State Awards $1.5 Million for Sustainable Homeownership Counseling and Foreclosure Prevention

April 30th, 2019 by Don Bianchi

On April 22, the Massachusetts Division of Banks awarded $1.5 Million in grants for Foreclosure Counseling and First-Time Homebuyer Education through the 2019 Chapter 206 Awards.  A total of 20 awards were made to 10 foreclosure prevention regional centers and 10 consumer counseling organizations which provide homebuyer education.

CDCs continue to be among the leaders in providing these essential services, with twelve of the twenty awards made to MACDC Members or coalitions which include MACDC Members.  CDCs serving urban, rural, and suburban areas across the Commonwealth are helping homebuyers acquire their first homes and assisting homeowners at risk of foreclosure in keeping their homes.

The counseling awards were created through Chapter 206 of the Acts of 2007 – a law that MACDC helped enact through our advocacy with CHAPA and MAHA.  They are funded by fees associated with the licensing of mortgage loan originators.  In 2018, the Regional Foreclosure Centers assisted almost 4,800 clients, helping 84% of these clients to avoid foreclosure.  Homebuyer education was provided to almost 2,700 clients.  This counseling helped prospective homebuyers make an educated decision on when to purchase a home.  Furthermore, it helped homebuyers secure affordable and sustainable mortgage loans- only .02% of these clients purchased a home with a subprime mortgage!

MACDC appreciates the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing support for this program and is grateful to the Division of Banks for its effective stewardship of this important resource.

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CDCs Invest over $800 Million in 2018 in Providing Homes, Jobs, and Other Services

April 30th, 2019 by Don Bianchi

The results are in!  MACDC just released its 2019 GOALs Report which documents the collective impact of CDCs across the Commonwealth.  For the second consecutive year, CDC investment in their communities topped $800 Million.  Through this investment, CDCs improved the communities they serve by:

  • Creating or preserving 1,535 Homes
  • Creating or preserving 4,305 Jobs
  • Providing technical assistance to 1,369 Entrepreneurs
  • Providing 84,224 Families with Housing, Jobs, or Other Services
  • Engaging 1,910 Leaders.

The Report highlights some of these impacts, including:

  • Mill Cities Community Investments helping to convene a $1 Million Emergency Fund for businesses impacted by the fires caused by a natural gas explosion in the region;
  • WATCH organizing a major grassroots campaign to increase the City of Waltham’s inclusionary housing requirements from 10% to 15%;
  • Worcester Common Ground partnering with YouthBuild to create two units of family housing built entirely by youth; and
  • NewVue Communities graduating its first cohort of Community Stewards, trained in Community Organizing.

Through these initiatives, and others, CDCS across Massachusetts act on the values that guide our work: lifting up community voice and power, building inclusive communities, and advancing economic opportunity.  As we celebrate the results from 2018, we already can’t wait to see what CDCs achieve in 2019!

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MACDC Lobby Day Draws Largest Crowd in Years

April 30th, 2019 by

On April 25, more than 200 community developers representing 43 CDCs from across the Commonwealth came together for MACDC’s Annual Lobby Day at the State House.  CDC leaders met with dozens of legislators to push for our shared agenda, including increased funding for Small Business Technical Assistance, legislation to strengthen the Community Preservation Trust Fund, and a Four-Step Agenda for addressing our housing crisis.  At noon, these leaders were joined by dozens of friends, allies and legislators in the Great Hall to hear from Senator Brendan Crighton who thanked the leaders for their advocacy and their local leadership.  CDC leaders also heard from Edison Ribeiro of Erise Builder’s Inc., a small business owner from Jamaica Plain who talked about his journey from Madison Park Vocational School High School, to working for a company whose CEO mentored him, to starting his own construction company, to getting help from JPNDC and now hiring and mentoring young people who work for him.  His inspiring story and leadership reminded us that everyone needs help, and everyone can pay it forward.

In the afternoon, the MACDC Board of Directors meet with Governor Baker for over an hour.  This was the fifth year in a row that we have had the opportunity to meet with the Governor on Lobby Day. Each of these conversations has been substantive and productive, but this year’s meeting might have been the most important.  We dedicated over half the time to talking about the book Color of Law, which we had given to the Governor at our Convention last October.  At the time, the Governor said he would read the book and discuss it with us at our next meeting. True to his word, we did just that, having a fascinating and at times emotional, conversation about racism, segregation, and what each of us can do to redress the harm caused by decades of racist federal, state, and local housing policies.

