Four Members Involved in Successful Launch of “Health Starts at Home” Pilots to Improve Children’s Health Through Housing

May 26th, 2016 by Kavya Sekar

Research has shown a powerful link between  children’s exposure to homelessness and their long term health: children exposed to homelessness are several times more likely to be hospitalized and face more mental and physical health issues later in life than those with stable homes. In order to confront both the health and housing needs for families who are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness, the Boston Foundation piloted its Health Starts at Home initiative with four planning grants this year. Four MACDC members- The Neighborhood Developers, Nuestra Communidad, Urban Edge and Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnerships are involved in three of the projects in coalition with other healthcare and social service organizations. The projects use diverse strategies to link housing to healthcare: Urban Edge and MBHP are working with partners to connect families sheltered in a motel in Waltham to long-term housing and healthcare support while TND and MBHP are creating a referral system through MGH Chelsea so families who come to the hospital in need of social services can be referred to TND’s robust CONNECT program that links families to needed housing, jobs and benefits.

The planning grant was an important learning opportunity for both the Boston Foundation and the involved organizations to learn how disparate sectors, such as community development and healthcare, could work together to have a collective impact.

“A lot of organizations talked about wanting to work together, but not having the funding or the space to do that” said Pamela Hung, Program Associate in Health at The Boston Foundation.

The planning grants allowed the participating organizations to learn one another’s “language” and learn about one another’s programs and how they could be aligned. From these learnings, the groups created integrated service delivery models and two of the projects started to pilot their models to see what worked and what could be improved. All of the groups also created robust data collection and outcome systems in partnership with Health Resources in Action and the Urban Institute to evaluate the impact of the program on child health.

For the next three years, the projects have been given implementation funding to pilot the programs and evaluate their outcomes. The Boston Foundation hopes that the learnings from these initial pilots will lead to a larger policy change in how healthcare and housing programs are linked.

“Our ultimate goal is that the best practices and models uplifted through Health Starts at Home will lead to  systemic changes in housing and health care funding.” Said Lucy Ellis, Program Associate in Neighborhoods and Housing at The Boston Foundation. 

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MACDC Members Join the Attorney General to Fight for Communities

May 26th, 2016 by Don Bianchi

Almost 50 people, representing more than 20 MACDC Member organizations, joined Attorney General Maura Healey and members of her senior staff in Worcester on May 20, to discuss how to collaborate on tackling some of the most serious housing problems facing our communities.

The welcoming remarks from the Attorney General, who noted that her office strives to be “The People’s Law Firm”, were inspiring.  She commended the “righteous work” done by CDCs, and noted the importance of work that takes care of us all.  After other senior officials from the AG’s office (AGO) gave an overview of the AG’s initiatives (AGO 101!), we got down to the morning’s hard work- breaking into smaller groups, co-led by AGO staff and CDC leaders, to discuss three topics: foreclosure prevention, abandoned and distressed properties, and fair access to housing.

Foreclosure Prevention:

Foreclosure counselors noted that foreclosures are still prevalent, despite a common perception that the crisis is over.  Some people with prior mortgage modifications are in trouble again due to unemployment or other economic problems, and counselors note that some loan servicers are not responding adequately to their efforts to help homeowners in trouble.  There is a concern that many struggling homeowners are not reaching out to counselors who can help them, matched by a concern that if more people reached out to counseling agencies, the agencies may not have the staff capacity, or financial resources, to meet everyone’s needs.  Counselors indicated they would like to work more closely with the Attorney General’s office, and AGO staff said that they are available to assist and to intervene with servicers who are not being responsive.  All agreed that resuming monthly conference calls with the AGO would be helpful.

Distressed Properties:

Representatives from the AG’s Abandoned Housing Initiative (AHI) described two programs they administer.  AHI, which was formed in 2008, offers loans and grants to communities that address abandoned properties through Receivership, whereby a Court-appointed receiver can assume management of distressed properties, conduct repairs, and place a lien on the property to cover the costs.  More recently, the AGO started a Strategic Demolition Fund, which has provided $125,000 to each of four agencies statewide to make funding available to communities to help with demolition of properties that are bringing down neighborhoods.  Participants also noted the importance of collaborating on identifying the best strategies for addressing distressed properties.

