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Mayor Michelle Wu yesterday filed an Ordinance establishing the Office of Participatory Budgeting, amending the City of Boston Code. The purpose of this office is to provide the structure necessary to enhance public engagement and direct involvement in the City’s budget. The ordinance requires approval by the Boston City Council.
“Creating opportunities for direct involvement in the City’s budgeting process ensures our residents’ voices and needs are represented in their local government’s departments and programming,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I look forward to working with the City Council to establish this office and its oversight board for direct civic engagement to shape our budget.”
This ordinance establishes the Office of Participatory Budgeting, which will include a director and an external oversight board. The Office, working in partnership with the external oversight board, will establish and manage a Participatory Budgeting Process that will be an equitable and binding decision-making process open to all Boston residents during fiscal 2024 and in addition will create another opportunity for residents to both engage with the City’s annual budget process and to make recommendations for projects to include in the budget. The Office will work across departments and agencies, external organizations, and with communities to ensure year-round public involvement and engagement in the City’s budgeting.
Working with the Office, the external oversight board will be tasked with submitting participatory budgeting project proposals to the Mayor for inclusion in the City’s budget. The board will also assist in the creation of a Participatory Budgeting Rule Book, which will outline the policies and procedures for the participatory budgeting process. The Board will be composed of nine Boston residents with varied experience and expertise, including community investment and development, public finance, open space, urban planning, community organization and outreach, affordable housing, public education, public health, environmental protection, and historic preservation. The Mayor will appoint five individuals directly to the oversight board, as well as appoint four individuals to the oversight board from a pool of eight applicants provided to the Mayor by the City Council. Board members will have two-year terms.
In the 2021 Municipal Election, Boston’s voters approved a ballot measure to create an Office of Participatory Budgeting charged with furthering public engagement on how the City’s budget is created and how tax dollars are spent. Ahead of the FY23 budget submission, Mayor Wu worked with the Office of Budget Management (OBM) and Boston City Council to hold a Budget Listening Tour for residents to better understand the budget and to solicit public feedback. The direct feedback was aimed to empower constituents in working alongside the City, and allowed the City to further evaluate where resources might be most equitable and valuable. For those who were unable to attend the series of listening sessions, a budget survey was also available for constituents and residents to weigh in on the city’s future investments. Additionally, recently, in advance of the FY24 budget process, the Office of Budget Management (OBM) in partnership with ONS’ Office of Civic Organizing, hosted budget workshops with groups that were underrepresented during the FY23 winter budget listening sessions to help increase their understanding of the budget process and share how to engage with the City’s budget. For more information, go to boston.gov/budget.
Mayor Wu's proposed investments in homeownership are part of an unprecedented commitment of $380 million to address housing affordability and stability.
Mayor Michelle Wu today highlighted her proposal to invest $106 million to expand opportunities for homeownership for Boston residents, including $60 million through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and $46 million in City funds over three years. This proposal builds on Mayor Wu’s commitment to prioritize federal funds to address Boston’s housing crisis and boosts the City’s efforts to close the racial wealth gap by expanding affordable homeownership opportunities for BIPOC households and first-generation homebuyers.
“Homeownership is crucial to building generational wealth and long term stability for families,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “We have an opportunity to transform what homeownership looks like in Boston. These investments will support existing programs for first time homebuyers, build generational wealth for Boston families, and help bring Boston one step closer to becoming a Green New Deal city.”
The new investments in affordable homeownership were part of Mayor Wu’s first operating budget proposal and federal spending plan, which were formally filed with the Boston City Council earlier this month.
The proposal includes $60 million in ARPA funds to:
In addition, the proposed FY23 Operating Budget includes $3.4 million for homebuyer assistance programs, for a total of $10.2 million over the next three years. These investments are on top of $36 million from other City sources to support MOH’s homeownership development pipeline, which currently includes 312 new income-restricted units across 19 developments, all projected to break ground within the next three years. With additional support from ARPA funds, this pipeline of affordable homeownership units is expected to grow significantly. Together, these funds represent a significant increase in the City’s investment in affordable homeownership programs and production compared to previous years.
The proposed investments in homeownership are part of an unprecedented commitment of $380 million to address housing affordability and stability through the Operating budget, the Capital budget, and federal recovery funds to build and acquire new affordable units, upgrade public housing, and expand housing stability services and an expanded voucher program.
“This significant investment will both increase the stock of affordable properties in Boston and assist families that want to purchase homes in a very competitive market,” said Sheila Dillon, Chief of Housing and Director of Neighborhood Development. “In order to increase generational wealth, stabilize our residents and invest in neighborhoods, it is critical that we make additional resources available for homeownership development and programs.”
“We are thrilled that Mayor Wu and our city councilors understand the needs of thousands of MAHA members and graduates,” said Symone Crawford, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance. “And I’m proud of our MAHA community leaders who have worked so diligently to make this happen. This is an amazing accomplishment and a strong foundation for all of us to build on.”
“Investment in affordable housing at all levels matters if we are to foster generational wealth,” said Beverly Williams, Executive Team Leader with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. “GBIO is proud to celebrate this historic investment in affordable housing that does just that.”
Two programs slated to receive funding from the proposal, the ONE+Boston program and the financial assistance program for first-time homebuyers (FAP), assisted more than 150 households buy homes in the last year. Of those households, 60% were Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC).
“Dedicating these federal funds to first-generation and affordable homeownership will anchor our families in Boston and help close the racial wealth gap,” said Councilor Kenzie Bok, Chair of the Committee on COVID-19 Recovery. “I’m thankful for the Mayor’s partnership and for all the advocates who have pushed the City of Boston to make this enduring commitment.”
"We know that the lack of financial capital for closing costs and down payments is one of the most significant barriers to homeownership for BIPOC and first-generation homeowners,” said Councilor Kendra Lara, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Community Development. “This level of investment in the FAP and ONE+ program will ensure that we're removing those barriers and creating more opportunities for housing stability through homeownership for Boston residents."
Boston has an overall homeownership rate of 35 percent, considerably less than the statewide homeownership rate of 62 percent. Homeownership rates differ significantly by race and ethnicity, as 44 percent of Boston’s white households are homeowners, compared to 31 percent of Black or African American households, 30 percent of Asian or Pacific Islander households, and 17 percent of Hispanic or Latinx households.
The Mayor’s Office of Housing works to expand access to homeownership by creating and preserving affordable homeownership units and providing financial assistance to aspiring homebuyers, particularly first-generation homebuyers.
The ONE+Boston program was designed to supplement one of the state’s existing affordable mortgage programs (the ONE Mortgage) by providing qualified buyers, based on area median income (AMI), additional discounts on interest rates. With the ONE+Boston program, qualified Boston residents who earn between 80% and 100% AMI will receive a half percent (0.5%) discount rate off the reduced interest rate offered through the ONE Mortgage product (currently about 4.65%). Boston residents who earn below 80% AMI will receive up to one percent (1%) off of the current ONE Mortgage rate. Qualified buyers will also be eligible for downpayment and closing cost assistance through the Boston Home Center.
The ONE+Boston program and the First Generation Homebuyer Program are two of several City resources available to first-time homebuyers in Boston. Through the Boston Home Center, the City’s one-stop-shop for homebuyers and homeowners, residents receive assistance in purchasing, improving, and keeping their home through a suite of resources including training, financial help and counseling to first-time and first-generation homebuyers, guidance and funding for home improvements and efficiency upgrades, and counseling to help families avoid foreclosure. The Home Center also markets homes developed for income-eligible, first-time homebuyers.
These proposals build on Mayor Wu’s initiatives to address Boston’s housing affordability, including filing a Home Rule Petition relative to real estate transfer fees and senior property tax relief, signing an Executive Order relative to affirmatively furthering fair housing, convening a Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee to inform future legislative proposals, and announcing the City’s new Chief of Planning.
For more information about the proposed budget, visit budget.boston.gov. For more information about the proposed ARPA spending plan, visit boston.gov/recover.
The Mayor’s Office of Housing is responsible for housing people experiencing homelessness, creating and preserving affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can obtain, maintain, and remain in safe, stable housing. The department develops and implements the City of Boston’s housing creation and homelessness prevention plans and collaborates with local and national partners to find new solutions and build more housing affordable to all, particularly those with lower incomes. For more information, please visit the MOH website.
