Authored by Joe Kriesberg
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Mass Development Reopens Brownfields Redevelopment Program

January 18th, 2017 by Joe Kriesberg

Mass Development has announced that its long-standing and highly successful Brownfields Redevelopment Program is once again open for business thanks to a $2.5 million capital investment authorized by the Massachusetts Legislature and approved by the Baker Administration.

The investment follows a persistent effort by MACDC, CHAPA, the Mass. Smart Growth Alliance and many others to secure bond authorization for the program in last year’s Economic Development legislation and the subsequent allocation by Governor Baker.  The program funds both the assessment and remediation of contaminated land with the goal or creating jobs and homes for Massachusetts communities.  As part of a strategy to ensure the long-term sustainability of the program, Mass Development and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development have announced the following changes to the program.

The new provisions are as follows:

•            Municipalities will make annual repayments to the Fund in an amount equal to 15% of the new municipal revenues from new growth on sites that have received BRF grants. The repayment obligation will apply to all grants, regardless of whether the grantee was a CDC or a municipality. The first $100,000 of a site assessment grant to CDCs for a site it does not yet own and that is not owned by a municipality will be excluded from this repayment obligation. 

•            Annual repayments would commence in the first year that new municipal revenues are realized, and stop after the earlier of 30 years or full repayment of the grant. If no redevelopment of the site commences within 30 years after the grant agreement, the repayment obligation will expire. 

•            Before closing on a grant agreement, MassDevelopment must receive a vote of the governing body of the municipality agreeing to budget for and make the contingent annual repayment, subject to annual appropriation.

•            Grantees will continue to be required to repay the Fund from net proceeds of a sale of the benefitted site; which repayments would reduce the amount to be recovered from the new municipal revenues.

“We are thrilled that this critical tool is once again available for CDCs and others seeking to put these properties back to productive use,” said Joseph Kriesberg, President of MACDC and a member of the state’s Brownfields Advisory Committee.  “We will continue to advocate for the program’s full funding so economic growth and opportunity can reach every community across the state.”

Baystate Medical Center Announces $500,000 CITC Investment

January 9th, 2017 by Joe Kriesberg

Baystate Medical Center, based in Springfield announced earlier this month that it had made a $500,000 investment in Revitalize CDC and HAP Housing in Springfield to support their efforts to improve community health through improved housing and community development activities.  The three-year investment marks the largest CITC investment ever made by a health care institution and represents a groundbreaking milestone in the growing convergence between the community development and public health fields.

Revitalize CDC will receive $250,000 to support a three-year effort to improve housing conditions for children with asthma and to make home improvements that allow seniors to safely remain in their home.  The project will leverage Revitalize CDC’s remarkable volunteer network, enabling these home improvements to be done with high quality and low cost.

HAP Housing will also receive $250,000 to support a three-year effort to improve health in the Old Hill Neighborhood of Springfield.  These improvements will be achieved through a combination of physical improvements to parks, sidewalks, and bikeways as well as healthy lifestyle programming designed to activate the newly improved areas and advocacy to help local residents advocate for these and other health maximizing improvements in the neighborhood such as a new food store.

The investments are part of Baystate’s Better Together grant program. Baystate is able to utilize the CITC even though it is a not-for-profit without any tax liability because the CITC is refundable.  Therefore, Baystate has already announced that it will use their $250,000 CITC ”refund” to support additional community health programming in the coming years.

MACDC President Joseph Kriesberg spoke at the grant announcement and remarked that “this is a groundbreaking announcement that demonstrates the power of the CITC program to leverage new private investments.  I am so excited to see Baystate lead the way in using CITC to leverage the power of community development for improved health outcomes.  I can’t wait to tell health care institutions across the state about what is happening here in Springfield.  Congratulations.”


Learn more about Baystate's Community Health Needs Assessment 

Structural racism is a pollutant that threatens the community development ecosystem.

