News

MACDC Housing Quality and Health Equity Initiative Awarded Funding

November 10th, 2022 by Don Bianchi

MACDC is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a five-year grant for its Housing Quality and Health (HQH) Equity Initiative. The grant from the Massachusetts Community Health and Aging Funds will support MACDC’s efforts to address racial health inequities caused by poor quality housing. 

MACDC is among 24 nonprofit organizations that were collectively awarded $15.6 million in grants in three core areas.  Three CDCs- Community Development Partnership, Community Teamwork, and Southeast Asian Coalition of Central MA- also received awards.  MACDC’s award, in the core area of creating long-lasting, community-driven policy, systems, and environmental changes, will focus on addressing the health hazards posed by lead paint and poor indoor air quality. 

In order to address racial health inequities resulting from poor housing quality, MACDC will concentrate its initial work in 5 Gateway Cities which we will select based on need and on the potential to address the problems identified. In these cities, ultimately, we aim to secure new resources to address housing quality problems that impact health, and substantially improve housing quality. Our immediate focus will be on intensive community engagement in these cities: with municipal leaders, CDCs, community residents, and other grassroots organizations. With these community representatives, we will identify the local housing quality problems and their health manifestations, particularly for households of color and low-income households.  

Concurrently, MACDC will: 

Commission a report, which will document the extent of housing quality problems linked to lead paint and poor indoor air quality statewide, document the resources and programs available to address these problems, and identify the gaps in addressing the housing quality problems, and their disproportionate impact on the populations described in the prior paragraph.  

Work to secure new resources to significantly improve the housing quality in these cities, and thereby improve resident health. Ultimately, the plan is to utilize the knowledge gained from the local work, and the additional resources secured, to scale up efforts to address housing quality problems in communities across the Commonwealth. 

The HQH Equity Initiative will build upon the work of the HQH Task Force, a group of experienced practitioners consisting of advocates in the health equity, housing, elder and disability fields; healthcare providers; and data professionals- who have guided MACDC’s housing quality and health work over the past year. 

The work will be co-staffed at MACDC by Elana Brochin, Program Director for Health Equity, and Don Bianchi, Director of Housing. If you have any questions, you can reach out to Don at donb@macdc.org.

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Multi-Family Housing Requirement in MBTA Communities: Final Guidelines Issued

August 22nd, 2022 by Don Bianchi

On August 10th, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) published the final guidelines to determine compliance with section 3A of the Zoning Act—the new requirement for every MBTA community to have at least one zoning district in which multi-family housing is allowed as of right, and which is located near a transit station, if applicable. 

The final guidelines incorporated changes from the draft guidelines, in response to extensive stakeholder comments, outlined in a letter to local officials.

EOHED is holding a webinar on September 8th at 1 p.m. to go over the guidelines; if you go to the guidelines page, and scroll down toward the bottom, you can register for the webinar.  

 

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DHCD Rental Housing Awards Announced in Falmouth

August 18th, 2022 by Don Bianchi

Despite the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, and significant increases in construction and other costs, project sponsors continue to develop much-needed affordable housing, with the ongoing support of the MA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). On July 26th, in Falmouth, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, DHCD Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox, and local officials announced awards for 26 affordable housing developments, which collectively will create or preserve 1,474 rental homes, with 1,326 of these being affordable. 

Eight of the projects were sponsored, or co-sponsored, by MACDC’s Members.  Collectively they compose 368 units, with 316 of these being affordable. They include the following: 

  • Anchor Point II in Beverly, sponsored by Harborlight Community Partners, is the second phase of a new construction project for families. It will offer 39 apartments, all affordable. Construction is well underway on the adjacent Anchor Point I project. 
  • Carol Avenue Rehab is an existing family housing project located in Boston’s Allston neighborhood. Sponsored by Allston-Brighton CDC, the project will feature 33 fully rehabilitated units, including 25 affordable units. 
  • In Nubian Square in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, Nuestra Comunidad, in partnership with Windale Developers, will newly construct Bartlett Station V.  When completed, the project, which will be built to Passive House standards, will offer 44 total units, including 33 affordable units. 
  • Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) will newly construct Aileron in East Boston, which will provide 36 units, all affordable. 
  • 2085 Washington Street is a new construction, mixed-income project located in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. Madison Park Development Corporation, in partnership with Trinity Financial, is sponsoring the project, which will be built to Passive House standards, and will provide 64 rental units, 44 of them affordable. 
  • Lincoln School, in Brockton, is an historic adaptive re-use project, sponsored by NeighborWorks Housing Solutions. When completed, the project will offer 37 total units for seniors, all affordable. 
  • Just A Start will newly construct 52 New Street in Cambridge. The project, which will be built to Passive House standards will provide 107 units, including 97 affordable units. 
  • Hillman Firehouse Restoration in New Bedford is a historic adaptive re-use project, sponsored by Waterfront Historic Area LeaguE (WHALE).  When construction is completed, the project will offer eight total units, including 5 affordable units. 
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Supportive Housing Sponsors Awarded Funding to Improve Lives