“This was one of our largest and most impactful Lobby Days in years,” said MACDC President Joseph Kriesberg.  “We thank everyone who came – especially the dozens of people who were attending their first MACDC Lobby Day.”

To see pictures from the event, go to our Facebook Page.

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Remarks by a small business owner

April 30th, 2019 by Edison Ribeiro

I’ve been working in the construction business for over 15 years. Starting as an apprentice while I was attending the Madison Park High School to journeyman under a different company, to owning my own business.

Two years ago, I needed some assistance and confidence to make my dream of owning my own business come to life. My mentor, Arnold Johnson of Crosswinds Enterprises, invited me to explore JPNDC, a community-based nonprofit that holds programs for small businesses looking to succeed in the community.

At JPNDC, I met Carlos Espinoza, the director of Small Business Services who has become my go to guy throughout this journey. Carlos started off by assisting me with writing my business plan, the layout of how I saw my business into existence today, and has helped me break barriers that challenged me to becoming a business owner.

From there Carlos has assisted me into programs targeted towards managing, bookkeeping, accounting, resources to capital and credit repair. All of these hold great importance into managing a successful business. Through the Small Business Technical Assistance Program, provided through JPNDC, it allows entrepreneurs as myself to network with successful business owners and vendors within the community. The program provides you with a mentor who has direct experience in the field and business world. Arnold Johnson has continued to mentor me along with several others within the program.

This joint effort has made it possible for me to hire six residents from the community into my business, which in return has allowed me to take on additional jobs and responsibilities. It has also given me the opportunity to give back by taking on a student from South Eastern Vocational High School through the co-op program.

Through the mentorship, business support programs, and networking, the program has also allowed me to make relationships and in return, turn those relationships into new jobs. And I believe others within the program could say the same.

I am confident that with the continued support of the program and my mentor I will continue to succeed and grow as a small business owner in Boston. I believe additional support to JPNDC, from the community, city and state will also help double or even triple these opportunities for myself, along with several other small business owners within the community and the city. 

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Supporting professionals of color in the community development field should be a top priority

April 19th, 2019 by Beyazmin Jimenez

MACDC President Joe Kriesberg and MassHousing’s Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay joined in a dialogue with students from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice to kick off a conversation on ways to increase the hiring, engagement, and retention of professionals of color in the community development and planning field. The conversation was prompted through a new partnership between the Institute for Nonprofit Practice and Santander Bank in which Santander underwrote 6 fully funded fellowships for community development professionals of color to attend the Institute for Nonprofit Practice’s Core Certificate program. The intensive year-long program equips leaders in the nonprofit sector with skills, knowledge, and networks they need to make strategic, mission-driven decisions.

The six Santander Fellows- Angie Liou, Executive Director of Asian CDC, Beyazmin Jimenez, Resident and Civic Engagement Manager at Madison Park Development Corp., Carlos Espinoza, Small Business Program Director at Jamaica Plain NDC, Katherine Martinez, Executive Director at Lena Park CDC, Dava Mallebranche, Program Representative at Metro Housing Boston, and Jason Boyd, Director of Community Organizing at Codman Square CDC- have embarked on a year-long program with the Institute and have dedicated time to exploring ways to better serve other professionals of color in the community development field.

Early on, the challenges identified by the cohort related to the need for more intentional hiring practices. Born out of the civil rights era, at a time when our federal government had begun to dramatically reduce its support of local jurisdictions, community development organizations emerged as a response to better serve the needs of residents around housing and civic engagement efforts. More than forty years later, the field of community development has expanded and grown into a large industry producing billions in revenue nationwide. With affordable housing development at its core, community development organizations have reached a crossroads here in Massachusetts where housing prices continue to skyrocket.

While many CDC’s continue to offer an array of services from small business support to homeownership counseling, real estate development remains the key source of revenue for most. Fellows identified that a key path to promotion and growth within CDC’s skewed towards real estate and project management roles, yet many of these opportunities are highly competitive and remain in the hands of mostly White candidates. In order to meet the needs and demands of our real estate development work, CDC’s need to engage in hiring practices that promote skill development opportunities for those looking to enter the field. Offering opportunities to local candidates with roots in their community, graduates from community colleges, and hiring residents with organizing backgrounds is much less common than before.