Fair Access to Housing:

CDC leaders and AGO staff discussed the many obstacles to building affordable housing in suburban towns, including low density zoning, lack of infrastructure, unreasonable water and sewage requirements, changing political leadership and abutter lawsuits.  Participants agreed that the AGO could be helpful in educating municipal leaders about their responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act as a way to discourage the most egregious practices. There was also a brief discussion about the common practice among property insurance companies in Massachusetts of charging higher premiums for properties with Section 8 tenants – or denying coverage all together.  AGO staff expressed concern about this practice and MACDC agreed to provide them with more information.

After the breakout sessions, participants reconvened as a group to share what was discussed.  The AGO and MACDC are planning how to follow up on the issues identified on May 20.  Together, a community-minded Attorney General and community-based development organizations make a powerful team for tackling community problems.

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Massachusetts Community & Banking Council Releases New Report "CRA for Mortgage Lenders in Massachusetts, 2008-2015"

May 25th, 2016 by Don Bianchi

A new report released by the Massachusetts Community & Banking Council (MCBC, a coalition of community-based organizations and financial institutions), “CRA for Mortgage Lenders in Massachusetts, 2008-2015” highlights that community reinvestment regulation seems to have had a positive impact on the relative performance of Licensed Mortgage Lenders (LMLs) in meeting the needs of traditionally underserved borrowers and neighborhoods.  In the first report of its kind, MCBC provides information on the state law passed in 2007, which mirrors existing federal and state CRA requirements over depository institutions and calls for lenders to meet the credit needs of low- and moderate-income borrowers and geographies when originating residential loans or acquiring mortgage portfolios in the Commonwealth.

MCBC issued a press release on the issuance of the report:  The full report can be accessed at

The Report and News Release are also available on MCBC’s website at

 If you have any questions or want more information on MCBC or the report, please contact Dana LeWinter, MCBC Executive Director, at (800) 982-8268 or via e-mail at

MACDC is pleased that this law, passed in response to the foreclosure crisis as a result of the advocacy of MACDC and other organizations, has had such a positive impact.

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Four Innovative Ways Hospitals and Healthcare Systems Around the Country are Investing in Communities

May 24th, 2016 by Kavya Sekar

The United States has the most expensive healthcare system in the world, and yet in terms of actual health outcomes the United States is ranked near the bottom compared to other developed (OECD) countries. Why is this the case? While there are many problems with our healthcare system, one of the major culprits is lack of spending on social services, according to Elizabeth Bradley and Lauren Taylor authors of The American Healthcare Paradox. On average, other developed countries spend $2 on social services for every $1 spent on healthcare. The United States, by contrast, spends only 55 cents on social services for every $1 spent on healthcare. Additionally, the authors found that increased spending on social services was positively correlated with better health outcomes among all the OECD countries (

Thankfully, both health policymakers and healthcare administrators are beginning to embrace that health is ensured not by only pills and procedures but also by access to safe and stable housing, living wage employment opportunities, financial stability and safe neighborhoods.  They are beginning to find ways to redirect their resources in order to address the structural inequities of communities that lead to poor health. Here are three examples:

1.Community Benefits Plans- The Affordable Care Act now requires all non-profit hospitals to conduct community health needs assessments and come up with community health improvement plans to address health needs in surrounding communities. Some hospitals are using those plans creatively to meet community needs. For instance, Dignity health a network of nonprofit hospitals serving California, Arizona and Nevada has created a $100 million loan fund to develop affordable housing, provide job training, assist neighborhood revitalization and build wealth in neighboring communities. However, there are no strict guidelines for the kinds of activities that can be funded by these community benefits plans, and therefore there is wide variation among hospitals.

All Massachusetts nonprofit hospitals publicize their community benefits plans in the Annual Reports section of the Massachusetts attorney general’s website. Community organizations can explore these reports to see what their local hospitals are currently doing and use them to advocate for more creative and impactful programs.

2.Anchor Institution Models- Some hospitals and healthcare systems are realizing that as nonprofit institutions whose missions are to improve health and wellbeing, they have to go above and beyond the IRS community benefits mandate to adequately address the root cause of poor health in their local communities. Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit integrated health system with operating revenues over $56 billion dollars, is using a concept called “total health” to guide all its non-clinical practices towards promoting health broadly including physical, mental and spiritual well-being, that account for “resilience” factors not traditionally considered by medicine such as people having a sense of purpose, belonging and self-efficacy.  They are intentionally hiring from low income census tracks in their service area, sourcing their food from local farmers, purchasing supplies from woman and minority owned businesses and are also using their investment capital to invest in local housing and economic development. As a leading healthcare system, Kaiser is setting an example for the whole country for how nonprofit hospitals can most effectively and holistically deliver on their mission to promote health and save lives.


