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In Memory of Thomas Ruffen

September 3rd, 2022 by

The Mel King Institute mourns the passing of Thomas Ruffen, who worked as a trainer at our Resident Leadership Academy. Thomas was an incredibly gifted organizer and community leader. His death is a senseless tragedy for the Mildred C. Hailey community and beyond. He will be missed by our staff, trainers, and the public housing residents he trained throughout Massachusetts.

In March the Mel King Institute recorded Thomas telling the story of how he, other residents, and GBIO secured $50 million in badly needed funding for Mildred C. Hailey. The story is available here.

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Massachusetts CDCs invested more than $1.4B in local communities in 2021 – The MACDC GOALs Report

August 18th, 2022 by

The Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC), on Wednesday, August 10th, released its 2022 GOALs Report, which reflects data collected from calendar year 2021. The report shows that, in 2021, CDCs in Massachusetts collectively invested $1.453 Billion in local communities – the largest annual investment made by CDCs in their history.

The MACDC GOALs Report, first launched in 2002, is the most comprehensive tracking of CDC performance in the Commonwealth. It measures performance across six areas of community development: 1) resident leaders engaged; 2) homes built or preserved; 3) job opportunities created or preserved; 4) entrepreneurs supported; 5) families supported; and 6) funds invested in communities through CDCs.

In 2021, as communities continued to recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, CDCs played an essential role in community resilience, and in efforts to redress and reduce- and make progress toward eliminating- unjust disparities in the pandemic’s impacts.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that these impacts are greater than in 2020. However, in comparing the collective impact of CDCs in 2021 to 2019, pre-COVID, CDC contributions to community resilience jump off the page!

  • 1,717 homes were created or preserved, 11% more than in 2019
  • 6,744 jobs were created or preserved, a 62% increase from 2019
  • 3,416 entrepreneurs were provided technical or financial assistance, almost 3 times the 1,256 entrepreneurs provided such assistance in 2019
  • 86,124 families were served, 23% more than in 2019
  • $1.45 billion was invested, a 58% increase from 2019.

MACDC would like to thank our member CDCs for participating in the GOALs Survey, and recognize them for the amazing work they continue to do in their communities year over year. We would also like to thank the Massachusetts Housing Partnership for supporting the MACDC GOALs Initiative.

Read the full report.

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Legislative session concludes with some wins and some disappointments

August 17th, 2022 by

For MACDC and our members, we ended the legislative session feeling accomplished about numerous wins in the state operating budget including, level funding of $7M for Small Business Technical Assistance, over $30M in grants to small businesses, and $15M for the Community Empowerment and Reinvestment grant program. However, in a disappointing turn of events the session ended with the Legislature neglecting to finalize the Economic Development Bill. For MACDC, this meant leaving over $400M for affordable housing and over $75M to BIPOC small businesses unfinished. We hope that the legislature will address these critical issues during informal sessions this fall. 

Throughout the session MACDC also advocated and organized around numerous policy initiatives that would help to create healthier homes across the Commonwealth, increase dedicated funding for affordable housing and climate change, provide tenants an opportunity to purchase their homes, and decarbonize existing buildings. Although progress was made building support for these programs and educating leaders about their importance, in the end the following pieces of legislation did not pass this session:  

  • Massachusetts Healthy Homes Initiative (MHHI)  
  • Housing and Environment Revenue Opportunity (HERO) Act  
  • Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA)  
  • Zero Carbon Renovation Fund   

As we work on our planning this fall for the upcoming 2023/2024 legislative session, the continuation of these campaigns will remain top of mind.  

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Launch of Neighborhood Stabilization Program Brings Vision to Fruition

March 7th, 2022 by

On March 4th, MassHousing announced the launch of the DHCD/MassHousing Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), with $6.4 million available in the first funding round. The funding is available to municipalities, CDCs, and other nonprofit organizations that are working to address disinvestment and blighted conditions in their communities.  

