On Monday, November 16th, Governor Baker was the keynote speaker at a breakfast championing the lasting impact of CDCs and the Community Investment Tax Credit. With over 120 leaders from the business, investment and philanthropic community, Governor Baker highlighted how important CDCs are to the communities in which they work, how he's appointed to CDC Executive Directors to his administration and how he supports the Community Investment Tax Credit.
Developers seeking to build mixed-use projects in transit-oriented communities now have a new financing tool available. That tool – the Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund (HNEF) – was expressly designed to fill the equity gap for real estate projects in transitional neighborhoods where developers want to build new residential and commercial properties, but where the market may not yet be strong enough to support conventional financing.
HNEF funds projects that can be expected to achieve community, environmental and health impacts. The Fund was created by the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) for two major reasons:
1. There is great public concern about and a growing body of tangible evidence that the built environment greatly affects health and health care costs. It’s well documented that diabetes and heart disease, for example, are twice as prevalent among poor adults as among upper-middle-class Americans. Since 1990, the number of Massachusetts residents living in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty has increased by nearly one third, and here in Boston life expectancy varied by as much as 33 years between census tracts located just two miles apart.
2. Many developers who are interested in building mixed-income, mixed-use projects in TOD neighborhoods are hampered by a lack of patient, lower-cost capital. While public support for this type of development is generally strong, needed subsidies are limited and highly competitive, and most nonprofit developers don’t have sufficient equity to self-fund larger projects. Meanwhile, private developers often view these locations as too risky.
To address these issues, MHIC and CLF created an equity source to help fill the funding gap, improve the built environment in targeted neighborhoods, and provide reasonable, risk-adjusted returns for investors. Among other things, what distinguishes HNEF is its unique and groundbreaking approach to measuring and monitoring local health impacts, developed with major input and funding from HNEF’s research and public partners including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and the Massachusetts Department of Health.
To be considered for an HNEF investment, projects must be within one-half a mile of a transit node, or in a mixed-used neighborhood with significant potential for increased walkability and demonstrated public and community support. HNEF can finance mixed-use office, retail, and moderate- and market-rate housing.
HNEF investments will be made at construction loan closing and are expected to stay in the project for up to 10 years. Typically, they will provide 5-25% of TDC (with a maximum of $5 million) and up to 90% of equity in a project.
We are fortunate that here in Massachusetts, we have many “gateway cities,” and other communities with reliable transit service. But to take better advantage of the potential access to jobs, health care, recreation and other benefits that transit can provide, there is a clear need for more and better-integrated development – development that stresses the environmental, health, and community impacts – in those areas.
To that end, the HNEF team is actively building a pipeline of high impact projects in Massachusetts, with many in greater Boston, and others in downtown areas and around commuter rail stops in smaller cities. Developers interested in additional information, or who would like to see if a project may qualify for HNEF consideration, should visit http://www.hnefund.org or contact MHIC at 617-850-1000.
Massachusetts has a thriving local food industry; however, this industry does not equitably serve communities across the state. In 2012, Massachusetts ranked 47th for access to supermarkets with fresh and nutritious foods in low-income urban and rural communities. There is a demonstrated link between lack of access to healthy food retailers and diet related health problems. One third of Massachusetts school children are overweight or obese by the time they reach first grade (Grocery Access Task Force paper), while almost 20% are going hungry (Feeding America report).
In order to leverage the local food economy to create equitable health outcomes and new jobs for low income residents, community developers all over the state have the opportunity to create innovative food initiatives. Many CDCs are already engaging the food system at all levels from growing, to processing, to moving, to distribution, to selling. CDCs can partner with others to address some of these challenges by: promoting sustainable practices within the food industry to protect the environment, increasing community owned food businesses with good jobs to promote economic development, and increasing access to healthy foods to boost positive health outcomes. On December 3rd, The Mel King Institute is hosting a program, “Health, Community Development and The Food Economy” to teach community developers about how they can leverage food to meet their goals of creating vibrant communities.
