News

The Mel King Institute held its largest virtual Stand Against Racism event on April 29

May 12th, 2021 by Tiana Lawrence

Annually, the Mel King Institute takes part in the YWCA’s nation-wide Stand Against Racism Campaign. This campaign takes place each year during the month of April, allowing individuals and organizations to register their own unique events and be part of the movement. This year on April 29, 2021, the Mel King Institute held its largest virtual Stand Against Racism event with a total of 90 participants.

The event featured a conversation amongst Black Executive Directors in the Community Development field. Our panelists featured Emilio Dorcely, CEO of Urban Edge in Boston; Keith Fairey, President and CEO of Way Finders in Springfield; and Gail Latimore, Executive Director of Codman Square NDC in Dorchester. The dialogue was centered around what racial equity looks like for communities of color, highlighting their approaches, challenges, and opportunities. The panelists were asked to discuss what drives and keeps them committed to equity and community development work, their organizational approaches to racial equity, the challenges faced as a leader of color when engaging in racial justice at the organizational level, how they take care of themselves, and lastly, what opportunities they see for themselves and their organizations as they move forward.

In particular, the panelists shared powerful stories and insights that underscored the necessity of great leadership, strong infrastructure, racial equity work and dynamic spaces to discuss these topics.

Highlights from the panelists and moderators include:

  • Opportunities and challenges faced between and within boards, organizations, and leaders of color.
  • Acknowledgment of the racial equity journey and continuous learning.
  • The importance of remembering that we must expect non-closure when engaged in this work.
  • A leading question posed to the attendees was, “How do we do a better job, as an organization, internally, on racial equity issues?”
  • The concept of reparations was underscored, and the impact of a large and diverse staff was highlighted.
  • The challenge of individuals, communities, and leaders of color wanting to be happy but not necessarily having the tools to do so was noted.
  • Recognition was given to the dynamics, impact, and experiences of tokenism, internalized racism, and trauma as they exist in the lives of leaders and communities of color.
  • Regarding racial equity, the following comment was shared, “Moments turn to momentum and momentum turns into movements.”

The event lasted an hour and a half, and featured a context setting overview of the four levels of racism, a networking component, featured panelists, a question-and-answer portion, and lastly, participants created a word cloud capturing one word to describe what we should keep in mind while continuing to engage in racial equity and community development work. There was dynamic energy from the facilitators, panelists, and attendees.

Overall, this year’s Stand Against Racism was successful in offering a space for Black leaders in the CDC field to have honest and engaging dialogue and share their insightful experiences with racial equity work. The Mel King Institute is hoping to continue these conversations with BIPOC leaders.

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Supportive Housing Units Receive State Funds

April 7th, 2021 by Don Bianchi

On March 31st, Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, and House Speaker Mariano joined Quincy Mayor Koch in Quincy to celebrate the awarding of funding to seven affordable supportive housing projects. Joined by other state officials, legislators, and affordable housing advocates, the Governor announced the award of more than $13 million in capital funding and project-based vouchers to support the production and preservation of 67 units of supportive housing for vulnerable populations, as well as 100 shelter beds.

The MA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), working with the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC), will make available approximately $2.6 Million from the National Housing Trust Fund, in addition to $10.7 million in state bond funds through the Housing Innovations Fund and Housing Stabilization Fund.

Among the seven projects awarded funding are five sponsored by CDCs. They include:

  • Two Boston projects sponsored by Allston Brighton CDC were awarded funding: 6 Quint Avenue will be redeveloped into 14 supportive housing units, targeted toward extremely low-income (ELI) individuals in the advanced stages of addiction recovery.  Ashford Street will involve the rehabilitation and preservation of an existing 12-unit single-room occupancy (SRO) building, including improved accessibility.
  • A Place to Live- 30 Winfield Street in Worcester, sponsored by South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC), will involve construction of a new 3-story building for chronically homeless single adults- including 18 studio apartments and full-time onsite case management.
  • Valley CDC will create 28 enhanced SRO units, along with office space for onsite property management and for a Resident Services coordinator, at Amherst Supportive Studio. Constructed on the site where an existing single-family home will be demolished, the building will achieve Passive House certification.
  • North Shore CDC will convert 18 unrestricted units into affordable units for homeless individuals at New Point Acquisitions in Salem. Located in 3 buildings in the Point Neighborhood close to Salem’s center, the CDC will implement supportive services, in addition to the capital improvements.

