe, clean, and secure for the City as a whole."
Today's announcements are the latest in a series of measures that the City is taking to ensure the equitable recovery for our residents from the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, Mayor Kim Janey announced that the City of Boston’s Community Preservation Committee (CPC) awarded $5 million to the Boston Home Center’s ONE+Boston First-Time Homebuyer Program. In March, Mayor Janey announced $50 million in new rental relief funding to support housing stability for thousands of Boston renters. Additionally, Mayor Janey recently proposed a $50 million emergency relief plan, funded through the American Rescue Plan, to support an equitable recovery and reopening for Boston residents, workers and small businesses.