News

MACDC’s Top Legislative Priorities Advance

January 26th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

Wednesday, January 24 was a big day at the State House for MACDC and its members, with all three of our top policy priorities taking major strides forward.

Governor Charlie Baker submitted his FY 2019 budget to the legislature and proposed fully funding the Small Business Technical Assistance program at $2 million.  This would restore the program to its prior funding level and help thousands of entrepreneurs across the state. The Governor’s budget proposal now goes to the House and Senate.

The House of Representatives passed a $1.7 billion affordable housing bond bill that fully authorizes all of the key capital budget housing programs that CDCs and others use to build and preserve affordable housing.  The bill now moves to the Senate.

The Housing Bond Bill also included language to extend and expand the Community Investment Tax Credit, pushing the program sunset to 2025 and lifting the statewide cap from $6 million to $8 million in 2019 & 2020, to $10 million in 2020 & 2021 and to $12 million from 2023 to 2025.  The cap for individual CDCs will rise proportionately.  The language is consistent with the bill that Sen. DiDomenico, Sen. Forry and Rep. Kulik filed on which MACDC testified last year.

Each of these priorities now advance to the next stage of the legislative process and MACDC will continue to push them forward.

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Ten priorities that will keep MACDC busy in 2018

January 10th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

Now that we have celebrated the holiday season and endured the Bombogenesis storm, it is time to get serious about the business of 2018.  And for MACDC it looks to be a very busy year.  Here are Ten of the items at the top of MACDC’s agenda for this year:

  1. Housing Bond Bill – MACDC is working with many others to pass the Affordable Housing Bond Bill early in 2018 before critical housing programs run out of money.  The Bond Bill would authorize over $1.7 billion in capital spending for a wide range of housing programs used by our members and others to build and preserve affordable housing.
     
  2. Community Investment Tax Credit – Our legislation to extend and expand CITC has been folded into the Housing Bond Bill so we will be working even harder to make sure the full bill is signed into law.  The proposed legislation would extend the CITC sunset from 2019 to 2025 and slowly lift the annual cap from $6 million to $12 million. CITC is now generating over $11 million per year for high impact community development and the new federal tax bill makes it even more valuable for many taxpayers.
     
  3. Small Business Technical Assistance – We are launching a major campaign to restore full funding to this vital economic development program.  Inexplicably, this highly effective program has been cut 62.5% over the past two years to just $750,000.  Our campaign seeks to restore the program to $2 million.
     
  4. MACDC Lobby Day on April 24 – MACDC will host its annual Lobby Day at the State House on April 24 when community developers from around the Commonwealth will come to the State House to advocate for our shared agenda. Please join us!
     
  5. Mel King Institute – I could probably do a Top Ten list just for the King Institute since there is so much going on.  The highlights for this year include a full schedule of nearly 30 workshops and courses, further rollout of the Public Housing Training Program, Innovation Forum events on topics such as mortgage lending disparities, green technology and comprehensive community building, the Community Development mentoring program, and of course, our 9th Anniversary Breakfast Celebration in June.
     
  6. Community Health – A big focus for MACDC in 2018 will be to expand and deepen our work on the convergence of community development and community health.  We see many exciting opportunities to work with hospitals, insurance companies and others in the health sector to address the social determinants of health head-on.
     
  7. Suburban Housing – MACDC’s newly formed Suburban Housing Caucus will be increasingly active in 2018 as we work collectively and with our partners to expand housing opportunities throughout Greater Boston.  Governor Charlie Baker’s Housing Choice Initiative adds new urgency and new tools for these efforts and hopefully we can pass the Great Neighborhoods legislation that would update our antiquated zoning laws.
     
  8. Racial Equity – Racial equity has been one of MACDC’s core values from our inception and in 2018 we intend to step up our efforts to tackle the issue head-on.   Our racial equity agenda will include advocacy campaigns to expand business and homeownership opportunities for communities of color; an expanded Boston Pilot Program to increase MBE and WBE procurement on CDC sponsored construction projects; and increased attention to diversifying the community development field itself through our training and mentoring programs offered by the Mel King Institute for Community Building.
     
  9. Strategic Planning – MACDC has engaged Diane Gordon to assist the Board in the development of a new strategic plan.  We are specifically looking at five key areas – affordable housing, community economic development, community organizing, community health, and CDC capacity building.  MACDC is also a participant this year in Neighborworks America’s Excellence in Governance program which is helping us to strengthen our board’s ability to lead us into the future.
     