November 14th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

“Too many Community Development Corporations have abandoned their roots and don’t empower local residents,” said one Community Development Corporation (CDC) leader, noting that the professionals on staff were driving the agenda, not residents. “That’s unfair” said another, who added, “we have to attract investments from banks and work with City Hall to get things done.” This was the summer of 1993, at my very first MACDC board meeting. This particular debate–and various versions of it–has animated community development for the past 25 years. As our movement’s founding father, Mel King, often asks: “in whose interest” are we working? Having just graduated from law school and starting a career in community development, I wondered what precisely I had walked into.

The debate manifests itself around three related but distinct tensions faced by CDCs across the country:

  • Should we focus our efforts on places or on people?
  • Should we adopt a comprehensive approach or specialize in a single area to achieve greater scale and impact?
  • How do we balance power between professional community developers and resident leaders?

Continue Reading on the Living Cities website...

CPA passes in Boston and many other cities in Massachusetts

November 9th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

By a resounding margin of 73.6% to 26.4%, Boston voters approved the Community Preservation Act to enable the City to raise $20 million dollars annually for affordable housing, parks and open space and historic preservation.  MACDC and its members played an active role in every aspect of the campaign along with over 200 community oganizations, representing housing, parks, historic preservation, arts & culture, health, faith institutions, labor and business. The proposal – Question 5 on the ballot – was also strongly support by Mayor Marty Walsh and nearly all of our city’s couniclors and state legislators.

The CPA was first established by the state legislature in 2000 as a way for cities and towns to address the needs for more housing, parks and historic preservation.  Since that time, 161 cities and towns have voted to adopt CPA for their communities. Yesterday, Boston was joined by Chelsea, Springfield, Holyoke and Pittsfield in adopting CPA creating new opportunities to improve neighborhoods across the state.

For more information on the Boston CPA campaign, go to Yes for a Better Boston’s website.

Massachusetts Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit

October 26th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

MACDC staff and members joined with hundreds of colleagues to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program at an event hosted by the Department of Housing and Community Development on October 21.  The event featured remarks from Secretary Jay Ash, Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay,  and the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Housing, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and Rep. Kevin Honan.  All of the speakers celebrated the collaboration, commitment and talent of affordable housing professionals and community leaders who have enabled the Commonwealth to build or preserve 58,855 affordable rental homes across the state over the past 30 years.

The event also featured interesting and thought provoking remarks by David Smith of the Affordable Housing Institute who talked about why the LIHTC is such a powerful tool – and the largest federal affordable housing program ever. He also pointed out that the program does not currently meet all of our housing needs and that new creativity and tools are needed to address the full range of housing challenges we face.  David Gasson from Boston Capital talked about the improving prospects of Congress passing the Hatch/Cantwell bill that would expand the LIHTC by 50% over five years and allow developers to serve a broader range of incomes.  He also noted that the success of the LIHTC depends on also increasing funding for rental subsidies and the HOME program, as well as local and state subsidies that are needed to fill financing gaps and fully leverage the tax credits.

Throughout the celebration, there was a recognition that for many of us in the room, affordable housing is both a personal and professional passion.  Perhaps no one made that point more powerfully than Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay who shared some reflections in this short statement.  

MACDC wishes to congratulate DHCD and our many friends, colleagues and partners for using the LIHTC to create better homes and neighborhoods for so many of our neighbors.

Boston Rally for Community Preservation Act

October 7th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

MACDC and several CDCs joined with Mayor Marty Walsh and the Yes for a Better Boston Committee at a Campaign Rally for the Community Preservation Act in Dorchester last week.  The Rally (watch VIDEO here) was designed to gain support for Question 5 on the ballot this November.  Passage of Question 5 would enable Boston to benefit from the Community Preservation Act and generate $20 million annually to fund affordable housing, parks and historic preservation.  The CPA is already operating in 161 cities and towns and is on the ballot in several more municipalities this year including Boston, Chelsea, Watertown, Springfield, Holyoke and Pittsfield.


MACDC’s President Joe Kriesberg is serving as Chair of the Yes for a Better Boston Committee and spoke at the rally about the need for everyone to spread the word to voters who may not yet know about the benefits of CPA and the importance of voting Yes on 5.