As House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano noted at the event, “the grants awarded today will support organizations that serve our most vulnerable residents and provide them with a path to safe, stable and dignified housing.  The Massachusetts House is proud to support the work of the awardees and provide opportunities for them to expand their services.”

 

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State Housing Agencies Team Up to Offer New Path for Emergency Rental Assistance

April 7th, 2021 by Don Bianchi

The MA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) announced the Subsidized Housing Emergency Rental Assistance (SHERA) Program , a collaboration with MassHousing and the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP).  SHERA will allow qualified owners of income-restricted units, as well as Local Housing Authorities, to apply for help directly on behalf of all of their income-eligible residents with past-due rent. This will expedite relief to tenants in need, while also allowing RAFT-administering agencies to concentrate on applications from non-subsidized tenants in need of assistance.  More information will be forthcoming from DHCD. 

 

MACDC, and our allies, advocated that DHCD provide this new path to deliver much-needed emergency rental assistance to tenants in subsidized affordable housing so it is exciting to see it come to fruition.   

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MACDC Members Prominent as DHCD Announces Affordable Housing Awards

March 10th, 2021 by Don Bianchi

On March 2nd, Baker Administration officials were joined by local officials and project sponsors in a virtual announcement of 12 affordable housing awards.  Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy and DHCD Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox were joined by, among others, Emilio Dorcely, CEO of Urban Edge. 

 

Funds were awarded to 12 projects in 8 communities, which, when completed, will create 572 homes, including 507 affordable units.  These projects will collectively receive more than $46 million in direct subsidies, as well as state and federal low-income housing tax credits that will result in $125 million in equity. 

 

Eight of the 12 projects were sponsored, or co-sponsored, by MACDC Members. When completed, these 8 projects will provide 357 units, including 340 affordable rental units: 

 

  • The Residences at Kelly’s Corner, a new construction project in Acton, is sponsored by Common Ground Development Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Community Teamwork. It will provide 31 affordable units for seniors. 

  • Urban Edge will construct 65 units of affordable family housing at its 1599 Columbus Avenue project in Boston, built to Passive House standards. 

  • Seniors will be served at 9 Leyland by Dorchester Bay EDC, by the new construction of 43 affordable units in Boston, also to Passive House standards. 

  • Dudley Crossing will provide 47 family units, with 42 of these being affordable units. Nuestra Comunidad is the sponsor of this combination new construction and preservation project. 

  • The Neighborhood Developers, in partnership with Traggorth Companies, will construct 1005 Broadway in Chelsea. When completed, the project, built to Passive House standards, will provide 38 affordable family units. 

  • CDC of South Berkshire received an award for the construction of 910 Main Street in Great Barrington, to provide 49 affordable family units. 

  • The Lighthouses is a 46-unit new construction, all affordable project that will be built to Passive House standards, on two sites in Salem. The project is sponsored by North Shore CDC. 

  • Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) will undertake a historic rehabilitation/adaptive re-use project in Taunton’s central business district. Union Block, a mixed-use project, will provide 38 units, including 26 affordable units. 

 

Massachusetts has successfully moved forward during a difficult year to fund the creation of desperately-needed affordable homes. The Commonwealth’s success is due, in large part, to the diligence, skill, and commitment to mission of community-based organizations across the Commonwealth- many of whom MACDC is proud to call its Members. 

