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Elderly housing opens in Four Corners area

Building aimed at housing seniors at risk of homelessness

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1990 and has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Elderly housing opens in Four Corners area
Acting Mayor Kim Janey cuts the ribbon at Hearth Four corners, a 54-unit affordable elderly building in Dorchester. PHOTO: JOHN WILCOX, MAYOR’S OFFICE

If Dorothy Cotton needed to be sold on Hearth at Four Corners, the view from the fourth-floor lounge might be the selling point.

“It’s really nice,” she said. “You can look out and see the Blue Hills.”

Cotton had other reasons to move into the newly constructed, 54-unit affordable elderly building, though. For one, affordable apartments aren’t easy to come by in Boston. She left a cramped apartment in Uphams Corner, where she had had trouble with some of the building’s younger tenants and became one of the first residents to move into the new building, which sits on a hill between the Fairmount Line tracks, Washington Street, Columbia Road and Geneva Avenue.

Last week, acting Mayor Kim Janey joined city officials, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Michael Kenneally and staff from the affordable housing nonprofit Hearth to cut the ribbon on the building.

“This is part of our vision for Boston, where everyone has a home,” Janey said, addressing the gathering in the building’s first floor lounge. “This is an amazing achievement in an ongoing effort to house our elderly population.”

Founded in 1991 as the Committee to End Elder Homelessness, Hearth has now developed 228 units that house 240 people in the Greater Boston area. The organization is working with an additional 225 clients who are homeless or in unstable housing situations, helping them to find permanent housing.

There are currently 850 people aged 50 or older who are homeless in Boston, according to Mark Hinderlie, Hearth’s executive director, and even that is likely an undercount.

“That’s not including people who are precariously housed,” he said.

Hearth engages many among that population with services, helping people fill out applications for affordable housing, connecting them to services, and when there’s an opening, moving them into a Hearth facility.

The $19 million, four-story Dorchester building serves residents aged 62 or older. A concierge and resident services coordinator work onsite. The building includes eight units for formerly homeless individuals, 11 units for clients of the Department of Mental Health, 19 units for people with incomes up to 30% of the area median income, 18 units for people with incomes up to 50% of AMI and 17 for those with incomes up to 60% of AMI.

The inclusion of people who were not previously homeless is new for a Hearth development, Hinderlie noted.

“Hearth’s previous 174 units were built or developed specifically for formerly homeless older adults or those at imminent risk of homelessness,” he said. “Four Corners incorporates a new focus on preventing homelessness by providing opportunities for those with very low to moderately low incomes to afford to remain safely housed in a beautiful, affordable home.”

The building was financed with support from the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston and state and federal low-income housing tax credits.

In addition to lounges on the first and fourth floors, the building has an exercise room and laundry room. Its 52 one-bedroom units feature large windows, a kitchen, dining and living space, a modest-sized bedroom and a bathroom with a walk-in shower. The building has two studio apartments.

Cotton says she’s happy to be in her new apartment.

“Everything is really nice in here,” she said.

affordable housing, Dorchester, elderly housing
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