The budget, in partnership with federal ARPA funds, reflects the clear call for transformative action to support affordable housing, landmark investments in mental health, early education and childcare, arts, climate resiliency, and initiatives to close Boston’s racial wealth gap.
Mayor Michelle Wu today proposed her administration’s first budget, with coordinated resources to set a foundation for the future, connect Boston’s communities, and deliver on the details of City services across all neighborhoods. The recommended Fiscal Year 2023 Operating Budget is $3.99 billion, representing new growth of $216 million or 5.7% over Fiscal Year 2022, and the Fiscal Years 2023-2027 Capital Plan totals $3.6 billion of neighborhood infrastructure investments. Mayor Wu also unveiled her plan to connect $350 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to accelerate a Green New Deal for Boston through major investments to leverage the operating and capital budgets, focusing on affordable housing, mental health, climate resiliency, early education and childcare, arts, and economic opportunity to bridge Boston’s racial wealth gap.
“In this moment of urgency and opportunity for Boston, our recommended budget ties together our shared resources to set a foundation for the future, connect our communities, and deliver on the details of City services across our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “As we emerge from the pandemic, this budget charts a course towards our brightest future for our children, for our communities, for Boston. I’m so excited to be building that future together.”
Mayor Wu’s first budget proposal comes in the first year of a new balance of budgetary power with the City Council. For the first time, Mayor Wu and the Office of Budget Management (OBM) hosted a series of listening sessions in partnership with the Boston City Council to engage residents on the budget process and solicit public feedback, ahead of the Mayor submitting each to the City Council. Through these listening sessions and a citywide survey in 12 languages, the City directly engaged with over a thousand residents over the last three months to guide budget drafting. The budget proposal reflects the clear call from residents for transformative action to support Boston’s people, neighborhoods, and City services.
The Recommended FY23 Operating Budget comes a month after Boston received AAA bond ratings from both rating agencies for the eighth year in a row. These ratings are a recognition of the City’s strong fiscal management before and during the pandemic, despite its significant impact on the City. The ratings will allow the City to secure the most favorable rates for infrastructure investments to support equity, affordability, and resiliency in every neighborhood.
“Mayor Wu’s FY23 Budget submission centers residents' voices in its investments while maintaining strong fiscal responsibility that has earned Boston high marks for financial management,” said Justin Sterritt, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Boston. “The strategic use of the Operating Budget, Capital Plan and Federal ARPA funding together will unlock transformational investments that will have deep impacts for communities in Boston.''
The budget, through the multiple funding sources, proposes targeted impact in key areas including:
The budget works in concert with $350 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to accelerate a Green New Deal for Boston. Mayor Wu’s proposal for ARPA funds builds on the $95 million in federal funding for emergency relief for residents, financial support for small businesses, and the two-year fare-free bus pilot. The proposal includes:
The proposals for the spending of federal funds and revenue replacement was formally filed with the City Council on Monday with the annual submission of the operating budget and capital plan.
For more information about the proposed budget visit budget.boston.gov. For more information about the ARPA funds visit boston.gov/recover.
The capital investments in the upcoming bond sale will fund affordable housing, climate resiliency, civic assets and education infrastructure.
The Mayor and Budget Office are seeking community feedback on how Boston's annual budget resources are allocated.
Mayor Michelle Wu and the Office of Budget Management (OBM) today announced a series of listening sessions in partnership with the Boston City Council to both educate residents and solicit public feedback on the FY2023 Operating Budget and FY23-27 Capital Plan, ahead of the Mayor submitting each to the City Council. At the sessions, OBM will outline the budget process and highlight changes made through the recent ballot initiative vote. Through its passage, it alters the City Council’s role in approving the budget and calls for the creation of a participatory budgeting model. The City will solicit public feedback to inform the annual budget, federal recovery funding from the American Rescue Plan, and the new participatory budgeting model.
“This came about after the leadership of community partners, along with City Councilors, to assure the City Council would have a larger partnership in ensuring our City’s dollars are equitably allocated according to the needs, interests and visions of our residents,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “The community listening sessions represent an opening up of the process to residents from the very beginning.”
“It is critical that we develop a budget for the City of Boston that addresses our long-standing needs, such as housing affordability and stability, public health, public and pedestrian safety, climate resiliency and sustainability, and equitable access to city services,” said Boston City Council President Ed Flynn. “Thank you to Mayor Wu and her team for working with the City Council and providing this opportunity for neighbors to offer feedback on the best use of taxpayer dollars that will continue to help move us forward in Boston’s economic recovery.”
“With great enthusiasm, I look forward to the commencement of the Budget Listening Sessions on the horizon,” said Boston City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Ways and Means. “These sessions offer our city an opportunity to help inform, through the power of the purse, what policies we want to pursue and community enterprises we want to platform. I look forward, as Ways and Means Chair, in playing an integral role in the decision making processes that will distribute our city's resources in an equitable and progressive manner.”
The budget is the most direct way the City of Boston invests in its residents' quality of life. Community engagement ensures that the City is spending its resources equitably and that the process is accessible for residents. Each listening session will be dedicated to collecting the public’s input, including through a survey.
“It is crucial that we educate constituents about the City of Boston's budget and the process in which these resources are allocated,” said Chief of Community Engagement Brianna Millor. “Engaging our constituents empowers them to vocalize their needs and ensure that their City is working to address them.”
“OBM looks forward to sharing information on the annual budget process and welcomes collaboration with the Boston City Council and the residents of Boston to establish budget priorities for the next fiscal year,” said Budget Director Jim Williamson.
Residents are encouraged to share feedback at one of four virtual listening sessions, organized by City Council district:
Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 6 - 7 p.m. | Districts 5, 6, 8
Saturday, February 19, 2022, 1 - 2 p.m. | Districts 1, 3, 4
Wednesday, February 23, 2022, 6 - 7 p.m. | Districts 2, 7, 9
Friday, February 25, 2022, 10 - 11 a.m. | Councilors-At-Large
192 arts and cultural organizations received grants totaling $3,422,000 as part of the City’s Boston Cultural Council grants and Reopen Creative Boston ARPA funding.
Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the Boston Cultural Council (BCC), today announced 192 arts and cultural organizations have been awarded grants as part of this year’s Boston Cultural Council/Reopen Creative Boston funding. The City awarded a total of $3,422,000 in grants for general operating support and COVID-19 relief.
“This year’s group of grantees are a wonderful reflection of the diversity and vibrancy of Boston’s arts community,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “From small dance groups, to organizations that focus on engaging communities through film, to some of Boston’s most beloved cultural institutions, each one of these groups plays a vital role shaping our city.”
Every year, the City works with the Boston Cultural Council (BCC) to distribute grants for general operating support to organizations with budgets under $2 million that offer some type of arts or cultural programming in Boston. This year, the BCC awarded a total of $643,677, which consisted of $266,000 from Mass Cultural Council and $377,000 from City funds.
For the third year in a row, BCC grant amounts were determined by budget size. The BCC made the decision this year to shift the funding structure so that organizations with the lowest budgets received the highest grant amounts. This funding strategy aims to better support emerging to medium-sized organizations who typically do not have scaled fundraising initiatives to support their programming.
“In response to the funding disparities illuminated by the pandemic, the BCC made the decision this year to commit the highest grant amounts to those organizations with the smallest budgets, which are also often the most marginalized”, said Jennifer Falk, Chair, Boston Cultural Council. “With sustained advocacy for public investment in the arts, we together can build the arts landscape that communities need and that our creative stakeholders can grow in.”
An additional $2.78 million was awarded this year through Reopen Creative Boston funding. This one-time funding, allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), aims to support the recovery of arts and culture organizations from the economic impact of COVID-19 and reopen their programming to the public. In March 2021, Massachusetts nonprofit and municipal cultural organizations reported more than $588 million in lost revenue since the start of the pandemic. Organizations of all budget sizes were eligible to receive ARPA COVID-19 relief funding to cover costs related to reopening and restarting programs, including payroll, new technology, and consulting services.
“Urbanity Dance is deeply grateful to the Mayor's Office and the City of Boston for their support through the Reopen Creative Boston funding opportunity,” said Stacy Handler, Managing Director of Urbanity Dance. “This is the largest grant Urbanity has ever received, and these funds will meaningfully impact our ability to keep our doors open; retain our hardworking staff, faculty, and dancers; and continue to engage our community through our dance and movement-based programming. The ripple effects of this support will be far reaching, impacting the lives of thousands of Bostonians.”
