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Member Benefits Highlight: Technical Assistance from Knowledgeable MACDC Staff

January 7th, 2022 by

MACDC staff provides technical assistance on a range of topics to our members. As an MADC member, you are welcome to reach out to staff whenever you would like a thought partner in your work, or to learn more about local community development networks and partners. We are always happy to chat, direct you to resources, and share successful strategies We can also link you to other MACDC members or support new staff or leadership onboarding. The following are a few specific areas that we can provide guidance: 

Crisis Management & Organizational Challenges – Unfortunately, CDCs like other non-profits and organizations of all types, occasionally face a challenge or crisis that can threaten the organization’s reputation or even its ability to operate.  Thankfully, many CDCs have recovered from these challenges to become stronger organizations. MACDC has engaged with many CDCs over the years and can be a helpful and confidential thought partner in this process.  Contact: Joe Kriesberg. 

Executive Transition – In recent years, a number of CDC Executive Directors have retired or moved on to new opportunities and MACDC can help boards of directors during this process by identifying search consultants and/or interim directors or by helping the board to evaluate their needs in a new leader. Contact: Joe Kriesberg.   

Fundraising: General MACDC provides fundraising support to our members as they strive to increase funding for both existing and new programs. From reviewing comprehensive program funding initiatives, to discussing specific opportunities, MACDC staff have decades of fundraising experience upon which our fundraising technical assistance is based upon. Contact: John Fitterer or Joe Kriesberg.  

Fundraising: Community Investment Tax Credit – MACDC is a designated CITC Community Support Organization by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. In this role, MACDC staff provide significant feedback and advice to our members participating in program as they diversify their funding base, engage prospective new supporters, and work to sustain a growing donor community. Contact: John Fitterer. 

Fundraising: Health – MACDC works with CDCs to apply for funding from hospitals, health foundations, or other health funds. Historically, this has included strategizing how to frame a CDC’s work from a health equity lens, identifying overlapping priorities with the potential funder, and visioning new directions for work in the health space. Contact: Elana Brochin. 

Health Equity – MACDC works with CDC staff to facilitate increased engagement in the health equity space. In addition to hospital engagement and fundraising, this includes thinking together about ways to make an intentional organizational commitment to health equity, including staffing decisions and duties, and engagement in MACDC’s Health Equity work. Contact: Elana Brochin. 

Hospital Engagement MACDC works with CDC staff to strategize ways to initiate and strengthen relationships with local hospitals. We can offer help with understanding a hospital’s commitment to their local community, understanding a hospitals Community Benefits report, and ways to get involved in local Community Health Needs Assessments and hospital committees. Contact: Elana Brochin. 

Information Technology – MACDC provides technical assistance on topics ranging from cloud computing to automation to help our members implement technology and operational processes that increase their organization’s capacity and allows for staff to focus on working more effectively with community members and residents. Contact: John Fitterer or Nadine Sanchara. 

MACDC’s Peer Groups – MACDC offers a range of practitioner peer groups to encourage professional networking, sharing of best practices and engaging in discussions exploring issues related to CDCs and community development. Currently, MACDC has the following active peer groups: The Boston Committee, CITC, Communications & Marketing, Community Business Network, Community Organizing, Energy Cohort, Health Equity Committee, Housing & Real Estate, Operations & Technology, Resident Services Coordinators, Small Business Development, and the Western MA Development Collaborative. Learn more about these groups here. Contact: Nadine Sanchara. 

MACDC’s Racial Equity Pledge – We can assist you in joining on to the Racial Equity Pledge and related activities. Contact: Shirronda Almeida or Tiana Lawrence 

Management/Governance – MACDC can help CDC executives as they navigate all sorts of management challenges related to their boards of directors, human resources, financial strength, and other aspects of running a non-profit organization. Contact: Joe Kriesberg. 

Policy and Practice related to Massachusetts Affordable Housing MACDC staff can work with CDC staff to discuss a variety of topics related to Massachusetts affordable housing, including real estate development, climate and energy, and housing programs (housing rehab, homebuyer counseling, etc.) Contact: Don Bianchi. 

