News

DHCD Announces Special COVID-19 Response CDBG NOFA For Non-Entitlement Communities

May 21st, 2020 by Joe Kriesberg

The Department of Housing and Community Development announced on Friday, May 15, 2020 that they would be using newly available CDBG money from the CARES Act to support housing relief, micro enterprise grants and social services.  The funding notice calls for $10 million to be used for rental relief in non-entitlement communities (largely rural and suburban communities) and to be delivered through the existing RAFT program network. This advances one of the core policy recommendations for which MACDC has been advocating since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

The notice also invites municipalities to submit collaborative proposals – potentially in partnership with CDCs – to offer micro enterprise grants to businesses impacted by COVID-19.  This is also aligned with one of the top policy priorities for which we have been advocating. We’re also pleased that municipalities can apply for funding to provide vitally-needed social services, including food assistance, to people impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. The inability of families and individuals to access healthy food has been noted by several CDCs, who are involved in efforts to respond to this burgeoning need.

We thank Governor Baker, Secretary Kennealy and Undersecretary Maddox for listening to our recommendations and responding with concrete action that will help families, business owners and communities across the state. (Note – cities in Massachusetts already received a direct allocation of CDBG earlier this year).

DHCD has also received an additional $26 million in CDBG money in Round Two of the CARES Act program and will be releasing that money in the coming weeks. This second round of funding will be available statewide, including our cities.

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“Figure out How to Do Something Productive”

May 19th, 2020 by Elana Brochin

One of the many reasons that I appreciate working at MACDC is that our work is, by definition, responsive to current events in our communities as well as in the larger world. While many people are struggling to transfer their “normal” work to a virtual platform, at MACDC, we are looking to re-evaluate our priorities in the context of the current situation.

On March 11th, our President and CEO, Joe Kriesberg shared a story with and issued a challenge to the MACDC staff:

In 1986, Joe was a junior staff person working for Ralph Nader at the Critical Mass Energy Project in Washington, DC focused on nuclear power issues when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded.  Joe asked his boss what he should do? How should his work priorities change? His boss responded, “you work on safe energy issues; a nuclear plant just blew up; figure out how to do something productive.”  As Joe tells it, that was the end of the guidance. Joe reached out to Ralph Nader to schedule TV appearances for him and brief/prepare him for those appearances.  It was Joe’s first opportunity to work directly with Ralph and see him in action. It was an amazing learning experience for him that left him with stories and lessons that he calls upon to this day.

Through sharing this story, Joe made clear to me and other MACDC staff that the world has changed and that the status quo no longer applies. Joe emphasized that it is each of our responsibilities to figure out how best to leverage our particular role, skills, and knowledge to support our mission, our members, and the larger community during this time.

Joe’s challenge was both exciting and unsettling – and it has been particularly interesting for me as the “public health person” on staff at MACDC. In the midst of a global pandemic, everything is related to health. Accordingly, my days these last few months have involved keeping my ear to the ground on many different conversations, including:

  • A weekly gathering of large affordable housing managers in Boston, in which they discuss concerns surfacing at their properties;
  • An offshoot of the group of housing managers who have recently convened to discuss issues particular to mental health issues in our communities;
  • A weekly call in which folks surface issues specific to elderly populations;
  • Concerns specific to immigrant populations that have surfaced among our members;
  • Ways in which our members are involved in food distribution in their communities.

These conversations have enabled me to better understand issues that many of our CDCs are encountering and to understand what resources are available to address these issues. And they are pushing me and MACDC into networks, issues and challenges that are new for us.

The current situation has also highlighted importance of partnerships in the public health space, in particular MACDC’s partnership with the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA). MPHA has been one of MACDC’s key partners for many years and in the last year since we’ve had a full-time staff person dedicated to health equity work (that’s me!), our partnership has deepened. When MPHA announced that it was convening an Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity this past March, it was a no-brainer that we would be actively involved.

The Task Force met for the first time on March 17th. For many of us, this was our first week of working from home and convening over Zoom, so this virtual meeting which drew staff from over 50 organizations, was particularly noteworthy. At this first meeting, the group efficiently broke into groups according to issue area. Each group then identified two or three policy priorities for which they wanted to see action by the state in the next week. When participants re-convened as a whole, participants voted on the identified priorities, narrowing the list down to four priorities, which included:

  1. Enacting a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures
  2. Passing Emergency Paid Sick Time
  3. Providing Safe Quarantine for People Experiencing Homelessness
  4. Ensuring Immigrants Have Safe Access to Testing and Treatment

Following the initial meeting, organizations interested in becoming members of the Task Force were asked to affirm their support for the mission of the Task Force to drive equitable policy change to combat the ways in which racism, poverty, and xenophobia are furthering marginalization in the face of COVID-19.