This announcement is a culmination of the vision that MACDC and MassINC had in the fall of 2018, when we brought together stakeholders across the Commonwealth to address the persistent disinvestment in areas with weak real estate markets, in Gateway Cities and in small towns. These initial convenings resulted in the release, in January 2019, of a Report, Building Communities of Promise and Possibility State and Local Blueprints for Comprehensive Neighborhood Stabilization. 

 The Massachusetts Legislature responded by provided $750,000 in funding, in the FY2020 State Budget- and in two subsequent years- for technical assistance to aid municipalities grappling with distressed and abandoned properties, leading to the formation of the Neighborhood Hub, a multi-agency partnership to support neighborhood revitalization.  Under MassHousing’s capable stewardship, with the guidance of an advisory group comprised of public agencies and nonprofit organizations- among them MACDC and MassINC- the Neighborhood Hub is providing intensive technical assistance in five Gateway Cities. These locally-designed and implemented strategies to address distressed properties rely on an innovative partnership, among municipal government, community-based organizations, and MassHousing. 

With this week’s launch of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, funding will now be available for the rehabilitation of distressed properties in weak market areas across the Commonwealth, in urban areas and in small towns. NSP grant funds will be awarded up to $250,000 per unit, and $2 million per project.  

 MassHousing has scheduled three Neighborhood Stabilization Program information sessions for interested applicants.  Anyone interested can register by clicking one of the dates below: 

Questions can be directed to MassHousing at neighborhoodstabilization@masshousing.com.

This is a good example of how thoughtful and inclusive engagement, good research, collective advocacy, and a responsive government can directly impact the lives of families and communities.  Of course, the work is just getting started, and arguably the most challenging work- house by house, neighborhood by neighborhood- is just beginning. MACDC looks forward to being actively engaged in this work, so look forward to periodic updates.  

The NSP launch complements our effort to establish the MA Healthy Homes Initiative, with $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding, currently under consideration in the State Legislature. This investment of federal funds would make homes, and neighborhoods, healthier and safer. For more information on MHHI, you can reach out to Elana Brochin at elanab@macdc.org or Don Bianchi at donb@macdc.org. 

 
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Commonwealth Launches Homeowner Assistance Fund

February 10th, 2022 by

The Commonwealth has launched the Massachusetts Homeowner Assistance Fund (Mass HAF), a federally funded housing assistance program funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  The goal of Mass HAF is to prevent foreclosures and displacement of homeowners who are at least 3 months behind on their mortgage payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MACDC, and other housing advocacy organizations, played an important role in advising the Commonwealth on program design and implementation. The Program establishes a central role for housing counseling in assisting homeowners with their applications, and is utilizing a network of other community-based organizations to get the word out far and wide, including to hard-to-reach communities and those with language barriers. 

Homeowners can check their eligibility and apply online. If homeowners need assistance in applying to the Mass HAF Program, in-depth counseling, or legal services, they can contact a local housing counseling agency (HCA). Homeowners can determine the HCA serving their area using the HCA finder tool. 

 

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Member Benefits Highlight: Technical Assistance from Knowledgeable MACDC Staff

January 7th, 2022 by

MACDC staff provides technical assistance on a range of topics to our members. As an MADC member, you are welcome to reach out to staff whenever you would like a thought partner in your work, or to learn more about local community development networks and partners. We are always happy to chat, direct you to resources, and share successful strategies We can also link you to other MACDC members or support new staff or leadership onboarding. The following are a few specific areas that we can provide guidance: 

Crisis Management & Organizational Challenges – Unfortunately, CDCs like other non-profits and organizations of all types, occasionally face a challenge or crisis that can threaten the organization’s reputation or even its ability to operate.  Thankfully, many CDCs have recovered from these challenges to become stronger organizations. MACDC has engaged with many CDCs over the years and can be a helpful and confidential thought partner in this process.  Contact: Joe Kriesberg. 

Executive Transition – In recent years, a number of CDC Executive Directors have retired or moved on to new opportunities and MACDC can help boards of directors during this process by identifying search consultants and/or interim directors or by helping the board to evaluate their needs in a new leader. Contact: Joe Kriesberg.   

