A Housing Monument to Roxbury Activist

When Urban Edge began planning our latest affordable housing in Egleston Square, we knew exactly who we wanted to name the new buildings after – Delphine Walker. Walker was a legendary resident of Roxbury and a committed community activist.

She invested her heart and soul into Egleston Square, where she lived for two decades – to this day, people remember the importance of the Hands Around Egleston Square events, which she established with Fr. Jack Roussin, bringing the community together to address the challenges that residents faced. We knew that it was appropriate to honor her as we made a new commitment to our neighborhood.

In the last few months, residents have begun to move into Walker Park Apartments. As a nonprofit community development corporation, we can tell you it takes a lot of patience and support to build 49 new units across two buildings, but the payoff happens when we see families and individuals moving into their new homes. Residents are now living in the first building, though we have to wait a little more for people to move into the second building – like other developers, the National Grid lockout and subsequent backlog is delaying on our ability to open the second building.

Nevertheless, we are excited about what this new development – and the new pocket park, Delphine’s Courtyard, one of the first projects to be funded by the city of Boston through the Community Preservation Act – will mean to the neighborhood. When totally complete, Walker Park Apartments will feature new transit-oriented apartments located close to the MBTA and bus routes. All of the new apartments will be rented to individuals who are earning at or below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), with 11 of the families earning 30 percent of AMI or below.  The development includes 13 one-bedroom, 28 two-bedroom and 8 three-bedroom family units, elevators for accessibility, on-site laundry facilities, beautiful outdoor space in Delphine’s Courtyard along Columbus Avenue. The project cost $18.4 million to build.

From Homelessness to Housing Security

We are proud to lead the way in reinvestment in Egleston Square and to work with our partners to redevelop underutilized parcels in ways that benefit the community. We know how much this kind of housing is needed in Roxbury and elsewhere in Boston. Among our new residents is a young, formerly homeless working mother who is working in a dental office as a receptionist. Another is a mother of three children who works as an administrative assistant and who previously lived in a homeless shelter for about two years. One of our new residents is a disabled individual whose daily life is improved by living for the first time in a fully accessible apartment and building.

This is why we do what we do – and what we have done for more than 40 years. Hard-working families in Boston need safe, quality affordable housing and we are happy to work with our partners to provide it.

Marty Jones

Of course, this kind of housing doesn’t happen without a lot of support. Bank of America, the Community Economic Development Assistance Corp., MassDevelopment, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp., the commonwealth’s Department of Housing and Community Development, and the city of Boston all provided financing for the project.  And we worked with a great general contractor – NEI General Contracting – to build the new development.

Like so much of the rest of the city, Egleston Square is changing. There are new pressures and finding ways to develop affordable housing isn’t always easy. But our mission has always been to strengthen the neighborhood we’ve called home for more than four decades and to support the residents who live and work here. We’re so pleased to have the opportunity to honor our roots and the fearless work of Delphine Walker and her family by providing quality new units of permanently affordable housing.  In doing so, we feel we are able to carry on her legacy.

Marty Jones is Urban Edge Inc.’s interim CEO.

SourceBanker & Tradesman