August 18th, 2022 by Don Bianchi

On July 19th in Worcester, Lt. Governor Polito was joined by senior Administration officials and Worcester’s Mayor and Acting City Manager to announce Permanent Supportive Housing awards. The awards went to 11 projects, which collectively will provide 237 permanent housing units and 200 shelter beds for families and individuals. 

The MA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), working with the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC), awarded more than $31 million in direct subsidies, tax credits, and housing vouchers. 

Among the 11 projects awarded funding, 6 are sponsored by MACDC Members.  They include: 

  • NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, in partnership with Father Bills & Mainspring, is developing 150 Pleasant Street in Attleboro, which will create 22 new supportive housing units and 18 emergency shelter beds. 
  • In creating Warren Street Housing, Commonwealth Land Trust will rehabilitate 26 single-room occupancy (SRO) units in 2 buildings, in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. 
  • 35 Harvey Street in Cambridge is an occupied rehabilitation project, sponsored by Homeowners Rehab Inc., which will provide 12 SRO units with individuals bathrooms and kitchenettes. 
  • Harborlight Community Partners, working with The Haven Project, will construct Catalyst Housing in Lynn, an historic re-use that will provide 24 studio units. 
  • New Point Apartments is an 18-unit historic preservation project in Salem, sponsored by North Shore CDC
  • Home City Development will newly construct 275 Chestnut Supportive Housing at the site of the former YMCA building in Springfield, providing 29 SRO units. 

 

 

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Workshop at New England Brownfields Summit Puts Spotlight on CDC Projects

June 15th, 2022 by Don Bianchi

At the New England Brownfields Summit in Devens, MA on May 18th and 19th, nearly 300 brownfields practitioners from across the region, celebrated accomplishments, discussed challenges, and identified best practices.  While the weather was changeable (a beautiful and sunny spring day, followed by a rainy day) the quality of the information shared among project developers, licensed site professionals, public officials and others remained consistently high and thought-provoking. 

On the Summit’s second afternoon, MACDC presented a workshop entitled “Brownfields Redevelopment in Massachusetts: Case Studies in Boston and Beyond.”  MACDC President Joe Kriesberg moderated the panel, and two CDC Executive Directors shared their successful experiences redeveloping challenging brownfields sites, and an executive from MassDevelopment presented on a number of projects funded by the Massachusetts Brownfields Redevelopment Fund.

Teronda Ellis from Jamaica Plain NDC (JPNDC) described the JPNDC’s efforts to redevelop Jackson Square, in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. She described the history of the site going back to the 1950s and 1960s, when large swaths of the neighborhood were bulldozed to make way for the extension of Interstate I-95, before organized residents succeeded in halting the extension. Teronda has guided the redevelopment of Jackson Square, including the brownfields assessment and remediation, for many years, from her days as Real Estate Director at JPNDC to her current role as Executive Director. She described how the many hours she invested in learning the technical aspects of brownfields redevelopment strengthened JPNDC’s hand in negotiation with, and oversight of, the contractors and professionals involved in the redevelopment.  She also emphasized the need for teamwork among the professionals and meaningful, sustained, and iterative engagement with the community.

Jess Andors from Lawrence Community Works (LCW) described how LCW’s development of Lawrence’s Mill District was, and is, driven by extensive community visioning and engagement in design and problem-solving. The historic redevelopment of the Duck Mill posed numerous challenges, starting with legacy structural challenges associated with having penstocks and raceways under the building and site, to having funds from the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund being frozen partway through construction. Jess shared insights she gained during the process, including the importance of having both technical and “adaptive” experience, making sure there is broad community and stakeholder support, and leveraging any, and all, soft power and connections you may have to solve your problems.

