MACDC Partners with MGCC to Offer Multi-Lingual Translation Resources and Technical Assistance to Massachusetts Small Businesses Applying for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program

April 27th, 2020 by

MACDC has teamed up with the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) to support Massachusetts small business owners, including those with limited English proficiency, by providing multilingual translation and application assistance for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Since PPP applications are only available in English, these services are critical for small business owners in Massachusetts impacted by COVID-19, who would otherwise be unable to tap into the SBA’s economic relief resources. All small businesses in Massachusetts are strongly encouraged to use these resources when applying to the second round of PPP at their local, participating bank once available. Please be advised, MGCC and MACDC are not eligible lenders for the program. A list of participating PPP lenders can be found here.

This initiative brings together 49 Technical Assistance (TA) Providers located throughout Massachusetts, and organized under the Small Business Technical Assistance Grant Program to utilize their skills. The PPP application has been translated into 19 languages and is available to download on MGCC’s website, along with a list of TA Providers sorted by language proficiency and communities serviced, that small business owners can connect with for guidance on the application process.

Languages include: Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, French, French Creole, Italian, Russian, Vietnamese, Greek, Arabic, Cambodian, Somali, Amharic (Ethiopian), Filipino, Nepalese, Korean, Japanese and Thai.

“When MGCC recognized the opportunity gap for minorities, immigrants and other small business owners with limited English proficiency to access the Paycheck Protection Program, we immediately knew we needed to tap into this strong small business support team of TA Providers,” said Larry Andrews, President of MGCC. “With their participation, access to PPP suddenly becomes inclusive and encourages diverse businesses to explore relief possibilities in this difficult time.”

“Every day we see examples of how long standing racial and economic disparities are disproportionately impacting communities of color. That is why our economic relief and recovery efforts must reach our entire small business community, including communities of color, immigrant, and lower income communities,” said Joseph Kriesberg, President of MACDC. “Thankfully, Massachusetts has a network of dozens of community-based organizations with trained staff who can deliver culturally competent and multi-lingual assistance to help these business owners access public and private resources to help them survive and recover from this crisis.”

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MACDC Achieves Solid (albeit insufficient) Progress on our COVID-19 Response Policy Recommendations

April 26th, 2020 by Joe Kriesberg

On March 23, 2020, MACDC issued a set of initial recommendations for state policy makers with respect to helping small businesses, tenants, homeowners, and communities deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic. While there is much more to be done at the local, state and federal level, we have seen some important progress over the past month. Some of the key policy wins include the following.

  • The Federal CARES Act provided essential funds to address the crisis that were consistent with our initial recommendations.

    • Unemployment Insurance:  The CARES act made important expansions to our Unemployment Insurance program both to ensure more generous benefits (an extra $600 per week) and coverage for contractors and self-employed individuals.

    • Small Business Assistance: The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), despite its flaws, will help thousands of businesses and nonprofits across the state, including dozens of CDCs (and other nonprofit organizations) who have (or will) received funds to help stabilize their operations during the crisis and to avoid layoffs.  More than 47,000 loans totaling over $10 billion were made in Massachusetts in the first round and we expect to see similar numbers in the second round.  Unfortunately, the program has not done enough to support very small businesses and businesses of color and this needs to be addressed both in the implementation of Round 2 and in future small business relief efforts.

    • Community Development:  Congress provided an additional $5 billion in Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) resources that can be used for a variety of purposes, including emergency grants to small businesses.  Indeed, several cities across the Commonwealth have already begun to offer such grants using CDBG dollars, including Boston, Worcester, Cambridge, Northampton and others.

  • Eviction & Foreclosure Moratorium: The legislature has passed, and Governor Baker has signed, a strong eviction and foreclosure moratorium that will protect residential tenants, homeowners and small businesses during the health emergency.

  • Housing assistance: Governor Baker was able to secure $5 million in new funding from MassHousing to provide an immediate boost in funding for the RAFT program, which helps lower-income households cover their housing expenses.  Several cities are also using public and private dollars to help tenants pay their rent.

  • State Small Business Assistance: Governor Baker secured $20 million for emergency loans to small businesses.

