Community Developers Call for Immediate Action

March 24th, 2020 by


Economic Fall Out from Pandemic Requires Large Scale and Equitable Response

Investments Needed for Small Business, Housing and Non-Profit Sectors

March 24, 2020

CONTACT: Joseph Kriesberg, 617-721-7250 /

A statewide association of Community Development Corporations is calling upon state leaders to take immediate action to address growing and urgent needs for small businesses, tenants, homeowners and nonprofit organizations impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC) represents 88 community-based nonprofits across the state that work to advance economic opportunity, affordable housing and thriving neighborhoods across the state. MACDC is calling for the following actions:

  • $150 million investment in loans, grants, and technical assistance to help small businesses survive and recover from this economic crisis, especially those businesses owned by people of color, immigrants, women, and low- or moderate-income people;

  • Creation of a Massachusetts COVID-19 Small Business Response Task Force to guide the on-going response to this crisis and consider other initiatives to help small businesses through this crisis;

  • Expanded unemployment insurance criteria to cover currently ineligible business owners, such as sole proprietors, independent contractors and micro businesses;

  • Short-term eviction moratorium to keep people housed during this public health crisis;

  • At least $25 million in emergency funding to help tenants impacted by the COVID-19 crisis pay their rent;

  • Special initiatives to help nonprofit organizations, including community-based cultural organizations, youth programs, CDCs, and other critical local organizations.

(Read, MACDC's full Initial Policy Recommendations in Response to the Public Health and Economic Crisis)

“The economic fallout from the COVID-19 public health emergency is likely to hurt just about everyone, but it will have a particularly significant impact on lower-income communities, communities of color, Gateway Cities, and distressed rural areas,” said Joseph Kriesberg, President of MACDC. “We need the state to step up immediately with significant and equitable investments to help our small businesses survive and recover from this unprecedented crisis.”

“We know this pandemic will have a particularly significant impact on the most vulnerable among us.  It will reveal and exacerbate the persistent racial and economic inequities in our society,” noted Kriesberg. “That is why we need a strategy based on equity that targets resources to the businesses, families and communities that most need assistance”.

MACDC recommends that much of the small business development assistance be deployed through the highly effective network of community-based organizations already working with the state through the Small Business Technical Assistance program.  These organizations are working with over 3,000 small businesses across the state, with 88% of the clients coming from underserved communities such as people of color, immigrants, or lower-income communities.  Additional support can be deployed by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) with a proven record of leveraging federal and private funding to deliver capital to small businesses.  MACDC is also urging an expansion of the Mass Growth Capital Corporation’s Small Business Recovery Loan fund which is already oversubscribed. Given the scale of this crisis, we recommend that businesses be able to access both loans and/or grants to ensure their long-term survival and to avoid new debt obligations that will burden their recovery.

MACDC’s policy statement calls on the legislature and the Governor to use the state’s Rainy Day Fund and General Obligation Bonds to help cover the costs of these emergency investments.

(Read, MACDC's full Initial Policy Recommendations in Response to the Public Health and Economic Crisis)

Commenting Closed

A message from MACDC President, Joe Kriesberg, regarding Coronavirus

March 13th, 2020 by Joe Kriesberg
Dear friends,
As all of us come to terms with the scale and scope of the Coronavirus Pandemic, I wanted to let you know how MACDC is responding to both the public health crisis and the growing economic impact. This is our strategy as of now, but clearly could change as new information arises.
Our first priority is continue to do our work as best we can while fully protecting the safety of our staff members and all the people with whom we work. Toward that end, we will be switching all of our committee meetings and peer group sessions to an online format and canceling or postponing all public events for the next few weeks or until further notice. We are also allowing our staff to work from home and may institute a requirement to do so at some point. Thankfully, a few years ago we moved our information technology infrastructure to the cloud so our staff can work from home without any interruption and with full access to all of our files and systems.