Political Strategy – Community development inevitably interacts with the political world and MACDC can offer seasoned guidance and a confidential thought partner as CDCs deal with these challenges. Contact: Joe Kriesberg. 

Resident Leadership Academy and Leadership development – We can assist in thinking through your relationship with community members and how to develop leaders in the community. Contact: Sarah Byrnes. 

Small Business Development – MACDC is committed to supporting our members in bridging essential resources and providing technical assistance support. We remain active in our strong partnerships within the small business networks, to ensure we advocate for the priorities of our members. These priorities include Access to Capital, Supplier Diversity, Small Business lending/CDFI funding, Grants and most recently COVID Relief resources. In addition, we host small business support networks for TA providers and connect our members to local and state advocacy efforts that support policy work in the field.  We encourage all our members to see MACDC as a robust resource that can help drive economic sustainability in the communities they serve. Contact: Katherine Martinez. 

Strategic Planning – MACDC frequently meets with CDC boards of directors, senior staff and/or consultants to help them with their strategic planning. We can offer help with environmental scans, trends in the sector and reflections on organizational strengths and weaknesses.  Contact: Joe Kriesberg. 

 Other areas that we have historically provided assistance include: career networking, community organizing, professional development, resident services, and small business development. If you would like assistance in one of these areas or in any other area and are not sure of the most appropriate person to contact, please reach out to Nadine Sanchara and she can connect you to the correct person. We are here to support you in your work! 

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A Busy Year Ahead for MACDC

January 6th, 2022 by Joe Kriesberg

As the MACDC staff and board gear up for our 40th Anniversary Year, I took a few moments over the holidays to review our five-year Strategic Plan to make sure we were on track with the priorities and strategies adopted by the board in 2018.  While the COVID-19 Pandemic has certainly disrupted everything about our work, I do think the five core priorities in our plan remain helpful and highly relevant. With that in mind, I’m excited to highlight some of the exciting programs and initiatives we have on tap for 2022 to advance each of our core priorities. 

 

Build the power and voice of lower-income people and people of color to shape the future of their communities and their own lives 

Last year, MACDC’s Mel King Institute launched the Resident Leadership Training Collaborative  to expand capacity to develop resident and tenant leaders across the state.  The program builds on our five-year track record of training and supporting tenant leaders in public housing to offer similar leadership development opportunities to tenants living in CDC properties and potentially other subsidized housing. The program enhances trainings and programs that the Institute already offers to CDC board members. 

Speaking of board members and resident leaders, MACDC will once again be hosting our Convention this fall. Ever since our first convention in 2002, these gatherings have been the most exciting and meaningful events on the MACDC calendar as resident leaders, community development professionals, and allies come together for a day of learning, celebration, and action. As in past years, the Convention will include a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum where we will ask the candidates to make specific commitments to our field and our communities.  

Of course, the 2022 Convention faces the unprecedented challenge of a global pandemic, so it is likely to look and feel different from past events, but one way or another we will make it happen in October 2022. The details will be coming as we figure them out, but it will certainly include a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum, inspiring speakers, awards, networking, learning, the CDC Roll Call, and a celebration of our 40th Anniversary! 

 

Expand affordable housing in places where low- and moderate-income people can thrive 

As I wrote in an earlier blog, 2022 will be a busy year for affordable housing. MACDC will be focused on helping our members access the newly available ARPA funding while also advocating for additional ARPA dollars as the Legislature determines how to spend the remaining $2.3 billion. While ARPA is providing an exciting infusion of funding, we know that it won’t be enough to meet our housing crisis, so we also plan to continue campaigning for the HERO Bill, which would generate $350 million per year or more for housing and climate investments. We will also prioritize efforts to ensure that tenants and homeowners who have faced financial hardship during the pandemic receive the assistance they need and are not displaced. 

Another key focus area in 2022 will be closing the racial homeownership gap. New ARPA funding will provide an opportunity to expand the production of affordable homeownership units as well as expand down payment assistance and mortgage subsidies. As part of these efforts, MACDC will be engaged in a long overdue conversation about how to help first-time and first-generation homebuyers build family wealth, while also ensuring long-term affordability for future homebuyers. This can be a challenging conversation, but it is important as we seek to redress the racial wealth gap. 

