News

2018 Convention: Highlights

October 26th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

More than 700 community development leaders from every corner of the state converged on the Hynes Convention Center in Boston on Saturday, October 20 for MACDC’s 2018 Convention.  It was a day of celebration, learning, networking, action and inspiration. This was the largest MACDC Convention so far, with hundreds of community residents, CDC board members, staff members, funders, partners, and allies in attendance.   Thanks to Bank of America and our generous sponsors, the event was free to our members and to the public.

The day was filled with many highlights, including:

  • Gubernatorial Forum:  Both Republican Gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Baker, and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate, Jay Gonzalez, participated in our Candidate Forum, fielding questions about affordable housing, the racial homeownership gap, small business development, social determinants of health, the Community Investment Tax Credit and more.  Jay Gonzalez promised to double the state’s housing capital budget, with $50 million earmarked for affordable homeownership and said he would fight to increase the state match for the Community Preservation Act.  Charlie Baker affirmed his strong support for the Community Investment Tax Credit and said he would sign legislation to increase the state CPA match.  Watch the Forum in its entirety on our website.
  • Book Presentation:  We gave both candidates a copy of the book, The Color of Law, as an appreciation for their participation and to help them learn more about the history of housing discrimination in our country, and its legacy today.  If you have not read the book, you should.  You can also start with this book review written by Joe Kriesberg.  To see how the candidates reacted, watch the video.
  • Awards:  Spencer Buchholtz from Lawrence Community Works received the Ricanne Hadrian Award for his outstanding organizing work in Lawrence, and three CDCs were honored with the first CITC Community Impact award – NewVue Communities, Revitalize CDC, and Asian CDC.  Those CDCs produced wonderful videos that were shown at the convention and can now be viewed on our website.
  • Workshops:  The convention include eight workshops on key topics, including:
    • How to Tell Your Story of Change
    • Assessing YOUR Community's Housing Need and Strategies
    • Cracking the Code: Building Support for Affordable Housing in Suburban and Rural Areas
    • Leveraging Art for Community & Economic Growth
    • Healthy Food Focused Economic Development
    • From Awake to Woke - Starting Race Talk
    • Addressing Fundraising Anxiety: How Board Members and Residents Can Raise Funds
    • We Are the Now and the Future. Youth Empowerment!

We also were inspired by four wonderful community leaders who shared their stories about why they have become active with their CDC and by the “CDC Roll Call,” where every CDC in attendance shared an example of the great work they are planning for 2019.

Of course, perhaps, the best part of the day was the opportunity to be together, to network and talk with colleagues, and to feel the energy of this dynamic movement.  We are truly more powerful when we are united and the 2018 MACDC Convention proved that yet again.

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Leveraging Arts and Cultural Programming to advance Racial Equity

October 3rd, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

Reflections of a Learning Journey to Seattle by Joe Kriesberg

 

Last week, I had a special opportunity to participate in a Learning Journey to Seattle, Washington to study their efforts to ensure that people of color have full access to arts and cultural opportunities and to leverage the power of human creativity to drive racial equity.  It was an inspiring and educational trip!

The “Journey” was organized by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) with support from the Barr Foundation and brought 25 civic, government and community leaders to the Pacific Northwest for two action-packed days.  The diverse delegation included the Mayors of Lynn, Salem and Beverly; two state senators; two state representatives; a Boston City Councilor; local officials from suburban and rural communities; and nonprofit leaders from groups like MACDC and MASSCreative.  

Our visit began at the Wing Luke Museum with welcoming remarks from Ken Workman, the great, great, great, great grandson of Chief Seattle.  He reminded us about the people who were here for centuries and whose culture was devastated (but not destroyed) by Europeans. We then heard from city and state leaders about their expansive efforts to ensure that children of color have equal access to a full range of cultural and creative programming throughout their k-12 education, both during the school day and beyond. We learned about an ambitious effort to inventory every cultural space in the city and to create a “dating app” that would allow any “creative” to find space to pursue their craft.  The City and County have innovative funding streams to support these efforts, including a five percent levy on all for-profit entertainment venues (sadly, male professional sports are exempted; a mistake we should not make if we seek to replicate this model in Massachusetts!).  We toured an incredibly ambitious public art project that includes nearly 60 massive murals along a rail corridor south of downtown.  And all of this was on the first day.