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MACDC Notebook Archive

February 3rd, 2021 by John Fitterer
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MACDC Partners with LISC Boston and Resonant Energy to Launch Solar Retrofit Program

February 2nd, 2021 by Don Bianchi

On January 28th, more than 60 people, including representatives from a dozen MACDC Members, attended the Launch, via Zoom, of the Solar Technical Assistance Retrofit (STAR) Program. You can review the presentation slides and listen to the recording of the session. 

 

The STAR Program will provide financial and technical resources to help affordable housing organizations explore solar opportunities for their buildings, with the goal of installing 1 Megawatt of solar (2,500 solar panels) over the next 18 months, in partnership with CDCs and other mission-aligned organizations across Massachusetts. 

 

STAR was launched as a collaboration among Resonant Energy, LISC Boston, and MACDC. Ten qualifying organizations will receive mini-grants of up to $2,000 to dedicate the staff time to go through a solar feasibility analysis.  

 

The STAR solar feasibility grant application is now live on LISC Boston’s STAR program page.  

 

Applications are due by February 26th for first round solar feasibility grant consideration. 

 

NOTE: Grant preference will be given to certified community development corporations, organizations in varied geographies, and organizations that apply by 2/26. Funding is limited and submitting an application is no guarantee that a solar feasibility grant will be awarded. Selected owners will be supplied with an MOU to sign. LISC will reach out to applicants to request recent audited organizational financial statements for reference.  

 

Please reach out to Emily Jones (ejones@lisc.org) with any program eligibility or related questions. We look forward to your application and participation! 

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Extra Time: MA Legislature Adopts Conference Agreement to Approve Economic Development Bond Bill

January 12th, 2021 by David Bryant

In the early morning hours of January 6th, in the last sitting of the 192nd General Court – merely hours before a new legislature would be sworn in, legislators approved the conference report to advance a comprehensive economic development, housing assistance and pandemic relief bill to the Governor’s desk. MACDC was very pleased that the legislature was able to enact this bill that will support small businesses, promote affordable and equitable housing opportunities, and, especially to our neighbors most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, provide additional tenant protections across the Commonwealth.

Last June, MACDC was invited to testify before the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies to offer our best recommendations for meeting some of the longstanding issues and emergent challenges brought to light in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both branches recognized the serious challenges facing our small business community, people of color, immigrants, women, and low- or moderate-income workers and consumers, and focused considerable efforts and resources to avoid deepening the fissures of racial and economic inequality in our state. We appreciate the resolute commitment of so many legislative champions and community partners to achieve this result.

(Separately, the legislature also finally approved Boston’s Home Rule Petition to allow for linkage and inclusionary zoning in Boston – a long sought victory for our Boston members.)

Several MACDC priorities were adopted as part of the Economic Development Bill and, at this time, await the Governor’s signature. Here is a summary of the conference agreement.

The bill includes many important programs and legislative changes impacting housing, small business development and economic development.  You can get in depth details by reading the bill ( Bill H.5250 (malegislature.gov)), and here are select highlights, which we believe will be of interest to our members: 

  • Housing Choices legislation which allows municipalities to adopt pro-smart growth zoning changes by a simple majority.
  • Zoning for multifamily housing will be required in all MBTA Communities. 
  • Appeals Reforms (abutter appeals)
  • $20 Million Expansion of State LIHTC
  • Tenant Board Members at local housing authorities 
  • Eviction Record Sealing
  • Tenant Opportunity Purchase Legislation.

