Joe Kriesberg

News Briefs

November 5th, 2018 by

November 2018

  • Check out NACEDA's 10th Anniversary Publication: Talking Values: Soulful Conversation within Community Economic Development

  • From Massachusetts Public Health Association: "Funding Available to Healthy Food Retail Projects in Low to Moderate-Income Communities through the Massachusetts Food Trust Program
    Loans, grants, and business assistance is now available through the Massachusetts Food Trust Program!  Learn more and apply today: https://massfoodtrustprogram.org/"

 

September 2018

  • The Trump’s administration’s proposed changes to the Community Reinvestment Act could mean “A Green Light for Banks to Start ‘Redlining’ Again,” according to this New York Time’s Op-Ed.

  • Boston University’s NIMBY study finds that the vast majority of residents who oppose developments are “older, whiter, and wealthier than their neighbors.” Their opposition raises prices by pushing for changes to the scale of the projects, parking, and expensive reviews which delay projects.

  • BU’s Political Science department hopes NIMBY study “provides some empirical evidence for policymakers who are thinking about how to make public participation in development more democratic.”

  • The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and the Mel King Institute for Community Building, in collaboration with Henry Joseph, Development Consultant, invite your organization to participate in the next LISC Project Manager Seminar, scheduled to begin this fall.  We are pleased to offer this seminar once again to project managers and give them the opportunity to develop their knowledge of real estate development and their project planning and problem-solving skills, through a peer learning experience. For more information about this program and to apply, contact Marilyn Sanchez.

June 2018

  • CHAPA is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for new communities to join its Municipal Engagement Initiative.

    CHAPA’s Municipal Engagement Initiative seeks to build support for affordable housing production in communities across the Commonwealth. CHAPA's Municipal Engagement staff works with local municipalities and community groups to conduct public education efforts in support of housing production, with an emphasis on affordable housing. Strategies will be developed to work within the context of each community.

  • Congratulations to Peter Munkenbeck for being recognized with the Mayor of Cambridge with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service. Peter, Board Chair at Just-A-Start, is a long-time champion of Cambridge-based causes and supporter of the community development movement statewide.
     
  • The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University recently released The State of the Nation’s Housing 2018 report. The study finds that while some gains have been made since the publication of the first report in 1988, several challenges have exacerbated. Read the full report for complete details.

February 2018

  • The Boston Globe's editorial board challenges the Commonwealth to do more toward alleviating the affordable housing crisis.

  • MACDC’s work to help CDCs partner with hospitals is highlighted in a recent article in Shelterforce Magazine.  The article was written by Enid Eckstein who taught three workshops for the Mel King Institute about how CDCs can work with local hospitals to address the social determinants of health.  The article gives concrete advice to CDC leaders about how to create effective partnerships.
     
  • Congratulations to the United Way and its supporters for raising a record $2,119,550 for the Community Investment Tax Credit program in 2017, a 25% increase over the prior year, which itself had been a record year.Michael Durkin from the United Way noted how this remarkable achievement makes a difference in the lives of families across Greater Boston. 

    "The CITC program has been a catalyst in developing and preserving affordable housing throughout our region. In 2017, more affordable housing units came online in the City of Boston than any year in the past two decades. This landmark achievement would not be possible without the support the United Way and others who care deeply about improving our neighborhoods and the quality of life for all."

    "The United Way's commitment to the community development movement across Massachusetts has been steadfast for years," noted MACDC President Joseph Kriesberg. "They have been a core partner in the success of the CITC program since before its inception and their contributions to the field continue to grow every year."   

January 2018

 

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

Since 2012, a whole host of agencies & nonprofits have been working diligently to preserve affordable expiring-use units in Boston.

September 2017

Read the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's publication "Building on What Works: Cross-Sector Community Development - Volume 12, Issue 1."

August 2017

Residents Play Active Role in Fixing a Highway-Shaped Hole in the Heart of Black Boston

Building clearouts are becoming increasingly common in Boston

July 2017

Lauren Liss named as the new CEO of MassDevelopment
Local teens discover TD Garden owners had agreed to hold fund-raisers for Boston DCR but never have.