On day two, we toured the wonderfully renovated historic Washington Hall where a 17-year-old Jimi Hendrix preformed publicly for the first time and now is home to three community-based organizations that promote the arts.  The Hall is in an historically African American community that has been significantly gentrified, so the programming seeks to affirm and support the remaining African American community and to honor the history of the neighborhood. Seattle is growing even faster than Boston; it is a day-to-day fight to slow displacement, preserve neighborhoods, and retain the historic and cultural assets that make the city special.  Arts and culture are both a potential victim of this process and a tool for fighting back.

Our last visit was with an amazing program called Creative Justice that uses the arts to engage and support court-involved youth.  While their program is having great success with young people, that is not their only mission.  We were told that the goal of Creative Justice is not to change young people, but to change the criminal justice system!

A few lessons really resonated for me.  First, it was clear how much Seattle values the arts for their intrinsic value.  They don’t seek to justify investment in the arts solely because of the jobs, economic impacts, and reduced high school dropout rates, although they certainly achieve those results.  Arts and culture are intrinsic to human experience and everyone should have access to it everywhere.  

It was also hard not to be inspired by the commitment to racial equity. What stood out for me was the fact that they were undeterred by the complexity and uncertainly about what precisely racial equity might mean in different contexts.  One speaker noted that racial equity has never existed in the history of the world – just like a piece of art, or music that has not yet been produced.  He suggested that we view this work as an act of creativity, where we first envision something and then we create it.  Like any creative work, there are no hard definitions, no defined pathways, no absolute right answers, and plenty of trial and error.  We were told to “think big, start small, and go fast” even if we don’t know exactly where we were going.  This is something for me and MACDC to think about as we embark to deepen our own commitment to racial equity.

As if the program itself did not teach me enough about the fight to promote the arts in Seattle, I continued to learn when I was in my Lyft ride going to my sister-in-law’s house (yes, I also had family to visit!).  My driver was a 50+ year old man who plays in three rock bands and drives Lyft to help pay the bills. He had just gone to his first City Council hearing ever to protest the demolition of an historic music hall, which might be replaced with a 44-story condominium development.  Seattle needs more housing desperately, but at what cost? My driver told me that he was a nervous wreck as he waited to testify at a public hearing for the first time in his life.  But he was pleased with himself for speaking up. He’s hopeful the Hall will be saved, but who knows? There are law suits and political battles to come. Either way, he and others are raising their voices and I’m confident that the creative community in Seattle is here to stay!

As I write this essay on my flight home to Boston, I am still thinking about how this work ultimately fits within MACDC’s agenda and what we can contribute to the effort.  How can we leverage the power of the arts to advance our goals for community voice and racial equity? How can arts and culture be part of our efforts to address displacement or promote neighborhood revitalization? I welcome your thoughts as my learning journey continues.

 

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State Legislature Wraps Up 2017/18 Session

August 6th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

The Massachusetts State Legislature wrapped up the 2017/18 legislative session on July 31 and in the final flurry of activity, there was some good news for community developers and some disappointing news. On July 27, MACDC sent a letter to legislative leaders requesting action on six items.