The legislation also authorizes a wide array of capital programs aimed at housing, economic development, and small businesses. These additional programs of interest include:   

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Pandemic Response: Supporting our small business community - A story about the power of relationships, collaboration, advocacy, and persistence

January 7th, 2021 by Joe Kriesberg

As the Commonwealth and the Country came to terms with the true impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in mid-March 2020, I closed the MACDC offices, and sent our staff home with their laptop computers. MACDC’s staff knew that our focus had to remain on two things: 1) helping our members adjust to the reality of a pandemic; and 2) advocating for the communities we serve and represent. We immediately knew that housing stability would be a central focus of our efforts. We also knew that this crisis would have a devastating impact on small businesses, especially the more vulnerable ones with whom CDCs and CDFIs typically work (micro businesses, businesses owned by people of color, rural businesses, those in Gateway Cities, and other businesses that operate on thin margins and with inadequate equity). These businesses started the pandemic with less wealth, smaller margins, less access to capital and many operated in the very communities hardest hit by COVID-19.  We realized right away that this crisis could make our shameful racial wealth gap even larger.  As we move into the new year, I wanted to share some of my experiences and thoughts about how MACDC and its members worked with old and new partners across the public, private and nonprofit sectors to mobilize a response to the crisis in our small business community.

MACDC grows its long-standing Small Business Peer Group

Our efforts began on March 18, when we convened our Small Business Peer Group, comprised of CDCs, CDFIs, and other community groups who work with entrepreneurs every day.  This group has been meeting regularly (and sometimes irregularly) for more than 25 years, but never with this level of urgency. The relationships among practitioners that had been built over the previous years proved critical as we shared information and ideas, learned about resources and strategies, and provided each other with moral support. Amidst our confusion and fear, one thing was clear - no one wanted to face this challenge alone. We agreed to meet weekly while the crisis continued, with as many as 90 people joining some of our Zoom calls (compared to about 10-15 at the average meeting pre-COVID). Our network grew as we continued to invite more people to join us (municipal officials, regional planning agencies, small business development centers, and anyone else who shared our goals). By the time 2020 came to an end, we held 32 meetings with a total of 1,430 people in attendance, representing 180 individuals from 78 different organizations.

These meetings provided a regular forum for practitioners to not only learn from each other, but to hear from key policy makers and program administrators about the tools and resources available to small businesses. Larry Andrews and others from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation were there every week. We routinely had guests like Economic Development Secretary Michael Kennealy, DHCD Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox, SBA Massachusetts Director Bob Nelson, and representatives from municipal governments, Small Business Strong, and other critical partners.

New partners start working together in new ways

The conversations on Wednesdays helped spark several organic collaborations as new ideas and new relationships opened new possibilities. Early on, a number of organizations were interested in surveying small businesses to identify their needs, so with the leadership of the Lawrence Partnership we developed a shared survey instrument that dozens of organizations distributed generating a much larger and more diverse survey response and important data about what was happening in the field.  Later, as we saw many businesses of color struggle to access PPP loans, the Foundation for Business Equity, LISC, and others reached out to key banking partners to develop what came to be known as the Equitable PPP Collaborative. LISC stepped up to administer this program that connected businesses of color to technical assistance providers and to banks ready to accept PPP applications from non-customers.  This extraordinary collaboration helped over 350 businesses access PPP loans. The Coalition also used its direct experience with the PPP program to fashion a detailed set of recommendations to the SBA and the Massachusetts Congressional delegation about how the program could be made more equitable and fair.  The recommendations were embraced by over 60 organizations on May 11.

In May, as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts prepared to reopen, two long-time community development professionals and friends of MACDC, Marty Jones and Adam Gibbons, volunteered to help collect, collate, and organize information and resources that would assist practitioners who were helping businesses figure out how to comply with the new rules and still make money (or at least lose less money). They built a special website for the network and provided regular updates and links to resources. MACDC’s Board of Directors was also invited to meet with the Governor’s Reopening Task Force and provide recommendations for how to reopen the economy safely and equitably.  Our strong partnership with the Baker Administration, which had started in February 2014 when candidate Charlie Baker met with our board, gave us the opportunity to influence policy at the highest level. Our Board would also meet with Governor Baker in June to discuss both housing and economic development issues associated with the pandemic.

