Other Participants


Chelsea Working Cities Initiative

Chelsea received a $225,000 three-year implementation award for its initiative, which seeks to reduce poverty and mobility rates by 30 percent in the Shurtleff-Bellingham neighborhood. The initiative is led by the City of Chelsea, The Neighborhood Developers and ROCA in partnership with several cross-sector task forces in the areas of private investment and housing conditions, civic engagement and quality of life, and intergenerational learning and prosperity – all of which will have strong private sector
and resident engagement.

The goal of the initiative is to transform the Shurtleff-Bellingham neighborhood from a transient, high-poverty area into a neighborhood where residents have the opportunity to climb out of poverty, then choose to stay long-term and invest time and resources. Among other activities, Chelsea plans to focus on creating integrated, data-driven processes, building social capital to address issues such as cleanliness and safety, and reducing overcrowding and substandard conditions by strengthening code enforcement.


map of massachusetts showing chelsea


Initiative Partners

Boys & Girls Club, Centro Latino, Century 21 D'Amico & Associates, Chelsea Bank, Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, Chelsea Collaborative, Chelsea Hunger Action Network,
Chelsea Revere Winthrop Elder Services,
Community Action Programs Inter-City (CAPIC), HarborCOV,
Metro Credit Union, MGH Chelsea Healthcare Center,
Mitchell Properties, North Suffolk Mental Health Association, ROCA, Salvation Army, and Stop & Compare Supermarket


Learn about Chelsea

Chelsea sits just across the Mystic River from Boston. That single fact has shaped the city's past and may be the key to its future.

photo of chelsea

Chelsea's population peaked at 45,816 in 1930 and then declined steadily to a low of 25,431 in 1980, before rebounding to 35,177 in 2010. Figures from the 2010 Census reflect the city's youth and diversity:

Chelsea MA
Persons under 18 years 25.3% 21.7%
Persons 65 years and over 8.7% 13.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native 1.1% 0.3%
Asian alone 3.1% 5.3%
Black or African-American alone 8.5% 6.6%
Hispanic or Latino 62.1% 9.6%
Two or more races 5.9% 2.6%
White alone 47.8% 80.4%
White alone (not Hispanic or Latino) 25.2% 76.1%

"Chelsea is a city of transformations. Humbly beginning as a trading post, it has been successively a manorial estate, an agricultural community, a ferry landing, a summer resort, a residential suburb and finally an industrial city."

Massachusetts: A Guide to Its Places and People, 1937

photo of chelseaphoto of chelseaphoto of chelsea

According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey five-year estimates for 2007-2011:

  • The homeownership rate was 31.8%, compared with 63.6% statewide.
  • Chelsea’s median home value was $301,900, compared with $343,500 statewide.
  • Chelsea’s median household income was $43,155, compared with $65,981 statewide.
  • 65.3% of Chelsea residents over the age of 25 are high school graduates, compared with 88.9% statewide.
  • 14.5% of residents have earned a bachelor’s degree, compared with 38.7% statewide.
  • 23.3% of Chelsea residents were below the poverty level, compared with 10.7% statewide.

The number of children age 0-1 grew by 43.9% over last decade.

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2007-2011) estimates that 44.1% of Chelsea’s population is foreign born:

  • 8.2% born in Africa
  • 6.9% born in Asia
  • 4.5% born in Europe
  • 79.9% born in Latin America,
  • 0.5% born in Northern Ameica
  • 0.0% born in Oceania
link to city data snapshot of chelsea

Compare a range of demographic data for Chelsea’s low- and moderate-income populations. 
Use the tool

in-depth data dashboard pdfs

Check out detailed stats on income, employment, education, health, and more provided by Clark University researchers for the Working Cities Challenge.

photo of chelsea

According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, as of June 2013, Chelsea’s unemployment rate stood at 9.6%, compared with 7.4% statewide. The city’s economic mix is a blend of health care, government, and service occupations. Because of its proximity to Boston and Logan International Airport, Chelsea is also home to the metropolitan area’s largest distribution center for wholesale produce. Another recent addition to the mix is the FBI, which chose Chelsea as the site for its New England Headquarters. According to Clark University researchers, Chelsea’s five largest employers are:

  • The City of Chelsea
  • Chelsea School District
  • Town & Country Fine Jewelry Group
  • Lawrence Quigley Memorial Hospital Inc.
  • Kayem Foods Inc.

The Chelsea Campus of Bunker Hill Community College fills an important need through its active involvement in the community and its partnerships with community-based organizations, and social service organizations. Among its many offerings are programs in the health professions, adult basic education, and English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Chelsea is home to ROCA, a nonprofit that works with youth and is the first organization to pilot the state’s pay-for-success initiative. ROCA represents just one example of high-capacity local leadership that has emerged as the city has recovered from a stint in receivership.