The third presenter, David Bancroft from MassDevelopment, told the stories of several sites along the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line, which runs through the heart of Boston’s neighborhoods. He shared some amazing before and after photos of these sites, along with a quote from a woman who lived in one of the beautiful, redeveloped buildings, who described how she used to pass the vacant building every day and say to herself “This is the house I am going to live in one day with my family.” MassDevelopment administers the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, an essential resource for site assessment and remediation.

Close to 50 people attended the workshop at the end of the two-day summit, demonstrating the value of learning from those who have done the work on the ground (and in the ground) to turn contaminated sites into community assets.

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Home City Development Celebrates Grand Opening 11 Years After Tornado’s Devastation

June 15th, 2022 by Don Bianchi

On June 1st, MACDC Senior Policy Advocate Don Bianchi attended the Grand Opening of the Elias Brookings Apartments in Springfield. Home City Development rebuilt this beautiful building, with 42 rental homes and a spacious auditorium for resident and community use, on the site of the former Elias Brookings School, destroyed on June 1st, 2011 by the devastating EF-3 tornado that cut a huge swath through Springfield and nearby communities. 

The significance of holding this celebration 11 years, to the day, since that awful day, was not lost on the presenters or the attendees.  In addition to hearing from leaders of Home City Development, one of MACDC’s Western MA Members, there were remarks by Congressman Richard Neal, State Senator Adam Gomez and Rep. Bud Williams, as well as by Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno and representatives of project funders. Among all of the speakers, the most powerful was Terry Powe, the Principal of the Elias Brookings School (which has been rebuilt on a nearby site) who was the principal on that day 10 years before.  With imperfect information, she made the decision to close the school that day, and so, when the tornado struck the school building just past 4:30 p.m., students and teachers who would normally be there for after-school activities were instead safely home.   

After the presentations, a few of the residents graciously made their homes available for a tour. The units, which were renovated with great skill and care, each contain a chalkboard. The building’s renovation included other historic features: terrazzo corridor floors, a wood gymnasium floor, and carved “grotesques” (pictured above) featured in classroom corridors. 

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Housing and Community Development Get a Bump in FY23 Capital Budget- Something to Build Upon

May 17th, 2022 by Don Bianchi

On May 5th, the Baker-Polito Administration released its Five-Year Capital Investment Plan for 2023-2027, which includes its Fiscal Year 2023 Capital Budget. MACDC, as it does every year, reviewed the Capital Budget for housing and for other community development line items of interest to CDCs. You can see our analysis here.

In comparison to FY22, the top line housing budget for FY23 increased by just over $5 million, from $255.6 million to $260.8 million. This understates the increase, as the Legislature enacted, and the Administration signed last December, a bill allocating significant federal funding for housing, including $150 million for supportive housing, $115 for rental housing production, $115 million for homeownership production, $150 million for public housing maintenance, and other related spending. Bottom line- when it comes to the FY23 Capital Budget in relation to prior year capital budgets, we are not comparing apples to apples! 

Selected community development programs also received higher amounts in the FY23 Capital Budget than in FY22. Among these selected programs, the budget increased from just over $114 million in FY22 to just under $131 million in FY23, an almost 15% increase.  MACDC was pleased to see a significant increase in funding for underused properties but was disappointed that the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund continues to be inadequately funded with just $2.5 million. (There is $30 million of unused capital authorization for the Brownfields program). 

It is important to recognize that the small increases referenced above are far below inflation and even further below the increasing costs for construction.   

When it comes to affordable housing funding, we need more, much more, to meet the needs of the Commonwealth’s residents. This is why MACDC is advocating with the Legislature to use the once in a generation opportunity presented by the availability of the remaining ARPA funds to support the following: 

  • $200 million for emergency rental relief, to prevent the displacement of the thousands of MA households still impacted by the economic devastation caused by COVID; 
  • $320 million to expand homeownership opportunities and close the racial homeownership gap; 
  • $150 million for rental housing preservation and development, and additional supportive housing for priority populations, to address the crisis in affordable rental housing; and 
  • $100 million for a new MA Healthy Homes Initiative, to address the tens of thousands of homes in MA still containing dangerous levels of lead paint and address other housing conditions that pose a serious threat to residents’ health and well-being. 