May 2017

MACDC scored several policy victories this week as the Massachusetts Senate considered over 1,000 amendments to their FY 2018 state budget.  The Senate approved an amendment to increase funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance program from its current level of $1 million to $2.5 million.  We also saw amendments adopted to preserve $1.3 million in funding for foreclosure prevention and homeownership education programs, increase state funding for the Community Preservation Act and the Mass. Food Trust, and new language to enable cities and towns to create Community Benefit Districts to help revitalize local neighborhoods and commercial nodes.  The budget also includes a substantial increase in funding for the Mass. Rental Voucher Program.

For the first time, MACDC's GOALs report included a supplemental survey to capture how our members address community health.
 
Legislative Hearing Highlights success of the Community Investment Tax Credit.
 
Governor Baker's FY 2018 Housing Capital Budget Includes Funding for MACDC Priorities.
 
Learn about DHCD's National Housing Trust Funding for Supportive Housing.
 
A CITC Donor Highlights Power of the Program.
 
Channel 22 News (WWLP) highlights how CITC is helping Franklin County do more in the community.

The Massachusetts Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program may help inform the design of a new tax credit in Washington D.C - "D.C. Eyes Tax Credit for Investment in Affordable Housing"

3/29/17 Low-income housing financing takes hit from Trump's tax-cut promise.

3/27/17 Boston's new approach to traffic calming includes using data as well as the "Slow Streets program to ask residential neighborhoods to nominate themselves for traffic-calming initiative."

2/21/17 More families are struggling with poverty in Boston’s affluent suburbs

1/31/17 Trump's pledge to reduce corporate tax rate is already impacting affordable housing development.

1/11/17 T4MA announces Chris Dempsey as new Executive Director.

11/14/16 MA residents looked beyond individual interests for the benefit of the larger community, CPA approved by 74% of Boston voters.

11/10/16 DOJ Asked to Investigate Whether Canceled Trains on the Fairmount Line Violated Civil Rights.

10/18/16 Supporting Yes on 5 means $20 mil more a year for affordable housing, green parks and historic preservation.

10/7/16 The Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) is holding four listening sessions in October around the Commonwealth as they seek to review the Determination of Need program.  This is an important program that is designed to help improve the overall health of our communities. Click here to learn more about the sessions, including where and when they are being held.

10/7/16 - Check out Affordable Rental Housing A.C.T.I.O.N.’s fact sheet highlighting the impact in Massachusetts of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit from 1986 to 2014.

10/4/16Housing Affordability and Gentrification are the focus of two new documentaries currently airing on HBO and EPIX

9/15/16 - As housing demands in Boston continues to climb, Boston considers going small - check out the all the 385 square-foot of living the Uhu has to offer.

9/8/16 - Although rich states have more resources their hot housing markets contribute to a larger number of homeless people compared to poorer states

8/31/16“I wish my teacher knew” helps teachers understand the struggles that might be keeping their students from achieving their full potential. 

8/19/16 - LISC Boston, The Boston Foundation and the Hyams Foundation with assistance from MassDevelopment create The Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Accelerator Fund to mitigate the negative impacts transit-oriented investments have on low-income communities.

8/17/16 - Lydia Edwards has been appointed by Boston Mayor, Marty Walsh, to lead Boston's Office of Housing Stability.

7/29/16 - Massachusetts sees steep drop in homeless families housed in hotels

7/29/16 - Check out this interactive online tool that illustrates the difficulty of financing affordable housing without subsidy.

7/29/16 - Learn how MAPC's Public Health Department has been conducting Rapid Health Impact Assessments

7/18/16 - Want communities to thrive? Create transit-accessible affordable housing.

7/18/16 - Could this be the best Annual Report idea ever?

6/22/16 - CHAPA announced the departure of Brenda Clement, CHAPA's ED for the past four years. Brenda, is taking the role of Director at HousingWorks, RI.

6/21/16 - Read this Next City article, Massachusett CDC's Applaud Tax Credit Program.

6/16/16 - From "Population growth is a big problem. Go," to software development that could save crucial architect time for speedier housing development in fast growing cities.
6/16/16 - MacArthur Foundation's new survey finds growing pessimism in prolonged housing affordability crisis.

6/10/16 - LISC's Green Retrofit Initiative reaches milestone, 10 out of 20 multifamily affordable housing partners sign on to the Better Buildings Challenge.

6/2/16 - Both buyers and renters waiting for housing market to cool.

6/2/16  -A key change in draft legislation on Beacon Hill would allow owners of all single-family homes to build small accessory dwelling units — also known as granny or in-law apartments.

5/24/16 - Massachusetts Community & Banking Council releases new report on CRA for mortgage lenders regulation.