3.Accountable Care Organizations-  As a part of Medicaid reforms, some states are authorizing Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) as new Medicaid delivery systems. ACOs are integrated health delivery organizations that receive a standard payment per member, and then use the combined funding to both pay for healthcare services and coordinate the prevention services for the members. ACOs can keep a share of any money saved, so they are incentivized to invest in creative solutions that improve health and reduce costly treatments.  In Hennepin County, Minnesota, the Hennepin Health ACO found that 30% to 50% of its members were unstably housed or homeless, leading to serious health problems. The ACO worked with local supportive housing providers to pay for room and board in supportive housing units for some of their members. Using savings from the ACO as a result of this program, Hennepin Health was able to invest in social service navigators who help members with housing and other needs.

Five Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations were set up in Massachusetts in 2012-13, and four of five were able to use the model to cut spending.  Learn more about states that have supported social services through their ACOs in this report.

4. Determination of Need Community Health Initiative- Here in Massachusetts, any hospital expanding their services, undergoing extensive capital expenditure or starting a large solicitation process must undergo a Determination of Need process (DoN) process through the state in order to prevent excessive spending on healthcare. Approved projects must allocate at least 5% of the funds to “provision of primary and preventive health care services necessary for underserved populations in the project’s service area” through the Community Health Initiative. As a part of their CHI, Brigham and Women’s hospital (BWH) has released an RFP for 10 Health Equity grants of $20,000 to $100,000 to promote community psychological health and wellbeing, strengthening employment and job skills opportunity as well as addressing health inequity issues with a racial equity lens. Through these grants, BWH is setting an innovative standard for how hospitals can use community health funds from a DoN process.


All of these hospital and healthcare organizations rely heavily on partnerships with community organizations to identify needs and support investments in the housing, workforce development, local businesses and local neighborhoods. Community organizations in Massachusetts have the opportunity to identify and reach out to the community engagement coordinator at their local hospital to find out how they can better partner to improve health and wellbeing in communities.




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MA Division of Banks Awards $1.3 Million for Foreclosure Prevention Counseling and Homebuyer Education

May 17th, 2016 by Don Bianchi

The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation’s Division of Banks (DOB) announced recently that it has awarded $1.3 Million in grants to 11 regional foreclosure prevention centers and 8 individual first-time homeownership education centers across Massachusetts.  For a list of the grantees and the awards, see the Office of Consumer Affairs website.

The awards are made under Chapter 206 of the Acts of 2007, a law enacted as the foreclosure crisis was gaining steam, with MACDC and its Members instrumental in drafting and passing the legislation. Among other things, it regulates non-bank mortgage lenders for the first time, and uses the licensing fees from mortgage originators to fund the foreclosure prevention counseling and homeownership education awards.  Over the past three years, DOB has provided more than $4 Million for foreclosure prevention counseling and homebuyer education.

Thirteen of the 19 awards were made to MACDC Members or to coalitions including MACDC Members. In fact, over a five year period ending in December, 2015, MACDC Members have helped close to 6,700 households facing foreclosure secure a loan modification or other positive outcome.

Unfortunately, foreclosures continue unabated.  Foreclosure petitions in the Bay State, the first step in the foreclosure process, continued to climb, according to a report from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.  In the first three months of 2016, lenders filed 3,367 petitions to foreclose statewide, a 30% increase from the 2,594 petitions filed in the first three months of 2015. During the same time period, completed foreclosures increased by 60% from the first three months of 2015.

MACDC will continue to support our Members, as they strive to help current homeowners preserve their homes and provide future homeowners with the tools for enjoying sustainable homeownership.  MACDC is currently advocating with the Legislature to increase in the amount of revenue from mortgage originator fees the DOB is allowed to retain, so DOB can increase the awards to fully fund the counseling agencies at $2 million in 2017. This would enable DOB to provide the funding level originally authorized in the 2007 legislation.

