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Tenant Group Strikes Deal To Buy Its 535-Unit Property In Boston, Launch $66M In Renovations

The The Mission Main Tenant Task Force will become the majority owner of the Mission Main apartment community.

A Boston tenant group has reached a deal to become the majority owner of its public housing community and secure $66M in outside financing for renovations. 

The Mission Main Tenant Task Force closed a series of transactions to take ownership of the 535-unit, 15-acre Mission Main public housing property in Boston's Roxbury Crossing neighborhood, according to a press release.

The group executed deals with several public and private entities — WinnCos., the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Boston Housing Authority, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, MassHousing, Boston Financial Investment Management and Citizens Bank — to finance the acquisition and the 31-month renovation project. 

The site was first developed in 1940 but was demolished in 1998 and replaced with a 535-unit complex, which was part of a redevelopment partnership between HUD, WinnCos., the Mission Main Tenant Task Force and the BHA. 

"We are excited for the future of Mission Main,” Tenant Task Force co-Chair Willie Pearl Clark said in the release. “Our partnership with Winn and BHA has brought about incredible improvements for the residents. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Winn and BHA."

The renovation project will include updates to the community's heating and cooling system; kitchen, bathroom, appliances and window replacements in all apartments; 10 new playgrounds; state-of-the-art security systems and controls; and handicap accessibility to 29 of the apartments. 

The community features 32 walk-up townhomes, one seven-story mid-rise building and one two-story community building, which includes the management offices of WinnResidential and the Tenant Task Force. The project has 445 income- and rent-restricted units and 90 market-rate units.

The tenant group's purchase to preserve the community's affordability isn't the only such instance in the city, and the strategy has become a target for housing advocates as affordability continues to be an issue across the state. 

Community land trusts and development corporations have been calling for the passage of a Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, which would require landlords to notify tenants of any intent to sell and give tenants 30 days to make a bid for the property, WGBH reported.

Groups like the Mission Main Tenant Task Force have struggled to get in on these sales and are usually bought out by private investors. However, passing TOPA in the state has been a challenge because landlord groups have pushed back on the proposal, arguing the time allotted for these groups to step in and raise the money was too long.