5/19/16 - A partnership between Boston City Hall and Mass Poetry brought rain activated poetry to Boston's sidewalks.

5/18/16 - Starting December 1, 2016, 4.2 million more American workers will be guaranteed overtime pay.

5/10/16 - Somerville now has the strongest inclusionary zoning in the country. What does this mean for Somerville? "Starting now, all new developments with 6 or more units will be subject to inclusionary zoning. All developments with 18 or more units will be 20% affordable. The affordable units will be distributed among low-, moderate-, and middle-income tiers, allowing Somerville residents of various incomes to find housing in the city." 

5/5/16 - More moms are making thier way into the construction industry in Massachusetts.

4/28/16 - Video: Report from @WCVB details how NOAH CDC received $7 million to develop 71 units of affordable housing in East Boston.

4/28/16 - This new report highlights how the support for CDCs has grown overtime in Boston, thus making Boston a leader of CDC housing production in the country.

4/25/16 - How can nonprofits approach social media strategically for the best results?

4/20/16 - MassDOT announced statewide meetings to seek public feedback on 2017-2021 Capital Investment Plan (CIP). "This multi-billion dollar program makes long-term, multi-modal investments across the Commonwealth.." Here are the meeting dates:
• Monday, April 25, 6 p.m. Fitchburg  Public Library, 610 Main Street
• Tuesday, April 26, 6 p.m. Framingham Town Hall, Blumer Room, 150 Concord Street
• Wednesday, April 27, 6 p.m. Barnstable Hyannis Transportation Center, 215 Iyannough Road
• Wednesday, April 27, 6 p.m. Greenfield Olver Transit Center, Floor 1, 12 Olive Street
• Thursday, April 28, 6 p.m. New Bedford Public Library, 613 Pleasant Street
• Monday, May 2, 6 p.m. Boston (Public Hearing) Public Library, McKim Building, 230 Dartmouth Street
• Tuesday, May 3, 6 p.m. Quincy Public Library, 40 Washington Street • Wednesday, May 4, 11 a.m. Boston State House, 24 Beacon Street, Room 428 
• Wednesday, May 4, 6 p.m. Lynn  North Shore Community College, Room LE303,  300 Broad Street
• Thursday, May 5, 6 p.m. Pittsfield City Hall Council Chamber, 70 Allen Street 
• Monday, May 9, 6:30 p.m. Mansfield Qualters Middle School, Auditorium, 240 East Street
• Tuesday, May 10, 6:30 p.m. Worcester Union Station, 2 Washington Street
• Tuesday, May 10, 6 p.m. Westfield City Hall Council Chamber, 59 Court Street
• Wednesday, May 11, 6 p.m. Andover  Public Safety Center, 32 North Main Street
• Thursday, May 12, 6 p.m. Chelsea  City Hall Council Chamber, 500 Broadway Street

4/20/16 - New report shows human need rose 15% last year in the US, MA has the 4th highest need rate.

4/12/16 - Cambridge might require more affordable units from developers.

4/6/16 - New wave of Urban Renewal in Lawrence will focus on “what to grow as opposed to what to demolish.”

4/5/16 - Is Boston next?  Subsidized housing for the middle-class.

4/5/16 -  Check out this article by Bob Van Meter from Boston LISC, tells the story of a partnership between the owner of a supermarket and the CEO of a nonprofit health care provider on a mission to create jobs, reduce blight and help people lead healthier lives.

3/31/16 - Could new neighborhood research reshape national housing policy?

3/25/16 - Boston population growth slows down a bit. Could this help cool down housing market?

3/8/16 - Boston to test 4 pilot programs to boost middle-income housing

2/22/16 - What happens when Community Development and Museums come together to revitalize neighborhoods?

2/16/16 - Boston's artist-in-residency program aims to look at problems from a new perspective.

2/11/2016Somerville addressing high rents in order to keep families & sustain historic diversity.

1/28/2016 - The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) is now accepting nominations for its fifth annual Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Awards to be held on April 28, 2016, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. The Awards honor immigrants who founded businesses in Massachusetts in four categories: Business Growth, Neighborhood Business, High-Tech Business and Life Science Business. This event is an opportunity for Massachusetts’ business leaders and innovators to publicly recognize the significant contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs in the commonwealth.