Fundraising: General MACDC provides fundraising support to our members as they strive to increase funding for both existing and new programs. From reviewing comprehensive program funding initiatives, to discussing specific opportunities, MACDC staff have decades of fundraising experience upon which our fundraising technical assistance is based upon. Contact: John Fitterer or Joe Kriesberg.  

Fundraising: Community Investment Tax Credit – MACDC is a designated CITC Community Support Organization by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. In this role, MACDC staff provide significant feedback and advice to our members participating in program as they diversify their funding base, engage prospective new supporters, and work to sustain a growing donor community. Contact: John Fitterer. 

Fundraising: Health – MACDC works with CDCs to apply for funding from hospitals, health foundations, or other health funds. Historically, this has included strategizing how to frame a CDC’s work from a health equity lens, identifying overlapping priorities with the potential funder, and visioning new directions for work in the health space. Contact: Elana Brochin. 

Health Equity – MACDC works with CDC staff to facilitate increased engagement in the health equity space. In addition to hospital engagement and fundraising, this includes thinking together about ways to make an intentional organizational commitment to health equity, including staffing decisions and duties, and engagement in MACDC’s Health Equity work. Contact: Elana Brochin. 

Hospital Engagement MACDC works with CDC staff to strategize ways to initiate and strengthen relationships with local hospitals. We can offer help with understanding a hospital’s commitment to their local community, understanding a hospitals Community Benefits report, and ways to get involved in local Community Health Needs Assessments and hospital committees. Contact: Elana Brochin. 

Information Technology – MACDC provides technical assistance on topics ranging from cloud computing to automation to help our members implement technology and operational processes that increase their organization’s capacity and allows for staff to focus on working more effectively with community members and residents. Contact: John Fitterer or Nadine Sanchara. 

MACDC’s Peer Groups – MACDC offers a range of practitioner peer groups to encourage professional networking, sharing of best practices and engaging in discussions exploring issues related to CDCs and community development. Currently, MACDC has the following active peer groups: The Boston Committee, CITC, Communications & Marketing, Community Business Network, Community Organizing, Energy Cohort, Health Equity Committee, Housing & Real Estate, Operations & Technology, Resident Services Coordinators, Small Business Development, and the Western MA Development Collaborative. Learn more about these groups here. Contact: Nadine Sanchara. 

MACDC’s Racial Equity Pledge – We can assist you in joining on to the Racial Equity Pledge and related activities. Contact: Shirronda Almeida or Tiana Lawrence 

Management/Governance – MACDC can help CDC executives as they navigate all sorts of management challenges related to their boards of directors, human resources, financial strength, and other aspects of running a non-profit organization. Contact: Joe Kriesberg. 

Policy and Practice related to Massachusetts Affordable Housing MACDC staff can work with CDC staff to discuss a variety of topics related to Massachusetts affordable housing, including real estate development, climate and energy, and housing programs (housing rehab, homebuyer counseling, etc.) Contact: Don Bianchi. 

Political Strategy – Community development inevitably interacts with the political world and MACDC can offer seasoned guidance and a confidential thought partner as CDCs deal with these challenges. Contact: Joe Kriesberg. 

Resident Leadership Academy and Leadership development – We can assist in thinking through your relationship with community members and how to develop leaders in the community. Contact: Sarah Byrnes. 

Small Business Development – MACDC is committed to supporting our members in bridging essential resources and providing technical assistance support. We remain active in our strong partnerships within the small business networks, to ensure we advocate for the priorities of our members. These priorities include Access to Capital, Supplier Diversity, Small Business lending/CDFI funding, Grants and most recently COVID Relief resources. In addition, we host small business support networks for TA providers and connect our members to local and state advocacy efforts that support policy work in the field.  We encourage all our members to see MACDC as a robust resource that can help drive economic sustainability in the communities they serve. Contact: Katherine Martinez. 

Strategic Planning – MACDC frequently meets with CDC boards of directors, senior staff and/or consultants to help them with their strategic planning. We can offer help with environmental scans, trends in the sector and reflections on organizational strengths and weaknesses.  Contact: Joe Kriesberg. 