As the CDC field has grown, so has the hiring requirements for entering the field. It is not uncommon to see a job for a role at a CDC that requires a Master’s or Bachelor’s level of education mimicking the competitive skills level of the Greater Boston area and most of the state. Indeed, local universities have responded to the skills demand - Umass Boston just announced a new graduate program for Urban Planning and Community Development. Fellows feared that the shift for high-level skills would threaten CDC’s authenticity and proximity to the communities they serve. Many also questioned whether the demand for extended education relied more on risk aversion from CDC and Board leaders under pressure to hire the “right candidate”. All agreed on an emphasis on hiring practices that better reflected the commitment to diversity and inclusion.

An opportunity that may be open for exploration is developing partnerships with area universities and colleges to recruit graduates into the field of community development. CDC’s are encouraged to identify ways to tap into the vast amount of resources available at local colleges and find ways to engage candidates interested in beginning a career in community development. At the same time, there is value in finding space and resources for candidates with less traditional educational experiences who support the mission of our work and who hold ground in the communities where our work takes place. An emphasis on the "right candidate" may garner the same age-old results and limit the potential of those who are ready to take on the job but are seen as “less competitive” due to their different life experiences. Understanding racial and gender bias and how it manifests in our hiring practices is a necessary key component for board leaders and hiring managers in all our organizations.

The Fellows also expressed a need for intentional mentors and sponsors that would help identify professional opportunities and could make key introductions to enhance their leadership capacity. The need to support the advancement of professionals of color relies on establishing a known network of peers who can share experiences of workplace matters. Navigating the politics of an organization can be crucial to gaining access and having the necessary support from peers, managers, and other leaders can help professionals of color feel included and valued. The work does not end by simply hiring a person of color - intentional outreach, mentorship, and access to opportunity are key to ensuring professionals of color are viewed as a valuable resource to the organization. Executives, managers, and board members need to listen, share, and expand their privilege and social capital to better promote the ideas of people of color within their organizations. Recognizing the power dynamics that exist due to White privilege and class, we can recognize the need for more intentional focus on developing the professional pursuits of minority candidates. Finding time and dedicating organizational resources to ensuring the advancement of professionals of color should be a top priority for all CDC’s.

During our meeting with MACDC’s President and MassHousing’s Executive Director, the leaders expressed their own reflections on the future of the field. Joe Kriesberg shared his ability to navigate his career fresh out of law school and pondered on not seeing the value of keeping his network of colleagues as a source of support; he shared his admiration for the Fellows’ outlook in investing in their personal brand and developing their skills set to meet the demands of their work. A gem shared from Chrystal Kornegay relied on asking for what you want and need and not shying away from executive opportunities due to a perceived lack of experience. Indeed, Fellow Katherine Martinez shared her own career trajectory beginning as an executive assistant at her organization and rising to an executive director position. Kornegay expressed the imperative of understanding the business side of running a nonprofit; she urged the Fellows and their peers to seek professional development opportunities that cultivated these skills like financial courses and diving into the real estate business lines of the organization. Finally, the Fellows chatted about the needs of social settings that allowed for ideas to flow and establish camaraderie. Fellows envisioned growing their networks beyond the professional into a hub of creatives and rising leaders who could work together on larger issues across Greater Boston and beyond.

Our CDC’s are at a critical turning point as more long-standing leaders begin to transition out of leadership roles leaving a space and opportunity to rethink how we want our organizations to thrive into the future. Investing in professionals of color and promoting equity is a sure way to focus our attention on the changing landscape before us and will prepare our organizations for the challenges we still face.

For professionals of color in our field, we offer the following:

  • Get involved on the Board level - Boards of Directors have hiring power and determine key directions for nonprofit organizations. The skills gained as a board member can translate into job opportunities and the expansion of your professional network.
  • You are a leader now - Identify your personal skills and begin working on your personal brand. You do not need to wait to become an executive director to recognize your leadership potential. We all carry unique identities and lived experiences that are beneficial to the growth of our organizations.
  • Find your tribe - Establish a network of peers that can help support your professional growth and with whom you can share ideas. Your network does not need to only consist of high-level executives. Often, your peers can offer a blanket of support and encouragement to help you navigate your career.
  • Invest in your professional development - Training opportunities through the Mel King Institute course offerings and the Institute for Nonprofit Practice management programs can be beneficial in expanding your skill set and networks, and prepare you for the next level in your career.

Special Thank you to: Pat Kirby, Audrey Gillis, and Nate Bae Kupel at Institute for Nonprofit Practice, Joe Kriesberg and Shirronda Almeida at MACDC, Chrystal Kornegay at MassHousing, Santander Bank and all the Santander Fellows at Institute for Nonprofit Practice

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