MACDC is also excited to see our Neighborhood Stabilization work expand in 2022 as we partner with MassHousing to implement a new round of funding for the Neighborhood Hub, along with newly available capital dollars to support property rehab. 

 

Reduce income and wealth inequality across the state 

Last year, MACDC helped co-found the Coalition for an Equitable Economy, which seeks to eliminate racial disparities in business ownership by 2030. The Coalition has already had an extraordinary impact in helping small businesses survive the pandemic. We are now poised – with new funding and (soon) new staff – to build a strong small business eco-system that can help entrepreneurs at every stage of business development, from conception onward. MACDC will continue to staff the Community Business Network, which convenes practitioners monthly for peer learning, advocacy, and collaboration. We plan to expand our training programs for small business practitioners. Of course, advocacy will be a key part of our program as we push to secure additional ARPA funding for small businesses and advocate for increased funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance program. 

Another key agenda for 2022 is to help our members strengthen their supplier diversity efforts in both construction and property management. Building on the success of the Boston Pilot Program, we hope to expand this work statewide in 2022.  

In 2022, we will also join with progressives across the state to help pass the Massachusetts Fair Share Amendment on the November ballot to make sure that millionaires pay their fair share toward education and transportation investments in the Commonwealth.   

 

Drive the convergence of community development and community health 

MACDC was focused on driving the convergence of community development and health equity long before the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated in cruel fashion the impact of safe, stable, affordable housing on health outcomes. In 2022, we will step up these efforts with the work of our Housing Quality and Health Task Force, a cross-sector group of professionals that will be developing and implementing new strategies for reducing the health problems caused by substandard housing. One of our key priorities will be securing ARPA funding for the Massachusetts Healthy Homes initiative, so we can remove health hazards, such as lead paint, mold, pest infestation and other problems that undermine good health. 

We also recognize the deep connection between climate change, green buildings, and good health. Toward that end, MACDC is partnering with LISC and New Ecology to implement the DASH Program (Decarbonizing Affordable Subsidized Housing) to help our members build new and renovate existing housing to make it clean and resilient.  

 

Promote racial equity within the field and the Commonwealth 

MACDC has increasingly taken steps to apply a racial equity lens to all our work, including virtually every program and initiative mentioned above, from closing racial disparities in homeownership, business, and health, to changing who has voice and power in our communities. At the same time, we are taking explicit steps to address diversity, equity, and inclusion within the community development field itself, including our own organization. This work is being organized around the MACDC Racial Equity Pledge, which we launched at our Annual Meeting last November. With 14 CDCs already signed on, this campaign seeks to help our members individually and collectively adopt state-of-the-art practices for diversity, equity, and inclusion. MACDC and the Mel King Institute will support these efforts with peer-to-peer learning, training, data collection and collective accountability.  

 

A closing thought 

A short blog can’t capture everything that we will be doing in 2022. Of course, in these uncertain times I suspect that new, completely unanticipated issues will emerge throughout the year.  

That said, I want to acknowledge one more major undertaking that will consume much of our energy in 2022 even though it was not in our 2018 strategic plan – enduring this awful pandemic.  Like many, I thought we’d be past the worst of it by now and maybe we are. But we know that this will continue to be a very difficult time for all of us – some more than others  

For community developers, we must ask ourselves: How can we stay focused on our agenda, but be adaptive to changing needs? How do we build and sustain relationships while staying safe and often apart? How do we remain hopeful in the face of so much sadness? Navigating this is exhausting. We need to give ourselves and each other the time and space to keep ourselves healthy – physically and emotionally. 

As we work on the many projects and programs described above, we ask for your patience and support and we pledge ours in return. 

We are in this together and I’m so grateful for that! 

