Authored by Joe Kriesberg
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MACDC Supports Baker Administration's Real Estate Leveraging (REAL) Strategy

October 19th, 2015 by Joe Kriesberg

MACDC applauds the Baker-Polito Administration’s new Real Estate Leveraging (REAL) Strategy that will use the public’s real estate assets to achieve important public policy goals, in particular the creation of new affordable housing and economic development opportunities.

Last year, candidate Charlie Baker spoke at the MACDC Convention about leveraging the state’s real estate assets to create more housing. Now, Governor Baker is turning that pledge into reality.

We are particularly pleased to see that this proposal emphasizes housing production generally and affordable housing specifically.  This will require a creative, flexible and entrepreneurial approach – precisely what Governor Baker presents with this program.  This approach requires balancing the need to generate revenue with the need to provide land at a price that allows the creation of affordable housing, without using limited public housing subsidies to pay for public land.

MACDC also supports the focus on creating economic development opportunities outside of Greater Boston where housing costs are less expensive, but economic growth has been slower.

MACDC and its members stand ready to partner with the Baker-Polito Administration to transform these under-used public assets into homes and jobs across the Commonwealth.

What are CDCs doing with funds raised through the CITC program?

August 17th, 2015 by Joe Kriesberg

Since the CITC program started last year, there has understandably been much discussion about how CDCs across Massachusetts are raising new funds and diversifying their overall funding base (CITC: By the Fundraising Numbers). But what’s of even greater importance is how these organizations are actually using these funds to deepen their impact on people and places. Even though 2014 was the first year of the Community Investment Tax Credit, and the majority of donations arrived during the final quarter of the year, we are already beginning to see the impact of this program.

MACDC and DHCD surveyed all 36 CDCs that participated in the CITC program in 2014 and found that 64% of them expanded their organization’s goals and 89% deepened their community engagement. Check out the table (PDF) to see all of the results from our survey.

A core goal of the CITC Program is to encourage and support CDCs to meaningfully engage local residents in leadership roles. So we were pleased to see that 89% of the CDCs reported that the program helped them expand their community engagement work, 67% said it resulted in more board engagement, and 58% said it helped generate more volunteers. A second goal of the CITC program was to help CDCs offer a more comprehensive array of programs to their community that combines real estate development with business development, family asset building and community programing. Many CDCs are using their new CITC funds to do just that with CDCs also using it boost their small business work (25%), their workforce development activities (22%), their family asset building programs (33%) and their programs for youth & seniors (25%).

CITC funds are typically unrestricted, which means that they can also be used to build internal capacity. Therefore, we were not surprised to learn that 83% reported that they increased their operational capacity, with 33% of CDCs using CITC to expand their communications capacity; 28% to expand fundraising capacity; and 28% to improve information systems critical to measuring impact. This was indeed part of what we hoped to accomplish with the program since these capacities are key attributes of successful, 21st century CDCs. Equally exciting, 89% of the CDCs said the program would help them increase their organizational budget and 75% said it would help them leverage non-CITC funding.

The CITC program is just getting started.  The early results suggest that the program is both growing resources for the field and enabling CDCs to strengthen and deepen their efforts. At the same time, we have room for growth and room for improvement. MACDC looks forward to working with our members and partners to ensure that CITC program reaches its full potential to help the people and places of Massachusetts thrive.

MACDC members meet with Boston 2024 leaders

July 24th, 2015 by Joe Kriesberg

Members of MACDC met with leaders from Boston 2024 on July 24 to learn more about the proposed Olympic bid and to discuss how the games will ensure an equitable legacy in terms of housing, displacement, jobs, parks and transportation. The meeting was in response to an earlier letter that MACDC had sent back in February. Boston 2024 outlined impressive plans for 8,000 new housing units, new roads and infrastructure and expanded green space and parks. At the same time, MACDC urged Boston 2024 to increase the proposed amount of affordable housing at Midtown and Columbia Point and to develop a strategy for minimizing displacement during the summer of 2024 when millions of out of visitors could displace low income tenants. MACDC members also raised concerns about the loss of local jobs and the need to make sure that business and employment opportunities generated by the Olympics are shared broadly and fairly across the City.