Our second priority is to help our members navigate these unchartered waters. We plan to provide online opportunities for information exchange and peer learning. CDCs must deal with so many complex issues from office operations, to property management, construction project schedules, small business lending, youth programs, senior services and more. Therefore, we are looking at how to support CDC professionals across these different work areas. We also want to serve as a conduit for information flow from public officials to our members and vice versa.


Our third priority will be to advocate for special public policy initiatives that protect low- and moderate-income people who are most vulnerable during a crisis like this. This will include policies and programs to protect tenants, homeowners, hourly workers and small business owners.  We will also be advocating with public and private funders to provide nonprofits with some leeway and flexibility regarding deliverables and deadlines that cannot be met due to the crisis.


Obviously the situation continues to evolve quickly and we will respond as new information and new circumstances dictate. Please contact us if you have any thoughts or ideas about how we can help our communities get through this crisis.


We hope everyone will take necessary precautions and stay safe. We look forward to seeing some of you online in the coming days and hopefully, before too long, in person as well.


At its heart, community development is based on the notion, as the late Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, that "we all do better when we all do better." Never has this been more true than during this pandemic. We are truly all in this together. Let us hope - and work to make it so - that while this crisis requires social distancing now, that it will ultimately bring us closer together as one Commonwealth, one Country and one World.


Joe Kriesberg
Commenting Closed

Responding to Coronavirus in CDC Communities: Immediate and Long-Term Actions

March 13th, 2020 by Elana Brochin

The low- and moderate-income communities in which Massachusetts CDCs work are disproportionately affected by the current Coronavirus crisis. This disproportionate impact results from the same structural inequities to which economically disadvantaged communities are routinely subject. The current Coronavirus pandemic further highlights the ways in which structural inequity that impacts lower-income communities ends up negatively impacting all individuals and communities, regardless of income-level. While Coronavirus is wreaking havoc on population health and the economy, it also carries opportunities for CDCs to help keep our communities safe, and to advocate for economically progressive policies.

First, let’s establish the ways in which lower-income community residents are disproportionately impacted by the spread of the Coronavirus:

Poor Quality Housing

Poor quality housing quickens the spread of infectious disease when there is improper ventilation between units. Families who live in close quarters are at increased risk of spreading illness between family members.

Unstable Housing

Cuts to jobs and hours will put low-income tenants at increased risk for eviction and foreclosure as individuals and families fall behind on their rent or mortgage payments.

People Experiencing Homelessness

Individuals experiencing homelessness who are living in shelters are impacted by increased disease transmission due to overcrowding. Those living on the streets are at greater risk because of lack of access to clean water with which to wash their hands. Individuals living on the streets who fall ill due to the virus will suffer more because of exposure to extreme heat and cold, and they also don’t have an easy way to quarantine themselves.

Economic Impacts on Low-Wage Workers and Small Businesses

Low-wage workers without paid sick time have to make the impossible choice between going to work sick or losing wages needed for food and other necessities. Individuals who go to work sick are more likely to infect others, and healthy workers who are forced to work are more likely to be exposed. Individuals who are living paycheck-to-paycheck are not able to “stock up” on essential items, like medicine, food, and hygiene items that will be needed in case of illness or quarantine. If forced to wait to buy these items, individuals will have a greater likelihood of being exposed and exposing others as the pandemic worsens. Small business owners will disproportionately suffer from lost business while still needing to keep up with overhead costs.

Impacts of Quarantine

School closures disproportionately impact low-income families who have less access to affordable childcare options. Further many low-income children rely on schools for free or reduced-price meals.

Access to Health Care

Individuals who are underinsured or who lack access to health care will be less able to access quality and affordable health care as the demand on the health system inevitably increases. Undocumented immigrants may be afraid to access care or other services because of real or perceived concerns over repercussions resulting from their immigration status.

Prejudice and Discrimination

Our Asian and Asian-American community members and businesses are also subject to the racism faced by many of Asian descent resulting from prejudice, fear and misinformation.


In addition to highlighting the ways in which lower-income communities are impacted by infectious disease, the Coronavirus pandemic makes it clear that what impacts lower-income community residents also impacts the general population.