Nominations are being accepted now through March 4, 2016, and self-nominations are encouraged. All nominees will be recognized on The ILC website, in press releases and at the Awards Dinner. A panel of experts will judge the nominations and select winners for each category. Both the winner and nominator in each category will be offered a free ticket to the Awards Dinner on April 28. For more information and to nominate to go: Awards web page: http://www.ilctr.org/events/immigrant-entrepreneur-of-the-year-2016/

1/28/2016 - A need for affordable housing surges, rent parties increase.

1/20/15 - This Roofline blog article says "multifamily" is a misnomer. How is MA doing on building family friendly units?

1/20/15 - The MBTA ranks #1 for most breakdowns in nation.  The Boston Business Journal Reports.

1/15/15 - Boston ranks #1 for income inequality in the country, according to recent study.

1/13/15 - Check out this article in Commonwealth Magazine highlighting the how an affordable housing development was approved in Newtonville.

1/15/15 - Congratulations to Mel King for being recognized as one of the top 100 Best Bostonians of All Time at number 64.

1/7/15 - Boston.com is reporting that the City of Boston permitted 1,022 new units of affordable housing in 2015.

1/5/15 - What Paul Krugman didn't get concerning gentrification; Allan Mallach explains in Rooflines, Shelterforce's Blog.

1/5/15 - Advocates for the Massachusetts Food Trust, including MACDC, are pushing for the release of funding to capitalize the program, The Boston Globe reports.

1/5/15 - WBUR highlights support of The Boston Foundation to achieve the build out along the Fairmont Line.

1/4/15 - While this piece in the New Yorker is long, it's a good read on the Ford Foundation and its president.

12/17/15: Underneath I-93 in Boston a freight crate that is growing 2 acres worth of veggies even in winter.  Is this the next development in urban farming?

12/16/15: Does a yellow border help pedestrians get across the street? CityLab covers this new innovation.

12/15/15:  Boston's Fenway community was highlighted by the New York Times for its dramatic changes for the past decade, including the challenges of building affordable housing, as highlighted by Leah Camhi, Fenway CDC's Executive Director.

12/11/15:  MassBudget releases study, "Race to Equity: The State of Black Massachusetts."

12/3/2015:  ACS 2010 - 2014 5-year estimates data was released today for the  by the U.S. Census Bureau.

10/11/2015: Great piece by Mike Durkin at the United Way in the Mass Society of CPAs Fall 2015 sumnews magazine on CITC!


Will Waltham creates it's own housing voucher program similar to Section 8 to address the housing crisis?  Banker and Tradesman look into the issue.


Want to know about all the dev. projects in the area? Cambridge start up is putting all that info in one place for your convenience. 


Is your mission something millennials can support with their time and money?


For the first time since 1974 MA state officials released a plan they hope will lead to “a vibrant and resilient food economy, protect our environment and make healthy food accessible for all citizens”. Is your organization poised to benefit from these new policies?


Powerful editorial by the Eagle Tribune calling for more affordable housing and the need to overcome the excuses so often presented when a new project is proposed in many communities.


It seems that as more schools buy food from local farmers, not only are the student eating healthier meals, but they're also throwing less food away.


This past Monday marked the 38th Anniversary of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) which has helped CDC's revitalize the communities in which they work.


Boston's Mayor seeking to increase linkage fees to help raise funds for new affordable housing and job training.


Meet Boston's new Director of Fair Housing


Great to read about Mel King in the Christian Science Monitor.


Check out this MIT student’s LED MBTA map


Watch this asphault “drink” thousands of gallons of water.  Could this be the future of our parking lots?


Boston Housing Authority trying a new approach to public housing in Charlestown.


Can art create cohesion in changing neighborhoods?


Home Matters announces the winners of it's affordable housing in the future design contest.


The South End of Boston is noted for microsegregation on the How Housing Matters website referencing a new report by Laura Tach for HUD's Cityscape.


LISC receives $4 Million in Federal Grant to expand access to fresh food and revitalize neighborhoods through arts and cultural related ventures.


Is the future crystal clear for solar energy with solar window panels?


Learn more about Vision Zero, an initiative to make our streets safer for cyclists and the many thousands of people who are on and using Boston's streets each day. The City of Boston is incorporating the Vision Zero initiative into their Boston 2030 planning, as reported by WBUR.


The Warren Group is reporting that foreclosure starts and deeds have risen dramatically.


Does the Commonwealth have the resources to fix the old T infrastructure while also expanding to new neighborhoods?