  • Mortgage Assistance: Mayor Marty Walsh secured commitments from 12 mortgage lenders in the City of Boston to provide borrowers impacted by COVID-19 with forbearance on their loans.  Meanwhile, state and federal banking regulators issued guidance encouraging lenders to provide forbearance and other relief to homeowners.

The above actions represent good progress, but there is more to do.  Clearly, the federal government needs to lead the way because it can provide substantially more money than local or state governments. We are advocating with our Congressional delegation on a range of issues related to small business support, affordable housing and community development.  We have also issued an updated version of our policy recommendations for state policy makers.

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MACDC collaborates with Massachusetts Community-Based Organizations to call for Small Business Relief and Recovery Program

April 23rd, 2020 by

MACDC has partnered with community-based organizations, community lenders and advocates to form a statewide Small Business Coalition, which is calling on state leaders to adopt a Small Business Relief and Recovery Program to address urgent and unmet needs in the small business community. 

Seventy-nine organizations, including dozens of organizations that work every day at the local level with entrepreneurs impacted by this crisis, made this request in a letter to Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

MACDC has been convening weekly discussions with community-based organizations that work with small businesses from across the commonwealth on strategies and best practices to support small businesses in this time of crisis, as well as collaborating on advocacy for state policies that would help these businesses weather the pandemic.

“We are heartbroken watching hard working men and women fight to save their business and their families from economic ruin – a situation that has nothing to do with their skills as business owners, but is entirely due to COVID-19, and the public health necessity to close their businesses. They are suffering immense economic harm to help keep all of us safe, so we believe all of us have a shared responsibility through our state government to help keep them in business,” the letter states.

The proposed Small Business Relief and Recovery Program is particularly focused on those small businesses that are most vulnerable during this economic crisis, including those from historically underserved communities, such as African American, Latinx, Asian, people of color, immigrant, and women, as well as businesses located in rural towns, Gateway Cities, and other low-income areas. 

The letter recognizes that the federal government is providing significant resources to small businesses through the Payroll Protection Program, but points out that many small businesses, especially very small business, and those owned by people of color, are not benefiting equitably from that program.  In a survey of nearly 500 small and micro businesses released by the groups with the letter, 58% said they did not think the Federal CARES Act would meet their needs over the next three months.  Further, “42% said they were surviving on personal savings, an unsustainable strategy, especially for many people of color who, on average, have significantly less accumulated wealth than their white counterparts”. 

The letter calls for a “state-level strategy that is focused on reaching those who continue to be left behind” both to better access federal dollars and to strategically use state resources to plug gaps in the federal response.  Segun Idowu, Executive Director of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts and one of the signatories of the letter, noted “If Washington can’t get it right, our leadership needs to.”

The Coalition includes many organizations from rural communities, which are struggling. “Our economy is built on small businesses, including many very small enterprises, that have trouble accessing federal resources,” said Amy Shapiro from Franklin County CDC.  “By providing customized technical assistance at the local level, flexible financing, and small grants, we can help more of our rural businesses access federal dollars, survive the shutdown and recover in the months to come.”

The coalition offers the following recommendations for programs and policies that should be part of the state’s Small Business Relief and Recovery Program:  

  1. $10 million in funding to support community-based organizations that deliver culturally competent and multi-lingual technical assistance and coaching to small businesses;
  2. $30 Million in emergency relief grants to help businesses cover rent, mortgages, and other fixed costs;
  3. $35 million to Community Development Financial Institutions, Community Development Corporations, and other community-based lending programs to help them offer grants, zero/low interest loans, loan deferments, and other assistance to small businesses;
  4. $75 million to the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation for a revolving loan fund to help businesses unable to access SBA financing, with a focus on communities of color, immigrant communities, rural towns, and Gateway Cities;
  5. A statewide Small Business Assistance Task Force charged with ensuring the effective delivery of support to small businesses during the economic shutdown and through the recovery; the task force should have a laser focus on equity and inclusion.