Fair Housing in the News

July 13th, 2015 by Joe Kriesberg

America’s long standing effort to end housing discrimination and reduce racial segregation has been back in the news lately.  The Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding Disparate Impact Claims was a partial victory for Fair Housing Advocates.  However, the language in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s Opinion puts so many limitations on these claims that they may be hard to win in future cases, as described in this Article in Atlantic Magazine.  Fair Housing Advocates generally applauded the decision and community developers like Enterprise Communities and Bart Mitchell from the Community Builders saw the court trying to balance the need to both expand opportunities in upper income communities while also investing to revitalize lower income neighborhoods.  The Supreme Court seems to indicate that finding this balance is the job of local and state government – not the courts. Time will tell if that interpretation is correct.

A few days later, HUD issued its long awaited new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule that seeks to break down long standing patterns of segregation and fully implement the law’s mandate for local and state government to take pro-active steps to promote integration.  One key benefit of the new rule is that it will compel local jurisdictions to think pro-actively about how to advance fair housing and to engage the larger community in that discussion and planning.  And the Opportunity Agenda has published a useful guidebook to help them do it.   At the same time, as this article in the Huffington Post makes clear, simply having the discussion and creating a plan is unlikely to end the debate over the future of our neighborhoods.  While most fair housing and community development practitioners would strongly agree on the need to break down barriers for families and people of color in upper income communities, the implications for lower income communities, gentrifying neighborhoods and rural areas are not nearly as clear cut.  Moreover, the tension between investing dollars in building affordable housing in upper income communities and building it in lower income communities will continue so long as there is such a large mismatch between the need for affordable housing and the financial resources available to build it.

You’ll have a chance to learn more and discuss these important developments at the upcoming Fair Housing Forum to be hosted by CHAPA and the Mel King Institute on August 6 at Boston Private Bank

Massachusetts Loses Two Housing Heroes

March 25th, 2015 by Joe Kriesberg

Massachusetts is home to many outstanding “housers,” but sadly we lost two of our best last week when Michael Stone and Florence Hagins passed away.

Florence was the Assistant Director for the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance until her retirement a few years ago, but she was much more than that too.  She was a devoted mother, community activist and the first person to ever buy a home with the Massachusetts Soft Second Mortgage program in 1991 – the first of more than 18,000 first-time homebuyers to use the program. Florence was just another community member hoping to buy a home when she ran into the same obstacles facing many moderate-income families of color in Boston. Then she discovered MAHA and the Soft Second Program and everything changed. She bought a house, became a volunteer, a staff member, and ultimately Assistant Director. Along the way, she negotiated with bank presidents and lobbied legislators and inspired all of us who do this work.  All of us who knew her and worked with her will miss her deeply. You can learn more about her extraordinary life by reading this tribute from MAHA.

Michael recently retired as a Professor at UMass Boston where he had taught and wrote about affordable housing for decades. Of course, it was hard to tell that Michael had retired because he remained so active – serving on boards of housing nonprofits, conducting research, developing policy proposals, advocating, teaching, mentoring, and motivating all of us who had the honor of knowing him. Michael worked with the Boston Tenant Coalition, the Coalition for Occupied Housing in Foreclosure (COHIF), City Life Vida Urbana, and many others. His book Shelter Poverty: New Ideas on Housing Affordability has been called "the definitive book on housing and social justice in the United States." I can recall many conversations and debates with Michael where we would pore over his numbers and try to reach a common understanding. Sometimes we did. Sometimes we didn’t.  But I also felt respected and always learned something in the course of our discussions.  A few days ago, Michael passed away tragically while on vacation in Hawaii. All of us are still in shock. He was a good man who did important and impactful work that will long be remembered.

May the memories of these two wonderful people serve as inspiration to the rest of us who carry on the work of making sure that everyone has a safe and decent place to call home.