    Here is how we fared:
  1. The legislature overrode the Governor's Veto of the so-called Chapter 206 money that provides grants to CDCs and others for home-ownership education and foreclosure prevention.   This action fixes the language that defines the program and provides $2.05 million for the line-item, a $500,000 increase over last year.
  2. The legislature enacted language to exempt bona fide nonprofits from the onerous and unnecessary Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) licensing requirements.  This was an issue of great concern to many MACDC members that operate home-ownership programs such as down-payment assistance and lead paint abatement loans.  TO make this happen, we worked closely with our impacted members, CHAPA, Habitat for Humanity, the Division of Banks and the Mass. Mortgage Bankers Association.
  3. The legislature authorized $1.25 million in capital funds for CDFIs that lend to small businesses.  We had hoped to secure $5 million, but this will still provide important capital to many of our members.
  4. The Governor's Housing Choice bill did not pass.  The House and Senate could not agree on a path forward regarding zoning and housing production.  The House wanted to pass the Governor’s bill. The Senate wanted to add some zoning reforms for which we had advocated.  They could not reach an agreement.  This is very disappointing as so many people worked so hard over the past two years to enact meaningful housing production and zoning reform.
  5. Legislation to enable the creation of Community Benefit Districts also did not pass.  MACDC has worked with the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance for four years to get this bill enacted so this too was disappointing.  
  6. The Legislature did not act on the Governor's Supplemental Budget request which included $10 million in CPA matching funds.  That could still be done in informal session later this year.

The Legislature also adopted strong legislation to regulate and tax Short Term Rentals, like Airbnb.  We are urging the Governor to sign this into law. The legislature also created an economic mobility commission that will look at best practices for helping affordable housing residents gain economic stability.

Considering that MACDC had already won our three top policy priorities for the year we are very pleased with what has been accomplished over the past two years (the Community Investment Tax Credit legislation, the Affordable Housing Bond Bill and restored funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance program).

MACDC is thankful to our members for the calls, emails, and visits that they made to advocate for this agenda.  We are grateful to have so many amazing partners like CHAPA, the Mass. Smart Growth Alliance, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council with whom we work closely.  And, of course, we have many friends in the House and Senate – far too many to list here – that do the hard work inside the building to turn good ideas into law.

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Saturday, October 20 is going to be the best day of the year!

July 12th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg
 
What’s your favorite day of the year? Your birthday? Christmas? Thanksgiving? 
 
For me, this year, it will be Saturday, October 20
 
No, it is not my birthday (which is October 7th – thanks for asking).  October 20 is the date of the MACDC Convention - by far my favorite event of the year. 
 
Since 2002, MACDC has hosted six Conventions, with the last one held in 2014.  The Convention is unlike any other event in the community development field – it is a conference, a celebration, and a political action all rolled into one exciting, fun, inspiring day.  Everyone and anyone associated with community development and community building is going to want to be there.  We expect 700, or more people from across the state. 
 
MACDC is committed to removing any and every obstacle to your participation.  Thanks to our donors and sponsors, THE CONVENTION IS FREE.  We provide free breakfast and lunch, free child care, transportation assistance, language interpretation, and whatever else is needed, so we can welcome everyone in our movement. 
 
The MACDC Convention is special because the event is designed for and attracts hundreds of CDC board members, residents, community leaders, youth leaders, and others who are a part of the community development field.  Community development professionals will be there too because this is the one event where everyone in the field – volunteers, paid staff, funders, investors, allies, friends, teachers, students – comes together.  
 
We are still finalizing the agenda, but we already know it is going to be fun, educational, inspiring, and impactful.  Some of the highlights include: 
  • Workshops on key community development priorities such as affordable housing, economic development, racial equity, community health, and community organizing; 
  • Awards to CDCs that have leveraged the Community Investment Tax Credit program to launch, or expand a program that is making a difference in the lives of people and communities;
  • Music and poetry that express our core values and inspire us to work for an inclusive and equitable society; 
  • The “CDC Roll Call,” where every CDC in attendance shares an exciting achievement from the past year, thereby demonstrating the diversity and scale of our collective impact; 
  • Testimonials from CDC community leaders that will remind us why we do this work; and 
  • Networking opportunities throughout the day that enable you to meet your colleagues from across the state. 
Of course, MACDC is not going to bring 700 people together without using the opportunity to help shape the future of community development policy.  We have invited all the major party candidates for Governor to join us on October 20th to field our questions about their policy agenda.   
 
