News

Youth and Elders Well-Served by CDCs

September 8th, 2020 by Don Bianchi

In July, MACDC released the 2020 GOALs Report, to highlight the collective work that CDCs across the Commonwealth accomplished during calendar year 2019, including that CDCs collectively served over 70,000 families in 2019.  Readers can see tables with detailed information in the GOALs Appendix.

The data tells many stories: more than 1,500 homes created and preserved, almost 4,200 jobs created and preserved, more than $918 Million invested in local communities. The Families total itself reflects a broad array of programs- from programs to assist renters and homebuyers, to assistance with tax preparation and asset building, to adult education and workforce development. In comparing the results from 2019 to 2018, one thing stands out: programs to aid the eldest and youngest in our communities collectively served more than 10,400 people in 2019, an increase of 74% from the prior year.

This is an opportunity to highlight the work of two CDCs, in particular, One Holyoke CDC and Hilltown CDC. At first glance, beyond both being based in Western MA, these CDCs appear to be polar opposites: in their target areas (a dense urban community versus a sparsely populated rural region) and in the age of the populations targeted (the young versus elders in their post-retirement years).  Yet these two organizations share a passionate commitment to serving their communities, and something else: a spectrum of programs designed to serve challenges specific to the areas they serve.

Youth Programs:

In 2019, CDCs collectively served 6,643 youth, a 56% increase from 2018. There are childcare and afterschool programs.  Summer jobs and construction skill training.  Sports and other recreation. College readiness and scholarships.  Mentoring and leadership development.  The breadth of these programs is almost as impressive as the young people they benefit.

The youth programs administered by OneHolyoke CDC are suited to two distinct features of the City of Holyoke: a high incidence of poverty, and a high proportion of young people. According to U.S. Census data, in 2019, 29.7% of the population in Holyoke lived in poverty, almost 3 times the statewide poverty rate of 10%. Median household income in the City of $40,656 is about half the statewide income of over $77,000.  With nearly three children under 5 years old in Holyoke for every two children in that age range statewide, the importance of youth programs cannot be overstated.  OneHolyoke CDC is more than up to the task.  Three programs in particular stand out.

The Holyoke- A City that Reads campaign is a platform to encourage reading, childhood literacy development, and community connections.  Despite a long-standing early literacy crisis in Holyoke, this is a positive campaign to highlight the reading and learning that does happen. Dozens of participants offered short narratives to highlight the program.  Since schools closed in March, OneHolyoke CDC has regularly shared recordings of high-quality children’s books, read by many notable figures locally and nationally, on social media.   

Last year, OneHolyoke CDC launched the Nature & Nurture Program,  a six-week course in cooperation with multiple organizations in the greater Holyoke area where youth participants, ages 12 to 16, attend weekly educational workshops, with projects centering around the planting of twelve trees in the Flats neighborhood in Holyoke. Through the Commonwealth’s Greening the Gateway Cities Program, and supported by the Boys and Girls Club of Holyoke, young residents of the Flats learned to be stewards of these trees, and contributed to increased shade and reducing summertime air temperatures.

Through a third OneHolyoke CDC youth program, called "Conociendo Mi Barrio/Knowing my Neighborhood", youth in grades 8-10 explored the arts and their neighborhood. The goal was to have youth discussing and making art and design projects as they get to know their neighborhood better. In the most recent program, eight youth met with eight UMASS students and their professor to design their Utopian City of Holyoke and create the artwork.

Elder Programs:

CDC programs for seniors also grew in 2019, with 3,804 elders served, more than twice the 1,745 elders served in 2018. CDCs provided seniors in their communities with home care, exercise classes, volunteer opportunities, transportation, meals, and grants for home repair- just to name a few!

