News

Redlining and homeownership

February 27th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

The PBS News Hour broadcast an important two-part series this week about the continued challenges facing African Americans when they seek to obtain a mortgage to buy a home (see Part 1 and Part 2).  The story highlights that racial disparities between African Americans and whites remain extraordinarily high and that outright discrimination continues.  The story highlights the issues facing African American homeowners seeking home equity loans to fix their homes and the fact that lenders seem to prefer lending to upper-income whites moving into low-income areas as they do for lending to moderate-income African Americans who already live there.   The story highlights the potential for the Trump Administration to make changes to the Community Reinvestment Act – changes that are likely to make things worse, not better.   U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) points out the industry’s heavy reliance on credit scores has an unfair and disproportionately negative impact on African Americans.

 

The Mel King Institute and the Massachusetts Community Banking Council recently co-hosted an Innovation Forum event to highlight a new report that documents similar patterns here in Massachusetts. This is a problem that is getting worse and requires a significant response from local, state and federal government.  Indeed, the need to address homeownership for low and moderate-income families, in particular families of color, is emerging as a major agenda item in MACDC’s strategic planning process. More on that to come later.

 

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/struggle-for-black-and-latino-mortgage-applicants-suggests-modern-day-redlining

 

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/blacks-and-latinos-say-they-have-trouble-getting-home-loans-in-philadelphia-heres-whats-happening

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MACDC Praises Gov. Baker, House of Rep. for Advancing Critical Com. Dev. Priorities

January 29th, 2018 by

Wednesday, January 24, 2018, was a very good day for Community Development in Massachusetts. 

Governor Charlie Baker submitted his FY 2019 budget to the Legislature with a recommendation of $2 million for the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program.  Over the past two years, funding for this program was reduced 62.5% to $750,000.  MACDC was thrilled that the Governor proposed to restore funding to its historic level of $2 million.  This program helps local entrepreneurs – in particular, people of color, immigrants and women located in urban and rural communities – to start and grow thriving businesses, which, in turn, provide jobs, wealth, vitality and hope to historically under-invested areas.

“Governor Baker’s budget demonstrates his commitment to expanding economic opportunity everywhere and for everyone,” said Joseph Kriesberg, President of MACDC.

MACDC members were also pleased by the Massachusetts House of Representatives passage of the $1.7 billion Housing Bond Bill that same day.  The bill, originally filed by Rep. Kevin Honan and Sen. Linda Dorcena-Forry, passed overwhelmingly and ensures the continuation of the Commonwealth’s affordable housing programs by authorizing funding for housing production and preservation over the next 5 years, including the following allocations:

  • $400 million for the Commonwealth’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund;
  • $150 million for the Housing Stabilization Fund;
  • $100 million for the Housing Innovations Fund;
  • $125 million for the Capital Improvement and Preservation Fund;
  • $45 million to support early education facilities; and
  • $650 million for public housing modernization and to provide innovative financing tools.

The Housing Bond Bill also incorporates legislation to extend and expand the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC), filed earlier in the legislative session by Rep. Steve Kulik and Sen. Sal DiDomenico.  The proposal had more than seventy House and Senate co-sponsors.  We are thankful for all their support.  We are especially grateful that Rep. Sarah Peake offered an amendment to restore and expand the annual amount of tax credits available.  Rep. Peake, working with House Ways & Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez and Committee staff, offered a successful amendment to increase the annual amount of tax credits available, incrementally growing CITC from its current cap of $6 million to $12 million in taxable years 2023 through 2025, and to lift the individual CDC cap in alignment with the growth of the overall program.

“By extending and expanding the highly successful Community Investment Tax Credit, the House bill, if ultimately enacted, would draw more private investment to support high impact community economic development across the state,” said Kriesberg.

The Housing Bond Bill also extended the sunset for the Massachusetts Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, but did not include a requested $5 million increase in the program needed to offset the negative impact of the new federal tax law.  MACDC and other advocates will be working with the Senate to secure this additional authorization.

MACDC extends its appreciation to the many legislators that helped move this legislation forward.  In addition to Speaker Robert DeLeo, his leadership team and the sponsors and supporters mentioned before, MACDC thanks Rep. Carmine Gentile and Rep. Peake for sponsoring amendments to extend and to expand LIHTC and CITC, and these select members who offered their remarkable support for community development practice across the Commonwealth:

Rep. Patricia Haddad, Rep. Byron Rushing, Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Rep. Paul Donato, Rep. Jay Kaufman, Rep. Antonio Cabral, Rep. Ed Coppinger, Rep. Joseph McGonagle, Rep. Chris Walsh, Rep. Liz Malia, Rep. Adrian Madaro, Rep. Timothy Whelan, Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, Rep. John Scibak, Rep. Mike Connolly, Rep. Frank Moran, Rep. Marjorie Decker, Rep. Denise Provost, Rep. Christine Barber, Rep. Jay Livingstone, Rep. Jonathan Hecht, Rep. Tackey Chan, Rep. Todd Smola, Rep. William Crocker, Rep. David Vieira, Rep. Natalie Higgins, Rep. Paul Tucker, Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, Rep. Evandro Carvalho, Rep. Dan Hunt

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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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CDC Projects Catalyze Revitalization of Northampton Corridor

December 13th, 2017 by Don Bianchi

 

The City of Northampton has spent the last four years developing a plan to revitalize the Pleasant Street Corridor, a stretch that has been identified as an important gateway to downtown Northampton.  Two CDC affordable housing developments have played a key role in the rejuvenation of the corridor.