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Ten (OK – 11) Questions to be Asking about Affordable Housing in Massachusetts in 2022

January 6th, 2022 by Joe Kriesberg

As we begin our third year of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we continue to confront a housing crisis that existed long before we started wearing masks. At the same time, COVID-19 catalyzed political, economic, and social dynamics that worsened the housing crisis in some ways, but also underscored the importance of safe, stable, and affordable housing. Policies that would have seemed impossible before COVID, like eviction moratoria and 10-fold increases in emergency rental assistance, demonstrated their efficacy and potential.  What does this mean for affordable housing in 2022? I’m going to refrain from making any predictions – clearly our world is far too uncertain for that with so much riding on the virus, the economy, and our tangled and fractious political culture. Here are 11 things, however, that affordable housing advocates should be tracking and influencing over the next 12 months. 

  1.  Can We Prevent a Wave of Evictions? – Over the past 20 months, a comprehensive set of policies at the local, state, and federal levels combined with the extraordinary efforts of non-profit agencies and cooperative landlords helped tens of thousands of families avoid eviction and maintain their housing. While these efforts have certainly not prevented every eviction and there have been uneven results across the state, it is still an effort of which we can be proud. However, 2022 will likely bring some difficult decisions. Current federal funding for the Eviction Diversion Initiative is expected to run out in June at current spending rates; it will be hard to sustain this spending without significant new federal money.  Even if the pandemic finally ends and the economy stabilizes, housing insecurity will continue. How do we transition and to what? Can we make some of the new tenant protections permanent? Can we institutionalize a right to counsel for tenants? Can we finally enact the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase legislation? How do we balance the need for short-term emergency relief with the need to invest in long-term solutions that expand the stock of affordable housing?  
  2. How Quickly Can We Deploy Newly Appropriated ARPA Dollars? The legislature recently approved over $600 million in funding for affordable housing to be spent on new rental housing, homeownership housing, first-time homebuyer assistance, renovations of public housing, and a small pilot program to retrofit homes in Gateway Cities. MACDC and other advocates will be pushing to get this money out quickly and with rules that are simple, transparent, and fair. We are particularly excited to see an infusion of funding to expand homeownership opportunities and start to close the racial homeownership gap. MACDC will also be serving on the newly created State ARPA Equity and Accountability Panel that is charged with making sure that state and municipal ARPA funds are spent in ways that address long-term racial inequities. This could be a historic opportunity to increase transparency and equity in state and local government. 
  3. How Should We Allocate the Remaining ARPA Dollars? The state has $2.3 billion of additional ARPA funds to appropriate in 2022 and no shortage of ideas for how to spend it. MACDC is advocating that at least another $600 million be allocated to affordable housing, with deeper investment in homeownership and a new program to retrofit older housing, so it is healthier and safer. We also plan to work with the Coalition for an Equitable Economy to secure funding for small businesses.  
  4. Will the Housing Choices Legislation Begin to Yield Results? – Last January, the legislature finally enacted the Housing Choices law to support the production of more housing across the Commonwealth. We have already begun to see the law’s impact with municipalities being able to adopt new zoning via majority votes and abutters being required to post bonds when they sue developers.  The big thing to look for in 2022 is the implementation of the law’s Multi Family Zoning requirement in all MBTA Communities. In December, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development finally released draft guidelines for how this requirement will be enforced and those guidelines are now out for public comment until March.  The proposed guidelines could be a game changer for multi-family housing in the Commonwealth as they push municipalities to get serious about zoning reform. Advocates – both locally and statewide – need to keep advocating to make sure this law reaches its potential.  
  5. Can We Start to Close the Racial Homeownership GapEver since we emerged from the Foreclosure Crisis a decade ago, MACDC and others have pushed the state to adopt a more ambitious and thoughtful strategy for expanding homeownership opportunities and closing the racial homeownership gap. These efforts made little progress for years, so we made it a focus of the 2018 MACDC Convention and engaged the question with Governor Baker. In 2019, he announced the Commonwealth Builder program. We are now seeing a dramatic increase in efforts to close the racial homeownership gap. While we had hoped the Legislature would have adopted the Governor’s proposal to invest $500 million of ARPA money on homeownership, they did approve $180 million, and we hope/expect to see more with ARPA 2.0. The state now has funds to offer down-payment assistance, mortgage assistance, and to build more affordable homes creating an unprecedented opportunity to move the needle. We expect our members to be active participants in this effort. Meanwhile, the renewed focus on homeownership has also renewed the long-standing debate about how to reconcile the goal of securing long-term affordability with the goal of enabling wealth creation for first-time homebuyers. I expect this will be an active conversation in 2022 with perhaps some innovative policy solutions emerging that seek “both/and” solutions. 