The elder programs administered by Hilltown CDC address two distinct features of the hilltowns of Western MA: a rural population dispersed across a wide geography, and a high proportion of seniors. The majority of towns served by the CDC have populations of less than 50 people per square mile![1]  In Massachusetts rural communities, 17 percent of people are 65 years of age or older, compared to 15% statewide- and many rural communities have over 20% of their population in that age category.[2] Furthermore, the average of median ages in 7 towns in the Hilltown CDC region is 48.4 years, compared to a statewide median age of 39.4 years.[3]

Hilltown CDC has long been a leader in serving seniors, in many cases delivering services to seniors in their homes. On a personal note, when I worked at Hilltown CDC from 1995 to 2004, the Hilltown Elder Network (HEN) Program  was already a well-established and highly regarded program.  Then, and now, HEN provides rural elders with in-home services, such as home chore assistance, cleaning and laundry, food shopping and meal preparation- even snow removal. Likewise, Hilltown CDC’s Health Outreach Program for Elders (HOPE) is a longstanding program, where the CDC partners with the Hilltown Community Health Center to provide in-home medical services to homebound elders.

In 2019, Hilltown CDC served 352 elders, almost four times the 90 seniors served in 2019! This huge jump in impact is due in part to the expansion of its “Hilltown Easy Ride” Senior Van Program, a demand response service in coordination with the Franklin Regional Transit Authority. As there is no public transportation in this rural region, the program provides seniors transportation to their medical appointments, grocery shopping, and social outings.

Hilltown CDC’s newest service is its Mobile Market, which coordinates with Councils on Aging and local farms to provide fresh produce, between July and October. This program was piloted in two towns in 2019 and has now expanded to four towns.  According to Hilltown CDC Executive Director Dave Christopolis, the primary focus of the Mobile Market is to serve the needs of seniors, who need access to healthy food options.

Conclusion:

Of course, so much changed in early 2020, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the health and economic crises it spawned.  Elders, particularly those with other health problems, suffered the most serious adverse health impacts.  The lives of young people, and their parents, were greatly disrupted as schools had to adjust to remote learning. Communities of color and low-income communities were disproportionately impacted: these communities typically had less access to the technology that is essential for remote learning, experienced higher rates of infection and death, and experienced more economic dislocation.

With their programs for elders and youth, these two CDCs, and many others, are positioned to address the impact of the pandemic. 

 


[1] Hilltown CDC Community Investment Plan 2020-2023

[2] Rural Policy Plan for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, October 2019

[3] U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, December 2019

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CDC Associations and the Coronavirus: Divergent Paths Toward the Same Goal

July 29th, 2020 by Don Bianchi

“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” - Barack Obama

As Massachusetts reopens, MACDC is weighing how to transition to a “new normal.” Like our members, we are thinking about when and to what extent do we reopen our office, how do we ensure the safety of our staff, how we can commute safely, and care for our children?  Beyond that, how do we accomplish our raison d’etre, which is to provide support to CDCs and our other MACDC Members across the Commonwealth who deliver essential programs, projects, and services to their communities?

In order to better understand how other CDC associations are approaching reopening, I’ve talked with some, scanned association websites, and joined a call with our national association, NACEDA. I’ve learned that these organizations are continually striving, like we are, to determine how best to serve their members.  While the information presented here is anecdotal, it offers insights into some of the many paths that CDC Associations are taking to arrive at the shared goal of serving our members.

In my conversations and research, several themes have emerged.  I looked at these themes, and the paths that MACDC and other CDC Associations have chosen to address them.

Ask Your Members What They Need

“USA Today has come out with a new survey - apparently three out of every four people make up 75% of the population.”David Letterman

Effective surveying is challenging.  There are tradeoffs between survey comprehensiveness and ease of completion.  Should the survey be general, or more narrowly focused on specific topics?  The answer to this last question, by MACDC and other CDC Associations, is yes and yes.

CDC Association Surveys

Some CDC associations, including the Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis Survey and Prosperity Indiana Survey, utilized general surveys to gauge the impact of Covid-19 on their members’ financial health and programs. The Ohio CDC Association issued its Re-Opening and Recovery Survey to better serve its members as they navigate through the Covid-19 recovery.

On a targeted basis, The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania conducted a survey of landlords to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting property owners and managers tasked with maintaining operations while experiencing an unprecedented loss of rental income. Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) surveyed its members on how CDBG funds allocated to the City should be spent.

MACDC Surveys

In July, MACDC sent out a Member Survey, to inform our work over the next year.  Questions ranged from how CDCs are serving their communities through the Covid-19 crisis, to their response to the racism embodied in the murder of George Floyd, to more general questions about how they are managing financially and operationally. More targeted, through its central role in the MA Small Biz COVID Response Coalition, MACDC issued a survey, and is using the Survey Results to inform our policy advocacy. The surveys complement other MACDC efforts to gauge resident needs, including virtual monthly member meetings and calls to individual members.