 Other areas that we have historically provided assistance include: career networking, community organizing, professional development, resident services, and small business development. If you would like assistance in one of these areas or in any other area and are not sure of the most appropriate person to contact, please reach out to Nadine Sanchara and she can connect you to the correct person. We are here to support you in your work! 

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MACDC Report Highlights CDC Initiatives in 2020 to Address COVID-19 Impacts

August 20th, 2021 by
Article by Don Bianchi and Elana Brochin
Report by Liam Baxter-Healey
 
 
Our Commonwealth faced unprecedented challenges in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged families and communities.   CDCs helped lead the way in responding to the health and the economic challenges created by the pandemic.
 
Today, MACDC releases a report “COVID-19 Response Report” which highlights CDCs’ responses to three of the most persistent manifestations of the pandemic:
  • Initiatives to keep residents, and the broader community, safe and healthy
  • Assistance to small businesses facing economic peril from the pandemic
  • Emergency financial assistance to prevent displacement of those enduring a loss of income during the pandemic
 
CDCs undertook a variety of strategies to ensure the health and safety of the communities they serve.  These included efforts directly targeted to health, such as ensuring social distancing, providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and making wellness calls. Other initiatives included providing food assistance, helping with COVID testing, and helping make connections with mental health services.
 
To assist the owners and employees of small businesses, CDCs helped entrepreneurs collectively obtain almost $12 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, as well as just under $10 million in grants from a variety of sources. To prevent displacement, CDCs provided cash assistance totaling more than $28 million to almost 9,000 renter households.
 

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MACDC Members Stepped up and Responded to the Pandemic, investing $842M in Local Communities – The MACDC GOALs Report

July 20th, 2021 by

2020 was a year unlike any other, and (we hope) will not be replicated any time soon. The human cost of the COVID-19 pandemic has been catastrophic, with more than 3 million people dying worldwide, and well over half a million deaths in the United States. The economic fallout from the pandemic has been no less severe. In Massachusetts, the unemployment rate jumped from 2.9% in March 2020 to over 16% the following month; one year later, it still stands at 6.8%, with many more uncounted.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, the health and economic toll of the pandemic has fallen disproportionately on Communities of Color, starting with the first wave of the pandemic, where an analysis cited in the Boston Globe showed that the mortality rate surged higher in MA cities, towns, and ZIP codes with larger concentrations of poverty, economic segregation, People of Color, and crowded housing. The disproportionate economic disparities persist. 

While CDCs responded quickly and creatively to meet the pandemic-related needs of their communities, it is unsurprising that many regular CDC activities were significantly disrupted in 2020. Many CDC construction projects were delayed by construction bans and other disruptions, so much so that 54% of the homes originally projected to come online in 2020 were delayed until 2021. The result is lower than usual housing production totals in this year’s report, and a corresponding reduction in construction jobs and investment dollars. Many regular CDC programs were also disrupted by public health restrictions. 

CDCs found new ways to serve the needs of their community’s most vulnerable residents. Forty-four CDCs conducted wellness calls and other efforts to ensure resident and community health and safety, and 42 CDCs assisted with food delivery. 

Twenty-six CDCs continued long-standing efforts to support small business entrepreneurs, in old and new ways, helping these entrepreneurs access almost $12 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans and close to $10 million in grants, providing an essential lifeline to these small business owners. To help community residents struggling to pay rent for apartments in the private market, CDCs provided cash assistance totaling $28.2 million in 2020, an increase of $10 million from 2019.

CDCs redoubled their efforts to make their organizations reflective of the communities they serve.  In 2020, 36% of senior staff at CDCs were People of Color, up from 29% in 2019, and the number of CDCs hiring racial equity consultants increased by almost 50%.  

Some have called CDCs “second responders” to reflect the role they play during a crisis as they help people survive, recover, heal, and rebuild. Never has that been truer than in 2020. While the numbers and stories in this short report cannot tell the full story, we hope they give our readers a sense of how CDCs rose to the occasion during this most difficult and trying of times.

Read and download the report here.

