Important Changes to Get the Lead Out Program Will Improve Children's Health

October 28th, 2016 by Don Bianchi

MassHousing has announced significant enhancements to the Get the Lead Out Program (GTLO).   GTLO provides low-cost financing to owners of 1-4 family properties to remove lead paint from their homes and reduce the possibilities of lead poisoning in children.   These enhancements will make it easier for all families throughout the Commonwealth to gain access to GTLO funds.  Removing certain obstacles will also allow additional Lenders and Local Rehab Agencies to participate in the program. CLICK HERE for MassHousing memo (PDF)

Owner-occupant families with children residing in the property under the age of six, or under court order to delead their homes, will continue to be able to access 0% “deferred loans”, with repayment not due until the home is sold, transferred or refinanced.  One big change is that all income-eligible owner occupants will now also be able to access 0% deferred loans, instead of loans at 2% requiring regular repayment.  This preventative approach will result in the deleading of units that will be the future homes of families with children.  There are other helpful changes, that will lower upfront payments required of borrowers and broaden the lenders and local agencies participating in the program.

MACDC and its Members, along with our allies at CHAPA, MAHA, and the MA Public Health Association played a crucial role in advocating for changes.  We appreciate that MassHousing, the MA Department of Housing and Community Development, and the MA Department of Public Health were open and receptive to our recommendations.  Because of this, a good program is now even better, which will result in more homes becoming lead free and fewer children becoming lead poisoned.   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.  Fewer homes with lead means fewer sick children, plain and simple.

The enhancements to the Get the Lead Out Program will be effective for all loans reserved by MassHousing on or after October 25, 2016.  The next step will be for MassHousing to hold 5 Regional informational sessions across the state.  The locations will be North Shore, South Shore, Boston, Central/Worcester and Western MA. MACDC will work with MassHousing to plan and put the word out about these upcoming sessions.

Should you have any questions, please contact Deanna Ramsden at MassHousing at 617-854-1822 or for assistance.

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A Personal Message from Chrystal Kornegay from the 30th Anniversary Celebration of LIHTC

October 26th, 2016 by Chrystal Kornegay

The year was 1986.  I’ll never forget it.

Many things happened that year but two have influenced my life forever.  The was the death of my mother.  And the second was that LIHTC became law.

At the time, these two events had absolutely no connection.  I didn’t even know what the LIHTC was back in 1986.  But unbeknownst to me in the mid-80s, the program would inadvertently play a major role in my life.

My mother’s death market yet another period of instability in my life by putting my housing situation in jeopardy.  I never lived in a tax credit subsidized unit, but my situational housing issues helped me understand just how critical housing stability is.  Housing instability impacts life beyond finances.  Worrying about it can consume you and leave little room to think beyond where you’re going to sleep that night.

That experience began my interest and passion in urban planning and community development.  Along that path I somehow ended up at MIT.  And a major part of my education was working at The Community Builders.  That’s where I learned about the pivotal role the LIHTC played in providing neighborhood and family stability.  I was incredibly fortunate to learn the trade in the presence of geniuses who were living examples of how to apply talent and passion to creating good for everyone.  People like Willie Jones, Judy Weber and Swan Oey become my heroes and taught me so much about this great work we all do.

The I got the honor of learning firsthand the impact of the LIHTC working at Urban Edge with Mossik Hacobian.  Working at the community level, I was inspired and humbled by families in properties that were supported by the LIHTC.  These folks worked, raised families and made their neighborhoods better places.  This experience is what taught me the power and true purpose of the LIHTC.

And then the Governor blew me away by asking to help him create and implement an agenda based on the work I had spent the past 20 years doing.  What a privilege it is to run the program in my current role as Undersecretary of DHCD, and to have joined a small but impactful group of agency leaders from Amy Anthony to Aaron Gornstein.  And to do it alongside one of the nation’s most uncompromising stewards of the program, Kate Racer.

The LIHTC program has not only provided stability to millions of Americans across our country, but it has created a community.  And in Massachusetts, this community is small but mighty as is evidenced today.  Let’s never forget the folks we are here to serve but let’s not overlook the value in serving together.

On behalf of the Baker Polito Administration, we thank you for all you do and for continuing to allow us to be part of this beloved community.

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Massachusetts Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit

October 26th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

MACDC staff and members joined with hundreds of colleagues to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program at an event hosted by the Department of Housing and Community Development on October 21.  The event featured remarks from Secretary Jay Ash, Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay,  and the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Housing, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and Rep. Kevin Honan.  All of the speakers celebrated the collaboration, commitment and talent of affordable housing professionals and community leaders who have enabled the Commonwealth to build or preserve 58,855 affordable rental homes across the state over the past 30 years.

The event also featured interesting and thought provoking remarks by David Smith of the Affordable Housing Institute who talked about why the LIHTC is such a powerful tool – and the largest federal affordable housing program ever. He also pointed out that the program does not currently meet all of our housing needs and that new creativity and tools are needed to address the full range of housing challenges we face.  David Gasson from Boston Capital talked about the improving prospects of Congress passing the Hatch/Cantwell bill that would expand the LIHTC by 50% over five years and allow developers to serve a broader range of incomes.  He also noted that the success of the LIHTC depends on also increasing funding for rental subsidies and the HOME program, as well as local and state subsidies that are needed to fill financing gaps and fully leverage the tax credits.

