photo: Meena Carr
The Washington Beech Housing Development in Roslindale is home to 700 residents but over the years its 266 apartments, which were built in the early 1950s, have fallen into disrepair. Also, as the surrounding neighborhood evolved, the development became increasingly physically isolated to the detriment of both the development and the Roslindale community.

Not surprisingly, the Washington Beech community has been dreaming of a redevelopment for years -- one that would both increase the number of affordable housing options and knit the development more effectively into the greater fabric of its surrounding community.

Thanks to a $10 million stimulus award coupled with a $20 million Housing and Urban Development grant, the dream is finally on the way to becoming a reality.

"The Washington Beech residents and BHA staff have been working together for a

Washington Beech resident Yolanda
number of years to undertake a redevelopment of the site," says Lydia Agro, director of communications and public affairs for the Boston Housing Authority. "It was very exciting to be able to finally receive the funding and to begin redevelopment there."

The funding will enable the Housing Authority to demolish the existing 266 units and replace them with 342 new affordable housing opportunities, 206 onsite and 136 offsite. The redevelopment plan includes 15 newly constructed affordable homes for purchase and a first-time homebuyer assistance program.

"It's a welcome change for so many people," says Meena Carr, a resident of the development. "It will improve the quality of life for the residents," she adds.

According to Agro, a major factor in the success of any major public housing

Washington Beech resident Monica
revitalization is the relationship with residents and the involvement of resident leadership in the process. She says that at Washington Beech, there has been resident participation at every stage of the process. "That partnership has yielded really exciting results," she says. Agro says that the redevelopment will benefit not only the hundreds of families at the site but also the community at large.

"One of the really special things about Washington Beech is the degree to which the resident community has been active in defining the kind of healthy community they want to come back to once the site is rebuilt," says Agro. " So in addition to beautiful new housing, residents have organized and campaigned to ensure that the new Washington Beech is a safe, welcoming place where residents are actively engaged, where significant social services and wellness activities are available, and where residents can live in smoke-free units."