As of mid-May, the Task Force is comprised of close to 80 members, has added three new priorities, and has actively advocated for and tracked progress on the original four priorities. The Task Force saw early successes with the state’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures which was enacted, and the emergency paid sick time legislation that was filed – both at the end of April. I am part of the Task Force’s Strategy Team which meets weekly to guide the work of the Task Force and plan full Task Force meetings.

Through the Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity, MACDC is pushing the state to act quickly on crucial policy issues that are outside of our traditional wheelhouse. The Task Force’s priorities are, however, in clear alignment with our mission and affect the communities in which our members work. Sitting on the Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity, together with participation in a broad range of conversations on COVID-related challenges, is my response to Joe’s invitation. During this devastating time, I am leveraging my role to strengthen MACDC’s relationships with partner organizations and the broader public health community, to effectively respond to issues affecting communities throughout Massachusetts.

 

 

 

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Ad Hoc Massachusetts Small Business COVID-19 Response Coalition Recommends Improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program

May 15th, 2020 by

MACDC joined with community-based organizations, CDCs, CDFIs, and advocates across the state to send recommendations to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The recommendations focused on two broad areas: 1) recommendations to simplify and improve the implementation of PPP Rounds 1 and 2; and 2) recommendations for the next phase of small business assistance. Nearly sixty organizations collaborated on these recommendations and sent them in a letter to the SBA and the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation.

The coalition is calling for the following modifications to the program:

  • To provide businesses with more time to use PPP funds and to extend the program until December 31, 2020;
  • To provide businesses with more flexibility on how to spend the funds by reducing or eliminating the requirement to spend 75% of the dollars on payroll;
  • To clarify and simplify the forgiveness requirements;
  • To automatically forgive small loans;
  • To allow businesses to refinance the unforgiven portion of a PPP loan into a longer term loan;
  • To collect demographic and geographic data of PPP participants;
  • To recycle dollars recouped through loan repayments; and
  • To expand language accessibility.

The group further called on the SBA  and Congress to design future small business support efforts in a way that more directly addresses racial inequities and targets resources to the businesses that need it the most.

Read the full recommendations in this letter.

Commenting Closed

DHCD announces $7.7 million in CITC allocations to 46 CDCs and two Community Support Organizations

May 5th, 2020 by

In April, DHCD announced $7.7 million in allocations to 46 CDCs and two Community Support Organizations (MACDC and LISC Boston) through the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) Program. (See table below for list of organizations and amounts allocated)

In the program’s first six years, over $55 million was raised for community development programs across Massachusetts. These funds are helping CDCs to work with residents in their communities by providing vital affordable housing options, access to services for families, and support for aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as programs to help ensure that community residents can not only become stabilized, but also thrive and benefit from our Commonwealth’s economy.

Commenting on the 2020 CITC allocation, John Fitterer, MACDC’s Director of Operations, said, “the CITC program is very important to the community development movement in Massachusetts because it’s helping drive support into neighborhoods and town across the Commonwealth. As we navigate the COVID-19 crisis, support for the field is even more critical than before. The CITC program will help ensure that communities have access to the resources they need.”

Organization Credits Allocated
Allston Brighton CDC $125,000
Asian CDC $200,000
CDC Southern Berkshire $150,000
Coalition for a Better Acre $75,000
Codman Square NDC $200,000
Community Development Partnership $200,000
Community Teamwork $150,000
Dorchester Bay EDC $120,000
Fenway CDC $200,000
Franklin County CDC $200,000
Groundwork Lawrence $175,000
Harborlight Community Partners $200,000
Hilltown CDC $200,000
Housing Assistance Corp. Cape Cod $200,000
Housing Corp. of Arlington $125,000
Housing Nantucket $175,000
IBA $200,000
Island Housing Trust $200,000
JPNDC $200,000
Just-A-Start $150,000
Lawrence Community Works $200,000
Lena Park $100,000
LISC Boston  $200,000
MACDC $200,000
Madison Park CDC $200,000
Main South CDC $150,000
Metro West CDC $60,000
Neigborworks Housing Solutions $125,000
New Vue $200,000
NOAH $200,000
North Shore CDC $125,000
Nuestra Comunidad $200,000
One Holyoke $100,000
Quaboag CDC $125,000
Revitalize CDC $200,000
SMOC $200,000
Somerville CDC $150,000
The Neighborhood Developers $200,000
Urban Edge $150,000
Valley CDC $150,000
VietAid $50,000
WATCH $125,000
Way Finders $175,000
WellSpring $100,000
WHALE $200,000
Worcester Common Ground $125,000
Worcester Community Housing $150,000
Worcester East Side $100,000
Total $7,705,000
Commenting Closed

MACDC Notebook Archive

May 5th, 2020 by John Fitterer
Commenting Closed
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