Governor Baker Taps CDC Leaders for Top Posts

January 14th, 2015 by Joe Kriesberg

Governor Charlie Baker has tapped two long standing CDC leaders to fill high level positions in his Administration.  Chrystal Kornegay, until recently the Executive Director of Urban Edge in Boston will serve as Undersecretary for Housing and Community Development and be responsible for running the Department of Housing and Community Development. Nam Pham, past Executive Director of Viet-AID in Dorchester and MACDC Board Member, has been named Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and will oversee the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and other economic development programs.

“We are very proud of what Chrystal and Nam achieved during their years leading CDCs in the City of Boston and excited about what they will achieve in their new positions,” said MACDC President, Joseph Kriesberg.  “At the MACDC Convention last October, then-candidate Charlie Baker spoke eloquently about the importance of community development and promised to work collaboratively with our sector to help create and sustain great neighborhoods across the state.  With these appointments, the Governor is off to a great start.”

This holiday season, why not make a donation that both Governor Patrick and Governor-elect Baker would applaud?

November 24th, 2014 by Joe Kriesberg

As we begin the Holiday Season, many of us will be taking some time to reflect on our many blessings and to give back to our community.  This year, for the first time ever, you have an opportunity to double the impact of your donations by leveraging the newly enacted Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC).  As a friend of MACDC, you have certainly heard about the CITC many times.  But did you know that this program has been enthusiastically embraced by both Governor Patrick (watch video) and Governor-elect Charlie Baker (watch VIDEO)?  Both see the power of this public-private partnership and the power of resident-led community development.

We hope that you will consider the views of both our current and future Governors and use the CITC program to increase the power of your personal donations this holiday season. 

You can participate in this program by donating on-line to the United Way’s Community Partnership Fund, which will then redistribute the gift to CDCs across the state. 

You can also give directly to one or more of the 36 CDCs across the state who are participating in the program. To see a list of participating CDCs, CLICK HERE.

Remember, a $1,000 donation will cost as little as $350 once you consider the state and federal tax benefits.  For some, the tax benefits might be even larger.

Can you think of a better way to make a difference this holiday season?

Ten Unsolicited Suggestions for our New Governor

November 13th, 2014 by Joe Kriesberg

Since Election Day, many people have asked what I think about the new Governor and what his election will mean for the Community Development Field.  My quick answer, in light of the commitments he made to us at the MACDC Convention last month (Watch VIDEO), is that I’m optimistic.  And the appointment of Jay Ash as Secretary of Housing and Economic Development is another great signal that this Administration will be a friend of community development.  My longer answer is that it is incumbent on those of us in the field to work hard to build a productive partnership with the new Administration. In that spirit, I thought I would offer a few suggestions to Governor-elect Charlie Baker:

  1. Set ambitious housing goals:  The Administration should set ambitious goals that can be used to shape policy, motivate public agencies, attract private partners, overcome bureaucratic inertia, and be used to measure progress, make adjustment and ultimately refine policies as needed.  To ensure balance, the Administration should set goals in several areas, such as: new first-time homebuyers accessing state support mortgage products, new permits for multi-family housing, affordable housing production and preservation, reductions in family and individual homelessness, a reduction in the number of households paying over 50% (or 30%) of their income for housing, and the number of towns/cities that exceed the 10% goal for affordable housing.
  2. Invest strategically to address housing market deficiencies:  I was pleased that Mr. Baker said at our Convention that he would at least maintain the current $190 million capital budget for housing and consider increases in the future. Increases in the capital budget, along with increases in state tax credits, brownfields funding and rental assistance are necessary to meet the growing demand for reasonably priced housing that the market can’t produce by itself.  We also need to invest in a balanced approach that includes housing production & preservation; rental & homeownership; new construction & rehab, large & small projects; and investments in urban, rural and suburban communities.
  3. Embrace smart growth policies:  For the past 12 years, starting with Governor Romney and continuing with Governor Patrick, the Commonwealth has embraced a smart growth framework to guide our economic development, housing, environmental and transportation policies. Adopting policies, like those outlined by the MA Smart Growth Alliance, will save money for public infrastructure, provide the scale and density necessary for sustained economic growth, address climate change, respond to the growing market demand for urban, walkable places, and protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources.  Smart growth also promotes regional equity – improving the quality-of-life in distressed neighborhoods and expanding opportunities in higher income places so we all benefit.
  4. Grow local economies: The Governor-elect has already committed to put at least $2 million in his budget for MGCC’s Small Business Technical Assistance program that provides grants to local nonprofits working to support small businesses, in particular those run by immigrants, people of color and women.  The new Administration should build on this by supporting MGCC and a network of strong local/regional CDFIs that can provide loans to new and growing small businesses who are not yet bankable.  And the Administration should embrace the newly enacted Transformative Development Initiative for Gateway Cities and look to expand it if it proves successful during its pilot stage.
  5. Leverage the power of place: In recent years, a number of exciting programs have demonstrated the power of investing in cross-sector, placed-based efforts to expand economic opportunity and improve the quality-of-life in our neighborhoods and towns – without displacing the very residents who help make those improvements possible.  The Federal Reserve Bank’s Working Cities program, the Smart Growth Alliance’s Great Neighborhoods program and LISC’s Resilient Communities/Resilient Families program offer terrific models for state government to use in crafting its own approach.
  6. Support municipal capacity: The Baker Administration should build local municipal capacity to get things done. This should include actively encouraging/helping cities and towns to enact the Community Preservation Act, to establish Business Improvement Districts, to develop long-term housing plans, to zone for smart growth, and to pass inclusionary zoning ordinances that promote equitable development for people across all income levels.
  7. Strengthen the CDC sector: The Governor-elect has enthusiastically committed to fully implement the Community Investment Tax Credit by deploying all $6 million in credits each year and helping to recruit private sector partners to the program.  The state can further help by investing directly in the myriad projects and programs offered by CDCs in partnership with local residents and stakeholders.  These investments provide taxpayers with an important “two-fer”: (1) a well-designed, community-driven project or program, and (2) increased local capacity to ensure long-term stewardship and further investment.
  8. Promote family asset building:  Income and wealth inequality are growing problems not just in Massachusetts, but across the country.  Reversing these trends will be difficult, but the state can help by supporting programs that empower families to save money, build assets, gain financial skills, avoid predatory financial products, and in some cases, become homeowners.
  9. Connect the Dots:  There is a growing body of evidence documenting that investments in strong neighborhoods and safe, affordable housing provide returns across a wide array of social goals, including public health, educational attainment, environmental protection, energy efficiency, and public safety.  We need to invest more in these up-stream measures that reduce long-term costs and improve life outcomes for children and families.
  10. Collaborate with community-based organizations – I was pleased to hear Governor-elect Baker say at our Convention last month that he would want to meet with us on a regular basis throughout his administration.  He has already demonstrated that interest during the campaign, meeting with the MACDC Board of Directors, visiting local CDCs and coming to our Convention. We look forward to building a strong partnership with the Administration.

Good luck with the transition, Mr. Governor-elect.  And please know that the CDC community is ready to help and ready to get to work.

Making Campaigns Matter

June 24th, 2014 by Joe Kriesberg

An Op/Ed Column by Joe Kriesberg, MACDC's President

As this year’s gubernatorial campaign heats up, community developers, like others, are beginning to focus on the different candidates and considering what this election will mean for our field and our communities. Many non-profits, including MACDC, want to do more than simply observe the process and speculate on the outcome.  We want to engage and shape it. But how can we do that? As non- profits, we cannot endorse a candidate; and no matter who wins, we have to work with the new Administration.  Indeed, during my time at MACDC, I have worked closely with five different Administrations (Weld, Celluci, Swift, Romney and Patrick) and fully expect to work successfully with a new one next year regardless of who wins.