Read the full letter to Governor Baker and Leaders of the General Court

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MACDC's COVID-19 Policy Agenda: Moving Forward

April 7th, 2020 by Joe Kriesberg

On March 23, 2020, MACDC issued a set of initial policy recommendations designed to mitigate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.  Our recommendations focused on helping tenants and homeowners remain safely housed now and in the future, helping small business owners survive the shutdown of the economy, helping people who are out of work receive adequate unemployment insurance, including those who are (or were) self-employed, receive sufficient unemployment coverage, and ensuring the affordable housing system remains financially capable of providing safe housing to its current residents while continuing to build the desperately needed affordable housing in the pipeline. Read our full initial policy recommendations.

Since issuing our recommendations, we have seen some positive developments at the local, state, and Federal level that advance our recommendations: 

State nears enactment of an Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium

  • On Thursday, April 2, the House of Representatives passed a strong eviction and foreclosure moratorium bill that would ensure:
  • Landlords are prohibited from terminating residential or commercial tenancies until 30 days after the COVID-19 emergency declaration ends; this includes notices requesting or demanding that the tenant vacate the premises;
  • There is an exception for “emergency cause” evictions where there is criminal activity or lease violations that are detrimental to the health or safety of others; 
  • Pending eviction cases are frozen, except those under the exception, with a pause both in court and in enforcement of eviction orders by sheriffs;
  • Similarly, there is a moratorium on foreclosures until 30 days after the COVID-19 emergency declaration ends;
  • Landlords may not charge a late fee—nor provide negative information to a consumer reporting agency relating to non-payment-- if a tenant provides notice and documentation that the non-payment was because of financial impact related to COVID-19.
  • MACDC supports the House bill and urges the Senate to adopt a similar or identical bill quickly, so legislation can be signed into law as soon as possible.

Governor Baker announces $5 million in new rent relief funding

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Baker-Polito Administration has announced steps to ensure housing stability for vulnerable populations, including a new $5 million special fund under the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program for eligible households who may face eviction, foreclosure, loss of utilities, and other housing emergencies. Read more about the RAFT program here.

Funding for this program has been high on MACDC’s advocacy agenda. While we are grateful for this $5 million, we believe there is need for much more. MACDC is advocating for at least $50 million in emergency funding and probably more in FY 21.

City of Boston Rent Relief Fund

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Thursday announced a $3 million Rent Relief Fund to assist Bostonians who are at risk of losing their rental housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will help income-eligible tenants achieve housing stability by providing direct financial relief to assist with rental payments. Applications to the Rental Relief Fund will be available on Monday, April 6th. Read more here.

In MACDC’s initial policy recommendations in response to the public health and economic crisis, we called on local, state, and federal policymakers to adopt emergency efforts to ensure housing stability during this crisis. Thank you to Mayor Walsh for putting this much needed resource in place.

Governor Baker and Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation deploy $20 million in emergency loans to small businesses

The Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation first announced $10 million in loans and subsequently offered another $10 million in loans to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.  This program was designed to be a bridge to federal loans now being made available under the CARES Act through the SBA.

CDBG Funding is Providing Emergency Grants to Small Businesses

MACDC is pleased that more and more cities are launching emergency grant programs for small businesses.  Worcester, Fitchburg, Cambridge, and now Boston have announced programs using Federal CDBG money to assist businesses that are not able to take on new loans.  We are advocating for more cities to do the same and for DHCD to use its CDBG money to offer similar grants in smaller towns and rural communities.  With significant new CDBG funding included in the Federal CARES Act, there is an opportunity to help more businesses across the state.

Federal CARES Act provides important relief but falls short of what’s needed

  • The CARES Act included important provisions that respond to our recommendations, but it has left gaps that must be addressed in subsequent Federal Legislation: 
  • The $600 weekly boost in unemployment insurance will help millions of people across the state and country.  We were also very happy to see this coverage extended to self-employed people and independent contractors, one of the core recommendations in our policy recommendations;
  • The Payroll Protection Program Loan offers forgivable loans to small businesses and nonprofits, but lack of criteria, priorities, and the chaotic roll out will likely mean that smaller businesses, nonprofits, and those facing the most challenges are unlikely to receive their fair share of the program.  With $350 billion available nationally and funds being deployed on a first come first served basis, many businesses may get shut out of the program and those are likely to be smaller, underserved businesses from low-income, immigrant, and communities of color.  Moreover, the program fails to drive dollars to those who most need it – businesses and organizations that have been ordered shut completely due to the crisis. Indeed, the program is much better suited to businesses that are experiencing a modest reduction in revenue (or even just facing “uncertainty”) who can reasonably retain their workforce. Going forward, this program will need more money and better targeting to ensure a more equitable outcome.
  • The CARES Act provides $12 billion of critical funding for housing and community development, but more will be needed to deal with the looming crisis in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program.  Congress needs to extend deadlines in the program and provide funding to fill the growing financial gaps in projects facing delays in construction and lease up.