A bigger vision begins to emerge

By the summer, as the pandemic and economic crisis wore on, and racial justice protests highlighted the deep racial inequities in our society, our work took on new urgency. Glynn Lloyd of the Foundation for Business Equity initiated a conversation among several groups, including MACDC, Amplify Latinx, the Black Economic Council and LISC about how we could build on the success of the Equitable PPP initiative to build an enduring coalition. We started meeting regularly and created a vision for the Coalition for an Equitable Economy and formed an initial steering committee with leaders from over 15 community-based groups. By design, people of color compose a majority of the steering committee, and the Coalition adopted a mission statement focused on closing racial inequities in the small business sector. The Coalition is now poised to advance our policy and program objectives over the long term.  Indeed, the Coalition has already moved beyond immediate relief efforts. This fall, when BECMA led an effort to push the Baker Administration on the Commonwealth’s supplier diversity efforts, I helped mobilize a letter signed by 27 groups in support of BECMA’s agenda. Some of us then joined BECMA in their meetings with the Governor and his advisors, showing strength and unity within our coalition.  A few weeks later, BECMA secured significant policy wins when the Governor announced new initiatives to improve supplier diversity. I would not have been in those meetings but for the relationships and trust built over the prior few months.

Also, during the summer, there was a growing desire to conduct another small business survey to understand how the crisis was evolving, in particular its impact on businesses owned by people of color.  This time several of the organizations around the table agreed to pitch in their own financial resources to hire MassINC to conduct a more formal and professional business survey.  The results provided important insights into what was going on with small businesses, in particular micro-entrepreneurs and businesses of color and gave new weight to our advocacy efforts.

The Coalition has also begun to work with the Boston Foundation to map out strategies to build a strong small business eco-system that can help reduce racial disparities across the state. We envision an eco-system where underserved businesses are aware of and able to access the support they need to succeed. We are also working with Mass Inc to conduct a research project that examines best practices in public policy that can help advance our vision for a more equitable small business system. A third working group is looking at how we can create the financing products that small businesses need to grow and sustain their businesses. All these projects will continue in 2021.

Our coalition mobilizes for small business relief and recovery dollars

Throughout these months, MACDC coordinated an ambitious and persistent advocacy campaign to get relief dollars to small businesses and funding to support the community-based groups that were helping these business owners.  On March 23, 2020, MACDC issued policy recommendations for responding to the COVID-19 crisis that included a call for an initial $150 million investment to support small businesses.  These recommendations were later embraced by a coalition of nearly 80 organizations. We presented these recommendations to Secretary Kennealy; to legislators (including at MACDC’s Annual Lobby Day on April 28) and these ideas eventually became central to Governor Charlie Baker’s small business relief plan in the Fall.  We repeatedly engaged the media and I probably talked to Boston Globe reporters on a weekly and sometimes daily basis to keep these concerns in the press.  Rosario Ubiera-Minaya, Segun Idowu and I jointly published an op-ed about these recommendations in Commonwealth Magazine.

For weeks and months, our coalition pressed the case for more state and local dollars for small business relief.  We first saw success at the local level as cities began using CDBG funding to support small business grants.  Peter Dunn from the City of Worcester made a presentation at one of our Wednesday meetings to share with others how Worcester had navigated the complicated CDBG rules to make grants available to businesses quickly.  In July, both the House and Senate passed economic development bills that provided $75 million and $80 million respectfully for small business relief.  Finally, in October 2020, I was able to join Governor Baker at a State House press conference (my one and only trip to the State House during the pandemic), as the Governor announced a new $50.8 million grant initiative aimed at priority businesses such as people of color, veterans, women, LGBTQ and Gateway Cities.  A few weeks later, the Legislature and the Governor agreed to provide $5.1 million in funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance program – up from $3 million last year. This allowed MGCC to support 65 community-based organizations across the state.  The Legislature and the Governor also approved $17.5 million for CDFIs and CDCs to invest in small businesses and an additional $17.5 million in grants. Finally, on the last night of the legislative session, the House and Senate approved $110 million in new capital authorizations for small business programs.  All these initiatives – the grants, the CDFI investments and the technical assistance – were part of the recommendations that we first put forward in March!