For example, The Franklin County Community Development Corporation in Western Massachusetts established the Western MA Food Processing Center which allows local farmers to process their produce so they can sell at winter farmers markets and CSA. In addition, the Food Center purchases local produce from farmers, freezes it and sells to institutions like hospitals and schools across the state. Many of these large institutions are seeing increased demand for locally sourced food, in part due to campaigns from Health Care without Harm, Farm to Institution New England and the Real Food Challenge. The food processing center provides an economic boost to local farmers and to entrepreneurs who work at the center while providing much desired local foods to large institutions.
To connect food access to health outcomes in Brockton, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (BNHC) opened a satellite primary care site adjacent to a second location for Vicente’s Tropical Supermarket, a long-time community Cape Verdean grocery store. In an effort to increase neighborhood consumption of healthy fresh and prepared foods, BHNC and Vicente’s Tropical Supermarket have teamed up to develop joint nutritional programming. Utilizing the teaching kitchen at BHNC, its full time nutritionist works with patients to teach them to modify traditional recipes to be healthier and to purchase healthier options from the grocery store. The supermarket provided 100 new jobs to a community where a quarter live in poverty and where economic security would go a long way to improve health outcomes. Financing for the project came in part from two Community Development Financial Institutions, Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Boston Community Capital.
In Dorchester, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation has a created a community farm called Oasis on Ballou where the urban farm will grow and sell produce to local restaurants and educational programs. The farm provides educational training for community members to learn how to grow and prepare the produce. Oasis on Ballou also employs youth to work in the community garden space.
Current initiatives like these are great steps towards building a more equitable food system to improve access to healthy foods and increase jobs. MACDC is working with the MA Public Health Association to increase funding for the Massachusetts Food Trust program which provides loans, grants and technical assistance to healthy food retailers and local food enterprises in low and moderate income communities. The Massachusetts Food Plan, recently drafted by The Metropolitan Area Planning Council in partnership with food related stakeholders across the state, also outlines a plan to create a more sustainable and equitable food system.
To learn more about these programs and other resources for connecting food and community development, come to our December 3rd training, “Health, Community Development and The Food Economy” Register here
On Friday, November 20th at Clark University in Worcester, MA, over 200 leaders and staff members from CDCs and community development organizations came together to discuss the latest developments in our field, hear from Jay Ash, State Secretary for Housing and Economic Development and, of course, network! A special thanks to Bank of America and all our sponsors. Check out the agenda for the day, as well as information on the breakout sessions.
A special congratuations to the recipients of this year's MACDC Community Development Awards:
The Jeffrey Graham Award: Clark University
The Richard Smith Award: Jeanne Pinado
The Ricanne Hadrian Award: Katie Provencher
The Rise Star Award:
Andrea Aldana, Community Develoment Partnership
Charlise Canales, Worcester Common Ground
Rachana Crowley, Valley CDC
Jason Desrosier, Allston-Brighton CDC
Lisette Le, Viet-AID
A special thanks to Ryan Rios, who photographed the event and whose photo is used with this article.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In preparation for the 2015 general elections and 2016 presidential and congressional elections, ACDC received funding from the Coulter Foundation to increase voter registration and voter education in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. We worked with South Cove Community Health Center, Quincy Asian Resources Inc., Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, the Chinese Progressive Association, and the Patriot Ledger to sponsor a Quincy candidates forum for mayoral and city councilor-at-large candidates. The forum had simultaneous Mandarin and Cantonese translation to encourage attendance by the Asian community, which comprise over 25% of Quincy’s population. Education, infrastructure, affordable housing and supporting the significant immigrant and Asian population were some of the topics addressed by the candidates. More than 200 community members attended.
In addition to the candidates’ forum, we also organized a Get-Out-The Vote phonebanking campaign with Quincy Asian Resources Inc. and Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. Our staff and volunteers made a combined 3,116 phone calls targeting registered Asian voters in Quincy.
The election also resulted in the first Asian American City Councillor in Quincy!