“Arts, culture, and creative industries have been devastated by the pandemic,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture. “This year's grantees have faced significant hurdles, but they also shared with us the exciting and innovative ways that they are making new work, staying connected to their communities, and helping our cultural scene come back to life.”
The complete list of grantee organizations can be found here.
About the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture
The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture is a City agency that enhances the quality of life, the economy, and the design of the City through the arts. The role of the arts in all aspects of life in Boston is reinforced through equitable access to arts and culture in every community, its public institutions, and public places. Key areas of work include support to the cultural sector through grants and programs, support of cultural facilities and artist workspace, as well as the commissioning, review, and care of art in public places. Learn more at boston.gov/arts.
About the Boston Cultural Council
The Boston Cultural Council (BCC), under the umbrella of the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, consists of a diverse, volunteer body of Boston residents with lived experience in a variety of artistic disciplines. It annually distributes funds allocated by the City of Boston and the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency, to support innovative arts, humanities and interpretive sciences programming that enhances the quality of life in our city. For more information, please visit here.
New units across the City will create rental and homeownership opportunities for Bostonians
Today, Mayor Michelle Wu announced $40 million in new recommended funding from the Mayor’s Office of Housing, the Neighborhood Housing Trust (NHT), and the Community Preservation Fund to create and preserve over 700 income-restricted units of housing in Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, Chinatown, Hyde Park, and Roxbury. This ambitious portfolio of projects includes rental housing for families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities, while also creating new homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income Bostonians. These proposed projects comply with the Mayor’s Office of Housing standards for zero-emissions buildings and represent transit-oriented green development.
“Now more than ever, having a safe and stable home is critical for the health of our families and communities. These housing awards represent significant investments in neighborhoods across Boston, making them stronger and more accessible for our residents,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m grateful to the Neighborhood Housing Trust and the Community Preservation Committee for their leadership and partnership with the community.”
In August 2021, the City of Boston released two Requests for Proposals (RFP) offering funds for affordable housing developments. The Mayor’s Office of Housing, then the Department of Neighborhood Development, the Community Preservation Committee, and the Neighborhood Housing Trust evaluated the proposals and prioritized 14 projects. These projects will promote City goals to affirmatively further fair housing, and will efficiently utilize City resources and/or land to increase the supply of housing available to low- and moderate-income households.
Recognizing the role of housing development as a building block to a more just economy. This year’s RFPs prioritized projects that address income inequality and increase representation and financial benefit to Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color (BIPOC) professionals and community members. To do this, preference was given to projects where a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) owned 20% or more of the project or received 20% or more of non-construction-related fees. The RFPs also prioritized projects in neighborhoods that do not currently meet the city-wide average of income-restricted housing. Finally, the RFPs required enhanced equity & inclusion planning in terms of both hiring and resident services to support economic stability and growth.
“The City’s award for the combined projects of NUBA Homes and NUBA Apartments will be critical in building a cultural hub of opportunity on the Parcel 8 site in Nubian Square,” said Kamran Zahedi, President of Urbanica, Inc. “Together, these projects will create both rentals led by our development partner the NHP Foundation and homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income households, including specific live and work opportunities for artists. We are also pleased that this development embodies the City’s and our development teams’ shared interest in job creation and wealth-building opportunities for Roxbury residents and homeowners at multiple income ranges, both of which will be realized when these projects are complete.”
“We are very grateful for the City’s partnership on Hamilton at Mount Everett,” said Lisette Le, Executive Director of Vietnamese American Initiative for Development, Inc. “This project will create new homes for older adults with the deep services they need to remain in their community. This award will deliver modern and sustainably-designed apartments where residents can easily access transit and the resources of the Bowdoin Geneva neighborhood.”
To ensure that all units receiving City funding will remain affordable, developers are required to agree to long-term affordability for all income-restricted units. All rental projects are permanently deed-restricted, and all homeownership projects are deed-restricted for 50 years. In addition, developers of rental projects are required to set aside at least 10% of their units for homeless households, and projects that offered additional units at lower AMI levels received priority in the evaluation process.
The new funding for income-restricted housing was made possible in part by more than $20 million in municipal and federal funds administered by the Mayor’s Office of Housing. More than $7 million in funds come from the NHT through the City's Linkage policy, which extracts affordable housing funds from developers of large commercial projects. The Community Preservation Committee is recommending more than $14.6 million for the proposed projects. These projects are part of a larger award that includes affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space projects. The final slate of CPA recommended projects will go to the City Council for review and approval in February. The Community Preservation Act (CPA) established a one percent property tax surcharge, which was adopted by Boston voters in 2016.
The following is a complete list of the proposals that are receiving funding from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and NHT, as well as recommended projects for inclusion in the current round for the CPA funding:
To help choose appropriate developments for funding and best achieve the City’s goals for an equitable recovery, the City of Boston established funding priorities that were adhered to while making these awards. Proposals submitted were expected to fall under at least one of the priority criteria:
About the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH)
The Mayor’s Office of Housing is responsible for housing people experiencing homelessness, creating and preserving affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can obtain, maintain, and remain in safe, stable housing. The department develops and implements the City of Boston’s housing creation and homelessness prevention plans and collaborates with local and national partners to find new solutions and build more housing affordable to all, particularly those with lower incomes. For more information, please visit the MOH website.
About the Neighborhood Housing Trust Fund (NHT)
The NHT Fund supports homeownership, rental, cooperative, transitional, and permanent housing developments. The fund provides financing for projects serving households earning at or below 50% AMI and gives preference to populations that face barriers in securing housing, including seniors and people with disabilities. Funding is awarded as gap financing, and each applicant may receive no more than $750,000 per project. Priority is given to projects serving the greatest number of low-income households. The program also has a preference for projects that are near transit, and include family-sized units with two or more bedrooms. Boston's Neighborhood Housing Trust Fund is funded through a commercial project linkage payment fee system.
About the Community Preservation Act (CPA)
After Boston voters adopted the CPA in November 2016, the City created a Community Preservation Fund. This fund is capitalized primarily by a one percent property tax-based surcharge on residential and business property tax bills that began in July 2017. The City uses this revenue to fund initiatives consistent with statewide CPA guidelines: affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space, and public recreation. The funding of any project requires a recommendation from the Community Preservation Committee and appropriation by the City. For more information, please visit the Community Preservation webpage.
Several cabinet reappointments announced, shaping new administration with proven leaders focused on equity, civic engagement, and embracing Boston’s possibility.
Mayor Michelle Wu today announced several cabinet reappointments, shaping her new administration with proven leaders who are focused on equity, civic engagement and embracing Boston’s possibility.
Celina Barrios-Millner, previously Chief of Equity & Inclusion, will join the Mayor’s Office as Senior Advisor to the Mayor, Shumeane Benford will continue as Chief of Emergency Management (OEM), Kara Elliott-Ortega as Chief of Arts & Culture, Dion Irish as Chief of Operations, Justin Sterritt as Chief of Administration & Finance, and Rev. Mariama White-Hammond as Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space.
“I’m grateful for the continued leadership and service of these dedicated city officials,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “In this critical moment, their knowledge and passion for connecting our communities will guide our actions to make Boston a city for everyone.”
Celina Barrios-Millner, an immigrant from Venezuela, is a proven public sector strategist with two decades of experience serving the people of Boston by building systems and designing policies to ensure equity across major aspects of civic life. Since joining the City of Boston in 2014, Barrios-Millner has led Immigrant Integration initiatives, built the City’s first Supplier Diversity program, and most recently worked to ensure an equitable distribution of ARPA and other stimulus funds as Chief of Equity and Inclusion.
“I am honored by the opportunity to work closely with Mayor Wu and her administration to serve the people of Boston,” said Celina Barrios-Millner. “I am looking forward to working with such a talented and visionary team to ensure we are responsive to the real challenges we face day to day while building systems that work for all Bostonians.”
Shumeane L. Benford is a veteran Boston Police Officer and proven reform-minded public safety leader with over 25 years of experience. Benford is a collaborator who has lent his experience and voice in the city's discussion around police reform implementation. In addition to enhancing OEM's service capacity, Benford most recently has led efforts to transform the Boston Housing Police into a 21st century service oriented department that centers its work around engagement, community partnership, alternative responses, transparency and accountability. Benford is a lifelong Boston resident, and received his Masters Degree from Suffolk University, and his BA from Curry College. He is an adjunct professor at Roxbury Community College, and lives in Dorchester with his family.
