Planning Office cuts ribbon on Mattapan affordable housing

MATTAPAN -- Bill Grogan, president of the Archdiocese of Boston's Planning Office for Urban Affairs, can think of many numbers that highlight the seriousness of Massachusetts's housing crisis.

There is one, however, at the forefront of his mind: 4,000.

That is the number of people who applied to live in Morton Station Village, a 34,000-square-foot, 40-unit mixed-income housing development built in Mattapan by POUA, Caribbean Integration Community Development, and the City of Boston.

"That number is staggering," Grogan said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the development on Nov. 3, "and it underscores why our work is so important."

As the name suggests, Morton Station Village is located next to the Morton Street MBTA station. Its four floors contain 28 mixed-income apartments and 12 affordable homeownership units. The development was a collaboration between POUA, a social justice ministry of the Archdiocese of Boston, and CICD, a nonprofit which aims to improve quality of life for minority communities in Boston, particularly Mattapan residents of Caribbean descent. Both organizations are primarily focused on building affordable housing developments to advance racial and class equality.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley attended the ceremony, as did a host of local and state officials.

Cardinal O'Malley reminded those in attendance that the housing crisis in Massachusetts is not only an economic challenge, but a humanitarian one.

He called Morton Station Village "a statement of our conviction in the dignity of every human person."

"Communities like Morton Station Village are a shining example of what we can do to solve our housing challenge when we work together," said Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities Ed Augustus.

Augustus said that homeownership is a gateway to generational wealth, but that this gateway has historically been closed to non-white residents of Boston. He said that by providing affordable homes to families, Morton Station Village is creating a legacy that will last for generations.

"You've taken a long-vacant piece of land, and you've brought it back to life," he said.

The development is also home to the Steven P. Odom Serenity Garden, a public green space designed by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. The garden is named after a 13-year-old Dorchester boy who was shot and killed in 2007. Odom's parents, Ron and Kim, attended the ribbon cutting and Cardinal O'Malley presented them a bouquet of flowers.

CICD President Donald Alexis thanked the Odoms, POUA, and Cardinal O'Malley for their determination and collaboration. He said that a sense of community, created by families who can live safely and affordably in their neighborhoods, is a gift for parents to pass onto their children.

"That's what built Mattapan," he said, "and we have to keep on that same legacy."