Lesson Learned

It matters what you ask your members.  It matters just as much that you ask them.  Whenever we ask our members what they want or need from us, they express their appreciation.  It is an invitation to a conversation.

Consider How Local Community Development COVID-19 Response is Impacted by Local and State Policies

Michigan’s Dual Approach

Michigan is served by two CDC associations. CDAD serves the residents of Detroit, who face daunting problems that pre-date Covid-19.  Detroit possesses the highest rate of child poverty among the 50 largest cities in the U.S., has crumbling infrastructure, and 26% of its residential lots are vacant. CDAD successfully advocated for adoption of a Community Benefits Ordinance in 2016, that requires developers to engage with Neighborhood Advisory Councils, to identify community benefits and address potential negative impacts.  Covid-19 has hit Detroit very hard, as the health pandemic has merged with a pandemic of poverty, and CDAD’s response includes supporting its members involved in food delivery, health services, and other public services.

On the state level, the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) advocated for an extension of the statewide eviction moratorium, and for using the federal funds from the CARES Act for rental assistance.  CEDAM also regularly advocates that CDBG funding be allocated to meet housing needs, such as housing counseling.

As noted by CDAD Public Policy Director Ruth Johnson, CDAD focuses on the City of Detroit, and works with CEDAM on state-level matters.  Given the severity of the economic challenges facing Detroit, CDAD plays a crucial role in advancing the work of nonprofit, community-based organizations in Detroit, while its partnership with CEDAM provides the opportunity to impact state policy. 

"All advocacy is, at its core, an exercise in empathy." - Samantha Power

MACDC’s Comprehensive Approach

As the only CDC Association in Massachusetts, MACDC’s work must impact both state and local policy. Over the years, MACDC has grown to include 88 members representing 60 state-certified Community Development Corporations across Massachusetts.  We also have committees and peer groups representing cities and regions, including the City of Boston, the smaller Gateway Cities across the State, and the Western MA region. One positive byproduct of the Covid-19 imperative to work virtually has been that geographic distance is not a barrier to participation. Though we provide a variety of member services (including peer learning and training), much of our work is focused on advocacy for public policies that facilitate the work of our Members- statewide and locally.

Lesson Learned

Tip O’Neill famous declaration that “all politics is local” does not apply to all policies. In fact, we have seen that not even all local policies are local. During the current pandemic, we’ve seen how local policies on social distancing and mask-wearing can impact infection rates across a region, and how state policies can impact infection rates across the nation.

Be Flexible, Adaptable, and Creative in Serving Our Members

NACEDA Member Examples

Funding: The Ohio CDC Association identified the need among its members for cash, and set up a Community Recovery Fund, to provide small grants (up to $5,000) to them.  It also partnered with an Ohio-based foundation through the Empowering Communities Grant Challenge, to provide grants ranging from $37,000 to $150,000 to its Members working to address the social determinants of health.

Access to Information and Resources: The Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis provided information on Covid-19 training, with up-to-date links to CBN and Member partner events. Prosperity Indiana established an information and resources hub.

Creative Use of Available Platforms: CEDAM ramped up virtual Town Meetings, on a variety of topics. In July, CEDAM hosted three webinars on widely divergent topics.  They included one on Eviction Diversion and Rental Assistance Programs, a second on Successful Onboarding in a Virtual World, and a third on Building Self-Empathy through Social Journaling. 

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” - Albert Einstein

MACDC

Early on in the crisis, we created information and links to Covid-19 resources on our website which we have kept frequently updated.  Later we created a page specific to helping our members navigate reopening. We also adapted two major events, taking advantage of the available technology to increase the connection we have to our Members, while planning a third virtual event.

A key part of MACDC’s advocacy is our annual Lobby Day, when our Members converge at the State House for inspiration, networking, and meeting with their legislators. This April, an in-person Lobby Day was not possible. We held our Lobby Day virtually, including inspiring remarks by State Senator Eric Lesser and virtual meetings between MACDC Members and their legislators.