Cleveland Rocks

September 8th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

It has been a big year for Cleveland, Ohio – the Cavaliers won the NBA Championship bringing a title to the city for the first time since 1964.  The Republicans held their national convention there. And last week, more than 200 community developers and public health advocates convened on the city for the 9th Annual Summit of the National Alliance for Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA).

I was lucky enough to join eight others from the Bay State- two MACDC staff, four members and two of our allies from the Mass. Public Health Association – and we were treated to three exciting, educational and inspirational days.  We now understand why The Drew Carey Show used the song “Cleveland Rocks” for the title sequence.

The primary focus of the summit was a day long Symposium on the growing convergence between community development and community health.  We heard from national leaders like Dr. Doug Jutte from the Build Healthy Places Network and Kevin Barnett from the Public Health Institute and learned about the cutting edge work of CDC associations in Philadelphia, South Carolina and Arizona.   We also learned about how CDCs can more closely partner with hospitals in their communities – something that MACDC will be focusing on during the coming year with training and technical assistance for our members.

For me the highlight of the conference was learning about the amazing work of community developers in Cleveland.  It is easy for those of us who don’t live in Cleveland to embrace the negative stereotypes that persist about this city – the so called “mistake on the lake”.  And the city has serious challenges with thousands of vacant and abandoned properties stemming from the foreclosure crisis – and decades of population decline (from more than 900,000 people to less than 400,000 today).  But virtually everyone we met had a positive attitude – seeing assets where others don’t. 

The good people at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress led us on a terrific tour of the city’s diverse neighborhoods.   We saw new market rate housing being built downtown and in some neighborhoods as urban living gains popularity. We learned that the City is demolishing 3,000 vacant homes a year, setting the stage for redevelopment.  When possible vacant lots are being given to adjacent homeowners to expand their lot and ensure their maintenance.  While Cleveland’s low housing prices are a challenge, they are also an opportunity.  ESOP Reality – a non-profit social enterprise - told a story about a 24-year-old woman making $22,000/year who was able to buy her first home.  Boston certainly can’t offer that sort of opportunity.

We also met the founders of Upcycle Parts Shop, another social enterprise that uses recycled materials to create art.  In their first year of operation they diverted 6 tons of waste, crafted with 2,500 program participants and welcomed 956 visitors to their store.  Conference attendees were among those participants as we were led through an ice breaking exercise in which we used recycled materials to build a mini city. Where some see garbage – these community developers see art supplies, education, social capital and neighborhood uplift.

We heard from Mansfield Frazier who transformed the vacant lot across the street from his home into a vineyard growing grapes that now produce award winning wine – yes a vineyard in the middle of a Cleveland neighborhood.  His vision for urban farming includes a reentry program for people coming out of prison.  What an inspiration!  Learn more by watching his Ted Talk:   His vision:  A “green city on a blue lake”.

While we were in Cleveland for business, most of us took some extra time to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where in addition to learning about the history of Rock music we also saw a great exhibit about the role of music in social movements.  And of course several of us went to watch the Cleveland Indians beat the Minnesota Twins as they continue their march to the American League Central Division title.  Actually, given the positive momentum in this city, maybe, just maybe, the Indians will win it all.  

Joe Kriesberg Response to Shelterforce Article: "Getting Beyond the Developer Fee"

August 12th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

Read "Getting Beyond the Developer Fee" by Jake Blumgart and Miriam Axel-Lute

This article accurately portrays the state of the community development field . . .and it should worry those who are committed to resident-led community development.  A strong community development eco-system needs strong CDCs, as well as larger nonprofits, effective government agencies and other players. But we can’t sit passively and hope that strong CDCs survive. We need intentional policies to enable them to survive and thrive.  A few thoughts:

