News

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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Supportive Housing Units Receive State Funds

April 7th, 2021 by Don Bianchi

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

April 7th, 2021 by Don Bianchi

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

 

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

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MACDC Members Prominent as DHCD Announces Affordable Housing Awards

March 10th, 2021 by Don Bianchi

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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MACDC Partners with LISC Boston and Resonant Energy to Launch Solar Retrofit Program

February 2nd, 2021 by Don Bianchi

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Two CDC Projects Awarded Funds in 2020 Affordable Housing Program Competition

December 28th, 2020 by Don Bianchi

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

 

Five Massachusetts projects received funding, including two CDC projects: 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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OneHolyoke CDC and MACDC Featured in Abandoned Housing Workshop

November 10th, 2020 by Don Bianchi

Originally scheduled as an in-person event last spring, the MHP Western MA Housing Conference emerged this fall as a series of seven virtual workshops, geared toward officials, volunteers, and employees in small and rural towns in Western MA.

On November 5, the workshop on Distressed and Abandoned Properties featured Mike Moriarty from OneHolyoke CDC and Don Bianchi from MACDC, along with Maja Kazmierczak from the MA Attorney General’s Neighborhood Renewal Division. More than 30 people, ranging from municipal officials to regional planning agencies to CDCs, joined the workshop.

The workshop highlighted three approaches to addressing the problems associated with distressed and abandoned properties:

  • The Attorney General’s Neighborhood Renewal Division’s use of the enforcement authority of the State Sanitary Code to turn abandoned residential properties around. (See presentation here
  • OneHolyoke CDC’s experience as a Receiver in Holyoke, bringing a community development and nonprofit housing perspective to abandoned properties. (See presentation here)
  • The Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative, a multi-faceted approach to addressing vacant and distressed properties in weak market neighborhoods and communities statewide. (See presentation here
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MACDC Members Stand Tall in State’s Rental Round Awards

October 26th, 2020 by Don Bianchi

On October 21st, Governor Baker announced the 2020 Affordable Rental Housing Awards- 28 projects in 19 communities, which will result in more than 2,400 housing units, including 2,166 affordable rental units. These projects will collectively receive more than $105 million in direct subsidy funds, as well as federal and state tax credits that will result in $370 million in equity for these projects.

As always, MACDC’s Members will play a prominent role in developing these homes.  Sixteen of the 28 projects were sponsored, or co-sponsored, by MACDC Members. When completed, these 16 projects will provide 882 units, including 811 affordable rental units:

  • Anchor Point 1, the first phase of a two-phase new construction project in Beverly, will provide 38 affordable units. It is sponsored by Harborlight Community Partners.
  • Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood will benefit from the new construction of 3368 Washington Street, a transit-oriented, mixed-income project sponsored by our associate member Pine Street Inn and The Community Builders. The project will provide 202 total units, with 156 of the units restricted for extremely low-income individuals, many of them transitioning from homelessness.
  • Boston’s historic North End will host 41 North Margin Street, sponsored by East Boston CDC. This new construction project will provide 23 affordable homes for seniors.
  • Nuestra Comunidad is partnering with Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) on Bartlett Station D, a new construction project near Nubian Square in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. It will provide 50 units for seniors, including 44 affordable units.
  • J.J. Carroll is a new construction project for seniors, in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood. The project, sponsored by associate member 2Life Communities, will provide 142 units, all but 1 affordable.
  • Codman Square NDC was awarded funding for two projects, both in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood! Four Corners Plaza will provide 35 newly constructed affordable homes. At Walando Homes, CSNDC will rehabilitate and preserve another 59 units, including 58 affordable units, in two properties on separate streets- Waldeck Street and Orlando Street.
  • Brewster Woods will provide 30 new affordable homes. Housing Assistance Corporation will partner with POAH on this new construction project in Brewster.
  • The Neighborhood Developers will convert 181 Chestnut in Chelsea from an existing market-rate project to 32 units of mixed-income rental housing. Over time, 22 of the 32 units will be converted to affordable units.
  • Cleghorn Preservation Project consists of three separate, occupied buildings in Fitchburg in need of rehabilitation. NewVue Communities will undertake this scattered-site substantial rehab, and provide 29 units, including 26 affordable units.
  • NeighborWorks Housing Solutions will newly construct Holbrook Center Senior Housing. The project will provide 72 units in Holbrook for seniors, 70 of them affordable.
  • Island Parkside Phase 1, sponsored by Lawrence CommunityWorks, will provide 40 affordable, newly constructed units, in Lawrence.
  • The former Brookings School in Springfield will be converted to Elias Brookings School Apartments, 42 affordable homes sponsored by associate member Home City Development.
  • Rural Development, Inc., aided by Valley CDC, will newly construct 33 affordable homes in Sunderland at Sunderland Senior Housing.
  • Island Housing Trust is sponsoring Perlman House Apartments, an adaptive reuse of a former inn into 7 affordable units in Tisbury, on Martha’s Vineyard.
  • Grand Street Commons will provide 48 homes in Worcester, including 46 affordable units. This new construction project, which will include a mix of townhouses and flats, is sponsored by Main South CDC.

In the midst of a global pandemic, so many activities have proven challenging, and affordable housing development is no exception. Kudos to the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development- and to the MACDC Members and other project sponsors- for managing to move essential affordable homes forward in a difficult year!

 

 

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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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