Throughout the celebration, there was a recognition that for many of us in the room, affordable housing is both a personal and professional passion.  Perhaps no one made that point more powerfully than Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay who shared some reflections in this short statement.  

MACDC wishes to congratulate DHCD and our many friends, colleagues and partners for using the LIHTC to create better homes and neighborhoods for so many of our neighbors.

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Youth: Not “Tomorrow’s Leaders”, But Today’s

October 20th, 2016 by Christine Nguyen

In just the last year, they advocated for increasing affordable housing and expanding park space in Chinatown at MassDOT meetings. They organized a Chinatown pedestrian safety campaign, and made an appeal to Boston’s Transportation Department for structural improvements on Chinatown’s streets. They guided tours of Chinatown for hundreds of visitors to bring attention to Chinatown’s continued struggle with gentrification, while highlighting its rich culture and history. In an age of internet activism, they are going beyond social media, taking to the streets to enact change on a grassroots level.

They are all between the ages of 14 and 19, and accomplished all of this while tackling college applications and AP courses; balancing athletics and other extracurricular activities; working part-time jobs; and taking care of younger siblings. They are a collective force to be reckoned with, addressing the social and economic injustices and planning inadequacies that have contributed to the siege of countless homes and the displacement of hundreds of families in Chinatown over the last 70 years.

Starting in 2005, Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC) made a conscious decision to incorporate youth development in our work. What started as a youth-run, public radio show has now evolved into a year-round leadership program that empowers high school students through professional development and community organizing opportunities, with an emphasis on placemaking. With guidance and support, youth have enacted real changes in the community and have exceeded our expectations, but more importantly their own, “One of the most valuable things I learned was the sense of community. Building community can start with a small group of high schoolers," recalls Harvey, an ACDC youth program alum.

Debbie, ACDC’s Community Planner, emphasizes that involving youth enhances her work, “I depend on the local youth to tell me what they and their families need to be built or reshaped in the Chinatown neighborhood, and the most rewarding part of my job is empowering them and other residents to help shape our community. My planning interns, Jin Yang*, Billy, and Zi, have been key leaders in our community visioning for public parcel 12. I have learned so much from them. I look forward to what more we can accomplish together, and I am so proud to see them grow in their capacity as community planners in their own right.”

After a number of harrowing pedestrian accidents in Chinatown this year, ACDC youth became inspired to work with Debbie to run a pedestrian safety campaign. The youth collaborated with WalkBoston, Chinatown Main Street, and other community organizations to conduct research and observe traffic and pedestrian activity on Kneeland Street. Their presentation to Boston’s Department of Transportation included suggestions to improve pedestrian safety, such as adding crosswalks and extending pedestrian signal times. You can watch the video documenting their work at

Wenyin, a high school sophomore and Chinatown resident, served as the project manager for the pedestrian safety campaign. She closed the presentation by stating, “Chinatown has been torn apart by institutional expansion and the development of I-93. If the City cares, make it walkable. Our lives come before the convenience of cars going in and out of the city. When my family crosses the street, I want them to be safe.” As a direct result of the campaign, the Boston Transportation Department has increased the pedestrian walk light time on Kneeland and Harrison from approximately 12 seconds to 20 seconds, which makes crossing much more manageable for elders and small children.

“The experience and knowledge that I gained inspired me to care for my neighborhood. Though at times our efforts may seem small compared to the sweeping changes caused by outside developers, I believe that if all of us work hard and work together to engage and improve our community, then anything is possible,” Jin Yang*, a high school junior and Chinatown resident, reflects on her experience as a planning intern. Jin Yang and her family were victims of gentrification, when they were recently forced to leave their home in Chinatown due to their former landlord raising the rent beyond what they could afford. She is not going down quietly. Jin Yang has been working with staff at ACDC to document and share her story with the community.

Community planning and organizing must be an inclusive process, and youth deserve a seat at the table. They provide valuable insight into community challenges such as the housing crisis and gaps in the education system. Whether through after-school programs, having a youth board at your organization, or inviting young people to community meetings, it is important to provide real opportunities for youth to have a voice and work towards positive changes in our communities. Imagine what our “future leaders” will achieve, if we support them in accomplishing great things now.

*Name of youth changed for confidentiality.


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Boston Rally for Community Preservation Act

October 7th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

MACDC and several CDCs joined with Mayor Marty Walsh and the Yes for a Better Boston Committee at a Campaign Rally for the Community Preservation Act in Dorchester last week.  The Rally (watch VIDEO here) was designed to gain support for Question 5 on the ballot this November.  Passage of Question 5 would enable Boston to benefit from the Community Preservation Act and generate $20 million annually to fund affordable housing, parks and historic preservation.  The CPA is already operating in 161 cities and towns and is on the ballot in several more municipalities this year including Boston, Chelsea, Watertown, Springfield, Holyoke and Pittsfield.


MACDC’s President Joe Kriesberg is serving as Chair of the Yes for a Better Boston Committee and spoke at the rally about the need for everyone to spread the word to voters who may not yet know about the benefits of CPA and the importance of voting Yes on 5.

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