1. Over the past 20+ years there has been an intentional and dramatic investment in building the CDFI sector through certification, grants, technical assistance and access to capital. There has been nothing comparable for CDCs.  This needs to change.
2. Our housing finance system has become dominated by tax credits – LIHTC, NMTC, Historic.  More flexible and easier to use funds like HOME and CDBG have been slashed. These policy decisions have had significant impact not just on who develops housing but on what we develop.  Community scaled rental projects, homeownership projects and rehab programs have suffered at the expense of larger, more complicated deals.  In Massachusetts, over 80% of our flexible funding is used to fill funding gaps on tax credit deals, leaving almost nothing for other projects. This means our field is less able to meet the diverse housing needs of our diverse communities – and it has hurt smaller developers.  And contrary to conventional wisdom, these smaller projects are often cheaper on a per-unit basis than larger deals.
3. We need to structure real estate deals so that owners have the financial incentive to steward those properties over the long term and have access to stable cash flow, year over year.  This will help all of us move away from the boom/bust cycle of large developer fees once every several years.
4. Those who argue that smaller CDCs should focus on organizing, resident services, and other non-real estate activities, need to identify sustainable business models to support these activities. The reality is that there is no substitute for owning real estate, even though we have tried to find a partial solution with the Massachusetts Community Investment Tax Credit.

CDCs cannot do this work alone. But I cannot imagine an effective community development movement without CDCs.  We should not leave their survival to chance.


2016 Annual Small Business Technical Assistance Grantee Meeting

April 13th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

On March 11th the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation held its annual Small Business Technical Assistance Grantee Mid-year meeting at Babson College in Wellesley, MA.  MACDC President Joe Kriesberg, a board member of MGCC, attended the event along with more than a dozen MACDC member organizations that participate in the technical assistance program.

“The attendees represented the “best of the best” of small business assistance providers from across the Commonwealth and it is a privilege to have MGCC partnering with their efforts” said Larry Andrews, President and CEO of MGCC.

Mr. Kriesberg was there to talk to the grantees and participants about MACDC's current legislative advocacy efforts to retain funding for the program in the FY 2017 state budget.  He noted that Governor Baker is supporting the program and we have strong allies in the House and Senate. At the same time, he urged everyone to contact their legislators to ensure continued funding.

The meeting also provided an opportunity for small business support organizations to network, share best practices and hear from organizations that can help strengthen their programs.  Claudia Green, Executive Director of English for New Bostonians, shared an informative and inspiring presentation on the resources available for English as Second Language (ESL) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) startups and entrepreneurs.  NewVue Communities Director of Small Business Assistance, Ray Belanger, talked about how their organization methodically and strategically expanded its program to serve the entire North Central Mass region.  Finally, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice and the Conservation Law Foundation provided information on how they can provide businesses with free  legal resources.  

MGCC's Small Business Technical Assistance Grant program is designed to complement and enhance the traditional public and private small business assistance network by providing technical assistance or training programs for underserved and disadvantaged businesses with 20 employees or fewer.  The grant recipients, which are selected in a competitive process, include community development corporations, micro-lenders and chambers of commerce. MGCC awarded grants to 30 organizations across the Commonwealth in Fiscal Year 2016.

Joe Kriesberg speaks at breakfast with Governor Baker highlighting CITC

November 18th, 2015 by Joe Kriesberg

On Monday, November 16th, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, MACDC and Boston LISC were joined by Governor Baker and over 120 business, philanthropic and community development leaders to learn more about the Community Investment Tax Credit.  MACDC's President Joe Kriesberg had an opportunity to speak - here are his remarks:

Good morning and thank you for coming.

I’m Joseph Kriesberg, President of the Massachusetts Association of CDCs. We serve as the policy and capacity building arm of the community development field and played a key role in enacting the Community Investment Tax Credit.

I also serve on the Local Advisory Board of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation which works to build stronger neighborhoods by investing in CDCs and community based economic development initiatives.  Bob Van Meter, the LISC Director, is here with us this morning as well.

We are thrilled to join with our partners at the United Way to co-host this breakfast.

The CITC is rooted in three core values that serve as the foundation of the community development field.