With these new resources secured, the power of the Network once again revealed itself as dozens of CDCs, CDFIs and community-based groups mobilized to help clients apply for grants and LISC stepped up again to coordinate information flow, communications, and technical assistance.  By the application closing date, over 10,000 businesses had applied for help, including 3,700 businesses owned by people of color.  Governor Baker announced initial awards of $50.8 million on December 21, with 95% of the grants going to businesses owned by people of color – a victory for racial equity that would not have happened without this network. A few days later, he announced another $68 million in grants with 50% going toward businesses of color and 50% to women-owned businesses. This was in sharp contrast to what we saw with the PPP program where white-owned and larger businesses fared better. On December 23, the Governor announced a commitment of $668 million in small business grants – far more than we had ever expected, but an amount that is clearly needed to meet the devastation caused by this pandemic.

A victory of that scale has many parents, so I will not argue that our Network deserves all the credit.  Clearly, many other business advocates and industry associations were also pushing for resources, as were municipal and elected officials. No doubt Governor Baker and his entire Administration were already aware of the pain created by the necessary public health measures and were determined to provide some relief.

That said, the Governor cannot distribute $668 million by himself. He needs organization, infrastructure, and a delivery system. He needs to be pushed by advocates like us. Moreover, we know these programs cannot be implemented equitably without community-based organizations.  Our network, working hand in glove with MGCC for the past ten months, created the opportunity and platform (and external pressure) to make this investment possible.

Today’s victories were built on years of hard work

I think it is important to remember that the seeds of this success were planted many years ago.  For me, it goes back at least until 2006 when MACDC was able to successfully lobby Governor Mitt Romney and the legislature to create the Small Business Technical Assistance program in the first place.  At our 2006 MACDC Convention, we secured a pledge from then candidate Deval Patrick to sustain the program, which he did. In 2010, we worked with the Patrick Administration (and Senate President Karen Spilka who was chair of the Economic Development Committee at that time) to create the Mass Growth Capital Corporation as a successor to the Community Development Finance Corporation.  In the negotiations over that legislation, we insisted that MGCC retain the mission and commitment to racial equity that embodied CDFC (which itself was created by Mel King in the 1970s) and secured a permanent seat for CDCs on the MGCC Board. Larry Andrews and I were founding board members of MGCC and together with our colleagues on the board and staff, and under the leadership of the Patrick Administration, we built an organization dedicated to equitable small business development. Governor Baker embraced this vision when he spoke at the 2014 MACDC Convention as a candidate and has followed through ever since. In 2019, Governor Baker and the Legislature increased funding for the program by 50% to $3 million – long before COVID-19 even existed!

More recently, the Baker Administration and MGCC had a few trial runs at providing disaster relief to small businesses, first during the snow emergencies that welcomed Governor Baker to office in January 2015, and then again in 2018 following the Columbia Gas explosions in and around Lawrence. In both instances, MGCC was there to support impacted businesses and the lessons learned in those crises – especially the close collaboration with Mill Cities Community Investments in Lawrence – proved vital when COVID-19 arrived.

I share this history to underscore that successful advocacy and successful community development is an on-going process that builds on past success and past failure, that relies on lessons learned and relationships forged, that builds infrastructure and muscle memory and is handed off from Administration to Administration and generation to generation. The pandemic accelerated this process, but it did not start it, and it will not end it.  I have no doubt that the lessons and relationship built over the past 10 months will continue to yield impact for years and even decades to come.