  6. Will We Accelerate the Transformation to Climate Smart Housing? The past two years have seen a growing focus on the need to electrify and ultimately decarbonize the residential housing sector. This is a massive challenge given the sheer number of homes in the Commonwealth and the age of our housing stock. We also need to do this equitably so that lower-income tenants and homeowners can benefit from the transformation without being priced out of their homes and so communities of color participate in the economic opportunities created by this effort.  We are starting to see policy shifts at the state and local level, with significant reforms coming through the state’s 3-year Energy Efficiency Plan, to the Mass Save program; beefed up requirements for affordable housing developers in the Qualified Allocation Plan; and tighter building standards like Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). MACDC is stepping up its climate efforts as a leader in the HERO Coalition and through our new partnership with LISC and New Ecology called the DASH Program – Decarbonizing Affordable Subsidized Housing. I expect this trend to accelerate with new policies and new funding in 2022 and beyond.  
  7. Can We Better Leverage Good Housing to Promote Good Health? Public health professionals and community developers have long understood the strong connection between stable, high-quality housing and better health outcomes. That connection became widely understood during the COVID-19 crisis. The question now is whether we can convert understanding into action. Many Massachusetts hospitals are stepping up their efforts to invest in supportive housing, housing affordability, and, occasionally, housing advocacy, often in partnership with our members. MACDC published a report in 2021 outlining how CDCs can build and strengthen such partnerships.  MACDC has also assembled a cross sector task force to build out a strategy for large-scale rehabilitation of poor quality housing to reduce health hazards such as lead paint, mold, and pest infestation. We are also building a coalition to advocate with the Legislature to allocate ARPA dollars for a new Massachusetts Healthy Homes Initiative. I’m hopeful that 2022 will be the year that we see these efforts accelerate and scale.  
  8. How Can We Stabilize Neighborhoods in our Gateway and Rural Communities?  MACDC will continue to work with our public and nonprofit partners on stabilizing neighborhoods, in Gateway Cities and small towns, where weak real estate markets coupled with limited public resources have resulted in significant property neglect, and in some cases abandonment. Through the Neighborhood Hub, we will continue to offer technical assistance to municipalities grappling with these challenges, coupled with new capital dollars provided through passage of the Economic Development Bill earlier this year. 
  9. Can Mayor Michelle Wu Advance Her Bold Vision for Boston? Boston voters elected a progressive Mayor in November who has promised bold action on a range of issues, including housing. Mayor Michelle Wu already announced plans to strengthen the City’s Linkage and Inclusionary Development programs, while advocating for state legislation that would enable the City to adopt a transfer tax on high-end real estate and to implement a modern rent stabilization program. She is also looking to reform – if not completely restructure – the Boston Planning and Development Agency. CDCs are excited to work with the new Mayor to design and implement an ambitious housing agenda for the city that can also inspire and motivate other cities across the state. 
  10. Will Housing be a Key Issue in the 2022 Gubernatorial Campaign? – Governor Baker’s decision to not seek re-election means that we can look forward to a wide-open campaign for Governor in 2022. So far, only Danielle Allen has put a housing agenda on her campaign website but look for all candidates to do so in early 2022. It is critical that housing receive attention from the candidates as well as the media and voters to ensure that it becomes central to the next Governor’s agenda. Both Governor Patrick and Governor Baker made housing a priority and yet there is still much more to do. Will the candidates do the same? What will they change? How can they move the needle further and faster? We will be asking these and other questions throughout the year.
  11. Can Congress Pass the Build Back Better Legislation? – Like people across this country, we will be watching closely as Congress continues to debate the Build Back Better legislation. The version adopted by the House of Representatives includes dramatic new investments in affordable housing, but there is certainly no guarantee that the final bill will do so – if a bill even passes.  It is hard to overstate the importance of this debate on the future of housing in the Commonwealth. With a new infusion of federal funding and updated federal policies, we could make dramatic progress. Without this legislation, it will be hard to scale up to the level we need.  We are grateful to have a Congressional Delegation that understands this and is fighting for this, but it appears our fate lies in senators from other parts of the country. 