MACDC is thankful to the Baker-Polito Administration for its funding of critical affordable housing and community development programs, and for being a partner to MACDC and CDCs in our efforts to create opportunities for all Massachusetts residents. It will be up to the next Governor, the Legislature, and all of us to ensure that we do everything possible to address the unmet needs for affordable housing and inclusive community development, on behalf of all of our neighbors across the Commonwealth. 

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DHCD Rental Round Awards Announced in Gloucester

April 21st, 2022 by Don Bianchi

On April 14th, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy and DHCD Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox joined state and local officials in Gloucester to announce awards for 15 affordable rental housing developments, located in 14 communities. 

The Commonwealth awarded $63 million in direct subsidy funding along with federal and state low-income housing tax credits, which will generate additional equity of over $200 million. This funding will support the development of 697 units of rental housing, including 629 homes affordable to low and extremely low-income households. 

Six of the projects were sponsored by MACDC Members. Collectively, these six projects will create or preserve 233 rental units, including 212 affordable homes. 

  • Rindge Commons Phase 1 is a new construction transit-oriented project located in Cambridge, sponsored by Just-A-Start. When completed, this project, built to Passive House standards will provide 24 homes, all affordable, along with retail space. 
  • Hilltown CDC’s Chester Commons, located in Chester’s town center, involves the historic rehabilitation of 15 units, all affordable. 
  • NewVue Communities will undertake adaptive re-use of an historic structure, Fitchburg Arts Community. This project, located in proximity to the Fitchburg Arts Museum, will provide 68 units, including 47 affordable units. 
  • Library Commons 2 will provide 41 homes, all affordable. Way Finders is sponsoring this project, located near downtown Holyoke. 
  • Island Parkside Phase 2, a new construction project located in Lawrence, will provide 40 homes, all affordable. The sponsor, Lawrence CommunityWorks, intends to build the project to Passive House standards. 
  • Harborlight Community Partners is the sponsor for Maple Woods, a new construction project for seniors located in Wenham. The project will provide 45 units, all affordable. 
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Madison Park Development Corporation Creates a Pathway to Generational Wealth

March 9th, 2022 by Don Bianchi

On March 8th, MACDC’s Senior Policy Advocate Don Bianchi attended an event, “Madison Park Next Door: Opening Doors to Building Wealth,” at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury. The event celebrated Madison Park Development Corporation’s innovative program, which offers its residents downpayment assistance of up to $100,000 for home purchases in Boston, and up to $50,000 for purchases outside the City of Boston. 

At the event, Madison Park’s CEO Leslie Reid touted the program, which has to date provided downpayment assistance to 9 families, and counseling to more than 200 families. As Leslie noted, homeownership is a journey, and she introduced a new homeowner assisted by the program, who spoke about her journey.  Dwayne Watts, the CDC’s Resident and Community Engagement Manager, offered concluding remarks, noting that he tells people on their homeownership journey, “the most important piece is making sure you invite me to your barbecue.” 

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MA Division of Banks Issues Ch. 206 RFP, Broadens Eligibility to Include All Certified CDCs

January 4th, 2022 by Don Bianchi

The MA Division of Banks (DOB) has posted the RFP for grant funding in support of first-time homeownership counseling programs and for regional foreclosure education centers, under Chapter 206 of the Acts of 2007. MACDC’s advocacy was pivotal to passage of the law, which also for the first-time regulated Massachusetts non-bank lenders. 

Eligibility, submission, and other important details are available in the bid RFP.  To access the bid visit www.commbuys.com, enter bid number ‘69422’ in the top search bar and click the search button. For easy reference, here is the RFP

In prior years, eligible applicants were limited to those previously awarded Chapter 206 funding. We heard from several MACDC Members who provide homebuyer education and/or foreclosure prevention counseling, and were not eligible to apply for Chapter 206 funding by virtue of not being awarded grants in prior years.  In response, we recommended to DOB that they broaden eligibility to include certified CDCs and organizations who are recipients of the Collaborative Seal of Approval by the Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative.  DOB accepted our recommendation, and broadened eligibility. 

All proposals are due no later than January 14, 2022. If you have any questions pertaining to the RFP, they must be submitted to DOB via e-mail to chapter206grants@mass.gov before 5pm January 6, 2022. 

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