The Path Forward

Most immediately, of course, the network will continue to address the immense challenges that remain. As we start 2021, with hope that vaccines will soon end this wretched pandemic, we are mobilizing the network to tackle an ambitious agenda:

  • Help more businesses apply for and smartly deploy the $668 million in MGCC grants.
  • Help more businesses secure new PPP forgivable loans and get existing PPP loans forgiven.
  • Partner with DHCD and local governments to fully disburse existing CDBG resources for small businesses.
  • Collaborate with MGCC to implement new small business support programs approved by the Legislature, including a major new investment program for CDFIs & CDCs that lend to small businesses and a program to close the digital divide among small businesses.
  • Convene our network bi-weekly to continue sharing information, building relationships, and engaging policy makers.
  • Offer professional development opportunities to practitioners through the Mel King Institute for Community Building.
  • Provide support to the small business community to ensure that they have the information, capital, customers, and networks needed to successfully reopen and scale up their operations as health restrictions are hopefully eased later this year.
  • Systematically strengthen the small business eco-system by working with the Boston Foundation, MassINC and others to ensure that it can spark and sustain equitable business development that closes that racial wealth gap over the long term.
  • Transform this network into a powerful advocacy force under the banner of the Coalition for an Equitable Economy, so we can continue this work beyond the immediate crisis and build a dynamic and equitable economy for everyone.

Together, we can take some pride in what was accomplished in 2020, even as we wish we could have done more. Thankfully, the relationships, networks and results built in 2020 have created an opportunity to achieve more in 2021 and beyond. 

As we begin this work anew, I take inspiration from the courage and persistence of the thousands of small business owners who have endured so much and continue to fight, adapt, and persevere. They have sacrificed to help stop this deadly virus, and it is our turn to have their back.

For their benefit and ours, let’s get to work!

Commenting Closed

Community Investment Tax Credit: 2020 Program Impact Report

December 31st, 2020 by John Fitterer

INTRODUCTION

The Massachusetts Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program, launched in 2014, continues to be a reliable source of funds for Community Development Corporations (CDCs). In the program’s first six years, over $58 million was raised to support critical Community Development projects and programs, including $12 million in 2019, the most raised in any year to date.  MACDC previously published a detailed report on the fundraising success of the CITC program, available on our website. While raising these funds is a significant achievement, MACDC also seeks to document how these funds are being used by participating CDCs to better serve their communities.

The data presented throughout this report comes from MACDC’s GOALs Report. Each year, state-certified CDCs are required to complete the GOALs survey that aims to capture detailed information on an organization’s performance across six major areas: community leader engagement; families supported; homes built or preserved, job opportunities created or preserved; and funds invested by CDCs in local communities.  The CITC program is designed to strengthen the CDC field in Massachusetts so that each neighborhood and town in which our members work becomes increasingly vibrant and provides opportunities for individuals and families to thrive.

Just in 2019, state-certified CDCs reported:

  • 1,724 community leaders engaged
  • 70,016 families supported with housing, jobs, or other services
  • 1,543 homes built or preserved
  • 4,162 job opportunities created or preserved
  • 1,256 entrepreneurs received technical assistance
  • $918.1 million invested in local communities in 2019 – the largest CDC investment reported since we have started doing the GOALs Survey!

In this report, we dig into the GOALS report data to better understand specifically how CITC funds are being used to drive impact.  Are funds being used to develop an organization’s capacity to allow for new projects and programs? In what areas are they focusing their capacity building efforts – technology? Communications? Fundraising? Real Estate?   How are donations being used to deepen resident engagement?

CDC ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY

The performance metrics above speak to the capability and vitality of the CDCs involved in the CITC program. But the GOALs Survey also captures the more nuanced information concerning an organization’s operating capacity and activities due to this tax credit.

In 2019,77% of the CDCs participating in the CITC program report that it is helping them increase their operating budget.  Additionally, 68% of the participating CDCs have added or expanded the goals for their organization, indicating that their organizations are not just becoming increasingly stable, but growing, due to the CITC program. In fact, in 2019, 98% of all CDCs involved in the CITC program noted an increase in their organization’s operating capacity.