Deval Patrick came to our conventions in 2006 and 2010; made specific and meaningful commitments to our members; and he kept those commitments.  Charlie Baker came in 2014 and did the same, including a commitment to fund small business development and support the Community Investment Tax Credit.  I am 100% certain the Community Investment Tax Credit would not exist – and would not have been recently increased -  without the MACDC Convention.  When these candidates see hundreds of diverse and united community leaders from every corner of the state, learn about the tangible ways we are improving the Commonwealth, are asked specific questions about important policy issues, they come to understand that we are a movement to be taken seriously.   
 
Join us! I’m confident you’ll be glad you came and it may turn out to be your favorite day of 2018 too! 

Governor Baker speaks at MACDC's 2014 Convention

Governor Patrick speaks at MACDC's 2010 Convention

Governor Patrick speaks at MACDC's 2006 Convention

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MACDC Urges Boston City Council to Adopt Strong Short Term Rental Ordinance

May 30th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

The Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations which represents 20 CDCs in the City of Boston calls on the Boston City Council to support strong regulations for the short-term rental industry.  We believe the compromise ordinance put forth by Mayor Marty Walsh and several members of the Council is a solid proposal that balances the need to protect our rental housing stock and the desire of local homeowners to earn extra money.  We urge the Council to approve this proposal when it comes before the City Council.

Everyone knows that Boston is in the middle of a housing crisis.  Rents and home prices have been increasing for several years and thousands of Bostonians can no longer afford to live here.  MACDC and its members are working closely with residents, the City, and other stakeholders to help mitigate this housing crisis by producing as much affordable housing as we possibly can.  The City has adopted numerous strategies for expanding our housing supply, preserving existing affordable homes, acquiring more apartments that can be protected for the long term, strengthening tenant protections, and of course, building new affordable apartments and homes.  These efforts are undermined when private developers and investors convert rental housing into de facto hotels.

We believe that Mayor Walsh's proposal strikes the right balance.  It would slow displacement of renters while enabling homeowners to earn extra cash.  We urge the Council to support this common-sense proposal.

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MACDC Board Meets with Gov. Charlie Baker

April 30th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

For the fourth year in a row, MACDC's Board of Directors met with Governor Charlie Baker as part of our annual Lobby Day.  MACDC Board Chair, Vanessa Calderon Rosado thanked the Governor for his support of key MACDC priorities including the Housing Bond Bill, the Community Investment Tax Credit and the Small Business Technical Assistance program.  A number of board members then shared some of the innovative work they are doing locally to support small businesses, help working families buy their first home, and partner with hospitals to advance health equity initiatives. The Board also pressed the Governor to support an increase in state matching funds for the Community Preservation Act and to allocate a portion of the forthcoming gaming industry tax revenue to support small businesses from under-invested communities.

"Our conversation with the Governor was substantive and productive," said MACDC President Joseph Kriesberg.  "We deeply appreciate the Governor's keen interest in our work and his willingness to engage in a detailed conversation about how we can work together toward shared goals."

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Why The Color of Law is a Must Read for Community Developers

April 11th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

Today, April 11, marks the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Federal Fair Housing Act, and to mark the occasion I spent the weekend reading The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein.  To be honest, when the book was first released I was unsure whether I would read it, thinking arrogantly that “I know that story already.”  After all, I’ve been working in community development for 25 years and have taught graduate level courses in community development and affordable housing. After I missed seeing Mr. Rothstein speak at a recent event with Massachusetts Community Banking Council, I figured I should reconsider.   I’m glad I did.  I learned a tremendous amount pouring through chapter after chapter this weekend.  To put it simply:  I consider this book to be required reading for any serious community developer, affordable housing advocate, or frankly for anyone interested in America’s history . . . and America’s future.