For more information on this, please contact Don Bianchi at



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MACDC Members Come Together for Annual Lobby Day at the State House

May 5th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

MACDC Members Come Together for Annual Lobby Day at the State House

MACDC Members from across the state traveled to the State House on Tuesday, May 3 for our annual Lobby Day, urging legislators to support funding for small business developmentforeclosure prevention counseling and housing programs, while also pressing for passage of strong economic development legislation.  This year’s event was a bit different than in the past, with the Luncheon Program dedicated to briefing legislators on the success of the Community Investment Tax Credit Program.  Senator O’Conner Ives, co-chair of the Jt. Committee on Community Development and Small Business, hosted the CITC briefing, which included remarks by Chrystal Kornegay, Undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development, Joanne Campbell of Valley CDC and Jess Andors of Lawrence Community Works. 

Lobby Day also provided an opportunity for the MACDC Board to meet directly with Governor Charlie Baker.  The meeting provided MACDC with an opportunity thank the Governor for his support of many MACDC priorities and to briefing him about the success of CITC.  Our discussion also focused on his economic development legislation, the Massachusetts Food Trust program, and the need to support both community scale rental housing and new homeownership development.


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Preserving Healthy Housing for Seniors in Beverly

May 4th, 2016 by

Residents at Harborlight House in Beverly resoundingly said, “we want to stay,” as the facility faced increasingly difficult financial circumstances and the need for significant rehabilitation.  Harborlight Community Partners set out to not only preserve the affordability of Harborlight House, but also improve it to better accommodate the needs of an increasingly frail population. Last year, Harborlight House received a $4 million tax-exempt bond to renovate the House’s 30 units as well as ensure each unit’s affordability for another 30 years.  But the CDC is trying to provide more than just an affordable home.

Harborlight Community Partners developed an integrated services and housing model that ensures seniors are able to age in place, maintaining their independence as long as possible while accessing needed medical services.  Thanks to the renovations at Harborlight House, seniors will now have better and more accessible units, with the addition of their own kitchenettes.  At the heart of Harborlight House, common areas and a porch allow for people to gather, and the dining room is being expanded to safely accommodate the mobility equipment of residents.  Seniors also have in-house care service, thanks to a partnership with Element Care and Associated Home Care.
Furthermore, Harborlight Community Partners supports a newly formed residential advisory council that can provide feedback on program operations as well as advocating for affordable housing across Harborlight’s service area, which spans from Lynn to Rockport.  The goal is to build relationships and partnerships that will lead to a more holistic approach to low-income elder housing on the North Shore.

Fundamentally, what unites Harborlight Community Partners’ work is a deep commitment to dignified and well maintained housing that engages elders and creates meaningful and sustainable opportunities for low-income people.  In fact, they are looking to expand their affordable housing model across their service area.  As affordable housing for our communities’ elderly becomes an increasingly critical issue, Harborlight Community Partners plans to work with MACDC and others to spread this model across the Commonwealth and beyond. 

Check out the complete 2016 GOALs Report and past GOALs Reports

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Community Investment Tax Credit: Bringing New Donors to the Field

May 4th, 2016 by

From its beginning nearly 50 years ago, a core goal of the community development field was to attract investment capital into places and for people historically excluded, or worse, harmed by traditional capital streams and financial products. Over the years, CDCs developed the expertise to put capital to use in low-income neighborhoods to build housing, to start local businesses, to help first-time homebuyers secure safe mortgages, and to help low-income families begin to save money and build assets that can propel them forward. To do these things well, of course, CDCs need capital and investment to establish the professional expertise necessary to wisely attract and deploy capital in the neighborhoods and towns across the Commonwealth.

In 2012, the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) was enacted to do just that, by spurring more private support for CDCs.  The CITC, which offers donors a 50% refundable state tax credit for donations made to participating CDCs, was launched in 2014 and has already resulted in significant new funding for CDCs, which is building capacity and increasing our impact.

In 2014, the CITC program generated $4.7 million and last year the number grew to $8.3 million, making it the largest CDC capacity building program in Massachusetts history.  Last year, over 1,500 donations were made to 48 organizations, with more than 1,000 of them coming from individual donors. Indeed, individuals gave $3.2 million to CDCs in 2015.  Prior to the CITC, most CDCs received very few donations from individuals, relying instead on earned revenue, along with government, foundation, and corporate funding.  CITC is enabling us to diversify our funding, build new partnerships with individuals and local businesses, and leverage greater impact for the community. 