  10. MACDC’s Convention on October 20, 2018 – MACDC will be hosting 6th MACDC Convention on Saturday, October 20th at the Hynes Convention Center. We expect over 600 community developers to join us for a day of celebration, networking, learning and action. The highlight will be a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum (For each of the past three elections, the winner of the Governor’s race has appeared at the MACDC Convention and we fully expect that trend to continue this year!)

​We are looking forward to an exciting and impactful year.   And we look forward to working with many of you to help accomplish these goals.

Stay Warm!

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Boost Your Charitable Giving with the CITC

December 21st, 2017 by Joe Kriesberg

The holiday season is a time to appreciate loved ones and good fortunes, and it often comes with a renewed enthusiasm for giving back. Thanks to a well-established program in Massachusetts, you can dramatically increase your charitable giving this year and directly support vital work within your neighborhood or community.

Over the past three years, thousands of individuals, families and businesses have used the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) – a 50 percent donation tax credit – to double the impact of their charitable giving and to support local tailored efforts to improve our communities and create economic opportunity. The program enables local Community Development Corporations (CDCs) across the commonwealth to:
- produce and preserve housing that is affordable to working families and seniors;
- help local entrepreneurs start, grow and sustain small businesses;
- organize residents to advocate for community improvement; and 
- provide critical service to families, youth and seniors. 

CDCs strive to address the racial and economic inequality that is prevalent across Massachusetts by supporting families within their community to ensure that everyone can participate in and benefit from our economy. This is both a challenge and an aspiration for a CDC, whether it is supporting scallop fisherman on the Cape, building housing in Chelsea or helping farmers in Greenfield.

The CITC program provides a 50 percent refundable state tax credit to state-certified CDCs. The minimum donation is $1,000, which yields a $500 state tax credit and can also be claimed as a federal charitable tax deduction. Some taxpayers have used the program to eliminate their entire state tax burden, while also supporting their local community.

If the holiday spirit has filled you with the sense of giving and you are looking for a worthy cause to which to donate, look no further than your own community. The CITC program is also open to corporations, foundations and donor advised funds seeking to make charitable contributions. It is a great way to ensure your dollars are spent locally and have maximum impact. Donations must be received by Dec. 31 to be eligible for this year. To take advantage of this amazing program, visit the MACDC website at https://macdc.org.

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MACDC seeks Excellence in Governance

December 14th, 2017 by Joe Kriesberg

 

MACDC board and staff leaders joined with community development leaders from across the country in Washington DC recently to participate in NeighborWorks America's Excellence in Governance program. The program works with community development organizations over an 18-month to help them improve their board governance practices.  Each organization identifies specific goals for improvement and develops a work plan to achieve them.  MACDC's board has decided to focus on two issues: (1) helping our board devote more time and energy to generative discussions about deepening our impact and (2) improving the racial and ethnic diversity of our board and other leadership roles.  Through the program, we are working to adopt "best practices" from other organizations, change our board culture to focus on the big issues, build stronger relationships among board members, and ensure a welcoming environment for new board members.

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Governor Baker’s Housing Choice Initiative calls for 135,000 new homes

December 14th, 2017 by Joe Kriesberg

On Monday, December 11, Governor Charlie Baker stood with leaders from municipal government, business and the housing field, including MACDC, to announce his new Housing Choice Initiative with the goal of producing 135,000 homes across the state by 2025.  The Initiative creates a new system of incentives and rewards for municipalities that deliver sustainable housing growth; creates a new technical assistance toolbox to empower cities and towns to plan for new housing production; and proposes legislative changes, through An Act to Promote Housing Choices, to deliver smart, effective zoning at the local level.

The Governor’s program builds on the ideas and proposals being advanced by the Great Neighborhoods campaign led by the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, of which MACDC is an active member.  The Great Neighborhoods campaign announced its support for the Housing Choice Initiative and also plans to continue advocating for comprehensive statewide zoning reform legislation.  The Governor’s initiative also comes at a great time for MACDC as we have just launched our new Suburban Housing Caucus with 13 of our member organizations. The Caucus and its members will be working to encourage cities and towns to embrace the initiative and become designated Housing Choice Communities.

“We are very excited about the Governor’s Housing Choice Initiative and look forward to working with his Administration to make the program a success throughout the Commonwealth. Our non-profit, community-led member organizations have built over 18,000 homes and we are eager to build more.  This program will provide the tools and supports to build more homes for a wide range of households and to build them in good locations,” said Joseph Kriesberg, President of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations.

