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FREQUENTLY-ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE REDEVELOPMENT

 

1. What is planned for Jefferson Park Federal?

The modernization of Jefferson Park Federal (JP) will replace the existing buildings onsite with six new buildings. Construction is scheduled to begin in August 2022. The decision to proceed with all new construction was made in consultation with our architectural and engineering team and residents after evaluating multiple options and worsening building conditions. New construction will be enable the CHA to provide more and higher-quality affordable apartments to current and future residents. There are currently 118 occupied apartments at JP and 57 unoccupied apartments that were taken offline in 2018 and 2019 due to poor conditions. All new apartments at Jefferson Park Federal will remain deeply affordable.

 

2. When is the next meeting? How can I know when the next meeting is?

We hold two types of meetings for the redevelopment of Jefferson Park Federal: resident meetings and community meetings. The CHA hosts resident meetings to update residents on the redevelopment of Jefferson Park Federal and to provide the opportunity for residents to give feedback and ask questions in a more closed setting. We also host resident meetings specifically related to the relocation process. The CHA held three open community meetings in March 2021, April 2021, and October 2021 to include neighborhood and community at-large with updates about the redevelopment of JP Federal. Our residents were able to attend these meetings, but we did not share any information at our community meetings that was not already shared with our residents.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation and limits on in-person gatherings, both resident and community meetings will take continue place virtually. Announcements about upcoming meetings for residents are made via the updates on this website as well as newsletters distributed to residents. Jefferson Park Federal residents will receive Zoom login information for the resident meeting via the newsletters. Announcements about neighborhood and community meetings are made via updates on this website, updates on the Cambridge Housing Authority website, and through flyers distributed through the neighborhood. Zoom login info for all neighborhood and community meetings will be available on the website as well as the neighborhood flyers.

 

3. Why was the decision made to tear down the existing buildings instead of renovating them?

The decision to pursue all-new construction was not made lightly and came only after years of reviewing studies of existing conditions, design options, and cost estimating. In fact, when the CHA hired architecture firm BWA Architecture in 2016 the plan had been only for a modest renovation project. So, what changed?

The existing conditions survey done by BWA in 2016 showed all the buildings in much poorer conditions than previously anticipated, including building heating, electrical and plumbing systems at the end of their useful live, worn-out unit interiors, accessibility problems, building facade and envelope issues, and serious ventilation concerns. This led to the CHA pursuing additional funds for a much larger renovation effort to address all these issues.

In 2017, the CHA needed to relocate 50 households in basement apartments after finding worsening conditions due to poor ventilation and excess moisture. Around the same time, BWA presented three initial design options for the renovations to CHA staff and residents. Option 1 was for a rehab of existing buildings in their current configuration with basement units. Option 2 kept the existing buildings, but removed any occupied basements by building additions. Option 3 kept the mid-rise, elevator building onsite, but tore down and rebuilt the rest of the site. With the extent of the problems that had forced the relocation of residents from existing basement units, the CHA decided renovating the current basements was not an option, and decided to pursue Option 3 (tear down and rebuild but keep mid-rise building) because it also allowed for adding new housing and had the lowest per-unit cost of construction. BWA then explored site plans for new construction based on Option 3. These included two schemes that kept the mid-rise building, and one scheme that did not. A new cost estimate for these options showed that tearing down and replacing the mid-rise building resulted in a lower per-unit cost. Replacing the mid-rise building would also address current problems with accessibility, and allow more flexibility for a better site plan and overall building layout. Based on this assessment, the CHA concluded that a complete teardown and redevelopment of all buildings was the most cost-efficient, and would result in the best project to meet the long-term needs of our residents, the CHA and Cambridge.

 

4. What will happen to the existing trees at Jefferson Park when the new buildings are built?

The robust tree canopy at Jefferson Park Federal is a valuable resource for our residents and the community, as is the deeply affordable housing provided there. The Cambridge Housing Authority is committed to investing in and preserving both. Tree loss has led many to ask if the proposed site plan and additional housing is worth it. Given the thousands of families on CHA’s waitlists and the care and effort placed preserving and replacing existing trees in the new development, we strongly believe the answer is yes.