  • The first is that people should have agency over their own future – both the future of their community and the direction of their own lives.  And we believe that this can best be achieved when we come together as a community to get things done.
  • The second is that everyone should have the opportunity to participate in the economic mainstream and achieve their own full potential, regardless of where they live, where they came from or their racial or ethnic background.
  • The third core value that we work to advance is “inclusion”. We believe that our communities and our Commonwealth need to include everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or background --and we believe that we must work to reverse the historic and systemic bias that persists in our society.

For more than forty years, CDCs have put those values into action.

In your packets, you have a copy of our GOALs Report – Growing Opportunities, Assets and Leaders, this is MACDC’s Annual State of the Sector Report.   You can see what our members achieved last year.  And, if you think those numbers are impressive, listen to what they have achieved over the past ten years:

  • Spurred over $3 billion of investment in our communities.
  • Created or reserved over 12,500  homes
  • Created or preserved over 28,000 job opportunities
  • Helped 15,000 entrepreneurs start, stabilize or grow their own business
  • Served nearly 400,000 families

These numbers are visible all across the state.  You can walk just a few blocks from here to Chinatown and see One Greenway preparing to welcome over 200 new residents to a mixed-income, mixed use development – indeed the ribbon cutting is tomorrow.  Or take a walk to the South End and visit Villa Victoria one of the oldest CDC housing developments with over 400 families living in high quality apartments.  As you travel further to Roxbury, Dorchester and Jamaica Plain you will see more housing, community & cultural centers, commercial buildings, a Food incubator, a factory, and small business complex and more – all developed by CDCs. Along the way, you will also meet local businesses that received a loan or technical assistance from a CDC, construction workers employed on CDC projects and first time homeowners educated by the CDCs like the Allston Brighton CDC.

But it is not just Boston.  Go to the Main South neighborhood in Worcester and see how the CDC partnered with Clark University to completely transform the neighborhood; go to Greenfield to visit the Franklin County Food Processing Center which serves dozens of locally owned businesses; go to Fitchburg and visit the homeowners who were able to keep their home thanks to foreclosure counseling from the NewVue CDC; go to Chelsea and meet the single mothers who are accessing job training and financial coaching services that are putting them on the track to economic stability; go to Cape Cod and talk to the fisherman who are able to maintain their family tradition thanks to a partnership between the CDC and the Hook Fisherman Association.

Success stories like these abound across the Commonwealth.

The CITC was designed specifically to support this diverse array of work. It offers flexible funding that can be deployed based on the unique assets and challenges in each community.

Each CDC works with local residents and stakeholders to submit a detailed Community Investment Plan to the Commonwealth in which they lay out their vision for community improvement. The state selects the best plans and awards them an allocation of tax credits of up to $150,000 a year.

CDCs then use those tax credits to attract new donors and to enable existing donors to give more. Each dollar of state revenue is matched by a dollar of private revenue, creating a stable and diverse revenue stream for these high impact organizations.  In fact, the 50% refundable state tax credit, combined with federal tax benefits, means that some individuals can get nearly 80 percent of their donation back.

Donors can be individuals, corporations, small businesses, foundations, universities, hospitals, and donor advised funds.  Even those with little to no tax liability can benefit by getting a refund.

The CITC also gives donors three choices about how and where to invest.

  1. Donors can give directly to one or more of the 47 CDCs participating in the program – there is a list of these groups in your packet.
  2. Donors can give to MACDC or LISC – the two Community Support Organizations designated by DHCD to provide training, technical assistance and capacity building services to CDCs.
  3. And, of course, donors can give to the United Way’s Community Partnership Fund which distributes the funding to CDCs across the state.

Last year, this program attracted over 1,000 donors and $4.7 million.  This year, with your help, it is poised to double in size.

Together, Governor Baker, the United Way, LISC, the local CDCs, everyone in this room and many others not here today - are building momentum to transform communities and change lives.

Thank you so much for getting involved and for helping us to spread the word.

I'm now honored to introduce Susan Esper, Board Chair of UW and Partner at Deloitte, one of the largest supporters of the program.


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