Chinatown's HD-OD

HD-OD Logo

The Human Development Overlay District (HD-OD) is premised on the idea that physical place and the people who live there are inextricably interrelated and must be planned for together. Families, individuals and small businesses are often unable to adapt to all the changes that take place in a neighborhood undergoing heavy development, whether physical, economic or social. In recent years, Chinatown’s land has increasingly become more desirable to developers because of its central Boston location and the efforts to revitalize the Theater District.

The increase of market-rate and luxury priced housing units, as well as the addition of hundreds of new hotel rooms, has inflated real estate housing values in Chinatown, sending rents up 10% to 200% in the past two years. The cumulative impact of these new development pressures threatens the existing population - particularly low-income residents, new immigrants, small businesses, un/underemployed, renters and potential homebuyers, and those with health concerns.

View the information sheet [flash].

Download info sheet [pdf, 577 kb]

To help the neighborhood navigate pressures from development, ACDC and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) are developing one of four national pilot sites for a Human Development Overlay District (HD-OD), in Chinatown. The goal is to help residents who are vulnerable to displacement from development plan for their future, as well as to preserve the character of Chinatown. This project seeks to understand the potential benefits of providing social services, small-business resources and housing assistance in a focused “human development district.”  This work is made possible through an award by the Environmental Simulation Center, a New York-based nonprofit linking cutting-edge technology with community planning, in partnership with the Ford Foundation, along with support from the Boston Foundation and Liberty Mutual.

Recent advances in information technology, particularly decision support systems utilizing multiple data sources, virtual reality, and 3D environments, can enable service agencies to assist clients so that they can embrace development changes as opportunities for upward mobility. The HD-OD could potentially be a new model for community development that could be applied across the country.

The HD-OD objectives dovetail with the process for the Chinatown Master Plan 2010, a collaborative effort to update the Chinatown Master Plan 2000. The CMP 2000 served more as an agenda of community priorities than a specific implementation plan. The goal of the Master Plan 2010 initiative is to create an update plan to influence rapid development events and, through the process, unite the community to work for implementation of the plan. The HD-OD initiative shares many of these goals and involves a similar stakeholder base. 

Service Resources Map Distributed to Local Agencies

To assist agencies in directing visitors and clients to resources throughout the neighborhood, Chinatown HD-OD has put together a biligual resource map.  View the map (Flash required) Download the map [pdf, 1.91 mb].

The Chinatown Community Snapshot 2009

is available for download in English [pdf, 3.54 mb] and Chinese[pdf, 2.53 mb] or view flash versions of the Snapshots:


Get Involved

If you are interested in learning more about this exciting initiative, please contact us at or 617-482-2380.