The Mel King Institute for Community Building celebrated MKI’s 11th Anniversary Breakfast in virtual style, highlighted by an inspiring keynote speech by Dr. Atyia Martin, CEO and Founder of All Aces, Inc., which partners with organizations to advance racial equity and build resilience.

MACDC is approaching our Annual Meeting this fall in a similar spirit.  We are partnering with NACEDA and with CDC Associations across the nation for a shared, virtual, national conference in October “Strengthening Resilient Communities”.  While the details are still being planned, this shared event will allow our members to participate in national workshops, as well as local workshops tailored to Massachusetts.

CDC Associations around the country support their members in a variety of ways, and our planned joint national conference is just the latest manifestation of how we work together to support our Members, as they transition through the Covid-19 recovery.  Please be in touch if you have any thoughts as to ways MACDC can continue to support our members in this transition.

Lesson Learned

We can make lemonade from lemons.  It’s not hard to see the many challenges the Covid-19 crisis and accompanying economic crisis have posed for CDC associations nationwide: how to serve their members facing logistical complications, financial shortfalls, and the need to rethink program delivery to populations in need.  But we’ve also seen increased participation in virtual member convenings without regard to distance, access to some of the great leaders in community development without concern for travel details (and costs), and a new openness by public officials to levels and kinds of assistance that six months ago were considered non-starters.

“Impossible is just a word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it.”Muhammad Ali

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Affordable Rental Housing Remains Out of Reach for Many Americans, New Report Shows

July 16th, 2020 by Don Bianchi

“Right now, our efforts to ensure that everyone has a safe, healthy home to weather the coronavirus storm are hampered by the fact that we already had a housing crisis in this country before this virus ever hit our shores”  U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown pointedly notes in the Preface to “Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing 2020.”

Since 1989, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) has issued Out of Reach, to call attention to the gulf between actual wages and what people need to earn to afford their rents. The report affirms that even before the massive economic downturn caused by the coronavirus, housing costs outpaced what many workers could afford; more than 7.7 million extremely low-income renters were spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing costs.

According to the Report, in Massachusetts, the average or Fair Market Rent (FMR)[1] for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,847. For a household to be able to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, the household must earn a “Housing Wage” of $35.52 per hour (annual pay of $73,890). The average hourly renter wage in Massachusetts is estimated at $21.74, meaning that two incomes are required to afford the rent.  For single parent households, or other households where only one person is employed, the household income is typically not sufficient. For those making the minimum wage of $12.75, the situation is dire, as 111 work hours per week would be required to afford the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment.

In the Boston Metropolitan Area, the required Housing Wage is even higher, at $44.44 per hour.  But some communities outside of Boston face a steeper affordability challenge, as incomes are lower.  In the Brockton area, although average rents of $1,528 for a two-bedroom apartment are lower than the state average, the average renter wage is only $11.69 per hour.  At this income, even a household with two full-time employees earning the average renter wage could not come close to affording the average rent.

Of course, as noted in the Report, “the economic downturn spurred by the virus further increases the risk of housing instability for millions of low-wage renters at a time when stable housing is vital.” The unemployment rate for African Americans and Latinx Americans remains several percentage points higher than the overall rate. Low-income households are facing disproportionate hardships; the Federal Reserve’s May report on the economic well-being of U.S. households found that 39% of people working in February with household incomes below $40,000 reported job losses in March.

The Report describes the significant investment in federal rental housing programs needed to ensure that everyone has a decent and affordable home. It notes that the federal eviction moratoriums for renters in federally supported rental properties, and other state and local moratoriums, offer important protections for renters during this crisis, and should be extended. The Report adds that, since the moratoriums do not relieve renters of their obligations, significant federal assistance is needed, including the following:

  • Emergency Rental Assistance: $100 billion in emergency assistance is included in the HEROES Act, passed by the U.S. House and awaiting Senate action;
  • National Housing Stabilization Fund: Creation of an emergency assistance fund to prevent evictions and provide housing stability for families facing a sudden and temporary shock to their finances is included in the “Eviction Crisis Act,” introduced on a bipartisan basis by Senators Bennet and Portman;
  • Rental Assistance: Fully fund the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which allows households to pay 30% of their incomes for rent, as well as increased funding for Project-Based Rental Assistance. Senators Hirono, Gillibrand, and Booker have introduced legislation to fully fund Housing Choice Vouchers;
  • Increase Supply of Affordable Housing: Expanding the supply of affordable rental housing with significant increases in capital investments is necessary. For example, multiple bills have been introduced to provide additional funding for the National Housing Trust, currently capitalized at less than $1 billion per year; and
  • Capital Investments in Public Housing: NHLIC estimates that public housing authorities face a backlog of capital repair needs of $70 billion.

