Asian Community Development Corporation Welcomes Angie Liou as Executive Director

August 23rd, 2016 by

The Board of Directors of Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), a 29-year-old nonprofit developer in Boston, has selected Angie Liou as Executive Director.  Angie officially assumes this role on Monday, August 22, after having served as the Acting Executive Director since July 2015.

“I am truly humbled and grateful for the Board’s belief in me, and thank them for their support over the past year.  I am excited for this opportunity to continue to deepen and expand ACDC’s work in the Asian American community in Greater Boston.  As residents experience the pressures of gentrification and displacement, innovative community development strategies are required to ensure that working families and immigrants can continue to thrive in our communities, ” said Liou.  

Under Angie’s leadership in the past year, ACDC has increased capacity to offer housing counseling and financial wellness program in Malden; organized civic engagement initiatives reaching more than 3,000 registered Asian voters in the Greater Boston area; opened the new, affordable rental development at One Greenway to 95 families; as well as begun construction of 51 affordable condo units in Chinatown.

Previously, Angie served as the Director of Real Estate, overseeing ACDC’s development projects, such as One Greenway, which received more than 4,400 rental applications. Angie has more than 10 years of experience in affordable housing development.  She has worked as a consultant and project manager in Seattle and Philadelphia assisting nonprofits in implementing their vision of providing safe and affordable housing, and has served as the project lead on over $95 million worth of developments.

Janelle Chan, ACDC’s outgoing Executive Director, leaves her longtime position at ACDC to serve as an executive on the real estate team of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).  “I have known no greater professional challenge and personal gratification than from our affordable housing and community building work thus far.  In my new role at the MBTA, which is one of the largest landowners in Massachusetts, I hope to spur the creation of community-transforming projects that are sustainable and transit-oriented,” said Chan.

The Board of Directors voted to bring Angie on as the Executive Director.  Paul W. Lee, ACDC’s Board President and founding Board Member, reflected on the decision: “Angie's outstanding work as our Director of Real Estate and as Acting Executive Director for the past year while Janelle was on leave for a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University has clearly demonstrated that she is ready to lead ACDC.  We are very excited to have Angie's professional talents and her passion for our community as ACDC continues to pursue our mission to build affordable housing and preserve and enhance our community.” 

Lee added, “Under Janelle's leadership, ACDC achieved recognition as one of the Commonwealth's leading community development corporations. During this time, Janelle also emerged as a strong and effective community advocate and leader. While we are very sorry to lose her to the MBTA, the entire Greater Boston community will benefit from Janelle's commitment to better align the MBTA's real estate activities to the needs of our communities.”

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The Fenway CDC's Partnership with Children's Hospital - A Discussion with Kris Anderson

August 18th, 2016 by

A conversation between Kris Anderson and Kavya Sekar.

1. How did you and Fenway CDC get involved with Boston Children’s Hospital?

Boston Children’s asked FCDC to serve on a community advisory board to help advise the hospital on its efforts to improve the health and well-being of families in the Fenway neighborhood, especially low-income and minority families which are most impacted by health and healthcare inequities.


2. What assets do you bring to the board coming from a Community Development Corporation? 

​From my many years as an employment specialist, case manager and counselor and through my work with the Fenway Family Coalition, I bring a detailed understanding of both the strengths and needs of Fenway families as well as the ability and credibility to advocate on behalf of those families.  

a.  What other kinds of organizations are on the advisory board and how do you all work together? What assets do the different types of organizations bring to the table? 

Other members of the CAB include representatives of the Mayor’s Office, Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), Boston Public Schools (BPS), Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services, Jamaica Plain Coalition, Smart from the Start, Sociedad Latina, Roxbury Boys and Girls Club and the South End Community Health Center, as well as unaffiliated residents of Fenway, Mission Hill, Jamaica Plan and Roxbury.  All of the community-based CAB members were asked to join because of their knowledge of and ability to advocate for their community, so there is a great deal of camaraderie and a sense of common purpose. The city agencies on the CAB include the major child-service organization in the city, BPS, and the City’s public health organization, BPHC, both of which have a detailed understanding of the strengths and gaps in services for children and families as well as the policies that impact children and families. The community-based representatives work well with the city agency representatives and see our work together as an opportunity to leverage their resources and clout to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding the hospital.

b.  How do the different types of organizations on the board come into agreement for how to best promote health in the community? 

CAB members play an active role in developing the hospital’s triennial community needs assessment, which is intended to identify the most pressing community health needs. CAB members do so by advising the hospital directly and by coordinating focus groups to enable the hospital to hear directly from the families that the needs assessment is designed to serve. Decision-making within the CAB about how to prioritize community health investments is done through consensus, which has worked well and reflects our common interest.