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Forging a New Resource for CDC Success: The Impact of the CITC program in its first three years

September 27th, 2017 by Joe Kriesberg

MACDC released a report today called “Investing in Impact: How the Massachusetts Community Investment Tax Credit is Improving Communities and Changing Lives that highlights how the program raised nearly $24 million in its first three years and has been a game changer for those organizations involved in the program.  The CITC program is helping CDCs leverage new private and federal dollars while increasing their strategic and collaborative initiatives.  With the majority of dollars coming from new donations, the CITC program is fueling expanded programming in a broad range of community development arenas from affordable housing, to community organizing, to economic development to arts & cultural programming.

The report includes two interactive portals that enable stakeholders to see the results for individual CDCs and to conduct their own analysis of the data. 

The report concludes that the CITC program is doing precisely what the legislature intended when it was first enacted in 2012.  Key findings include:

  • In 2015 and 2016, CDCs participating in the CITC program:
    • created or preserved 2,916 homes;
    • created or preserved 8,742 job opportunities;
    • started, grew, or stabilized 1,420 businesses; and
    • served 132,038 families.
  • The program has generated $24 million in private philanthropy for community development over the first three years of the program, with the funding growing dramatically each year from $4.7 million in 2014 to $8.2 million in 2015 to $11 million in 2016.
  • Donations are coming from new supporters, in particular those from individuals who comprise 64% of the total donations and 40% of the total dollars secured.  CITC is also attracting new and larger investments from small businesses, large companies and nonprofit institutions.
  • New and flexible funding is fueling new and expanded programming in a broad range of community development arenas from affordable housing, to community organizing, to arts & cultural programming, thereby demonstrating that CITC is fostering more comprehensive approaches to community improvement.
  • CITC is helping CDCs act more strategically and collaboratively to implement initiatives that are tailored to the local context and market.
  • CITC is helping CDCs leverage new private and federal dollars.  Over the past two years, $9.6 million in tax credits have supported a total investment of over $1.2 billion in local communities.

Beyond the numbers, the CDCs consistently report that CITC has transformed their organizations, enabling them to deepen resident engagement, act more strategically and collaboratively, and make meaningful progress toward improving the communities they serve and enhancing opportunities for the people living in those communities.

The new report underscores the importance of enacting legislation to extend and expand the CITC program.  MACDC is currently working with Senators Sal DiDomenico and Linda Dorcena Forry and Rep. Stephen Kulik to win passage of legislation that would extend the program from 2019 to 2025 and slowly increase the cap on tax credits from $6 million to $12 million annually.

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Building Opportunity

September 27th, 2017 by Joe Kriesberg

Over the past few days, MACDC had two important meetings focused on how we can better leverage our real estate construction projects to create more economic opportunity for the people in our communities.

 

On Friday, September 22, MACDC members met with leaders from the Massachusetts Minority Contractors Association (MMCA) to plan the launch of the “Boston Pilot Program Phase 2”, a multi-year effort to expand opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses on CDC sponsored real estate projects. Phase 2 will build on the success of Phase 1 when six CDCs undertook 12 projects that collectively spent more than $54 million on MBEs and $11 million on WBEs, representing 36 percent and 7 percent of the total development costs.  Phase 2 will grow the program to 10 CDCs, 29 projects and total development costs of $634 million. The goal of the program is for CDC projects to utilize MBEs for 30% or more of the project and WBEs for 10% or more of the project, including both hard and soft costs.  At the meeting, we talked about strategies for identifying new M/WBEs that could work on CDC projects and holding general contractors accountable for meeting goals.  One area where everyone agreed more work was needed was on soft costs (i.e. professional services) where CDCs have a much harder time meeting their M/WBE participation goals.

 

The following Monday, a group of Boston CDCs met with the new leadership of the New England Regional Council of Carpenter’s to talk about how CDCs can work with the union on their projects.  While many CDCs do hire union carpenters on some of their projects, the union has for years advocated that CDCs should do so more often.  At the same time, CDCs are under intense budget pressures and often can’t afford to pay union rates.  The Union Leaders shared some of their new strategies for being more competitive and we talked about how to establish good lines of communication.  The conversation also focused on how we can ensure that all contractors on CDC projects are in full compliance with employment and worker safety laws given the fact that the Attorney General recently reported that the construction industry is the worst industry in the state with respect to wage law compliance.  We also heard about efforts by the Union to continue diversifying their workforce and discussed ways that CDCs could help in those efforts.

 

The conversations underscored the opportunities and challenges associated with leveraging our construction projects for opportunity. We have multiple goals – hiring MBEs and WBEs; achieving high percentage of work hours for local residents and people of color; paying a livable wage and partnering with unions when possible – all while making sure the projects come in on budget and on time.  It’s not easy!  But these meetings and these partnerships are a key part of our approach to maximizing the positive impact of these projects.  No doubt the conversations and work will continue.