“It is truly an honor to be reappointed as the Chief of Emergency Management,” said Shumeane Benford. “I am truly grateful for the opportunity to continue the important work of keeping our city safe and prepared under Mayor Wu's leadership. I welcome the challenge of meeting the moment and being a productive contributor in delivering on Mayor Wu's bold vision for transformative city services that are more connected, inclusive and equitable for all of Boston's residents.”
Kara Elliott-Ortega has worked in the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture for six years, serving as Chief of Arts and Culture for the past three years. In that role, Kara led cultural space development and placekeeping efforts, the expansion of grants and services to Boston-based creative workers and cultural organizations, and created new programs to support public art and cultural activations across the City. Kara previously worked for the City as the Director of Policy and Planning for the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. Kara is an urban planner and cultural organizer focusing on the role of arts and creativity in community building and government. She holds a Master in City Planning from MIT and is a graduate of the University of Chicago. Kara is a resident of Roxbury and loves playing music and going to local shows.
“I am honored to continue to serve Boston and its creative communities under the leadership of Mayor Wu,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega. “As a lifelong advocate for artists and creative work, I am excited to be part of this administration that prioritizes inclusion and understands the necessary role that culture plays in all aspects of civic life.”
Dion Irish has served the city of Boston for more than 26 years in various leadership positions. As Chief of Operations, he oversees the Inspectional Services, Public Facilities and Property Management Departments; and coordinates multi-agency operational initiatives. He is a dedicated and passionate public servant who held leadership positions in the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) for over a decade, including serving as Commissioner 2019 to 2021. At ISD, he established nationally recognized policies and programs such as Breathe Easy At Home (BEAH), Rental Property Registration & Inspection, and the statewide comprehensive certification training for housing inspectors (MPHIT). Previously, Irish was appointed Commissioner of the Boston Election Department in 2015 and was appointed to lead Boston’s Office of Civil Rights in 2012. He is a graduate of Dorchester High School; he earned a Bachelor degree in Political Science from Boston University, a Master of Urban Affairs from Boston University, and a Master of Public Administration Degree from Suffolk University.
“I'm both honored and excited to be part of Mayor Wu’s historic administration,” said Dion Irish. “As someone who was raised in this city, who attended our public schools and whose career has been dedicated to serving my fellow residents, I’m familiar with our challenges and opportunities. I’m eager to join Mayor Wu, and my colleagues, in executing on a bold agenda for Boston, while delivering on critical basic services.”
As CFO, Justin Sterritt is responsible for all aspects of financial management for the City of Boston. In this role, he will continue the sound fiscal stewardship of the City’s human and financial resources to support the long term growth and stability of the city. Sterritt previously served as Director of the Office of Budget Management for the City. Sterritt has also led key strategic efforts on behalf of the City including increasing engagement and equity in the annual budget process, managing state funding dynamics including efforts to increase state funding support and supporting the City’s response and recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic during a rapidly changing and evolving economic climate. Prior to joining the City of Boston, Sterritt spent over six years in various finance and policy roles for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
"It's the honor of a lifetime to serve as Chief Financial Officer and Collector-Treasurer for the City of Boston, and I'm thrilled to continue on in this role under Mayor Wu's administration " said Justin Sterritt. "The A&F team of professionals for the City is the envy of any major City in the country and I am proud to build on the City's track record of fiscal responsibility while helping to implement an innovative and forward looking agenda for Mayor Wu."
Rev. Mariama White-Hammond was appointed as Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space in April 2021. As Chief, Rev. White-Hammond oversees policy and programs on energy, climate change, sustainability, historic preservation and open space. Over the course of her time with the City, she has supported the amendment of the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) to set carbon targets for existing large buildings. Rev. White-Hammond has also convened a city-led youth green jobs program. Rev. White-Hammond has extensive background in embedding equity and environmental justice into Boston’s communities. Rev. Mariama is the founding pastor of New Roots AME Church in Dorchester. She has received numerous awards, including the Barr Fellowship, the Celtics Heroes Among Us, The Roxbury Founders Day Award and the Boston NAACP Image award. She was selected as one of the Grist 50 Fixers for 2019 and Sojourners 11 Women Shaping the Church. Rev. White-Hammond was born and raised in Boston and began her community engagement in high school when she worked as a Peer Health Educator. She was particularly shaped by her involvement in Project HIP-HOP (Highways Into the Past - History, Organizing and Power), a youth organization focused on teaching the history of the Civil Rights Movement and engaging a new generation of young people in activism. After college, she became the Executive Director of Project HIP-HOP, where she served for 13 years. In 2017, she graduated with her Master of Divinity at the Boston University School of Theology and was ordained an elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 2018, she founded New Roots AME Church.
“I want to thank Mayor Wu for her visionary leadership in tackling the structural changes so Boston’s young people have a healthy and sustainable planet to call home,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond. “Right now, we have the opportunity and obligation to create a city founded on equitable access to jobs, transportation, and open space through a city-level Green New Deal. I am grateful and enthusiastic to support Mayor Wu in this work."
Friday, Mayor Michelle Wu joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, and other elected officials to tour the Boston Arts Academy as part of Secretary Granholm’s Build Back Better Tour. The Boston Arts Academy is Boston’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts. The new building, which is currently under construction, has been designed to meet the City's carbon neutrality goals.
President Biden’s Build Back Better framework is the largest effort to combat climate change in American history. Friday’s tour and the City’s overall environmental partnership with the Biden administration exemplifies Boston’s commitment to being a New Green Deal city.
“Building back better requires urgent action at every level of government to combat climate change, create jobs, and invest in our future,” said Mayor Wu. “I was excited to welcome Secretary Granholm to the Boston Arts Academy to highlight what’s possible in our cities with state and federal partnership.”
Build Back Better has the potential to significantly support our city’s efforts to be resilient against climate change while supporting a just transition to the green economy. Accomplishments like the recently passed Infrastructure Bill provide critical support to enable Boston to move forward with public transportation investments, power grid infrastructure, and energy efficiency.
"The Boston Arts Academy’s new facility is a perfect example of building back better and paving the way toward a more energy efficient, sustainable and lower-cost future-- mirroring Mayor Wu’s bold climate goals and the historic weatherization investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law," said Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm. "From those tasked with bringing this building to life to the students who will learn and grow there, this proactive investment will benefit all Boston residents for generations to come."
“The City of Boston is immensely grateful to have a partner in Washington that is committed to combating the climate crisis,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. “As we continue on a path towards carbon neutrality, it is crucial that we partner with all levels of government to find innovative solutions to our most pressing challenges. This is a really exciting moment for the just transition movement.”
The state of the art building features a highly efficient air source heating and cooling system as well as energy efficient LED lighting systems. To mitigate the climate crisis, the City of Boston will need to implement similar measures throughout all of our new construction. The Department of Energy recently partnered with the heating industry to improve performance and efficiency of cold climate heat pumps as a part of the Build Back Better framework.
The Boston Arts Academy building will be 100 percent electric (except for gas in science labs and the kitchen). It is expected to be open for students for the 2022-2023 school year. It will accommodate more than 500 students, an increase of nearly 15 percent from the current student body.
“Boston has a long tradition of cultivating innovative ideas through education, the arts and culture sector and in environmental leadership,” said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. "All BPS students deserve to learn and grow in beautiful, state-of-the-art facilities. This one-of-a-kind campus is an example of one of the sustainable facilities needed across our city so that all our children have the opportunity to thrive in joyful and environmentally sound learning environments. I look forward to the official grand opening of BAA, which will house some of Boston’s most creative talent within a facility that is better for our communities.”
This energy efficient project builds on the City’s work toward sustainable growth and embodying a Green New Deal City. In Mayor Wu’s first week as Mayor, she signed a historic ordinance requiring Boston to divest from fossil fuel industries by the end of 2025.
Mayor Wu recently took steps to expand accessibility to public transportation, notably the 23, 28, and 29 MBTA bus routes. Mayor Wu filed an order to allocate $8 million in federal funds to eliminate fares, a motion that has since gotten approval from the Boston City Council. In October, the Boston City Council unanimously passed the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance. This building performance standard helps put Boston on a path to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Michelle Wu was officially sworn in today as the next Mayor of the City of Boston.