A survey of every existing tree on the Jefferson Park site completed in 2019 found over half of them to be in poor health, diseased, or declining. Of the 202 trees currently on site, 51 will be preserved and 151 will be removed and replaced as part of the renovation. The Housing Authority acknowledges that this is a loss to our residents and the community, but we believe with good design, planning and investment, the loss will only be temporary. Even if the existing buildings could be renovated, or if new buildings could be built in their exact locations, replacing the failing underground utilities would require the removal of at least 92 of the existing trees.


The CHA has committed to not only replacing every tree removed but to increase the number of trees at Jefferson Park as a part of this project. During and after construction CHA will plant approximately 220 new trees, (194 are new deciduous trees), this will mean the new Jefferson Park Federal will have a net gain of 69 trees (43 shade trees) on site. The new trees planted will be mostly canopy or shade trees, with a few ornamental trees and the trees planted will be planted in denser spacing to maximize canopy size quickly. Given the deteriorating health and age of the existing trees at Jefferson Park, investing in future tree canopy is almost more important than preserving existing trees. After construction Jefferson Park will have 43 shade trees than it does now, and energy efficient, sustainable buildings to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. 


Most importantly, the new development will bring back the 57 offline units and add over one hundred additional units providing families with safe, secure and affordable housing which is the key determinant in a family’s physical and emotional well-being and to their ability to achieve economic stability and belonging. We believe the new site plan is worth removing trees to increase the use of open space and because of the need to add new and deeply affordable apartments in Cambridge. Currently, there are over 21,000 households on the CHA waitlist and over 6,500 of the applicants either live and/or work in Cambridge or are a veteran. 

Updated landscape site plans and more information on CHA’s commitment to resiliency and sustainability can be found in the slides at the bottom of the home page of this site.

 

5. How many apartments will be at JP Federal after construction is complete?

We are currently planning to have up to 278 units at Jefferson Park Federal after construction. We will replace all of the existing 175 units including the 57 currently offline units, and increase the number of affordable units onsite by approximately 103 new and deeply affordable apartments. 

 

6. How big will the new units be? Will the proposed apartment layouts include more ADA units?

Bedroom sizes will range between one to five bedrooms with a majority of the bedroom sizes being two and three bedrooms. The CHA proposed to have 37 one-bedroom units, 111 two-bedroom and three-bedroom units, 18 four-bedroom units, and 1 five-bedroom unit. On average, all apartment sizes will be bigger excluding one-bedroom units. In addition, all units will have central A/C. All apartment sizes will vary depending on the number of bedrooms, and layout. 

Yes, the new Jefferson Park Federal will follow current and up to date ADA standards for apartments and property, including new accessibility improvements. The proposed design siginificantly increases the number of accessible apartments onsite. Per the accesibility code given the extent of construction, 14 ADA units are required at the new Jefferson Park Federal. Currently, there are 7 ADA units and the proposed design provides a total of 17 ADA units. Lastly, there will be 129 units on property designed to be accessibile to and from apartments and with enough space and turning radius to meet clearances required by federal and state accessbility standards.

 

7. Who will manage the new buildings and site?

Cambridge Housing Authority will continue to manage Jefferson Park Federal after construction is completed.

 

8. When is construction scheduled to begin?

Construction is scheduled to start in August of 2022. The general contractor for this project is Consigli Construction Co. Consigli Construction Co. has worked with the CHA since 2018 on occupied construction projects and have experience working in Cambridge and public housing. 

 

9. What sources of funding have been secured for this project, and what sources still need to be secured?

We have received crucial funding commitments from our partners in state (MassHousing) and federal government (HUD) and are working with the City’s Affordable Housing Trust as well. At the end of 2020, the CHA received a commitment of private activity bonds from the state for 2022. This means the modernization will close on financing in 2022 and start construction immediately after.

Jefferson Park Federal will also be funded by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC). In mid-2021, the CHA will identify private partners for the LIHTC program.

 

10. How has CHA integrated sustainability and environment conscious designs in its modernized developments? Will JP Federal have any sustainable goals?