CDCs can support their community residents in a variety of ways, including:

  1. Taking precautions to limit the spread of disease, such as frequently disinfecting common spaces in their apartment buildings;
  2. Checking in on residents with particular attention to those who are elderly and/or immuno-compromised;
  3. Encouraging residents to use recommended hygiene methods, including frequent handwashing, and, if exposed, letting management know and self-isolating or quarantining;
  4. Suspending evictions that are not essential to the protection of health or property;
  5. Canceling community events.

Immediate steps to care for our communities needs to be our first priority. Emergency funding can help prevent evictions and foreclosures and lessen the financial pain to workers and small businesses. In addition to necessitating emergency response, this international crisis underscores the need for better social and economic policies when our world is not in crisis, including:

  1. Expanding unemployment insurance;
  2. Creating protections to prevent evictions/foreclosures;
  3. Funding to support local businesses;
  4. Advocating for paid sick leave for all employees.

In addition to advocacy on the policy-level, it is crucial that we continue our racial equity work to undo the racist attitudes and institutions whose legacy we encounter in the current crisis, as well as in so many areas of our work. As information and advice changes by the hour, let’s not lose sight of the larger context in which we find ourselves. Let’s continue to think creatively about strategies and policies to improve population health and to expand economic opportunities – both in the short-term as well as in the long-term.

Commenting Closed

Governor Baker Unveils Economic Development Proposal

March 12th, 2020 by David Bryant

On March 4, Governor Baker unveiled An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth (H. 4529). This comprehensive economic development package represents a solid step toward positioning Massachusetts and its Gateway Cities for strong, equitable, and sustainable growth. The Governor’s bill contains several provisions with the potential to play a particularly powerful role increasing the vitality of Gateway Cities across the state by building on their strengths.  

The Governor also called again for zoning reform and incorporated his Housing Choices bill into the package, which would enable cities and towns to adopt many smart growth policies by simple-majority rather than super-majority. Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states that requires a vote of 2/3 or more for local zoning changes. The Housing Choices bill was reported out of committee in December but has not advanced since, although pressure is building for the Legislature to act on zoning reform this year to address a historic housing crisis. 
The Governor’s proposal includes new dollars and better tools for Gateway Cities and regions outside of Metro Boston, including several that were recommended by MACDC.  The bill includes the following key elements:  

  • $25 million to strengthen Gateway City neighborhoods by revitalizing blighted and abandoned homes. Many Gateway Cities still have neighborhoods suffering from the ill-effects of the foreclosure crisis. By helping cities acquire and repair long-vacant one to four-family properties, this program will preserve vital housing stock, increase homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income families, and prevent a few problem properties from pulling entire neighborhoods down.  This new program advances recommendations made by a group of Gateway City housing and community development leaders assembled by MassINC and the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations in 2019. 

  • $10 million to enable community development financial institutions to reach underserved populations, such as women- and minority-owned businesses, and leverage federal funding to support lending for small businesses;

  • $5 million for a matching grant program to provide capital for micro-businesses and low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs looking to start or expand a new business;

  • $50 million for transit-oriented housing for the production of high-density mixed-income affordable housing near transit nodes;

  • $10 million for a competitive grant program for small towns and rural areas for community development and infrastructure projects. 

  • $10 million for sustainable and climate-resilient construction in affordable, multifamily housing developments to better respond to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions;

  • $40 million for redevelopment of underutilized, blighted or abandoned buildings, including those that need major work to comply with building codes and to become accessible for persons with disabilities; 

  • Potentially tripling from $10 million to $30 million the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) that promotes market rate housing in weak market areas, in addition to expanding the number of communities that may be eligible; and

  • the bill provides MassDevelopment with greater flexibility to support development projects through its successful Transformative Development Initiative (TDI). TDI is a multi-year effort to lend capacity to Gateway City efforts to strategically target areas for revitalization.

In the coming weeks, MACDC will be working with legislators to advance this legislation and make recommendations for additional provisions such as a spot blight eminent domain program and recapitalization of the Massachusetts Food Trust.






Commenting Closed
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