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MACDC launches Senate Budget Campaign

May 19th, 2017 by Joe Kriesberg

MACDC is working hard this week and next to secure key policy and funding priorities for the community development field. The Senate Ways & Means Committee released its FY 2018 budget on May 16 and it contains critical funding for many housing and economic development progarms. We thank Chairperson Karen Spilka for producing a strong budget that includes many of our priorities.  That said, we think there is always room for improvement and we are leading an effort to win passage of three key amendments:

  • Amendment #28 filed by Senator Lesser would extend and expand the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) as an outside section of the Senate Budget. 

This amendment would push the sunset clause back from 2019 to 2025 and slowly increase the statewide cap on credits from $6 million today to $8 million in 2019, $10 million in 2021 and to $12 million in 2023.  This legislation is necessary to fully-scale the impact of a program that has already generated nearly $23 million in private philanthropic investment over the past three years, with a total of nearly 4,500 separate donations to 53 high performing CDCs.

  • Amendment #572 filed by Senator Cyr to fund Budget Line Item 7002-0040, the Small Business Technical Assistance Program, at $2,500,000.

The Small Business Technical Assistance program helps entrepreneurs starting or growing their own business who may lack the business education, networks and capital needed to succeed over the long term.  This program would increase funding from the $1,250,000 level included in the Ways & Means Committee budget. Historically, the program has been funded at $2 million per year.

  • Amendment #643 filed by Senator Eldridge to Budget Line Item 7006-0011, Homeownership and Foreclosure Prevention Counseling.

This amendment will ensure that the MA Division of Banks provides at least $1.3 million in grants annually to nonprofit organizations that provide homebuyer education and foreclosure prevention counseling. 

MACDC is working with its members and allies to educate senators about these amendments and secure their support.  The full Senate is expected to consider these and other budget amendments starting on May 23. 

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Legislative Hearing Highlights Success of CITC

May 18th, 2017 by Joe Kriesberg

The Community Investment Tax Credit is working as intended and should be extended and expanded, according to the ten witnesses who testified before the Joint Committee on Revenue in the Massachusetts Legislature on May 9.

The hearing was a chance for CDCs, donors, MACDC, the United Way and LISC Boston to talk about how the program has helped to improve and expand economic opportunity for communities and families across the Commonwealth. Legislators are considering a bill sponsored by Senators DiDomenico and Forry and Rep. Kulik that would extend the CITC program from its current sunset in 2019 to 2025 and would incrementally raise the statewide cap for the program from $6 million to $12 million in 2023.

MACDC President Joseph Kriesberg began the hearing, which was chaired by Senator Michael Brady and Representative Jay Kaufman, by highlighting CITC’s impact on the field.  He noted that the program has generated nearly $23 million in private philanthropy over the past three years, while attracting hundreds of new donors to the field.  These resources have enabled CDCs to deepen their resident engagement, strengthen existing programs and launch new initiatives.  In short, Kriesberg called the program a “game changer” for community development.

The Committee also heard from nine other witnesses, including:

  • Gail Latimore, Executive Director, Codman Square NDC (Dorchester, MA)
  • Pamela Feingold, Senior Vice President, Community Development Lending, Eastern Bank
  • Sheila Cuddy, Executive Director, Quaboag Valley CDC (Ware, MA)
  • Hon. Tracy Opalinski, President, Ware Business and Civic Association, and newly elected Selectperson from Ware, MA
  • Colleen Loveless, President & CEO, Revitalize CDC (Springfield, MA)
  • Annamarie K.H. Golden, Manager, Public Health & Community Relations, Baystate Health (Springfield)
  • Kenneth P. Brier, Esq., Brier & Ganz LLP (Needham)
  • Robert A. Fishman, Esq., Partner, Nutter, McClennen & Fish LLP (Boston)
  • Bob Van Meter, Executive Director, Boston LISC

The Committee heard about how CITC is supporting an eco-innovation district in Dorchester, healthy housing in Springfield and workforce development in the Quaboag Valley region. The Committee heard from donors who are leveraging CITC to increase the power of their philanthropy and to forge new partnerships. Several speakers noted that the competition for the credits among both CDCs and donors was growing more intense and raising the statewide and organizational caps would enable the program to have more impact in more communities.  The Joint Revenue Committee will be considering the bill in the coming weeks and determining whether to give it a favorable report.  The Legislature has until July 31, 2018 to act on the legislation, although MACDC hopes to see the bill enacted by the end of this year.

To read testimony and review highlights in the proposed legislation, CLICK HERE.