On Wednesday, October 28th, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and Senator Sal DiDomenico were joined by Undersecretary for the Department of Housing and Community Development, Chrystal Kornegay, at a legislative briefing on the Community Investment Tax Credit, hosted by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. Along with numerous legislative representatives, the audience was comprised of CDC leaders and staff. The speaking agenda was engaging, especially with strong testimonials concerning the impact of the program by Carol Ridge Martinez, who highlighted how the CITC program is strengthening her organization, Allston Brighton CDC, and Karen Frederick, who emphasized how Community Teamwork is hiring new staff thanks to this new initiative. As the Community Investment Tax Credit continues to attract new donors, CDCs across the Commonwealth are able to increasingly provide new services and work toward lasting mission success.
Urban Revival BlaQ Ink'D is a new program presented by 4 Elements and sponsored by Worcester Common Ground with a mission to capture our city's youth through creativity and self-expression using urban art. During a 3 month session, our mentoring artist Mark Thomas has instructed youth on the enriched culture of hip hop, street art, and artistic skills. Using public art as a vessel for social justice this group of youth plan to revitalize abandoned buildings and empty spaces through miniature murals. They hope to feature their works in local art galleries and live art performances. These displays will provide an opportunity to build up their personal art portfolios, breathe life back into the community and break down negative perceptions that have kept them historically isolated.
To learn more about Urban Revival BlaQ Ink'D, check out their Facebook page.
On November 3rd, Joe Kriesberg, MACDC's President, was recognized by CHAPA with a Community Service Award for his incredible accomplishments successfully advocating for critical resources to further support and drive increased community economic development across the Commonwealth. While the recognition by CHAPA is quite an honor, the comments LISC Boston Executive Director, Bob Van Meter, spoke to the genuine passion and character of Joe and how he has dedicated his professional career to advocating for issues and causes for which he deeply cares. Bob's comments are below:---Thank you. It is my pleasure and honor to present the next award.Joe Kriesberg has provided leadership at the state and national level for the community development field and all those concerned about low- and moderate-income neighborhoods for more than twenty years.Joe has served as President and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations for over thirteen years. I was board chair of MACDC in 2002 when we made the decision to hire Joe as President. I count that as the best hiring decision I ever made. It was in fact, a no brainer, as Joe had served very ably on the staff of MACDC since 1993.As President of MACDC, he has worked to increase the power and voice of CDCs and the communities where they work. Joe initiated biannual MACDC conventions bringing together hundreds of leaders from all over the state. These have now become a required stop for candidates for the Commonwealth’s corner office.He has led a renewal of the community development movement in Massachusetts by winning passage of a new enabling statue for CDCs and an updated state certification process that has focused on comprehensive approaches to neighborhood development.Joe led the way in founding the Mel King Institute for Community Building, which has proved an important and durable vehicle for building the capacity of CDC staff and leaders and allies.Joe has led on housing issues, serving as co-chair of Mayor Walsh’s transition team on housing and helping to win increases in housing resources at the city level.At a time when there was a void in national advocacy, Joe led the way in creating a new national voice for community development as a founding board member of the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA). Joe has been a leader of NACEDA since its inception and speaks regularly to NACEDA member associations around the country.Though Joe never served as a CDC executive director or a project manager, he has demonstrated time and again the qualities that all of you know are key to success in community and affordable housing development, grit and persistence.His work to win passage of the Community Investment Tax Credit showed all of that. Joe stayed focused on the goal and made it his job to insure that Governor Patrick and the legislature did too. For a period of weeks when Governor Patrick’s support for the legislation was uncertain, Joe made sure that at every ground breaking or ribbon cutting where Governor Patrick appeared, he would be there and that the Governor’s office would be deluged with calls from community development leaders. In the last days of this saga, Joe and the rest of the MACDC staff were on their annual summer outing, a walking tour of the African American Freedom trail on Beacon Hill, when they encountered Governor Patrick walking his dog and Joe crossed the street to speak to the Governor. The Governor responded, “You can stop Joe. I will sign the bill.” And he did of course.MACDC won passage of the Community Investment Tax Credit and with Joe leading the way to help implement the credit, $4.7 million flowed to support CDCs across the state in the first year.I know Joe would want me to remind all of you tonight that we have the opportunity to invest $60 million in the future of our neighborhoods over the next five years using the 50% Community Investment Tax Credit, but we need all of you to join Joe in helping us make it a success.