3.     For Fenway CDC, what is the relationship between community development and health? How does the Community Health Initiative fit into your mission as an organization?
Six years ago, through the Binney St. Community Health Initiative, Boston Children’s’ and FCDC agreed to provide funding for my position and to expand my responsibilities to include advising families living in FCDC- managed housing on eligibility for and accessing of government benefits, social services, health insurance and healthcare, in addition to employment counseling. The role, now referred to as Director of Community Programs also works in the capacity of a Resident Services Manager, which is closer to a traditional Community Health Worker role in that I connect families with medical, social, government and employment services that promote their overall health and well-being. I also coordinate educational workshops that bring Boston Children’s experts into the community to provide parents with information on everything from managing their child’s asthma to parenting a teen. In addition, I, along with my CAB colleagues, have spent the past year advocating with and educating the hospital about the need to address affordable housing as a public health issue.  This has resulted in the hospital joining a broad-based coalition that is advocating for legislative changes that will address children’s health, hunger and homelessness. It has also resulted in Boston Children’s forming a collaboration with Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Horizons for Homeless Children to better identify and connect homeless patient families with the services and resources they need to stabilize their lives and maintain their health. In addition, Boston Children’s recently entered into an unprecedented agreement with Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services to provide Housing Creation Linkage funds for a 45-unit affordable family housing development before the Boston Children’s project that would generate the Housing Linkage has received all the necessary State approvals, placing the funds 100% at-risk. So, in addition to expanding the range and quality of services available to FCDC resident families, this partnership fits into FCDC’s mission as an advocate for increasing and diversifying the resources available for affordable housing. 

a.  Does your work on community health precede the relationship with Children’s- if so, how? What were you doing before to connect community development to health? 

FCDC’s partnership with Boston Children’s has helped us to recognize that health doesn’t begin in the doctor’s office or the hospital, but in the homes, schools, neighborhoods and workplaces. Using that definition, I’ve been working to improve community health for a number of years by coordinating the Walk to Work Program, a partnership with the Longwood Medical Area hospitals to train and employ community residents for careers in the health sector. 

4. What programs at Fenway CDC have resulted from your involvement in the community health initiative? How has being involved with Children’s shaped your organization’s work? 

Participation in the Community Health Initiative has resulted in a 50% increase in Fenway Family Coalition membership, in part, through additional offerings such as Fenway CDC’s first health fair and through hospital-supported workshops on asthma, nutrition, infant health, adolescent health, mental health, smoking cessation, Weight Watchers, CPR and Zumba.  In addition, we’ve established a walking club, which, among other things, is promoting an increased sense of community among residents. 

5.  What advice do you have for other CDCs for working with hospitals on community health initiatives and serving on advisory boards for hospital community programs? 

One major way that healthcare institutions/organizations can play a part in community development activities beyond their traditional role of providing health care services is by supporting asset-building programs and affordable housing initiatives. These are areas where healthcare organizations are involved in direct community development activities. Of course, when forming an advisory board, you need to understand its purpose, but you also need to know what specific skills to seek. My advice in working with hospitals on community health initiatives and serving on advisory boards for hospital community programs would be to look for individuals with diverse skills, expertise and experience. You want members to be problem-solvers who are quick studies, have strong communications skills and are open minded. Getting a heavyweight on your Advisory Board can be a big bonus and will give you credibility, but not always. It’s also important to have members who are going to spend the time to give you thoughtful and candid advice, who represent and reflect the community, are well-connected and willing to make introductions to community members who are in the trenches doing the grassroots organizing and outreach for those community residents who are in dire need of our resources the most.   



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9 MACDC Members Rental Round Award Recipients

August 17th, 2016 by Don Bianchi


On August 15, Governor Baker and State officials announced the award of over $59 million in subsidy funding as well as state and federal housing tax credits that will generate more than $210 million in subsidized private equity.  When completed, these 26 projects will create or preserve 1,420 units, including 1,334 affordable units, with 267 of these affordable units reserved for households earning less than 30% of area median income.