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Community Development under President Trump: Six Issues to Watch and Engage

February 24th, 2017 by Joe Kriesberg

In the four months since the election, I have been asked countless times what I think the impact of the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress will be on community development.  I have had a hard time developing a coherent answer to this question, or even a coherent path to finding an answer.  In part, like many Americans, I have been more focused on dozens of other concerns like the future of our planet and our democracy.  The first month has given us many reasons to be fearful, but also reasons to be hopeful, as so many people have raised their voices in opposition to regressive policies.  So, having had some time to reflect, I thought I would offer a few thoughts about what the future may hold and what we can do to shape it.  I believe there are six areas that should be of top concern to community developers:

1. Domestic Spending:  It is abundantly clear that the entire domestic budget is at risk. The President and Congress want a dramatic increase in military spending and large tax cuts.  Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are consuming larger and larger portions of the federal budget and any reductions in those programs are also likely to hurt low-income people the most.  The bottom line is that the so-called Non-Defense Discretionary Budget is vulnerable to massive cuts, especially in light of statutory spending caps that need to be lifted.

Community developers are rightly concerned with many specific budget line items, such as Section 8, CDBG, HOME, Homeownership Counseling, the Community Economic Development program, the CDFI program, NeighborWorks America, AmeriCorps, HUD Section 4 and more. Each of these requires attention and we must fight for them on their own merits. But all of these programs are competing with other vital programs in a zero-sum game unless we can join forces with others to protect overall domestic spending.  We must fight to lift the cap on domestic spending.  In fact, our best hope might be to secure a continuing resolution (CR) for the balance of this fiscal year and for future fiscal years.  A CR would likely impose relatively modest (albeit still damaging) cuts across the board, rather than a new budget that eliminates, or slashes key programs. 

2. Tax Policy:  I refuse to call the proposed changes to our tax laws “Tax Reform” unless and until we see that the changes will make our taxes more equitable and fair. Sadly, such an outcome is unlikely with tax cuts likely to favor the wealthy and drain resources from key programs (see issue #1 above!).

For community developers, there are both threats and opportunities in a potential overhaul of our tax laws.  The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is already negatively impacted by the mere prospect of lower corporate taxes.  Ultimately, I think it has strong support in Congress, but we need to fight to expand and improve this program and mitigate the unintended impact of other potential changes in corporate taxes.  Thankfully, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch is a lead sponsor of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. Because of the leadership of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there also appears to be growing momentum to reform the Mortgage Interest Deduction to focus it more effectively on low- and moderate-income homeowners. This is essential.  We need to make sure that any savings is reallocated to affordable housing.  A tax bill would also be a chance to permanently extend the New Market Tax Credit. Finally, we need to fight to preserve, if not expand, the Earned Income Tax Credit.

3. Infrastructure:  President Trump said he wants a major infrastructure program, although there seems to be less immediate appetite for this in Congress.  If this does gain momentum, we need to fight to ensure that housing and community development are part of the program.

4. Financial Regulation – It is clear that President Trump and Congress want to eliminate many of the safeguards and regulations established after the Great Recession. We need to aggressively fight to preserve some of the most important protections, in particular, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Community Reinvestment Act.  Thankfully, while the CFPB is under a full-scale attack, at the moment, I have not heard too much about CRA being threatened.

5. Immigration – Immigrants have been at the heart of the community development movement for decades, as we work together to create welcoming communities for everyone. That said, immigration policy has not been on our agenda – at least not during my 20+ years at MACDC.  It is time for that to change.

Community developers need to join with the immigrant community to fight for smart, fair, humane policies.  That is why MACDC has endorsed the Safe Communities Act in Massachusetts to make sure the Commonwealth supports our immigrant neighbors.

6. Voting Rights – There is a clear agenda to restrict voting rights across the country.  False allegations of voter fraud are merely a ruse designed to justify new restrictions on voting. Inevitably, these restrictions impact low-income communities and communities of color the most.  Voter suppression combined with politicized gerrymandering could distort our democracy for years to come. If we cannot protect the right of people to vote in fair elections, our work on these other issues may not matter.

To shape the outcome of these debates, community developers must find common cause with those who share our values of community, inclusion and opportunity.  We must nurture civil discourse locally and nationally that is grounded in facts, respect, compassion and humility.

MACDC will be making its voice heard as a member of the New England Housing Network through which we will be meeting with our Representatives and Senators locally and planning trips to Washington, DC.  We are also bringing a large contingent to the People and Places Conference in the Washington, DC area from May 31 to June 2, where we will join with hundreds of our colleagues from around the country to make our case directly to Congress and the Administration.

We hope many of you will join us.

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