CDC operating capacity increased most significantly by hiring new staff, providing additional staff training, improving the organization’s information systems with noted growth in communications systems, and new or improved equipment and facilities. Incredibly, 98% of CDCs involved in the program increased their staffing levels due in part to the CITC program, while 76% also provided more staff training. Furthermore, 45% of participating organizations improved their information systems, a key way to improve the CDCs capacity.

A CDC’s greatest cost is staff salaries, often greatly out pacing consultant fees and facility rental or mortgage payments. CDCs are not likely to expand their staff capacity without recognizing a stable multi-year revenue source to cover these new costs, which means that the consistency of CITC-leveraged funding is key to its capacity building impact. The commitment to increased staff capacity also speaks to the ability of the CDCs to reliably expand their program offerings without risking painful and embarrassing contraction that will poorly reflect on their ability to support legacy programs upon which community members depend.

CDC ACTIVITY ANALYSIS

The CITC GOALs Survey also captures the activities that CDCs added or expanded with CITC.  MACDC tracks the following activity categories: real estate development; housing services; small business assistance; financial stability; community leadership development/support; job training/workforce development; elder programs; youth programs; and community engagement.

Additionally, 75% of all CDCs participating the CITC program report that they have added or expanded their community engagement since becoming involved in the program. The increase in community engagement underlines a fundamental goal of the CITC program: To expand and enrich a CDC’s engagement with the residents of the communities in which they work as CDCs strive to be organizations that grow from the bottom up, in that residents inform the CDC on their priorities, programs and, rather than government contracts or for-profit interests determining what should be pursued. In fact, community leadership development and/or support shows the greatest expansion (50%) after real estate development (61%) as for many CDCs this these activities are the foundation upon which the organization is formed. Finally, job training and workforce development and youth programs continue to grow. CDCs, by responding to the needs of the community in which they work, are expanding programs already in place to address critical needs while adding new program offerings in the communities in which they work.

CONCLUSION

The CITC program continues to meet and exceed the vision set forth in the legislation passed in August 2012. As a tax credit, taxpayers are supporting targeted philanthropy in communities largely comprised of less advantaged members of our neighborhoods and towns. As a program that brings together public and private support to address critical community needs, the CITC program strengthens bedrock institutions that are mission driven to ensure that all of Massachusetts residents have an opportunity to thrive. This work is accomplished by producing and preserving homes; producing and preserving jobs; and other fundamental activities. The CITC program is accomplishing its purpose: leveraging private philanthropy; building capacity; expanding services; and deepening community impact.

Commenting Closed

Two CDC Projects Awarded Funds in 2020 Affordable Housing Program Competition

December 28th, 2020 by Don Bianchi

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston awarded $7.2 Million to 5 Massachusetts affordable housing projects, through its Affordable Housing Program (AHP), part of more than $53 Million awarded to affordable housing initiatives in New England. 

 

Five Massachusetts projects received funding, including two CDC projects: 

 

  • Hilltown CDC received a $650,000 AHP grant for Chester Commons, an historic structure that Hilltown CDC will acquire and rehabilitate, to create 15 affordable rental units for residents with disabilities and residents aged 55 years or older.  Hilltown CDC will continue to provide public use of the Hamilton Memorial Library and Museum, located in the building, an important resource in Chester, a rural community in Western MA. The AHP grant was provided through Florence Savings Bank, which will also provide construction financing. 

 

  • North Shore CDC received an AHP subsidy of just under $1 Million and a loan of almost $3 Million to develop Lafayette Housing II, located in the historic Salem Point neighborhood.  Through the acquisition and rehabilitation of 11 buildings, 61 affordable apartments, including some large family units, will be provided- along with two commercial spaces. The AHP grant was awarded through Eastern Bank, which is also providing construction financing and financing to bridge receipt of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. 

 

MACDC congratulates Hilltown CDC and North Shore CDC on their awards! 

Commenting Closed

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