A Busy Year Ahead for MACDC

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!