At its current funding levels, federal housing assistance is available to only one in four eligible low-income households (Fischer & Sard, 2017).  A sustained commitment to the investments described above are needed to make affordable rental housing, in Massachusetts and in the nation, in reach for everyone.

 


[1] Fair Market Rent:

Source: NLIHC calculation of weighted-average HUD fair market rent. Affordable rents based on income and benefits data from

BLS QCEW, 2018 adjusted to 2020 dollars

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Rural Policy Plan Launched at State House Event

October 7th, 2019 by Don Bianchi

On October 2, Members of the Rural Policy Advisory Commission (RPAC), along with legislators and supporters, announced the release of the Rural Policy Plan for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

 

The RPAC benefited from the leadership of two CDC Executive Directors: Dave Christopolis of Hilltown CDC, in Western MA, and Jay Coburn of Community Development Partnership, on Cape Cod.  MACDC’s Director of Advocacy David Bryant and Senior Policy Advocate Don Bianchi attended the launch at the Massachusetts State House. 

 

The Plan is a culmination of the work of RPAC, which was created by the State Legislature in 2015 with a mission to “enhance the economic vitality of rural communities.”  Defined as municipalities with population densities of less than 500 persons per square mile, the 170 rural communities comprise 59% of the land area in Massachusetts but only 13% of its population.  In presenting an overview of the Plan, Linda Dunlavy, Executive Director of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments and RPAC’s Chair, noted how rural communities in Massachusetts are losing population and are aging, and face unique challenges such as inadequate infrastructure and limited local fiscal resources and staffing capacity. 

 

The Plan’s top priorities are: 

  • Expand diversity and implement relocation strategies to boost population in rural Massachusetts; 

  • Develop a statewide land use plan/growth management strategy; 

  • Determine and create a rural factor within state funding formulas. 

 

The Plan also outlines existing best practices, ideas, and recommendations for improving the economic vitality of rural communities.  Importantly, it calls for the creation of the Office of Rural Policy, to provide purposed focus on rural issues and advance the recommendations in the Plan. 

 

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MACDC and LISC Launch Energy Cohort

September 25th, 2019 by Don Bianchi

More than 30 people, including representatives from 18 CDCs, participated in the first reconvening of the MACDC/LISC Energy Cohort. This is the first formal energy partnership between the two organizations since we convened the CDCs several years ago as LISC launched its Green Retrofit Initiative. At the September 18 Convening, we focused on two timely agenda items. The first was an update on the State's Solar SMART Program presented by Dick Jones of Blue Hub Capital and Ben Underwood of Resonant Energy. They also spoke about the Energy Justice Option to, among other things, better serve low-income households who reside in privately-owned affordable housing.  The second agenda item was a presentation by Adam Parker and others from Rocky Mountain Institute's REALIZE Program.  They presented its Zero Over Time Initiative, to help property owners and managers move successfully toward highly energy efficient buildings where remaining greenhouse gas emissions are offset by renewable energy generation.

 
We plan to convene the Energy Cohort 3-4 times per year, on topics that reflect the fast-changing landscape of energy efficiency and renewable energy. For more information, contact Emily Jones at LISC (ejones@lisc.org) or Don Bianchi at MACDC (donb@macdc.org).
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By the Numbers: CDCs That Led the Way in Supporting Families in 2018

August 15th, 2019 by Don Bianchi

MACDC is proud to document the collective impact of CDCs in our annual GOALs Report.  In the 2019 Report, we celebrated this collective impact CDCs achieved in 2018: 