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Three MACDC members receive funding from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

December 17th, 2020 by

Seventeen local organizations, including three MACDC members, were selected to receive funding for impactful initiatives from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). Asian CDC and Fenway CDC will each received $500,000, while Nuestra Comunidad, in partnership with Opportunity Communities, will receive $100,000 in funding.

Asian CDC will use these funds to expand homeownership opportunities to Chinatown residents, provide eviction prevention, and engage residents in anti-displacement work, and advocate for policies that increase access to affordable housing. Asian CDC’s partners in the project are the Chinese Progressive Association and the Greater Boston Legal Services’ Asian Outreach Unit. 

Fenway CDC will organize and campaign at the city and state level to move legislation, budget items, and policies that will increase funding for affordable housing, rental subsidies, further fair housing, improve tenant rights and help address the homelessness crisis in the Commonwealth. They will do this in partnership with Boston Tenant Coalition, Homes for Families, Mass Law Reform Institute, and the Greater Bowdoin Geneva Neighborhood Association. 

Opportunity Communities and Nuestra Comunidad will engage community members and allies in a pathbreaking homeownership pilot program. The pilot will support wealth-building for households harmed by systemic housing discrimination and the resulting racial disparities in family assets. The pilot leverages homeownership projects under development in Roxbury, the heart of Boston’s Black community. Nuestra Comunidad and its partners will build 40 homes and sell them to low- and moderate-income households harmed by housing discrimination.

“This important milestone reflects BIDMC’s commitment to all the populations that we serve. We look forward to working with these housing organizations to support programs and initiatives that lead to more equitable and healthy communities,” said Pete Healy, President of BIDMC.

BIDMC will award $6.6 M over three years to nonprofit organizations working in the communities of Allston/Brighton, Bowdoin/Geneva, Chinatown, Fenway/Kenmore, Mission Hill, and Roxbury. The funded organizations work in the areas of housing affordability, jobs and financial security, and behavioral health. This is BIDMC’s first major investment through its Community-based Health Initiative, which was established to identify, prioritize, and address important community health needs.

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MACDC Releases New Report on Health-Related Work Among Massachusetts CDCs

November 4th, 2020 by

Based on data collected from MACDC’s 2020 GOALs (Growing Opportunities, Assets, and Leaders) survey, MACDC published a report that details Massachusetts CDCs’ growing engagement in the health space and creates a foundation from which further develop our field’s work – as individual CDCs and as the Community Development movement overall.

The 2020 GOALs survey, which requested data on programs and projects from calendar year 2019, contained a survey specific to CDCs’ health-related work, so that MACDC can understand the depth and breadth of CDCs’ deepening engagement in this area. The survey found that the majority of Massachusetts CDCs were engaged in some explicit health-related work in 2019, although the specific nature and scale of this work varied considerably by organization. MACDC supports CDCs to continue to strengthen their engagement in the health space in several ways:

  • Provide expert Technical Assistance to CDCs looking to deepen their health-related partnerships, including working with CDCs to secure funding for this work;
  • Host MACDC’s Health Equity Committee, which is an opportunity for CDC leaders to learn from one another and Subject Matter Experts about topics related to health equity, such as hospital-CDC partnerships, food distribution efforts, and serving senior residents;
  • Issue MACDC’s Health Equity newsletter publicizes opportunities for funding, training, and advocacy in the health space;
  • Offer trainings through the Mel King Institute, which we operate, such as “The Convergence of Health Equity and Community Development;”
  • Advocate for policies at the intersection of health and community development, such as increased funding for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program and for lead abatement loans and grants.

MACDC launched the 2020 GOALs Survey in January 2020, and the GOALs Report was released in July with a detailed Appendix of our findings shortly thereafter. The GOALs report gives MACDC a sense of what CDCs’ health-related work looks like across the state. The COVID-19 pandemic further illustrated the ways in which health equity is woven into the fabric of the Community Development movement. We will capture more information concerning our field’s response to the pandemic in next year’s GOALs Survey.

 

Click here for a PDF version of the Health-Related Work Among Massachusetts CDCs Report.

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