What Comes Next?

We recognize that our state and local leaders are facing an unprecedented public health emergency that is consuming nearly all their time and energy. We are grateful for the leadership we see from Governor Baker, Mayor Walsh, and other local and state leaders across the state.  Caring for the sick, flattening the curve and slowing the spread of this disease must be our number one priority.  The Community Development Movement is doing its part by helping our residents stay safe, delivering food to those in need, reaching out to residents who may need assistance, or simply making a friendly call.

While we all work to stem the health crisis, the economic crisis looms larger every day – especially for vulnerable and marginalized populations. Now that we see what the CARES Act will and will not do, it is imperative that we take bolder and swifter action at the state and local level, while we also fight for another round of Federal Relief Legislation.  We urge the legislature and the Governor to immediately begin working on an additional Economic Relief and Recovery Package that meets the magnitude of this crisis. We also recommend that the Baker Administration create a Covid-19 Small Business Response Task Force, to coordinate efforts to help small businesses survive the immediate public health crisis and recover during the longer economic crisis.

The need for active and vocal advocacy has never been greater.  We hope you will join with us in that effort, including on April 28 when MACDC will hold its first-ever (and we hope last) Virtual Lobby Day.  Stay tuned for more details!

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April 7th, 2020 by

October 2020

MACDC has been working feverishly with our allies to prevent a wave of evictions in Massachusetts. We have called on the Governor to extend the state moratorium on evictions, and we have joined with CHAPA and many others to advocate for over $200 million in eviction prevention relief funding. Ultimately, the Governor declined to extend the moratorium and announced a $171 million Eviction Diversion Initiative that included most of the elements for which we had been advocating (albeit at lower funding levels) such as additional RAFT funding, increased capacity for mediation, more legal representation for tenants and resources to rapidly rehouse families. The Initiative also seeks to preserve tenancies for families through the school year, a goal that we argued was essential.
On Friday, October 16, MACDC hosted a briefing for our members with DHCD Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox, so our members can work with their tenants and community members to help them access the resources they need. Check out the presentation made by Undersecretary Maddox. We will continue to fight for resources and legal protections to ensure that everyone can remain stably housed.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, MACDC has been advocating for resources that will help small businesses survive and recover from the recession so we were very pleased on Wednesday, October 14 when Governor Baker proposed $100 million in new small business relief as part of his revised FY 21 Budget. The proposal includes:
  • Increase in FY 2021 Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program line item from $3 million to $6 million;
  • $35 million for grants for small businesses, particularly businesses in underserved markets, minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses, and those who have not yet received federal aid. 
  • $35 million for community development financial institutions (CDFI) grants and loans. 
  • $15 million for matching grants for capital investments by businesses with twenty or fewer employees. 
  • $7.7 million for technical assistance and grants, including for small business online and digital tools.
This proposal must be approved by the Legislature, so MACDC will be campaigning to make that happen in the coming days. On October 21, we sent a letter to Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo on behalf of a statewide coalition of 79 community-based organizations, community lenders and advocates, requesting their support for the Small Business Relief and Recovery Programs proposed by Governor Baker. Read more in this Boston Globe article.
The Housing and Environment Revenue Opportunities (HERO) Coalition, which MACDC co-chairs, initiated legislation that would double the Deeds Excise Fee on home purchases from $4.56 per $1000 to $9.12 per $1000. The bill, filed by Senator Jamie Eldridge and Rep. Nika Elugardo, proposes that half of the new revenue would be dedicated to climate mitigation and resiliency. The other half of the revenue would go to aid working-class homeowners, and low-income renters and the homeless. Read more in this press release, and check out the HERO Coalition website.


