President’s Letter

For 50 years, under the leadership of Msgr. Michael Groden and Lisa Alberghini, the Planning Office for Urban Affairs (POUA) has developed innovative approaches to create permanent affordable housing and integrated, vibrant communities.  Over this period of time, POUA has developed nearly 3,000 units of housing, carrying out its mission to create vibrant communities and work for social justice on behalf of all those who are housing deprived.  Having been at POUA since 2005, I have seen first-hand the tremendous impact of our work, and it is a privilege and an honor to carry on this mission as the next President.  I am thankful to Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley for this appointment and for his commitment to serving and helping those in need. 

POUA has accomplished a great deal over the last 50 years, but there is much work left to be done, as so many people in our communities still do not have access to decent, safe affordable housing.  In 1975, the United State Catholic Conference issued “A Pastoral Response to the Crisis in Housing”, and unfortunately, the words from 1975 still ring true today – “we are in the midst of a severe housing crisis”.  Today, we are in an affordable housing crisis that extends across all households, but especially among extremely low-income households.  We have an obligation to ensure that the housing needs of all individuals and households are met and given the shortage of affordable housing across the Commonwealth, our work is more important than ever.  Having a decent, affordable home impacts every single aspect of our life – it affects our health and our economic and social well-being.  Given this impact, the right to a decent home is a moral imperative; housing is an essential human right.  It is within that context, and with that charge, that we get our direction and pursue our work.

Over the last several years, POUA has completed or made significant progress on key developments in Haverhill; Hanover; Brockton; and the South End, Mattapan and Dorchester neighborhoods of Boston. Our newest work includes: converting the former Boston Young Men’s Christian Union building in downtown Boston into 46 units of affordable housing, including 26 units for people who are currently or have been homeless; renovating an historic dormitory building on the Cardinal Cushing Center campus in Hanover into mixed-income workforce housing; developing a $70 million transformative urban mixed-use, mixed-income project in Haverhill that includes residential, office, retail and educational components; creating the first safe house in the City of Boston for victims of human trafficking; and developing a new residential community along the Fairmount line in Mattapan.  In undertaking this work we have formed exciting partnerships with the Greater Haverhill Foundation; St. Francis House; and Caribbean Integration Community Development. We look forward to building on this history by expanding our relationships with existing partners and creating new and innovative approaches to meet the needs of those who lack adequate housing. 

In addition to our housing development work, POUA will continue to be a strong advocate to increase affordable housing resources, enact zoning reform to produce more affordable and mixed-income housing, create collaborations among developers and service providers and develop creative solutions to address homelessness.  Along these lines, POUA has been building relationships with hospitals, health care clinics, and other entities to establish innovative models at the intersection of health care and housing to improve resident and community health outcomes through the provision of affordable housing and health-related resident services.  We will continue to work with others to promote action in addressing our housing crisis in a coordinated and cooperative manner.

I look forward to leading POUA’s efforts going forward.  This work cannot be done without our many partners, and we remain deeply grateful to our parish, financial and community partners who have worked so hard with us to accomplish our shared objectives.  Thank you, on behalf of POUA and all those we have the honor to serve.

William H. Grogan, President