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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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Workshop Focuses on Addressing Distressed Properties in Holyoke

November 1st, 2021 by Don Bianchi

On October 28th, MACDC joined our partners at the Neighborhood Hub and in Holyoke to present a workshop at MHP’s Housing Institute for Gateway Cities. The workshop, titled “Addressing Distressed Properties in Holyoke,” offered perspectives on the partnership among the Neighborhood Hub, the City of Holyoke’s Office of Planning and Economic Development, and OneHolyoke CDC

Holyoke was one of five Gateway Cities selected by the Neighborhood Hub to receive two-year technical assistance grants to identify equitable strategies to address the challenges presented by distressed and abandoned properties, and build local capacity. The City of Holyoke is using the Hub funding to: 

  • Identify locations for housing development in the South Holyoke and Flats Neighborhoods of Holyoke 
  • Create base maps 
  • Provide attributes and obstacles for housing development on 5 sites 
  • Conduct stakeholder interviews 
  • Provide a housing development toolkit 
  • Prepare a plan to address the capital needs for properties owned by OneHolyoke CDC 

The project’s prospects for success are aided by the strong relationship between City government and OneHolyoke CDC, and by the able consulting assistance provided by LDS Consulting Group.  As Aaron Vega, Director of Holyoke’s Office of Planning and Economic Development stated, “The City can only do so much. Partnerships expand the City’s ability to get things done.” 

 

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Energy Cohort Meeting Examines Combining Federal Historic Tax Credits with Passive House

July 20th, 2021 by Don Bianchi

Retrofitting vacant and underutilized historic buildings to Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) standards leverages an existing building’s embodied carbon, which combined with low carbon and carbon storing materials, can transform our historic buildings into carbon sinks - a good thing! With careful consideration, the Federal Historic Tax Credit Program (FHTC) can provide an additional source of funding for these ambitious Passive House projects. 

 

At its July 15th convening, the Energy Cohort, a peer learning group co-convened by LISC BostonMACDC, and New Ecology, featured a presentation by Heather Clark of the Rocky Mountain InstituteCurrently under construction, Moran Square, in Fitchburg, is one of the first affordable, PHIUS, Historic Tax Credit projects in the U.S. The site includes a historic firehouse, a vacant lot, and historic three-story building. The presentation covered how the team managed to meet the rigorous historic requirements of the FHTC Program, while achieving ambitious PHIUS and low carbon construction goals. 

 

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Governor Announces Rental Round Awards in Lawrence

July 19th, 2021 by Don Bianchi

Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, joined by senior Administration officials and area legislators, traveled to Lawrence on July 15th to announce funding awards to 28 affordable rental housing projects. This in-person event is evidence that Massachusetts is increasingly open for advancing affordable housing development. 

The Commonwealth awarded $93.3 million in direct subsidy funding and federal and state low-income housing tax credits, which will generate an additional $310 million in tax credit equity. These awards will advance the development of 1,526 new rental units, including 1,311 homes affordable to low and extremely low-income households. 

Eight MACDC Members were among the sponsors receiving awards.  Collectively, the projects sponsored by these Members will create or preserve 327 rental units, including 277 affordable units. 

  • Rosewood Way Townhouses is a new construction project for families to be built in Agawam, sponsored by Way Finders. When completed, the project will offer 62 units, including 47 affordable units.
  • Valley CDC will newly construct Amherst Supportive Studio Housing, which will include 28 studio units with supportive services, with 20 of these units being affordable.
  • Burbank Terrace is a transit-oriented new construction project for families to be built in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood, sponsored by Fenway CDC. The project will provide 27 affordable units.
  • B’nai B’rith Housing is sponsoring Residences Off Baker, a new construction project for families to be built in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood. It will provide 60 units, including 45 affordable units. 
  • The Neighborhood Developers will newly construct 25 Sixth Street in Chelsea, providing 56 rental units for families, including 44 affordable homes. 
  • 555 Merrimack Place is a new construction project to be built in Lowell. Sponsored by the Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA), the project will provide 27 affordable units and supportive services for a population in recovery from substance use disorder. 
  • Metro West Collaborative Development will newly construct Glen Brook Way Phase 2, and provide 44 affordable units for seniors in Medway. 
  • Granite Street Crossing is a new construction project to be built in Rockport, sponsored by Harborlight Community Partners. This intergenerational project will provide 23 affordable units, with 17 units restricted for seniors.
     