MACDC Members were well represented among the awardees, with 9 receiving awards, resulting in the creation or preservation of 334 affordable units:

  • East Boston CDC will create 32 affordable newly constructed units in East Boston at Paris Village.
  • Harborlight Community Partners will rehabilitate 26 affordable units for formerly homeless individuals in Salem at Boston Street Crossing.
  • Hilltown CDC will newly construct Goshen Senior Housing, 10 affordable units in Goshen’s town center.
  • Home City Housing will rehabilitate 61 affordable units at E. Henry Twiggs Phase II, a scattered-site preservation project in Springfield.
  • Housing Assistance Corporation (in collaboration with Preservation of Affordable Housing) will construct Canal Bluffs Phase III in Bourne, creating 44 units of townhouse-style affordable housing.
  • Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly will develop 61 affordable senior housing units at 132 Chestnut Hill Avenue in Brighton.
  • Oak Hill CDC will rehabilitate and preserve 24 affordable units as part of the Union Hill Rental Housing Initiative II in Worcester.
  • Southwest Boston CDC will develop 27 affordable units at The Residences at Fairmount Station, a new transit-oriented housing project in Hyde Park.
  • Urban Edge will construct Walker Park Apartments in Roxbury, creating 49 affordable units.

While the projects funded will meet critical housing needs in communities across the Commonwealth, another 37 projects for which sponsors submitted applications were not awarded funding in this rental round, largely due to a lack of available funding.  MACDC will continue to advocate for more resources that will enable the Commonwealth to award funding to more projects in future rounds.  Furthermore, as only 2 of the 26 projects were community-scale projects (projects of fewer than 20 units), the need for a community-scale housing program, targeted to these smaller projects, is evident.  DHCD has indicated its intention to hold such a round in early calendar year 2017.  MACDC and its Members eagerly await the launch of this community-scale housing program.


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

August 12th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

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

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

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

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


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Why Walkability is a Priority for Community Development

August 9th, 2016 by Kavya Sekar

More and more research continues to confirm that walkable neighborhoods are better for the environment, the local economy and the health of a neighborhood’s residents. Yet, low income communities of color are often less walkable than others. Walkability is a health equity issue given that walkable neighborhoods have lower rate of chronic disease and given the alarming recent spike in pedestrian deaths in the region. Experts in urban planning, community development and public health are therefore coming together to recognize and promote the importance of walkability.

In Dorchester, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (CSNDC) in partnership with the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle Neighbors United (TNTNU) was inspired to improve the walkability of their neighborhood from a survey of over a thousand residents in the Talbot-Norfolk area which revealed that residents’ main concerns with the neighborhood included health and environmental sustainability. They were particularly interested in incorporating more green space and opportunities for active transit (biking and walking) in the streets of the neighborhood, along with other environmental sustainability measures. CSNDC and TNTNU, therefore, decided to turn the neighborhood into the “Eco Innovation District,” with funding from the Barr foundation with the goal of promoting transit oriented development in the neighborhood and along the Fairmount Line.

“If you afford someone the opportunity to live in an open space, an open beautiful space, it improves their lives overall” said Tiffany Cogell, a healthy neighborhood champion of the Talbot-Norfolk triangle area. “I believe that low income people are just as deserving of a beautiful place to live as anyone else”

The neighborhood currently faces major safety issues. It is a common cut-through area for drivers who speed through the neighborhood to get to and from downtown Boston. As a result, multiple crashes and a bike death occurred in the area last year. In addition, a major street in the neighborhood, New England avenue, has absolutely no sidewalks. Residents are therefore limited in how they can move around in their neighborhood. As a result, while residents may take a short trip to the corner store by walking or biking, they are unlikely to make longer trips due to lack of walkability in the neighborhood.

“Getting people in the neighborhood out and walking makes them pay attention to the built environment” said Cogell. “People notice when children have to cross an unsafe street to go to school. We have allowed the city to forget our neighborhood by not paying attention.”

To address safety issues, CSNDC has worked with the Boston Transportation Department to designate a slow zone that will include more reduced speed signage, and speed bumps to slow drivers through the neighborhood. CSNDC has also gotten funding from the Boston Public Health Commission to hire residents as Healthy Community Champions, like Cogell. The Healthy Community Champions, mostly mothers from the neighborhood, have conducted a survey of 130 residents about health and mobility. They are now consolidating the findings and using them to inform future work in the neighborhood.

CSNDC also relies on the advocacy and technical assistance of organizations like WalkBoston and Liveable Streets who help them scope out projects and helped advocate on their behalf to the Department of Transportation. As Dave Queeley, Eco-Innovation Fellow at CSNDC has noted,

“it takes a village” to improve a neighborhood and create change.

To help communities around the state understand how to create their own “villages” to boost walkability, WalkBoston and the Mel King Institute teamed up earlier this year to host a workshop on “Promoting Walkability: Creating Safe and Active Neighborhoods.” The workshop, which took place in Codman Square included an overview of the benefits and possible infrastructural improvements to enhance walkability from WalkBoston, and case studies from projects around Boston including the Eco Innovation district along with the following projects:

  • Mike Chavez an architect and Enterprise Rose Fellow with the Fairmount CDC Collaborative, spoke about the Collaborative’s efforts to promote affordable housing and smart design in the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park.
  • Marah Holland, the Health Equity and Wellness Coordinator for Roxbury in Motion and the Madison Park Development Corporation shared stories of community-driven efforts to create Complete Streets in Roxbury that use built environment improvements that improve pedestrian conditions as critical tools to improve social equity, public safety and community health.