MACDC hosted its regular Small Business COVID-19 Response Network meeting on October 7 with over 50 attendees. The focus of the meeting was a presentation by the Boston Impact Initiative - our newest associate member - about their innovative model for revenue based lending to small businesses.
MACDC President Joseph Kriesberg visited new CDC Executive Directors in Worcester and Northampton. The Pandemic has prevented MACDC staff from visiting our members as frequently as we normally do, but Joe took advantage of some great fall weather to visit two of our newest CDC Executive Directors last week. He made a stop in Worcester to visit Jennifer Schanck-Bolwell at Worcester Community Housing Resources, and to Northampton to visit Jane Loechler at Valley CDC. MACDC Senior Policy Advocate, Don Bianchi, who lives in Northampton also participated in the visit with Jane. It's great to see these new leaders hitting the ground running despite the challenges of starting a new job at this time.
MACDC held a special meeting for CDC Executive Directors who have started in that role since the beginning of the year. Five such executive directors met at our first meeting over the summer and the group now includes seven people, with Teronda Ellis from Jamaica Plain NDC and Allison Marchese from the CDC of South Berkshire being the latest to assume leadership of a CDC and join our group. MACDC is committed to doing everything we can to help these leaders get off to a great start.
MACDC's Member Services program continues to be very busy. During the first quarter of FY 21 (July - September) we held 34 peer group meetings attended by 818 people on a range of topics from small business development to housing, to resident services and health equity.
Last month, The Neighborhood Hub, a multi-agency partnership that includes MACDC, hosted a Housing in Gateway Cities Webinar. The webinar included a presentation by Alan Mallach, Senior Fellow at the Center for Community Progress, statements from State legislators and officials, and a conversation with local practitioners, including Marc Dohan from NewVue Communities. View the presentation slides, and watch the video of the webinar here.
Strengthening Resilient Communities: The National Forum: MACDC teamed up with the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) and eight other CDC associations from around the country to host Strengthening Resilient Communities: The National Forum. The forum started on October 13 and will conclude this Friday, October 23. It featured workshops presented by MACDC and other CDC associations, national plenaries, and keynote speeches by Deanna Van Buren of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces, and Ibram X. Kendi, New York Times #1 Bestselling Author.


September 2020

CDC elder and youth programs collectively served more than 10,400 people in 2019 - The MACDC GOALs Report has documented that CDCs across the state are providing critical services to thousands of seniors. Read more in this article by Don Bianchi, which highlights the work of two CDCs, in particular, One Holyoke CDC and Hilltown CDC. 
MACDC's Boston Committee met with representatives from the Boston Housing Authority, the Department of Neighborhood Development, and City Councilor Kenzie Bok to discuss how the BHA and CDCs can collaborate to leverage available federal resources under the Faircloth Initiative to expand deeply affordable housing across the city.
MACDC has been working feverishly with our partners in the nonprofit, government, and private sector to identify programs, policies and initiatives that can prevent a wave of evictions when current eviction moratoria expire. We believe a combination of strategies are needed including a targeted extension of the moratorium, substantial funding for rent relief programs, mediation, legal representation and an education campaign to make sure tenants understand their rights. MACDC believes it is especially critical to ensure that school-aged children who are attending school at home are not evicted from both their home and their "school."
The Energy Cohort, co-organized by MACDC, LISC Boston, and New Ecology, met on September 10th, to discuss opportunities and challenges associated with the electrification of heating and cooling - a timely topic as a hot summer comes to a close. Lauren Baumann from New Ecology and Beverly Craig from the MA Clean Energy Center made a timely presentation
MACDC's Operations Peer Group met on September 15 to learn about MACDC's tech build out and Microsoft Office 365. Director of Operations, John Fitterer, reviewed MACDC's IT build out that includes full cloud integration, including our phone system, and data visualization tools, as well as the nonprofit pricing for Microsoft's Office 365.
MACDC hosted a meeting on September 23 with EOHED Secretary Michael Kennealy and over 50 small business development organizations from across the state to discuss the state's efforts to help businesses survive and recover from the crisis.  We discussed the need for streamlined and simple grant programs along with more funding for technical assistance. 
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