 Like all years, 2022 is going to be busy for housing advocates. With so much on the table, however, 2022 could be more than busy – it could be transformational for tenants, homeowners, and communities across the Commonwealth. Let’s get to work! 

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MA Division of Banks Issues Ch. 206 RFP, Broadens Eligibility to Include All Certified CDCs

January 4th, 2022 by Don Bianchi

The MA Division of Banks (DOB) has posted the RFP for grant funding in support of first-time homeownership counseling programs and for regional foreclosure education centers, under Chapter 206 of the Acts of 2007. MACDC’s advocacy was pivotal to passage of the law, which also for the first-time regulated Massachusetts non-bank lenders. 

Eligibility, submission, and other important details are available in the bid RFP.  To access the bid visit www.commbuys.com, enter bid number ‘69422’ in the top search bar and click the search button. For easy reference, here is the RFP

In prior years, eligible applicants were limited to those previously awarded Chapter 206 funding. We heard from several MACDC Members who provide homebuyer education and/or foreclosure prevention counseling, and were not eligible to apply for Chapter 206 funding by virtue of not being awarded grants in prior years.  In response, we recommended to DOB that they broaden eligibility to include certified CDCs and organizations who are recipients of the Collaborative Seal of Approval by the Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative.  DOB accepted our recommendation, and broadened eligibility. 

All proposals are due no later than January 14, 2022. If you have any questions pertaining to the RFP, they must be submitted to DOB via e-mail to chapter206grants@mass.gov before 5pm January 6, 2022. 

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MACDC’s Participation in a Conversation on Eliminating Lead Poisoning

January 3rd, 2022 by Elana Brochin

On December 9th, I participated in a half-day “Public Conversation on Eliminating Lead Poisoning in 2022.” Rick Reibstein, a lecturer in BU’s Earth and Environment department, organized the event to bring together individuals who are thinking about ways to combat the presence of lead in our environment. The presence of lead in our environment is a serious public health threat, as any amount of lead in the body can hurt the brain, kidneys, and nervous system, slow down growth and development, make it hard to learn, damage hearing and speech, and cause behavior problems. These problems are particularly harmful to children who absorb lead more easily than adults and who are still growing and developing.  

Rick asked if I’d speak about MACDC’s efforts to secure $100 million in ARPA funding to support a Massachusetts Healthy Homes Initiative (MHHI). We proposed that this $100 million be split between rehabilitating older housing stock and removing lead paint. The presence of lead paint in homes in Massachusetts is a significant problem since over 70% of homes in Massachusetts were constructed before lead paint was banned in 1978. All homes built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint which can be inhaled or ingested unless steps have already been taken to make them lead-safe or remove that lead paint. We estimated that a $50 million investment would be sufficient to make an additional 2,000 Massachusetts homes lead-safe, preventing developmental delays and other serious health consequences in thousands of children. While our recommendation was not adopted in the state ARPA bill, we were able to identify a number of legislative champions who we hope we’ll be able to call upon to support de-leading funding down the line, including the approximately $2 billion in unspent ARPA funding allocated to Massachusetts.  

In addition to sharing our advocacy efforts, the conference provided an opportunity for me to learn more about the history and politics of federal and state lead laws as well as other efforts to combat lead-poisoning around the state. One of these efforts is An Act Enhancing Justice for Families Harmed by Lead which would hold lead paint manufacturers responsible for the harm knowingly caused by lead. Advocates are additionally working on bills that would ban lead in jewelry, toys, and pottery, that would lower the level at which children are considered to be lead poisoned, that would regulate the presence of outdoor lead paint, and that would address discrimination against families stemming from the current Massachusetts lead law. The conference was an opportunity to bring together people working on addressing the hazards of lead from a variety of vantage points. For me, it was inspiring to learn about these crucial efforts. If you want to check out the event, including my presentation, you can access the recording here. 

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