While WalkBoston and the Mel King Institute successfully concluded their workshop, the broader conversation on walkability and building more sustainable and equitable communities is by no means over.  

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State House Report: Around Midnight Legislature's Final Formal Session Delivers "Huge" Gains for CDCs!

August 2nd, 2016 by David Bryant

On Sunday July 31, the Massachusetts Legislature held its last formal meeting of the 2015 – 16 legislative session, and the House and Senate completed action on several major initiatives.  The most important legislation for MACDC and its members was the comprehensive economic development bill, which passed at around midnight.  MACDC has been working with our partners and allied representatives and senators to advance many important policy priorities in this bill, and we are pleased to report that nearly all of our requests and recommendations were included in the final Conference Agreement that was sent to Governor Baker’s desk.  We have been in regular contact with Administration officials at each stage of the legislation’s development and eagerly await Governor Baker’s final signature, so that we can pursue the next objectives, which will be to help design and implement several of these important new initiatives.  We are very pleased with the legislative outcome for MACDC’s priority interests in the 2015 – 2016 legislative session and grateful to all of our CDC members who have helped us to advance our two-year advocacy and policy agenda.

Highlights:  An Act Relative to Job Creation, Workforce Development and Infrastructure Investment (H4569) includes definitive language to advance three core MACDC priorities: (1) to improve the administration of the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program, (2) to provide a $45 million capital authorization for the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, and (3) to provide $6 million of capital for the Massachusetts Food Trust. 

The Conferees retained a House adopted amendment, sponsored by Speaker Pro-Tempore Patricia Haddad, to authorize $1 million in new capital funding for the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) to support a matching grant program for CDFIs and CDCs.

The Conferees adopted a Senate-backed amendment to create a Donation Tax Credit (DTC) to allow existing State Low Income Housing Credits to support more housing preservation (prime sponsors include:  Senator Chandler, Senator Dorcena Forry, Representative Honan, Representative Rushing, and Representative Kaufman), and Community Benefit Districts (CBDs) provisions (sponsored by Senator Wolf), which will enable collaborative public-private-nonprofit partnerships to implement local initiatives and to enhance community revitalization.  In addition to the legislators referenced above, MACDC is thankful and grateful to Representative Peake, Representative Kulik, Representative Wagner, Representative Dempsey, Representative Madaro, Representative Walsh, Representative Holmes, Representative Madden, Representative Carvalho, Representative Donahue, Representative Smola, Senator Donoghue, Senator O’Connor Ives, Senator DiDomenico, Senator Rodrigues, Senator L’Italien, Speaker DeLeo, and Senate President Rosenberg for their commitment to CDCs, our shared goals, and the opportunity to work collaboratively throughout the 189th General Court.

Here is a brief comparison of key economic development priorities contained in the House and Senate bills and the final Conference Agreement (H.4569) approved by the Legislature Sunday night and sent to Governor Baker this morning.

An Act Relative to Job Creation, Workforce Development and Infrastructure Investment (H.4483) (S.2423)

Priority issue house bill (h.4483) senate bill (s.2423) macdc recommendations to conference committee
citc - revised "95% rule" 3 yrs prior allocation of credits Technical correction adopted Technical correction adopted Retained in final Conference Agreement
massachusetts food trust program $6 Million capital authorization $6 Million capital authorization Retained in final Conference Agreement
brownfields redevelopment fund $45 Million capital authorization $45 Million capital authorization Retained in final Conference Agreement
transformative development initiative $45 Million capital authorization $45 Million capital authorization Retained in final Conference Agreement
massworks infrastructure program $500 Million capital authorization $330 Million capital authorization Support House provision  Retained $500 Million capital authorization
smart growth trust fund (chapter 40r) $15 Million capital authorization $7.5 Million capital authorization Support House Provision Retained $15 Million capital authorization
cdfi / cdc small business lending grant program $1 Million   Support House provision Retained $1 Million capital authorization
earned income tax credit (eitc)   Increased State EITC from 23% to 28% Support Senate provision Proposal not included in Conference Agreement
donation tax credit   Amendment adopted Support Senate provision  Retained in final Conference Agreement
community benefit districts (cbds)   Amendment adopted Support Senate provision Retained in final Conference Agreement




Commenting Closed
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