Mayor Wu, the first woman and first person of color to be elected Mayor of Boston, took the oath of office in the Boston City Council Chamber, just two weeks after her history-making election.
The program began with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Boston Public Schools student Eliana Rivas, and Rev. Dr. Arlene O. Hall, Lead Pastor of Deliverance Temple Worship Center, delivered the invocation. Following remarks from outgoing Mayor Kim Janey, Judge Myong J. Joun administered the Oath of Office to Mayor Wu; the Mayor’s husband and two sons held the Bible used for the swearing in.
Mayor Wu was sworn in on the Aitken Bible, the earliest complete English-language Bible printed in America. Often known as the “Bible of the Revolution,” it was published by Robert Aitken in 1782 and it was endorsed by the Congress as a symbol of American ingenuity. This Bible is owned by the City of Boston and is one of the treasures of the Boston Public Library’s collections.
_Mayor Wu offered the following as-prepared remarks after her swearing-in: _
Good afternoon Wu Train family, we’re back together so soon! I’ve missed you over the last two weeks.
Thank you Mayor Janey for your beautiful remarks and your trailblazing leadership, and thank you Senator Warren, Senator Markey, Congresswoman Pressley, Governor Baker, and all our colleagues in state, county, and local government for sharing this moment.
Thank you especially to the Boston City Council for hosting us here. President Pro Temp O’Malley, sitting members, and incoming new Councilors-elect:
Ruthzee Louijeune, Erin Murphy, Brian Worrell, Kendra Hicks, and Tania Fernandes Anderson — Congratulations, and I can’t wait to celebrate your Inauguration in January!
Thank you, Boston.
I am honored to stand here, in this Chamber that has meant so much to me, as your next Mayor…
The first time I set foot in Boston City Hall, I felt invisible— swallowed up by the maze of echoing concrete hallways, intimidated by the checkpoints and looming counters, reminded that my immigrant family tried to stay away from spaces like these.
But our family’s struggles brought me to an internship with Mayor Menino and his Chief of Staff Mitch Weiss, and an unexpected full-circle journey over the last decade.
Today I know City Hall’s passageways and stairwells like my own home. And this space is most special.
I learned the ropes of city government and politics on this floor, held the gavel on this floor, nursed babies on this floor, delivered paid parental leave on this floor, language access, food justice, housing protections, climate progress, and have reveled in the growing representation and power of our communities that our Boston City Council continues to embody.
But since we’re here today, I must share that the Council floor wasn’t always this way. When I joined the Council, this space wasn’t fully accessible to everyone. The floor that some are sitting on right now, was much lower, designed as a pit three steps down — a striking feature part of what many or I would call the beautiful architecture of City Hall.
Three steps prevented Bostonians in wheelchairs and with mobility challenges from coming down directly to testify on this floor and advocate for change. Those three steps were a barrier between our government and the people we are here to serve.
So we changed what this space could be, reshaped it to be accessible for everyone, and brought the floor level up three steps.
When we make City Hall more accessible, we are all raised up.
When we communicate in many languages, we all understand more.
Most of all, when we connect the power of city government to the force of our neighborhoods and communities, we see how much is possible for our city.
City government is special. We are the level closest to the people, so we must do the big and the small. Every streetlight, every pothole, every park and classroom, lays the foundation for greater change. Not only is it possible for Boston to deliver basic city services and generational change — it is absolutely necessary in this moment.
We’ll tackle our biggest challenges by getting the small things right, and by getting City Hall out of City Hall and into our neighborhoods, block by block, street by street.
After all, Boston was founded on a revolutionary promise: that things don’t have to be as they always have been. That we can chart a new path for families now, and for generations to come, grounded in justice and opportunity.
And we can take steps to raise us all up to that promise, together.
Several weeks ago, at Roxbury Community College, I met a young leader and student in our community. Brandon lives in Mattapan and takes the 28 Bus to class. He found out one day from a local business on Blue Hill Ave that the Mayor of Boston had worked to make the 28 Bus free, and it changed his life. What used to be a frequent headache of asking mom for $2 to get to class, opened up into justice and opportunity.
For Brandon and for our communities:
Our charge is to see every person and listen.
To meet people where they are.
To give hope. And deliver on it.
To find joy, in the words of the amazing Kim Janey, and spread it. Let history note not just who she was in this office, but all she got done, and all she will continue to do for our city.
Our charge is to fight urgently for our future, for the young people at the Burke High School who are here with us today, for Blaise, Cass, Ellie and Addie, for all our kids, and their kids to come.
The first time I set foot in Boston City Hall, I felt invisible. Today I see what’s possible in this building, and I see all the public servants raising us up — frontline workers, first responders, teachers and bus drivers, building inspectors, city workers. I am deeply honored to work alongside you and I ask everyone to join me in expressing our gratitude for your service. And I ask everyone to join us in service of our communities.
Boston, our charge is clear. We need everyone to join us in the work of doing the big and the small, getting City Hall out of City Hall, and embracing the possibility of our city.
The reason to make a Boston for everyone is because we need everyone for Boston, right now.
We have so much work to do, and it will take all of us to get it done. So let’s get to work.
To learn more about Mayor-elect Wu and the transition, visit www.AllAboardBoston.com or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Mayor Kim Janey today resubmitted her Administration's Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget, which builds on her commitment to Boston’s equitable reopening, recovery and long-term renewal from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of a strong local economy and a significant infusion of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan, the $3.76 Billion FY22 operating budget proposes a year-over-year increase of $152 million, or 4.2 percent over FY21, and the $3.3 Billion Capital Plan represents a $200 million increase, the largest capital plan ever. The resubmission follows over 36 City Council hearings and working sessions that helped identify opportunities for further targeted investments and cost-savings.
“During the past fifteen months, Boston has come together like never before, and we must take that spirit of collaboration and compassion and translate it into real investments for the City of Boston and our residents,” said Mayor Janey. “COVID-19 has brought on unprecedented economic and social change for our city, and this budget proposal meets the moment and makes targeted investments to ensure that as we recover from this public health crisis we are not going back to normal, but going forward better than before. I am proud of this budget and the enormous work that goes into running our City government and providing the services Bostonians need and rely on.”
In this budget resubmission, the City of Boston will make further investment in core city services and resident needs, while centering an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. After 36 public City Council hearings and robust public conversation, Mayor Janey’s revised budget offers support for Boston’s workforce, ensures the City’s neighborhoods are safe and welcoming, and fosters joy in our communities. All investments place equity at the forefront. To help recover from the financial and economic impacts of COVID-19, the city is expected to receive over $500 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act for use through the end of 2024. Of this funding, Mayor Janey has proposed a $50 million emergency relief plan to support an equitable recovery and reopening for Boston residents, workers and small businesses.
The allocation of this immediate funding was guided by the City of Boston’s Equitable Recovery Coordinating Committee (ERCC), which is being formed to ensure the equitable and efficient coordination of stimulus resources for the short- and long-term benefit of Boston residents, with an intentional focus on those who have been hurt most by the pandemic. The ERCC is steered by City leadership, with additional representation across City departments and external stakeholders.
“In the midst of historic transition and COVID-19 recovery, Boston definitely needs a strong budget for the year ahead," said Councilor Kenzie Bok, the Chair of the Council's Ways & Means Committee. "We are poised as a City to make major investments in key recovery needs such as green jobs, affordable housing, and a robust capital plan. I am very glad that, through the Council’s budget scrutiny process, we’ve been able to work with the Administration to make important further adjustments that increase funding for safer streets and sidewalks, support our low-income retirees, enhance fire coverage, and expand job opportunities for young adults. The adjustments we've made will also boost our long-term efforts to preserve neighborhood history, create new units of public housing, and tackle the challenge of digital equity. I look forward to ensuring that we start the fiscal year in a strong position to execute on all these plans; the people of Boston deserve no less.”