The book is framed as a rebuttal to an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts in 2007 in which he rejected school desegregation programs in Louisville and Seattle by arguing that when residential segregation “is a product not of state action, but of private choices, it does not have constitutional implications.”  Rothstein proceeds to document, in brutal detail, that segregation in America is indeed the result of governmental action and this “de jure segregation” violated our Constitution, and therefore, requires a constitutional remedy.

The book effectively combines stories about particular families and places, data, and a systemic analysis of the multiple and reinforcing ways that government – federal, state and local – systematically segregated our country.   Some of the laws, policies and practices that were deployed include:

  • Zoning that explicitly required blacks and whites to live in different neighborhoods, followed by various forms of exclusionary zoning that prevented rental housing and low-income housing from being developed in many communities;
  • Financing programs that encouraged developers to build segregated developments and literally prevented developers from building integrated housing developments, even when developers wanted to do so;
  • Redlining practices that ensured government-subsidized mortgages were only offered to white families;
  • Government enforcement of racial covenants that prevented homes from being sold to African Americans;
  • Demolition of African American neighborhoods that forced residents to relocate to other areas;
  • Highways strategically located to destroy black neighborhoods, to provide barriers between blacks and whites, and to enable whites to move to the suburbs;
  • A failure to arrest perpetrators who used violence to scare and intimidate African Americans who moved into white neighborhoods;
  • Relocating schools to force black (and white) families to move to new neighborhoods, so their children could attend public school;
  • Systematically undermining economic opportunities for African Americans to prevent them from gaining the economic wherewithal to compete with whites in the housing market; and
  • On and on and on it goes.

The impact of these policies and programs, many of which were enacted by liberal elected officials,  was staggering.  Indeed, there were many integrated communities across America in the early 20th century but these communities were systematically destroyed.  Many developers sought to build integrated communities only to be denied by federal, state and local policies.  Middle class black families who were well on their way toward the American Dream had their long term economic prospects (and those of their children and grand-children) artificially short circuited because they were unable to buy a home and build equity.  And, yes, there were white families who wanted to live in integrated communities but were blocked by the government from doing so.  Significantly, these policies were in full force from 1945 to 1968 when our country went through a period of massive housing development.  By the time the laws began to change, it was too late: modern America had been built and residential segregation was institutionalized.

As a community developer and an advocate of affordable housing, the book forces some difficult questions.  Are we unintentionally perpetuating segregation today? Does affordable housing policy focus too much on the provision of shelter for the poor and not enough on the need to promote integration?  How does this history challenge our views about gentrification or the growing suburbanization of poverty?  Given the limited funding for subsidized housing, how can we better leverage the market to drive integration? What is the proper remedy for racially concentrated areas of poverty?  I still have more questions than answers.

Perhaps because I have so many questions, I was a bit disappointed in the section on possible remedies.  He readily acknowledges that some of his suggestions are politically impossible under almost any scenario.  Other ideas that he offers are the same ones that we already frequently hear – such as locating more affordable housing in middle class neighborhoods and allowing Section 8 tenants to rent more expensive housing – remedies that are small scale at best and would do nothing to improve the quality of life for millions of African Americans and others that would inevitably remain in poor communities.  The section fails to adequately deal with the many complexities we face in undoing nearly a century of de jure racial segregation.  He perpetuates the stereotype that low-income communities of color lack assets and does not fully acknowledge that many people of color are seeking to preserve their communities as well as their cultural and historic significance.  He also does not adequately discuss, in my view, the complexities associated with integration in a society that is no longer just black and white, but is growing more and more diverse.