CHA has been a leader in retrofitting existing affordable and public housing to meet sustainability and energy efficiency goals, and continues to improve on those efforts on every new project. Projects completed during the last five years are designed and built to meet Enterprise Green Communities (EGC), a green building program with standards designed specifically to create sustainable affordable housing. Our renovation and revitalization projects also prioritize savings on energy consumption post construction completion, through features like solar panels, low-flow appliances, Energy Star-rated equipment and appliances, highly-rated building envelopes to mitigate heat loss, and resident education. Currently, over 18% of CHA developments’ electricity is generated through on-site production, and we have decreased water usage substantially, especially at large properties like Manning Apartments. This means lower cost to the CHA and the community, lower use of non-renewable resources, and more comfort for our residents.

New construction at Jefferson Park Federal will meet Enterprise Green Communities standards and incorporate CHA standard efficiency measures, as well as include new additional features in line with the City of Cambridge’s building goals for resiliency and climate change adaptability. The CHA's proposed design will reduce greenhouse gas emissions at Jefferson Park Federal by 50%, equal to planting over 24,000 trees anually. In addition, the new Jefferson Park Federal will have rooftop solar panels and be Passive House certified, an all electric design method of building design focused on low energy consumption and minimize operational carbon. 

 

11. How can I stay informed and get involved with what will happen next?

There are a few ways to stay informed and get involved with what will happen next at Jefferson Park Federal. In addition to attending virtual meetings and open-table sessions, this website provides a central resource for project information where residents, neighbors, and community members can sign up for notifications and provide comments and answer questions. For our residents, we will be distributing regular newsletters with updates of the project, hosting virtual meetings, and posting general information at the two Information Station boards onsite located outside the Management Office, or in the lobby of the Mid-Rise building.

 

 12. How can I contact people involved in the project directly?

CHA staff will contine to hold office hours via the phone each Tuesday from 10am-11am and 6pm-7pm. You may contact Joe Bednar, Project Manager at 617-401-4312/jbednar@cambridge-housing.org or Mesale Gessesse, Assistant Project Manager at 617-520-6344/mgessesse@cambridge-housing.org. We also welcome your calls at any time outside of these hours, but might not be immediately available and ask that you leave a message and we will call you back as soon as possible.

 

FREQUENTLY-ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RESIDENT RELOCATION

 

1. Will existing residents have to move?

Yes. Construction plans for JP Federal include tearing down existing buildings and rebuilding with new buildings. Every resident will have to relocate offsite in order to accommodate construction.

 

2. Can existing residents return to Jefferson Park Federal after construction is complete?

Yes, every resident has the right to return to Jefferson Park Federal after the work is complete, regardless of the household’s income. Residents also do not need to decide whether they want to return until after construction is complete.

 

3. What relocation options are available for residents? Does it take the size of a family into consideration?

Residents will either move into another CHA development, into a private unit using a Section 8 voucher, or they have the option to move in with a friend or family member for the duration of construction. CHA relocation coordinators will meet with each household to determine their needs for relocation and discuss potential locations with them, taking into account many factors including family size.

Most JP residents will move to a vacant unit at another CHA property. A description of the CHA properties most likely to accommodate JP Federal residents is available here.

For those residents interested in moving with a Section 8 voucher, CHA is able to provide residents with housing search assistance for all relocations outside of our properties.

 

4. When will the CHA start meeting with residents about relocation and when will moves begin?

CHA has hosted meetings to review the JP Federal Resident Relocation Plan on April 8th, 15th, and 22nd. All residents received a copy of this Plan and we encourage everyone to review it, especially if you were not able to make the meetings. It outlines the relocation process, your rights as a tenant, and how we will help you determine your temporary relocation unit.

CHA Relocation Coordinators began to meet with residents about their relocation options and needs in May 2021. CHA Relocation Coordinators will continue to meet with residents to schedule unit viewings and relocate residents until construction begins in Summer 2022.

 

5. Do I have to pay for my move?

No, the CHA will cover all expenses related to resident relocation, including packing supplies, packing assistance if needed, the cost of the movers, and the cost of storage if needed. We also cover the cost to reconnect any utilities. Residents can get more information from their Relocation Coordinator.