Mayor Janey has made supporting Boston’s workforce a top priority. Her Administration’s proposed budget resubmission showcases a commitment to creating opportunities for all of Boston’s workers and developing supports to prepare our workforce for the jobs of the future. Mayor Janey’s proposed budget includes:
As part of her budget resubmission, Mayor Janey is also recommending the creation of the City’s first Chief of Workforce Development, $300,000 in jobs and work opportunities for young adults, a Career Counselor Librarian pilot program in East Boston, Mattapan and Roxbury, increased investments in Women's Advancement-Salary Negotiation Trainings and Wage Gap Training for Employers, and new funding that supports our long-term city workers with an update to the retirement Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Base.
Mayor Janey’s FY22 budget proposal is built to support residents with a key focus on equitable distribution of resources to support residents who have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Janey’s proposed budget includes:
As part of her budget resubmission, Mayor Janey is also recommending $1 million for the City’s first Office of Participatory Budgeting, investments in a new Healthy Places Initiative targeted for environmental justice populations, who often live in hotter neighborhoods with less tree canopy cover, and $250,000 in additional resources to support equitable procurement and access for City contracts.
Mayor Janey recognizes the importance of making sure that all Boston residents are able to feel safe and welcome in our neighborhoods. This budget helps support additional affordable housing opportunities and alternative models to traditional policing. The proposed budget includes:
To expand on the Mayor’s commitment to creating welcome communities, Mayor Janey also recommended an additional $2.25 million investment to address road safety issues, add funding to recruit additional firefighters, and preserve the Immigrant Defense Fund and expand support for the Temporary Protected Status program.
Mayor Janey created her Joy Agenda as an investment in Boston’s collective wellbeing as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This citywide approach creates open and safe spaces, reimagines policies and practices to promote city services, creates ways for residents to reconnect with each other, and invests in arts and culture, small businesses, and youth. Mayor Janey’s proposed investments for the Joy Agenda include:
Mayor Janey’s resubmitted budget proposal includes investments for Joy Agenda mini grants, investments in exploring municipal broadband so all neighborhoods can access reliable internet, support for future outdoor dining for restaurants, and the launch of the Healthy Places Initiatives to mitigate adverse impacts of excessive heat.
Mayor Janey’s FY22 budget proposal expands upon her forward-looking plan to support Boston's equitable reopening, recovery and long-term renewal. For more information about the budget, visit Boston's budget website at budget.boston.gov.
Two long-term public art projects will complement the construction of the new Boston Arts Academy building in Fenway.
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Building on her commitment to equity and her focus on engaging all of Boston in the City’s governance, Mayor Kim Janey today took two key steps to democratize Boston’s budget building process. The first step was signing off on a ballot question to amend the City of Boston Charter that will strike a more equal balance of budgetary powers between the Mayor and the City Council. The amendment will now be sent to the Attorney General’s office for placement on Boston’s municipal ballot this November. The second step was to allocate an additional $1 million in the City’s proposed FY ‘22 Budget, dedicated to the immediate creation of the City’s first Office of Participatory Budgeting.
“On my first day as Mayor, I promised to bring new voices to the table and include those who felt shut out by City Hall,” said Mayor Janey. “Signing this charter amendment delivers on that promise and creates a path forward for city budgeting that is more democratic, inclusive, and transparent. I want to thank the advocates and the Boston City Council for their partnership on this important issue.”
The proposed charter amendment, which Mayor Janey championed as City Council President, received unanimous approval from the City Council in May. If the charter amendment passes this November, both the City Council and the Mayor will have the authority to amend the City’s budget in whole or in part, a power currently only held by the Mayor.
Independent of the ballot measure, the amendment also establishes the Office of Participatory Budgeting, which will lead the Administration's efforts around expanding opportunities for community involvement in the City’s annual budgeting process. Guided by a community-based Participatory Budgeting Committee, the Office will be tasked with determining resident priorities when it comes to the City’s investments.
“CPA works to ensure more voices are heard in government and policy making,” said Karen Chen of the Chinese Progressive Association. “We want to commend Mayor Janey for signing the Charter Reform amendment moving Boston towards greater democracy and equity, where all Bostonian voices are represented in Boston’s city budget.”
“ACE as a member of Rights to the City of Boston appreciates Mayor Janey's leadership on charter reform as the President of the City Council and now as the serving Mayor of Boston. Charter reform will continue the process of making Boston a more transparent and democratic city,” said Dwaign Tyndal of Alternatives for Community and Environment.
“We are so grateful for Mayor Janey’s support of this charter amendment. Participatory budgeting will allow for residents across Boston to have direct decision making in our tax dollars, and strengthens our city’s democracy, transparency, and civic participation,” said Roxbury-based activist Armani White.
Mayor Janey recently proposed a forward-looking budget that recommended a $3.75 billion Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) operating budget and $3.2 billion Fiscal Year 2022-2026 (FY22-FY26) Capital Plan. The aim of the budget is to provide the resources for the city’s continued robust public health response to COVID-19, making strategic investments in Boston’s neighborhoods and residents, and setting the stage for Boston’s equitable reopening, recovery and long-term renewal. For more information on Mayor Janey’s proposed budget, visit budget.boston.gov.
The solar canopy at Boston Police Headquarters completes the first phase of the Renew Boston Trust initiative, which is estimated to save approximately $680,000 in its first year.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the completion of the first phase of Renew Boston Trust, the City of Boston’s initiative to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy measures for municipal buildings. The first phase of the $45 million investment spans 14 City-owned buildings, including libraries, community centers, police and fire stations, and helps reduce energy use, save money, and reduce city-emitted greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
This work marks continued commitment by the City of Boston to lead by example and implement strategies outlined in the 2019 Climate Action Plan update to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050.
“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our lifetimes, and the City of Boston must lead by example in our commitment to building healthier, sustainable, and more equitable communities,” said Mayor Walsh. “The Renew Boston Trust is a smart, forward-thinking program for the City of Boston, and allows us to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that pollute our neighborhoods and further climate change.”
The first phase includes dozens of completed energy-saving projects at 14 City-owned buildings throughout Boston, which are estimated to save approximately $680,000 in the first year alone. Investments include efficient lighting and water fixtures, HVAC equipment replacements, building management systems to improve operations, and installation of solar panels. This first phase is projected to reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions by one percent, and grow in impact over time, which improves air quality, creates healthier buildings, and reduces carbon emissions to get the city closer to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
“In Boston, buildings account for nearly 70 percent of the emissions that contribute to climate change. The Renew Boston Trust not only makes our buildings more comfortable for employees and visitors, but allows us to re-invest additional savings from these energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades into resiliency measures across the city to build stronger and healthier neighborhoods across Boston,” said Chris Cook, Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space.
The first phase of Renew Boston Trust was completed with the installation of carports at the Boston Police Department Headquarters. On top of these carports are 707 solar modules that reduce the amount of power the building draws from the grid, produce about 242,000 kWh annually, and save $6,000 in its first year. Solar PV installations were also made at the BCYF Roslindale Community Center and the BCYF Tobin Community Center. Each building is guaranteed between $4,000-$6,000 in savings the first year, with more anticipated over the 20 year contract.
“By using a self-funded financing model with guaranteed savings, the Renew Boston Trust program saves the City money and helps us to achieve our climate goals,” said Emme Handy, Chief Financial Officer. “Generating $32 million in proceeds, the City issued its first series of green bonds in December to finance projects such as the first two phases of Renew Boston Trust. We are pleased that the sale of green bonds achieved a three basis point pricing differential, the largest and most definitive pricing benefit to date for municipal green bonds.”
Mayor Walsh formally announced his plans for Renew Boston Trust with an $11 million investment in the FY19 budget. The upgrades are made through an energy savings performance contract, a proven self-funded financing model that guarantees energy and cost savings. The savings within the City’s operating budget from more energy efficient buildings pays for the financing of the work. With additional savings, the City plans to re-invest in resiliency measures. The next phase of Renew Boston Trust is investing nearly $20 million of energy conservation measures across 31 city-owned buildings.
Projects have been completed at the following City of Boston buildings:
As indicated in the 2019 Climate Action Plan update, Boston’s roadmap for reaching its goals of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and preparing our infrastructure and communities for the impacts of climate change, the City of Boston has taken bold and necessary action to lead by example. On top of investing in our existing buildings and use of City assets like parking lots to deploy renewable energy, in 2019 Mayor Walsh signed an executive order requiring all new municipal buildings (schools, libraries, community centers) will target a net-zero standard. In order to provide high quality, safe, and cleaner affordable housing to our most vulnerable residents, the City of Boston offered $30 million to support the creation of new affordable housing built to net-zero standards. Climate Ready Boston is simultaneously strengthening Boston’s climate change resilience and adaptation with near- and long-term planning through neighborhood-level engagement and solutions. For more information on how Boston is actively preparing for the impacts of climate change and advancing the vision of a resilient city, visit boston.gov/environment.