Rothstein does offer one recommendation with which I whole-heartedly agree.  He argues that we need to revamp our high school history curriculum and textbooks to make sure the history of de jure segregation is taught to all Americans. He points out two major high school textbooks that barely mention the subject – one book has just a single sentence on the subject out of 1,000 pages!  Rothstein makes a compelling argument that we can’t even begin to address this issue effectively until we gain a shared understanding that residential segregation in America is the result of explicit, sustained, pervasive, creative, insidious governmental action.  The Color of Law makes a major contribution to that effort and should be read not only by students, but also by jurists, policymakers, advocates, citizens . . . all of us. 

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CITC Legislation Moves Toward Passage

April 4th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

Legislation to extend and expand the Community Investment Tax Credit moved one giant step closer to passage with a recent vote by the Massachusetts State Senate.  On March 29, the Senate voted 34-0 to adopt the Affordable Housing Bond Bill, which included language to extend the CITC program from 2019 to 2025 and to gradually increase the total cap on the program from $6 million to $12 million (see table below).  The House of Representatives approved identical language as part of its Housing Bond Bill earlier this year.

The House and Senate bills will now go to a House-Senate Conference Committee to reconcile the differences between them – differences that do not impact CITC.  MACDC expects the bill to reach the Governor’s desk by the end of April, at which point it will become law with a simple signature by Governor Charlie Baker.  Significantly, the bill would also provide capital authorization for the state’s affordable housing programs and extend and expand other important tax credit programs.

 

Year

Statewide Cap

Cap per CDC

2018

$6M

$150K

2019

$8M

$200K

2020

$8M

$200K

2021

$10M

$250K

2022

$10M

$250K

2023

$12M

$300K

2024

$12M

$300K

2025

$12M

$300K

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New Coalition Works to Reform Health Care System

March 5th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

MACDC is a proud founding member of the Alliance for Community Health Integration, a new coalition led by the Massachusetts Public Health Association which now has 24 member organizations.  The Coalition, which launched in September 2017, has already had a significant impact in mobilizing a growing movement that seeks to transform our health care system so it addresses the social determinants of health (SDOH).

The coalition is playing a key role in educating a diverse coalition about the current opportunities to move the needle and in helping us learn how to talk to and with each other – many of us have had to learn a whole new set of acronyms!

So far, the Alliance is focusing on three broad areas:

  1. Maximizing the impact of the new Mass Health Accountable Care Organizations on addressing the SDOH.
  2. Aligning Hospital investments with community needs through both the Determination of Need program and the Community Benefit requirements.
  3. Partnering with the healthcare sector to advocate for affordable housing policies.

“Health equity is emerging as a top priority for the CDC field as more and more of our members forge partnerships with the health sector to improve health outcomes at the local level,” said MACDC President Joseph Kriesberg.  “MACDC is thrilled to be part of this new Alliance which will greatly enhance our collective expertise and power to advance health equity at the state level”.

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MACDC’s Top Legislative Priorities Advance

January 26th, 2018 by Joe Kriesberg

Wednesday, January 24 was a big day at the State House for MACDC and its members, with all three of our top policy priorities taking major strides forward.

Governor Charlie Baker submitted his FY 2019 budget to the legislature and proposed fully funding the Small Business Technical Assistance program at $2 million.  This would restore the program to its prior funding level and help thousands of entrepreneurs across the state. The Governor’s budget proposal now goes to the House and Senate.

The House of Representatives passed a $1.7 billion affordable housing bond bill that fully authorizes all of the key capital budget housing programs that CDCs and others use to build and preserve affordable housing.  The bill now moves to the Senate.

The Housing Bond Bill also included language to extend and expand the Community Investment Tax Credit, pushing the program sunset to 2025 and lifting the statewide cap from $6 million to $8 million in 2019 & 2020, to $10 million in 2020 & 2021 and to $12 million from 2023 to 2025.  The cap for individual CDCs will rise proportionately.  The language is consistent with the bill that Sen. DiDomenico, Sen. Forry and Rep. Kulik filed on which MACDC testified last year.

Each of these priorities now advance to the next stage of the legislative process and MACDC will continue to push them forward.

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