But political neutrality does not mean that we should sit on the sidelines.  Campaigns don’t just determine who will govern, but they also shape how the winner will govern.  Campaigns help identify the top tier issues for the next Administration and campaigns often generate promises and commitments from all the candidates, including the eventual winner.  Do they keep all of those promises? Of course, not. But do their campaign promises influence their behavior after the election? Absolutely.

In 2006, Governor Patrick, and two other candidates for Governor, came to the MACDC convention at the Hynes Convention Center on October 14.  At a candidate forum moderated by Pam Cross from WCVB, we asked each candidate three questions: (1) Would s/he fund the Affordable Housing Trust fund at $40 million? (2) Would s/he fund the state’s newly established Small Business Technical Assistance program? And (3) Would s/he enact legislation to preserve expiring use properties?  Candidate Patrick said “Yes”, “Yes”, and “Maybe”.  He expressed skepticism about expiring use legislation and whether it would be fair to both owners and tenants, but he promised to listen and to work with us to explore possible solutions. (Side note: We did not ask about the Community Investment Tax Credit because we had not even come up with the proposal yet!)

So what happened? In his first capital budget, the Governor proposed just $35 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. After a short, but vigorous response from the housing community, he quickly restored full funding. I can assure you that his campaign promise was a big reason for the quick turn- around. He then funded the Trust Fund at $40 million for the next seven years.

With respect to the Small Business program, the Governor kept funding the program even as the state budget crisis unfolded during the recession. He kept the program alive by funding it “off-budget” through the Mass Growth Capital Corporation and then this year he helped secure a $2 million appropriation from the legislature, restoring the program to full funding:  8 years of funding – just as he promised in 2006.

Expiring use legislation was harder, but the Governor kept his promise and listened to the views of all stakeholders and then helped to fashion a compromise bill that was enacted in 2007 as MGL Chapter 40T.   This law has now helped to preserve nearly 10,000 homes as affordable housing.

Three for three, by my count.

MACDC is thankful that Governor Patrick kept these commitments and we know it reflects his commitment to these issues. But we also know that a Governor has to balance hundreds of competing priorities, so we were glad to help the Governor fulfill these commitments by working closely with his Administration (and the legislature) throughout the process.  In other words, campaign commitments matter, but they don’t complete the task. Advocates have to stay with the process after the election too.

So as the 2014 campaign heats up, MACDC and its members and allies need to engage the gubernatorial candidates.  The MACDC Board of Directors has already met with six of the candidates (Baker, Berwick, Coakley, Falchuck, Grossman and Kaymen) to have thoughtful discussions where we were able to introduce them to the CDC field, learn about their priorities and discuss important issues to our communities.   We are now cosponsoring a major Candidate Forum on Affordable Housing with our colleagues at CHAPA and throughout the housing field on July 9 at 2:00 at Faneuil Hall.  And on October 25, 2014, MACDC will host another convention, this time at the Westin Hotel in Back Bay, where we expect to hear from all the candidates who make the final ballot. 

What questions should we ask them this time? What commitments will they make? Which ones will the next Governor keep?

My plea to community developers and nonprofit advocates around the state: Don’t just wait to see what these answers are. Get involved and help shape the answers.

I hope to see you on July 9 and October 25. And most of all, plan on voting on November 6, 2014. 

A statement on the State of the Union by MACDC's President

January 28th, 2014 by Joe Kriesberg

“We applaud President Obama for making income and wealth inequality a central theme in his State of the Union Address. We agree that growing inequality is harming families across this country and threatening the long-term health of our economy, our democracy and our way of life.  Our members are working to help families by engaging them in efforts to improve the neighborhoods and communities where they live and work. We believe that confronting inequality among families requires confronting inequality among places – that means eliminating blight and spurring investment in our lower-income neighborhoods. It means providing safe and affordable homes, helping to start and to grow businesses and expanding local jobs. It means creating safe neighborhoods where parents can raise a family.  We know that local residents and stakeholders are already doing the hard work to build and sustain such neighborhoods.  We need the federal government to be a partner in these efforts and welcome President Obama’s efforts to create and support those partnerships.”

Learn more about what CDCs are doing Massachusetts.


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