  • Engaged 1,910 Community Leaders 
  • Built or Preserved 1,535 Homes 
  • Created or Preserved 4,305 Job Opportunities 
  • Provided Technical Assistance to 1,369 Entrepreneurs 
  • Invested $801.5 Million in Local Communities 
  • Supported 84,224 Families with Housing, Jobs, or Other Services 

What does it mean that the CDCs collectively supported over 84,000 families?  By digging a little deeper into the numbers, we’ve highlighted CDCs which led the way in delivering programs and services to families that need them. Significant attention is (rightfully) paid to the affordable housing developed by CDCs, but there is so much more to their work.  Click on the links that accompany the numbers below, to see some great examples of how CDCs are improving the lives of those who live in the communities they serve. 

 Helping Families Acquire, Preserve, and Improve Homes: 

  • Through its programs to help low-income residents deal with home repair needs in their homes and address lead hazards, NeighborWorks Housing Solutions preserved 162 homes
  • NeighborWorks Housing Solutions also led the way on homebuyer counseling, providing pre-purchase education to 1,144 first-time homebuyers. 
  • Oak Hill CDC, through its NeighborWorks Homeownership Center of Central MA, offered the assistance of certified housing counselors to 133 families to help them avoid foreclosure, with 77 families receiving a loan modification or other positive outcome.
  • Way Finders helped 1,763 maintain their existing rental housing or obtain new permanent housing (separate from their administration of rental assistance programs) 

 Assistance for Those Seeking Employment and Owning a Small Business: 

  • Codman Square NDC provided Adult Basic Education to 123 individuals.  Its Men of Color/Men of Action Initiative focused on to providing support and leadership development in the Codman Square/ Four Corners Community.  
  • Through its English language program, the Waltham Alliance to Create Housing (WATCH) offered classes at three levels to 255 people, supplemented by one-on-one tutoring. 
  • The Neighborhood Developers provided 1,769 people with Job Training and Workforce Development assistance.  Through its CONNECT Program, TND partners with five agencies working to improve the financial mobility of low-income families. 
  • Common Capital provided personalized business assistance and financing to 505 small business entrepreneurs.  An affiliate of Way Finders, Common Capital is certified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI). 

Building Assets and Financial Stability: 

Helping Youth and Elders: 

  • Community Teamwork assisted 626 elders.  For more than 35 years, Community Teamwork’s Senior Corps Volunteer Program has paired senior volunteers with nonprofit organizations, children and others. 
  • Groundwork Lawrence served 1,753 young people through several initiatives.  Its Green Team offers part-time, paid positions to Lawrence high school aged students each year to learn and lead local environmental and health initiatives. 

For a full list of CDC accomplishments in calendar year 2018, see the 2019 GOALs Survey Tables. 

Commenting Closed

A Dozen MACDC Member Projects Among Rental Round Award Recipients

July 18th, 2019 by Don Bianchi

On July 18th, Governor Baker and other officials announced the award of $80 Million in subsidy funding, as well as state and federal tax credits that will generate more than $260 Million in subsidized private equity, for the development of affordable rental housing.  When completed, these 28 projects will create or preserve 1,581 homes, including 1,349 affordable units, with 273 of these affordable units reserved for extremely low-income households. 

 

The developments awarded funding include 12 projects sponsored by MACDC Members, resulting in the creation or preservation of 500 homes, including 467 affordable units: 

 

Nuestra Comunidad’s Bartlett Station Building A, part of a multi-phase redevelopment of a former MBTA lot in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, will offer 42 newly-constructed rental units, including 30 affordable units. 

 

Dorchester Bay EDC will renovate 56 affordable units at Dudley Terrace Apartments in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. 

 

Urban Edge’s Holzer Park, a transit-oriented development in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, will involve the new construction of 62 units, including 54 affordable homes.

 

Lena Park CDC, in partnership with the New Boston Fund, will newly construct 47units- including 40 affordable units- as Olmsted Green Rental Phase IV, one of the final phases of the redevelopment of the former Boston State Hospital in Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood.

 

Mission Hill NHS will newly construct 46 units, including 43 affordable homes, as Parcel 25 Phase 2, in Boston’s Mission Hill neighborhood.

