An Honor: Peter J. Gomes Service Award

September 20th, 2016 by Bethany Blake

On Sept. 11, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton hosted the Peter J. Gomes Service Award Ceremony & Day of Service (@ Lynn English HS). During the meaningful 9/11 commemorative event, HCP's Andrew DeFranza was named the recipient of the inaugural Peter J. Gomes Service Award. LINK HERE to watch Rep. Moulton's remarks & presentation.

Nominated with five other amazing finalists, Andrew was presented this prestigious recognition for his work in furthering the mission of affordable housing on the North Shore.

READ MORE in the Boston Globe here. HCP is so fortunate to have such an outstanding leader.

Congratulations, Andrew!

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CHAPA Appointed Rachel Heller as their New Executive Director

September 13th, 2016 by CHAPA
Photo Credit: Leise Jones Photography

CHAPA is pleased to announce that our Board of Directors has appointed Rachel Heller as our new Executive Director. Rachel has been CHAPA’s Director of Public Policy for the past four years. During her tenure, CHAPA has successfully advocated for significant increases in housing programs, passed a $1.4 billion housing bond bill and launched the On Solid Ground coalition, among many other accomplishments.  Rachel began her career in Housing Policy in 2003, and among other roles, has served as the Chief of Staff/Housing Policy Director for former State Senator Susan Tucker and the Director of Public Policy for the Alliance for Business Leadership. 

Rachel will begin her new role as of October 4. Congratulations Rachel!

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Cleveland Rocks

September 8th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

It has been a big year for Cleveland, Ohio – the Cavaliers won the NBA Championship bringing a title to the city for the first time since 1964.  The Republicans held their national convention there. And last week, more than 200 community developers and public health advocates convened on the city for the 9th Annual Summit of the National Alliance for Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA).

I was lucky enough to join eight others from the Bay State- two MACDC staff, four members and two of our allies from the Mass. Public Health Association – and we were treated to three exciting, educational and inspirational days.  We now understand why The Drew Carey Show used the song “Cleveland Rocks” for the title sequence.

The primary focus of the summit was a day long Symposium on the growing convergence between community development and community health.  We heard from national leaders like Dr. Doug Jutte from the Build Healthy Places Network and Kevin Barnett from the Public Health Institute and learned about the cutting edge work of CDC associations in Philadelphia, South Carolina and Arizona.   We also learned about how CDCs can more closely partner with hospitals in their communities – something that MACDC will be focusing on during the coming year with training and technical assistance for our members.

For me the highlight of the conference was learning about the amazing work of community developers in Cleveland.  It is easy for those of us who don’t live in Cleveland to embrace the negative stereotypes that persist about this city – the so called “mistake on the lake”.  And the city has serious challenges with thousands of vacant and abandoned properties stemming from the foreclosure crisis – and decades of population decline (from more than 900,000 people to less than 400,000 today).  But virtually everyone we met had a positive attitude – seeing assets where others don’t. 

The good people at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress led us on a terrific tour of the city’s diverse neighborhoods.   We saw new market rate housing being built downtown and in some neighborhoods as urban living gains popularity. We learned that the City is demolishing 3,000 vacant homes a year, setting the stage for redevelopment.  When possible vacant lots are being given to adjacent homeowners to expand their lot and ensure their maintenance.  While Cleveland’s low housing prices are a challenge, they are also an opportunity.  ESOP Reality – a non-profit social enterprise - told a story about a 24-year-old woman making $22,000/year who was able to buy her first home.  Boston certainly can’t offer that sort of opportunity.

We also met the founders of Upcycle Parts Shop, another social enterprise that uses recycled materials to create art.  In their first year of operation they diverted 6 tons of waste, crafted with 2,500 program participants and welcomed 956 visitors to their store.  Conference attendees were among those participants as we were led through an ice breaking exercise in which we used recycled materials to build a mini city. Where some see garbage – these community developers see art supplies, education, social capital and neighborhood uplift.

We heard from Mansfield Frazier who transformed the vacant lot across the street from his home into a vineyard growing grapes that now produce award winning wine – yes a vineyard in the middle of a Cleveland neighborhood.  His vision for urban farming includes a reentry program for people coming out of prison.  What an inspiration!  Learn more by watching his Ted Talk:   His vision:  A “green city on a blue lake”.

While we were in Cleveland for business, most of us took some extra time to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where in addition to learning about the history of Rock music we also saw a great exhibit about the role of music in social movements.  And of course several of us went to watch the Cleveland Indians beat the Minnesota Twins as they continue their march to the American League Central Division title.  Actually, given the positive momentum in this city, maybe, just maybe, the Indians will win it all.  

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Massachusetts Drought Emergency Loan Fund Launched

September 7th, 2016 by

Due to the unprecedented drought conditions in Massachusetts this summer, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito have announced a Massachusetts Drought Emergency Loan Fund to assist the state’s farms and agriculture-related small businesses affected by these conditions.

Farms and small businesses impacted by the drought can apply for micro-loans of $5,000 to $10,000 from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC), which will make up to $1 million in loan funds available, according to state officials.

“This new loan fund will provide affordable working capital loans to small businesses, including family farms grappling with a downturn in business caused by this prolonged drought,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “Additionally, we are activating all of our business development channels, to remind consumers that Massachusetts farmers markets and farm stands still have top-quality produce for sale, and they have our full support.”

MGCC is responsible for funding the loan, managing the loan portfolio, collecting payments and overseeing all decision-making regarding loan approval.

“We are pleased to offer support to struggling family farms and related businesses hit hard by the drought,” said Larry Andrews, President of MGCC. “Our team will provide prompt review of each application and work to help local farmers in need.”

“This financial support will help farm-related businesses regain financial stability and recover from lost revenue due to the drought,” said Nam Pham, Assistant Secretary of Business Development and International Investment.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of Massachusetts experienced ‘severe drought’ conditions this summer, while a few places reached ‘extreme drought’ status.

In August, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton, issued this information about the drought conditions in portions of Massachusetts.

Officials estimate the Massachusetts Drought Emergency Loan Fund will run through November 2016. For more information and an online application, visit or call 617-337-2803.

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Nonprofit Capacity Building on a Shoestring

September 6th, 2016 by Susan Fitter Harris

For community development corporations and other nonprofits, the work of building capacity is never done. Whether you’ve launched new initiatives or programs, experienced staff turnover or weathered changes in your local environment, your organization will need to build or rebuild capacity from time to time. Unfortunately, many nonprofits operate with thin margins and have little in the way of resources to devote to staff training or consultant expertise.

We spoke with Joe Kriesberg, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC), for his thoughts on how CDCs can boost their capacity without spending a lot of money. His advice? Drink coffee.

“I ask people to have to have coffee all the time,” says Kriesberg. For example, “if I want to learn about RAD [Rental Assistance Demonstration], I will call someone who knows about RAD and ask if we can have coffee and they can explain it to me. I can learn more in a 45-minute coffee than in a training,” he continues, because he is directing the conversation and learning exactly what he needs to learn. In turn, Kriesberg makes himself available to peers and colleagues to talk about topics in which he has expertise.

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