Way Finders’  Live 155 Apartments, currently under construction, will provide 70 mixed-income studio and one-bedroom apartments when it is completed in the spring of 2018.  Just across Pleasant Street is Valley CDC’s  Lumber Yard Apartments, which will break ground next month on 55 affordable units.  Both projects will include commercial space.

These projects complement the City’s efforts to transform Pleasant Street from a state highway into a city street that serves the needs of residents and local business.  Infrastructure improvements include new raised crosswalks, curb extensions, improved bicycle and pedestrian paths, the addition of on-street parking, landscaping, and a new rotary that provides some separation between the highway and the main city street.

Both projects were assisted by The Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC), a public-private community development finance institution that provides financial resources and technical expertise for community-based and other non-profit organizations engaged in effective community development in Massachusetts.

In its weekly blog, Insites, CEDAC highlights the catalytic role that these two projects are having in Northampton.

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MACDC’s Advocacy Results in More Lead-Safe Homes

December 5th, 2017 by Don Bianchi

Despite substantial gains made over 45 years of public health intervention, lead exposure remains a significant health risk for children in Massachusetts. Recent evidence suggests that for children there is no safe level of exposure to lead and that exposure to relatively low levels can result in irreversible health effects.  Due to recent advances in State policy, there are new tools to combat the dangers posed by lead paint.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has proposed amendments to regulations on Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control, to lower the threshold of Blood Lead Level (BLL) defining lead poisoning.  DPH notes that this will broaden the protection of children by expanding the number of properties where the Commonwealth would require inspection and remediation of violations of the Lead Law, increasing the number of lead-safe units.  The change also underscores the need for funding to remove hazardous lead paint.  Fortunately, funding is now more readily available to help homeowners.

In October 2016, MassHousing, which administers the Get the Lead Out Program on behalf of the MA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), announced enhancements to the Program.  These enhancements make it easier for all families throughout the Commonwealth to gain access to the GTLO funds.  One important enhancement is that now all owner occupants have access to 0% loans, with repayment deferred until the home is sold, transferred, or refinanced. Mass Housing also made technical changes that make it easier for banks and non-profit agencies, including CDCs, to administer the program.

These changes were the result of advocacy by MACDC, its Members, CHAPA, the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, and the Massachusetts Public Health Association.  We met with representatives of DHCD and MassHousing late in 2015, and again in May of 2016.  The agencies were receptive to our recommendations, culminating in the significant changes announced in October of 2016.

These improvements to the GTLO Program have paid off.  In fiscal year 2017, 80 loans were made – the most since fiscal year 2008.  In fact, these 80 loans were more than the combined loans made during the four-year period from fiscal years 2010 through 2013!  MACDC’s advocacy played a significant role in this success.

Exposure to lead paint remains a serious problem.  Due to the welcome increase in the number of GTLO loans, the available funding has been reduced to approximately $3.5 million.  MACDC hopes to work with DHCD and MassHousing to secure additional funding for this important program in the coming months and years.

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Join Us and Support Great Neighborhoods Across the Commonwealth!

November 13th, 2017 by David Bryant

As members of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MSGA), MACDC enthusiastically endorses the Great Neighborhoods campaign, led by MSGA, which is all about safeguarding and securing many of the things we all care about: better housing choices for families and seniors; more vibrant, walkable downtowns that promote healthy living and local businesses; and a development approach that preserves natural resources and protects us from climate change.

You may already know some of the following unfortunate facts:

· The median home sale price is now over $400,000 while the median rent in the state is $2600 per month. Nearly some quarter-million families in Massachusetts pay more than half their income on housing.

· At the same time, 13 acres of open space are lost to sprawling development in Massachusetts, and the average single-family lot in Metro Boston is now larger than a professional football field.

· At least 52% of Americans want to live in places where they do not have to use a car often.

You can learn more about the Campaign, sign the petition, and read the Call to Action here, which lists organizations that endorse these shared principles. Please contact Larry Field at the MA Smart Growth Alliance if your organization can endorse the Campaign. His email address is larry@ma-smartgrowth.org.

A broad range of organizations has joined the Great Neighborhoods campaign to promote its core principles and to call on state leaders to pass a strong bill this session that addresses the housing crisis and looks to create healthier, walkable places to live and thrive. We urge that your organization join the Great Neighborhoods campaign and that you individually sign the petition calling on state leaders to act!

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