The program has been a win-win for donors and CDCs alike. For Joanne Campbell, Executive Director of Valley CDC in Northampton, “The CITC Program has been a great success in building our capacity as a CDC.”  And in the words of one donor, “It was 
very enticing, and I have to say I feel great about how far the dollars for an individual donor can get stretched.”  Said another, “it made sense to invest locally!”

We could not agree more. 

Check out the complete 2016 GOALs Report and past GOALs Reports

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Support Services Generate Lasting Success in Lowell

May 4th, 2016 by

When Linda and her two sons finally connected with Community Teamwork, they had been homeless and moved among shelters in Boston, Bedford, and Leominster. In Lowell, Linda found a way to turn things around and received the inspiration, motivation, and wrap-around services she needed.

What Linda and her family needed first was permanent housing.  Once Community Teamwork was able to get Linda’s family settled in a home, the housing specialist visited Linda regularly to help her adjust.  In Community Teamwork-fashion, Linda and her housing specialist had a conversation that led to connecting Linda with a Secure Jobs caseworker. At Community Teamwork’s Resource Center, the caseworker helped Linda identify her own interests and skills that could lead to gainful employment. It was clear that Linda had the education and experience, but she needed the connections, confidence, and direction to make it all work. After their conversation, it was Linda’s choice to apply for a position in the Fuel Assistance department at Community Teamwork.  She did and was hired for the job!

Linda’s success story is one of many to have emerged from Community Teamwork’s participation in the Secure Jobs program, a new statewide program to link housing, social service, and workforce development agencies together in an effort to help low-income individuals find and sustain employment. Community Teamwork now has partnerships with five vocational schools and the Lowell Career Center in order to provide high quality education and training opportunities.  The combination of stable housing and employment services is proving to be a powerful formula for transforming the lives of people like Linda.

But Community Teamwork does not stop there.  They also provide students with office-appropriate attire via their SuitAbility program and administer 
a flexible fund that is available for unforeseeable, one-time expenses, like a parking ticket or supplies for work, which might otherwise halt a client’s progress. Finally, Community Teamwork helps their clients to navigate the various government agencies in order to obtain food stamps, childcare vouchers, or other needed resources. 

In the end, Linda remembers that it was the human connections at Community Teamwork that made her feel ready to take steps forward in her life. Community Teamwork has been more than influential - Linda now feels “there’s nothing I can’t accomplish.”

Check out the complete 2016 GOALs Report and past GOALs Reports

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Supporting the long-term economic vitality of Western Mass

May 4th, 2016 by

While the Greater Boston region has one of our nation’s strongest economies, the same cannot be said for the entire state. Unemployment is higher in Western Massachusetts and incomes are lower as the region struggles to adapt to the new economy. Thankfully, the Franklin County CDC has developed a flexible and customized array of services to support the long-term economic vitality of Western Mass by helping locally-owned businesses start, grow, and thrive. 

Each year, Franklin County CDC (FCCDC) works with over 300 entrepreneurs to help develop and grow their businesses, and they are continually expanding and adapting their programs to meet the needs of their region.  More than 20 years ago, they established the Venture Center in Greenfield as a small business incubator.  A few years later, the CDC established the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center, which provides the facilities and equipment for culinary businesses to not only prepare their products, but also to package and prepare them for distribution.  More recently, thanks to funding from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, the CDC formed a regional partnership with MACDC Members, Valley CDC and Hilltown CDC, to provide small business technical assistance and lending to the broader region, from Northampton, to the Hilltowns, to the Northern Berkshires.  

And just this year, the CDC established the Pioneer Valley Grows Investment Fund to enable local residents to invest in local businesses.  So far, the CDC has raised $650,000 from dozens of local investors and those dollars have been reinvested in four local companies – with six more in the pipeline. 

The CDC also has a new program to help their clients reach new and larger markets. Expanding on the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center’s work, FCCDC encouraged many local growers and processors to connect to the recently opened Boston Public Market. Eight Franklin County CDC-supported businesses now either have a booth or sell their goods through other vendors in the new market. They also hope to encourage more regional sales through the market, or develop a way to rotate in producers and collaboratively use the space.  Helping businesses in Western Massachusetts to access the Boston market will help lessen the economic inequities between the Eastern and Western parts of our Commonwealth.

Each year, the CDC strives to find new and creative ways to build their local economy.  It’s not easy, but, as John Waite, Franklin County CDC’s Executive Director says, “This is what we do.”

Check out the complete 2016 GOALs Report and past GOALs Reports

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