Congratulations to sponsors of all these critically-needed projects!

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Governor’s FY22 Capital Budget Includes New Funding for Key MACDC Priorities

June 21st, 2021 by Don Bianchi

On June 14th, the Governor announced the release of his Administration’s FY22 Capital Spending Plan.  The FY22 Capital Budget funds new programs authorized in the recently enacted Economic Development law, while level-funding most longstanding affordable housing programs. 

 

MACDC’s Analysis of the FY22 spending plan for all of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) housing programs, and for selected Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) community development programs of interest to CDCs, is attached. It includes a comparison to FY21 spending. 

 

With the spending on newly authorized programs, overall spending on affordable housing increased by more than $18 million when compared to FY21 spending, to more than $255 million.  MACDC is particularly pleased about the spending on DHCD housing programs authorized by the Economic Development legislation, including $6.5 million for Neighborhood Stabilization, $2 million for a Rural and Small Town Development Fund, and $1.7 million for climate-resilient affordable housing. For EOHED programs, the FY22 Capital Budget includes level funding for Brownfields Redevelopment and the MA Food Trust Program, an increase of $1.75 million in grants for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and $8 million in new funding to support the redevelopment of underutilized or vacant properties into active commercial, housing, or green civic space. 

 

MACDC is thankful to the Baker-Polito Administration for its funding of critical affordable housing and community development programs, and to the MA Legislature for its authorization of these programs. MACDC is also grateful to its members for the great work they do every day to ensure that the funding provided will result in projects and programs that benefit residents in every corner of the Commonwealth. 

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Division of Banks Provides Unprecedented Funding for Financial Counseling- CDCs in Central Role

June 21st, 2021 by Don Bianchi

On June 16th, the MA Division of Banks (“The Division”) announced $2.25 million in grants for a Pilot Program to fund financial literacy and debt resolution education programs.  The grants are supported by the Division’s Banks Mortgage Loan Settlement Trust, established to accept settlement funds related to mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses. 

 

Impressively, all but one of the 18 nonprofits awarded funds are MACDC Members, demonstrating the crucial role that CDCs play in the Commonwealth’s infrastructure for empowering residents with the knowledge they need to obtain and keep a home, save and pay for a college education, and better understand maintaining their overall finances. 

 

These awards come just weeks after the Division awarded over $2.5 million in grants to fund first-time homeownership education programs and foreclosure prevention counseling centers throughout the Commonwealth. The 21 awards, through this “Chapter 206 Grant Program” went to 10 foreclosure prevention regional centers and 11 consumer counseling organizations, with the majority of awards going to MACDC Members.  The more than $2.5 in awards was the most ever awarded by the Division in the 13 years of the Chapter 206 program, an increase of $1 million over the $1.5 million awarded each of the prior three years. 

 

Taken together, in just the past few weeks, the Division has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants to support essential financial counseling and education.  MACDC is thankful to the Division of Banks, and to the Baker-Polito Administration. They have responded to the needs of the Commonwealth’s families, who have endured the economic fallout from the pandemic, by tripling the amount of grants awarded for financial counseling. We are also grateful for the key role that CDCs play in educating and empowering these families- and proud of our association with them. 

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Solar Technical Assistance Retrofit Program Receives Phase Two Award

June 7th, 2021 by Don Bianchi

Through the Solar Technical Assistance Retrofit (STAR) Program, LISC Boston is partnering with MACDC and Resonant Energy to remove barriers and dramatically increase the adoption of solar PV for affordable housing developments across the Commonwealth. In Phase One15 organizations, primarily CDCs, received staff time support grants and free technical analysis services to analyze the solar potential and financing options for their portfolios. 

 

LISC has just been awarded $67,000 from the JAMPART Charitable Foundation to support the second phase of the STAR Program.  This will allow the Program to support an additional 15 Massachusetts affordable housing organizations (with a specific focus on CDCs and other affordable housing organizations located in Gateway Cities) with solar feasibility portfolio analyses in the first half of 2022. MACDC will play an important role in program outreach to CDCs. 

 

If you have questions or are interested in participating in Phase Two of the STAR Program, please reach out to Emily Jones at LISC, at ejones@lisc.org. 

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