Mayor Kim Janey today announced that Emme Handy will be departing the City of Boston after three successful years of managing City finances to return to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Handy first joined the Broad in 2015 after working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 2007. Justin Sterritt has been appointed to the role of Chief Financial Officer, effective April 16, 2021 after serving as Budget Director for the City since October 2017.
“Emme has overseen the budget soundly and thoughtfully for a number of years and I thank her for her contributions to the City of Boston,” said Mayor Janey. “The experience she brought to the City of Boston from state government and the Broad has proved critical, especially as she had to navigate uncharted waters over the past year. Emme has been steadfast throughout the pandemic to ensure that critical programs, from testing in every neighborhood to reliable food sites for families to re-opening our schools for families, could move forward for the people of Boston, while still ensuring the City’s budget was in a strong position to support our needs for years to come.”
As CFO, Sterritt (pictured) will serve as the Chief of the Administration and Finance Cabinet, where he will be responsible for all aspects of financial management for the City of Boston. In this role, he will continue the sound fiscal stewardship of the City’s human and financial resources to support the long term growth and stability of the city. His financial responsibilities include debt and investment management, financial reporting, budget development and oversight, tax administration, and administration of enterprise-wide financial systems. As Collector-Treasurer, he is the custodian of more than 300 City trust funds.
“I want to welcome Justin as the City of Boston’s new CFO, a role that is so important to the financial well-being of the city as we begin to recover from the pandemic, and plan for a brighter and more equitable future,” said Mayor Janey. “Justin brings a wealth of knowledge to this role, and I am confident that his years of experience in being a fiscal steward of public dollars on behalf of our residents make him well-suited to lead this office. I look forward to working alongside him as we make bold investments in our neighborhoods, and in the people of Boston.”
Sterritt brings a decade of public sector finance leadership experience including most recently serving as Director of the Office of Budget Management for the City. During his three year tenure as Budget Director he successfully developed and managed the city’s $3.5 billion annual operating budget and $3 billion five-year capital plan, while also improving the effectiveness and efficiency of municipal government. Central to the budget during this time were historic and strategic investments in public education, public health, and housing.
Sterritt has also led key strategic efforts on behalf of the City including increasing engagement and equity in the annual budget process, managing state funding dynamics including recent successful efforts to increase state funding support and supporting the City’s response and recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic during a rapidly changing and evolving economic climate. Sterritt has overseen the City’s strategy to manage both City resources but also access and maximize hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal funding and ensure it is deployed equitably in the areas it’s needed the most like public health, economic recovery and housing supports.
As CFO, Sterritt will oversee a number of City departments, including Assessing, Auditing, Budget, Community Preservation, Human Resources, Labor Relations, Purchasing, Registry, the Retirement Board, Collecting, and Treasury.
“I’m humbled and excited by the opportunity to serve my City in this new capacity, and thankful to Secretary Walsh and Mayor Janey for their faith in bringing me in to serve the City and appointing me Chief Financial Officer,” said Justin Sterritt. “I have been fortunate over the past three years to learn from the integrity, skill and vision that Emme Handy brought to the CFO role, and the A&F team she assembled is the envy of any major local government in the country. I’m thrilled to help build on the City’s strong financial standing and help implement a bold agenda under Mayor Janey while we continue the City’s robust response to COVID-19.”
Prior to joining the City of Boston, Sterritt spent over six years in various finance and policy roles for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He spent three years with the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means, departing as Budget Director. In this role, Sterritt oversaw the analysis, development and execution of the House of Representatives' annual State operating budget. Sterritt directed a staff that reviewed, analyzed, and recommended funding for $40 billion in state spending and revenue.
Before joining House Ways and Means, Sterritt served in the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (A&F), the state agency charged with managing the Commonwealth's finances, where he was responsible for the fiscal and policy recommendations of the Early Education, K-12, Local Aid and Higher Education systems. Prior to A&F, Sterritt served in the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development on state and local infrastructure projects, and public financing for economic development initiatives throughout the Commonwealth.
With the appointment of Sterritt, Drew Smith (pictured) will assume the role of Deputy Chief Financial Officer. As Deputy CFO, Smith will support the CFO in overseeing management of the City’s financial resources. Smith has served as Head of Treasury since November 2017 and brings over three years of experience managing the City’s revenue and distributions, long-term debt and trust funds. In his current role, he has overseen initiatives to modernize and maximize revenue collection, managed successful bond sales and led an initiative to update the City’s Cash Policy, which included launching the City’s Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Investment Initiative and Boston’s Community Bank Investment Initiative.
Prior to serving as the City’s Head of Treasury, Smith brought over ten years of experience in treasury roles, including his most recent role serving as Deputy Assistant Treasurer for Debt Management at the Massachusetts State Treasury.
Emme Handy will be rejoining the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she previously worked for nearly three years. Handy served as CFO and Chief of the Administration and Finance Cabinet for the City since January 2018. As CFO, Handy has successfully maintained the City’s commitment to the sound fiscal stewardship of the City’s human and financial resources. During her time as CFO, the City achieved AAA bond ratings for three years in a row and the seventh consecutive year overall. She has overseen the transformation of the City into a modern, employee-focused employer, led a cross-cabinet initiative to implement improvements to internal business processes and procedures aimed at creating a more equitable and diverse procurement process as well as increasing transparency, accessibility and efficiency in the City’s procurement processes, and expanded the City’s paid parental leave benefit available to eligible employees. Additionally, she has played a leadership role in supporting City through the COVID-19 pandemic, overseeing both the financial and workforce related responses.
The nonprofit Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard aims to empower the next generation of creative scientists to transform medicine with new genome-based knowledge and develop effective new approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics. Handy will be serving as Senior Advisor to the Chief Operating Officer, supporting the Broad as it responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing testing services in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public health for local hospitals, clinics and high-need communities, colleges and universities, and many Massachusetts K-12 schools; advances therapeutics and drug discovery; and launches a new initiative to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to advance connections between data and life sciences to transform biology and ultimately improve human health.
“It has been an incredible honor to serve the City of Boston as Chief Financial Officer,” said Emme Handy. “I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to serve my community and my neighbors, the residents of Boston, over the past few years. I would like to thank Secretary Walsh and Mayor Janey for the opportunity to serve in this capacity. It has been an honor to serve Mayor Janey during the mayoral transition. Justin Sterritt, my friend and longtime colleague, is a model public servant who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role. The City is lucky to have him and I know he will continue the City’s commitment to fiscally responsible management as CFO. I’m thrilled to return to the Broad at this pivotal time to support the Institute’s transformative work to improve human health.”
The Administration and Finance Cabinet ensures that city services are delivered with high quality, with high ethical standards, are financially prudent, are responsive to the needs of the citizens of Boston, and consistent with the laws and ordinances governing municipal government.
Most recently, the City of Boston announced that it has maintained triple-A bond ratings, as assigned by Moody's Investor Service and S&P Global Ratings, in advance of its 2020 bond sale. Since 2014, the City has continued to receive the top credit rating from both rating agencies. The agencies' affirmations of Boston's strong financial health are a recognition of the City's fiscal management during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information about the City’s budget, visit boston.gov/budget. For more information about the City’s investor relations, visit BuyBostonBonds.com.
First-ever issue of Green Bonds; benefits from high credit ratings
The City of Boston’s strong financial standing and go-to-market timing were instrumental in its successful December 9th bond sale where the City issued $272.0M in General Obligation (GO) bonds. The City delayed its bond sale from March, when Boston has typically gone to market, to the fall, largely due to pandemic-related market uncertainty in the spring and for cash flow benefits from diversifying the City’s principal payment schedule.
For the first time the City issued green bonds, with proceeds totaling $32.1M for energy efficiency and climate resiliency projects—a significant part of the City’s goal to advance sustainable investments as part of its environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiative. The sale also included social bonds with total proceeds of $35.0M for affordable housing projects to be carried out by the Boston Housing Authority (BHA). The green bond and social bond sales combined produced savings worth $11.2M, which will be realized over the next 14 years.