 

The Neighborhood Developers were awarded funds for two new construction projects for low-income seniors, with services, in Everett: St. Therese Condo 1 (44 affordable units), and St. Therese Condo 2 (33 affordable units).

 

North Shore CDC is developing Harbor Village, a mixed-use project in Gloucester which will offer 30 affordable units.

 

The Women’s Institute is newly constructing 30 affordable units in Sandwich at Terrapin Ridge.

 

B’nai B’rith Housing New England is redeveloping a vacant elementary school in Swampscott into 38 affordable homes at Senior Residences at The Machon.

 

Berkshire Housing Development Corporation’s Cole Avenue project will consist of is constructing 41 newly constructed units, including 38 affordable units, on a town-owned, former industrial site in Williamstown.

 

Worcester Common Ground’s 126 Chandler project in Worcester will combined adaptive re-use of a long-vacant mill building and new construction to create 31 affordable homes. 

 

In order to receive a funding award, each CDC had to demonstrate its capacity, which has been enhanced through the Community Investment Tax Credit Program.  When coupled with the subsidy resources necessary for affordable housing development, these CDC projects will provide high-quality homes for 500 families and seniors for many years to come. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commenting Closed

State Awards $1.5 Million for Sustainable Homeownership Counseling and Foreclosure Prevention

April 30th, 2019 by Don Bianchi

On April 22, the Massachusetts Division of Banks awarded $1.5 Million in grants for Foreclosure Counseling and First-Time Homebuyer Education through the 2019 Chapter 206 Awards.  A total of 20 awards were made to 10 foreclosure prevention regional centers and 10 consumer counseling organizations which provide homebuyer education.

CDCs continue to be among the leaders in providing these essential services, with twelve of the twenty awards made to MACDC Members or coalitions which include MACDC Members.  CDCs serving urban, rural, and suburban areas across the Commonwealth are helping homebuyers acquire their first homes and assisting homeowners at risk of foreclosure in keeping their homes.

The counseling awards were created through Chapter 206 of the Acts of 2007 – a law that MACDC helped enact through our advocacy with CHAPA and MAHA.  They are funded by fees associated with the licensing of mortgage loan originators.  In 2018, the Regional Foreclosure Centers assisted almost 4,800 clients, helping 84% of these clients to avoid foreclosure.  Homebuyer education was provided to almost 2,700 clients.  This counseling helped prospective homebuyers make an educated decision on when to purchase a home.  Furthermore, it helped homebuyers secure affordable and sustainable mortgage loans- only .02% of these clients purchased a home with a subprime mortgage!

MACDC appreciates the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing support for this program and is grateful to the Division of Banks for its effective stewardship of this important resource.

Commenting Closed

CDCs Invest over $800 Million in 2018 in Providing Homes, Jobs, and Other Services

April 30th, 2019 by Don Bianchi

The results are in!  MACDC just released its 2019 GOALs Report which documents the collective impact of CDCs across the Commonwealth.  For the second consecutive year, CDC investment in their communities topped $800 Million.  Through this investment, CDCs improved the communities they serve by:

  • Creating or preserving 1,535 Homes
  • Creating or preserving 4,305 Jobs
  • Providing technical assistance to 1,369 Entrepreneurs
  • Providing 84,224 Families with Housing, Jobs, or Other Services
  • Engaging 1,910 Leaders.

The Report highlights some of these impacts, including:

  • Mill Cities Community Investments helping to convene a $1 Million Emergency Fund for businesses impacted by the fires caused by a natural gas explosion in the region;
  • WATCH organizing a major grassroots campaign to increase the City of Waltham’s inclusionary housing requirements from 10% to 15%;
  • Worcester Common Ground partnering with YouthBuild to create two units of family housing built entirely by youth; and
  • NewVue Communities graduating its first cohort of Community Stewards, trained in Community Organizing.

Through these initiatives, and others, CDCS across Massachusetts act on the values that guide our work: lifting up community voice and power, building inclusive communities, and advancing economic opportunity.  As we celebrate the results from 2018, we already can’t wait to see what CDCs achieve in 2019!

Commenting Closed

Final Rule Amends Affordable Housing Program, Incorporates MACDC’s Concerns

January 8th, 2019 by Don Bianchi

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) published a Final Rule amending its regulations for the Federal Home Loan Banks’ (FHLBanks) Affordable Housing Program (AHP), which incorporated many of the comments submitted by MACDC and other affordable housing advocates in response to a Proposed Rule amending the regulations. 

