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http://bostoncommunitycapital.org/sites/default/files/files/pdf/BCC%20Case%20Study_%20Oxbow%20Urban.pdf

Make Room For The Middle Class 

Oxbow Urban, Boston, Massachusetts 

Kevin Maguire is as clear about his mission as he is passionate. “I set up OxbowUrban specifically to work with the City of Boston and the Neighborhood Homes Initiative to create affordable home ownership opportunities for the middle class.” Why? “Boston is going through a renaissance, but it doesn’t necessarily touch everyone. There is a lot of affordable housing being built for people earning at or below 60% of the median income, and there is a lot of new market-rate construction for people earning at or above 150% of the median income. That leaves out a pretty large swath of the workforce.”

 Maguire continues, “The lack of ownership opportunities for those families leads to all the issues of income segregation within cities: a lack of diversity, struggling neighborhoods, and gentrification. To maintain a dynamic city, it’s important to have high-quality middle-income housing. And if you are trying to provide a path for people to move up and participate in the economy in larger and larger ways, you don’t want them leaving Boston when they are ready to buy a home—which is, itself, a critical wealth creation tool.”

 Maguire has a long history of developing affordable housing for ownership, which is a relatively unique skill. As a Boston resident, he was eager to use his expertise to do something he believes is right for the community he lives in. “It’s about the old-fashioned values that go along with community building: You build because there is a need. These are families that want to put down roots. This program is giving them a fantastic opportunity to have high-quality, permanent housing and take the next step up the ladder of wealth creation.”

 “We were ecstatic to be chosen to be part of the program.”

 Maguire continues, “To implement the project, we have put together a team of 6 firms. We are all Boston-based and only OxbowUrban isn’t either minority- or woman-owned. This is an incredibly talented and diverse group, from our Cape Verdean-African American general contractor to our white-female-owned landscape designer to our African-American architect and our Spanish design consultant to our Trinidadian marketing and sales broker. We are really harnessing the diversity of the city to continue its legacy of opportunity.”

 “It’s a living example of ‘Neighbors working together to strengthen their neighborhoods.’”

 Of course, the project comes with some challenges, too. “We want to expand and strengthen neighborhoods at their existing scale, so we are building triple-deckers among triple-deckers and two-family houses among two-families. But that means that instead of one building with 50 units, we are managing 13 land purchases, 13 insurance policies, 13 addresses. We needed a lender that would be creative and flexible enough to structure a facility that could help minimize all the additional administration that goes along with the multiple sites.”

 Maguire had worked with BCC before, and we were the first place he came. “The ethos of BCC is to solve problems instead of trying to fit you into a standard solution. And they did come up with a credit facility that addresses all the issues. It was an absolute threshold for me to have the right lender—that allowed me to put my experience to work in the service of my community through this thoughtful program. If it weren’t for BCC I wouldn’t be doing these projects.”

 Photo credit: Marilyn Humphries