For the first time in 20 years, the City went to market with a negotiated sale approach instead of a competitive sale. Using a negotiated method of sale enabled Boston to sell to both individual and institutional investors, providing the City the chance to expand its investor base and prioritize retail investors and smaller, local buyers. In a competitive sale investment banks bid against each other on a predetermined auction date and the issuer goes with the best price, with the winning bank reselling the bonds to investors at its discretion. A negotiated sale involves engaging a group (or “syndicate”) of underwriters with which an issuer negotiates terms of the bond purchase in advance.
2020 BOND SALE FACTS
Highest Ratings Reaffirmed
Moody’s reaffirmed its highest bond rating of Aaa for Boston, first awarded in 2011, and S&P Global reaffirmed its AAA rating, which was first awarded in March 2014 (see ratings going back to 1973 here). Both agencies identified environmental risks that Boston faces, including storm and sea rise vulnerability, but noted city management has made proactive efforts to manage these risks.
What the Rating Agencies Say *
Positive Factors Benefiting Boston:
Constraining Factors Being Watched:
High personnel costs tied to collective bargaining with strong unions, including contracts for the city’s four police unions that expired in FY20.
Large and diverse tax base of $179.8B (2019-2020 equalized value), which has grown 74.6% or $76.8B since 2013. New development in FY21 is projected to be in line with prior years.
Growing long-term unfunded liabilities for pensions and retiree health care (OPEB) relative to year-to-year budgetary growth.
Strong city and financial management resulting in consecutive surpluses and budgetary flexibility to meet short- and long-term policy goals.
Education spending challenges, including COVID-19 impact on state aid for education and managing services for a diverse student population.
Manageable debt levels from stable revenue generation and conservative debt policy.
Potential impact on budgetary performance related to public health and economic conditions.
Maintenance of healthy reserves and strong cash position of $1.4B (40.8% of general fund revenues) at the close of FY19.
_* _Based on November 2020 Moody’s and S&P Global credit reports.
Building on a continued effort to promote sustainable and responsible investment, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced a commitment of an additional $50 million towards the City of Boston's Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Investment Initiative. This commitment brings the City's total investment in the ESG Initiative to $200 million, which will be invested in the short-term fixed income securities (i.e. short-term bonds and notes) of companies that maintain strong corporate ESG practices. Mayor Walsh launched the ESG Investment Initiative last year with an initial commitment of $150 million to encourage sustainable investment policies in Boston.
The City also provided an update on last week's bond sale, in which Boston issued its first ever series of Green Bonds, which will fund energy efficiency projects, and Social Bonds, which will fund affordable housing projects. Based on the results of the sale, in which the City successfully issued green bonds with lower interest costs than their non-green counterparts, Boston believes it has shown the largest and most definitive pricing benefit to date for bonds carrying the green label. The City believes this is an important first step in demonstrating that there is more than a marketing advantage in selling green bonds.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the launch of three new funds totaling $6.3 million that will support small businesses within the City of Boston that have been affected by COVID-19, focusing on commercial rent relief, supporting certified women, minority, and veteran owned small businesses, and restaurant payroll and rental relief. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Boston has allocated more than $15 million toward direct grants to small businesses.
As the City of Boston continues to lead nationally on urgent climate action, Climate Mayors today announced that Mayor Martin J. Walsh has been named Chair of the coalition of 468 U.S. mayors committed to bold environmental action and upholding the Paris Climate Agreement. In this role, Mayor Walsh will help catalyze efforts to combat climate change at the local level, provide an example of climate action for leaders at all levels of government, and advocate for an economic recovery founded in equity and environmental stewardship. Mayor Walsh succeeds Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who founded Climate Mayors, and has also served as the network's Chair since its launch in 2014.
Building on his Resilient Boston Harbor plan to enhance Boston’s waterfront and protect vulnerable neighborhoods from s ea level rise and coastal flooding due to climate change, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today released two reports, "Coastal Resilience Solutions for Downtown Boston and North End" and "Coastal Resilience Solutions for Dorchester" . The reports are rooted in Imagine Boston 2030 and advance the work of Climate Ready Boston, the City’s initiative to develop solutions to prepare Boston for the impacts of climate change. The strategies presented in each report outline a roadmap for near- and long-term solutions to protect from coastal flooding, increase access and open space along the waterfront, and enhance the public-private collaboration necessary for stakeholders in each neighborhood required for successful transformation and protection.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the reopening of applications for the Rental Relief Fund, created in early April to help Boston residents at risk of losing their housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund reopened with $5 million available to help residents pay their rent following the end of the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on October 17. Over the last six months, the Fund distributed more than $3 million in payments to landlords on behalf of more than 1,000 households. More than fifty percent of the households that have been awarded funds earn less than $58,000 per year with two income earners. Qualified residents interested in applying to this round of funding can submit their application online, available in 11 languages.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced he has proposed an order that will allow the City of Boston to participate in the Massachusetts Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE), a tax-based financing mechanism that enables low-cost, long-term funding for energy improvements in existing commercial, industrial, nonprofit, and multifamily buildings with five or more units. By adopting this program, the City of Boston is building on the strategies identified in the 2019 Climate Action Plan to accelerate decarbonization in the city's largest buildings and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Mayor Walsh announced today that the City of Boston is celebrating national Energy Efficiency Day. Read the proclamation. Energy efficiency is critical to achieve Mayor Walsh’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050 and protect Boston and its communities from the effects of climate change. Energy efficiency creates jobs, saves money, and decreases pollution. It is necessary to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and work toward a healthy, climate resilient, and thriving Boston.
May 7, 2018
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced Boston has maintained its perfect AAA bond rating, as assigned by Moody's Investor Service and S&P Global Ratings. The City has maintained the top credit ratings from both rating agencies since 2014.
According to Moody's Investor Service, Boston's AAA rating reflects the city's strong fiscal management and stable financial position, as well as its large and growing tax base with economic diversity bolstered by significant government, higher education and healthcare sectors. The rating also takes into account Boston's conservatively managed debt profile and its planning efforts with respect to its pension obligations.
"In Boston, we're committed to creating opportunities for all, and lifting up Boston's working families," said Mayor Walsh. "To do that, we need to maintain a strong fiscal foundation that allows us to invest in the programs and policies that make a difference. I'm proud Boston once again has achieved a AAA bond rating, allowing us to continue successfully planning for our city's future."
"By tackling our long-term liabilities, controlling costs and using data to drive city spending, the Mayor has prioritized strong financial management," said Emme Handy, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Boston. "This bond rating highlights our commitment to Boston's long-term prosperity as we continue to make record investments in our priorities."
S&P Global Ratings cites Boston's "very strong" economy as reason for its AAA rating. Contributing to Boston's strong economy is its talented, diverse workforce; longstanding financial and insurance industries, as well as the city's growing reputation as a tech hub; central location; and recruitment and retainment of college graduates in the city. In addition, S&P also highlighted Boston's history of proactively addressing future challenges through the city's long-term plans. Included in these highlights are Boston's Climate Action Plan, which addressing goals for reducing greenhouse emission by 2050; Climate Ready Boston, which develops resilient solutions to prepare Boston for climate change; Go Boston 2030, which aims to ensure equitable, reliable and safe transportation for all residents; and Housing a Changing City, Boston's housing plan which already is well on its way to creating 53,000 new units of housing by 2030.
These ratings build on Mayor Walsh's commitment to financial responsibility throughout the City of Boston. Over the past five years, Boston's revenue has grown by 25 percent, and the city has added 80,000 new jobs over the last four years. Boston also recently launched Boston's new investor outreach platform, BuyBostonBonds.com. The new website is the latest step in the city's continued efforts to optimize financial disclosure and is designed to drive investment in Boston's debt, which helps pay for capital projects and investments the City makes. More information about this platform and what it means for investors and residents is also available here.
Last month, Mayor Walsh presented his Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget proposal, a plan that affirms a commitment to progress, opportunity and innovation by investing in Boston's neighborhoods, while building on the City's strong record of proactive fiscal management. The $3.29 billion plan builds on the Walsh Administration's commitment to accelerating progress in key areas, investing in a growing middle class through strong 21st-century schools; good jobs; affordable homes in safe neighborhoods; providing pathways to opportunities; supporting public safety for a growing city; and improving core city services to benefit all residents.