 

In March 2018, FHFA published proposed amendments to AHP.  As described by the FHFA, the proposed amendments would give the Federal Home Loan Banks more flexibility in allocating their AHP funds, in establishing special competitive funds that target affordable housing needs in their districts, and in designing their own project selection scoring criteria.  It would also make other significant changes to the AHP Program. 

 

After reviewing the proposed rule, and consulting with members and allies, MACDC submitted its comments to FHFA. MACDC commented on a number of provisions, focusing on issues related to transparency, proposed targeting, and long-term affordability.  We were, therefore, pleased when FHFA issued the Final Rule, which addressed the concerns expressed by MACDC. 

 

FHFA held a webinar on the key components of the Final Rule in December.  The slides from the webinar provide a summary of the changes incorporated in the Final Rule. (FHFA Slides on Final AHP Rule)  The Final Rule, published in November, makes changes to the AHP; the most significant changes are described below. 

 

AHP Funding Categories: 

It moves from two categories (a Competitive Application Program and a Homeownership Set Aside Program) to three categories (A General Fund, Targeted Funds, and a Homeownership Set Aside).  The Final Rule incorporates some statutory and regulatory priorities for the General Fund, including Underserved Communities and Populations, Creating Economic Opportunity, and Community Stability including Affordable Housing Preservation.  Up to 40% of a FHLBank’s annual AHP funds can be allocated to up to three Targeted Funds, at the discretion of the FHLBank. 

 

Changes to Homeownership Set Aside Program: 

While the maximum set aside remains at the greater of 35% of the FHLBank’s annual total AHP contribution or $4.5 million, the maximum grant award is increased from $15,000 to $22,000 per household, subject to automatic annual adjustments.  In another change, one third of the Homeownership Set Aside Program funding allocation must be directed to first-time homebuyers, or households for owner-occupied rehabilitation (rehab), or combination of both. 

 

Changes to Monitoring Requirements for LIHTC Projects and Projects with Government Funds: 

The Final Rule removes the requirement for the FHLBanks to review back-up household income and rent documentation at initial monitoring for AHP projects which also receive Low Income Housing Tax Credits.  The Rule also removes the requirement for the FHLBanks to reviewback-up household income and rent documentation during initial and long-term monitoring for AHP projects that also receive funds from certain government housing programs. 

 

Homeownership Retention Agreements: 

The Final Rule eliminates retention agreements for homeowners receiving AHP subsidy solely for rehab.  For homeowners receiving AHP subsidy for purchase, and for purchase in conjunction with rehab, the Rule establishes a de minimis exception to subsidy repayment where the amount subject to repayment is $2,500 or less. 

 

Implementation Dates: 

For owner-occupied retention agreement requirements, the compliance date is January 1, 2020.  For all other provisions, the compliance date is January 1, 2021.  A FHLBank may choose to implement any set of related provision in the Final Rule at an earlier date. 

 

Of significant importance, several other changes proposed by FHFA were not included in the Final Rule, in response to comments submitted by MACDC and others.  The most significant of these problematic changes proposed would have required the FHLBanks to re-rank project scoring to meet FHFA Outcome Requirements, which could have resulted in a FHLBank replacing a higher scoring application with a lower-scoring application, disrupting AHP’s predictability and transparency.  Another proposed change would have imposed two well-intentioned, but problematic targeting requirements, which may not be achievable in some markets.  A third proposed change would have been a blanket removal of the five-year retention agreements from all assistance to owner occupants, including assistance for purchase, leaving open the possibility for speculative gain.  MACDC is grateful for FHFA’s responsiveness to these concerns in its Final Rule, and to our allies for joining MACDC in sharing concerns about the Proposed Rule. 

 

MACDC is aware of the critical nature of AHP funds to the feasibility of many affordable housing projects in Massachusetts.  We believe the Final Rule will result in changes that allow the FHLBanks to better tailor the AHP to the needs of the communities they serve, while preserving the scoring transparency that has long been an essential feature of the program. 

Commenting Closed

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