Do you live in the greater Boston area? Are you 12 years old or older? If so, take this survey by the City of Boston. "It’s designed to find out what is important to people,  identify barriers and obstacles that prevent people from taking advantage of cultural programs and activities, and inform decision about what arts and cultural programs should be supported in the future."


Just because summer is coming to a close soon and these designs are fun.


Would you consider investing in Lego's for your organization to reduce stress?


Police advancing skills in conflict resolution and helping address domestic disturbances may be more impactful to transforming communities than the broken windows model.


"Fatbergs" are clogging major city sewar systems around the world.  Is Boston at risk?


Is Boston ready for elevated "pod" transportation?


WBUR highlights the increased loss of affordability in housing across Massachusetts in their piece, "Mass. Advocates Warn Of Loss Of Thousands Of Affordable Housing Units."  This coverage concisely explains the challenges and the state-law (Chapter 40 T) that helps to preserve a homes affordability.


What if you were creating a photo journal of the homeless and came across your father?


Do you think "unstealable" would be a hit in Boston? 


NACEDA, the National Association of Community Econcomic Development Associations, recieved their 1st federal grant, as one of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town program's awards, for $100,000.  "The community development and arts fields already work together to improve low-income neighborhoods, but they approach the work differently and, too often, separately," stated NACEDA Executive Director Frank Woodruff. "By bringing together community developers and artists as creative placemaking partners with shared goals, we will forge strong relationships that promote physical, social and civic transformation in low-income communities."


‘Hurricane-proof’ housing complex proposed for West Roxbury read the rest of the proposal here.


Mayor Marty Walsh Mulls Affordable Housing Policy Change, read the article here.


"The Federal government should never plan for communities, it should plan with them," HUD Secretary Julian Castro. Read the rest of the story here.


Working with the community yields positive results for developers and neighbors. Read about this successful partnership here


Solar power for more people. Read about the plan to bring solar power to low income people.


Boston has the 4th hightest apartment rents in the nation.


Check out how community land trusts can help address displacement. 


Can we make Bus Rapid Transit a reality in Boston? Learn about BRT here


Wouldn’t it be awesome having a few of these underground gardens in Boston?


Doing away with "Poor Doors"


Read about the plans for the World's largest passive building.


Can Boston follow Dublin’s lead and eliminate cars in sections of the city? 


Boston's Megan Sandel concisely lays out why health starts at home and why nonprofit hospitals may be stepping up to help build affordable housing.


What do you do with an empty Walmart?  If you're in McAllen, Texas, you turn it into the largest single-floor library in America.


Research shows poverty comes with a steep price. 


Read this interesting article that advocates for building more mass transit as a means of creating affordable housing.


HUD launches new website where housing counseling professionals can get free training. Read more about it here.


New store in Dorchester is stocked with produce donated by food wholesalers and markets. It’s a win-win for the community and for the environment.


Community Development Corporations have huge collective impact across across the nation. Check out the numbers for housing, jobs, business and more.


Elyse Cherry, CEO of Boston Community Capital, writes a powerful Op/Ed for the New York Times addressing foreclosure and the crisis that doesn't seem to have an end.


Just in: Boston ranks 9th in study of US’ Healthiest Cities!


The future of farming may be in the sky: How can the Commonwealth embrace vertical farming techniques?


Could Boston Ban Cars for a Month? Maybe it's time to bring this ecomobility project to the Commonwealth.


George Lucas of Star Wars fame, among many other incredible achievements, is paying out-of-pocket to build 224 units of Affordable Housing on his Marin County property.


Today (4/15/2015), the Commonwealth's House Ways and Means Committee released their FY 2016 state budget proposal.  It was very favorable to the work of MACDC's members, housing and homeless activists across Massachusetts.

Highlights of the their bill include:

1) $2 million for Small Business Technical Assistance;

2) $2 million for Urban Agenda Economic Grants;

3) Record Increase for MRVP Funding ($90.9 million);

4) Additional $20 million for cost-effective programs, such as HomeBASE and RAFT;

5) $11.5 million for Housing Preservation and Stabilization Trust Fund.

  • A special thanks to Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Dempsey, Vice-Chairman Kulik, Assistant Vice-Chair Swan, Members of House Ways and Means, and State Representatives Peake, Haddad and other members of the leadership team.
  • CLICK HERE for the Ways and Means budget proposal and more information.

Recent partnerships with nonprofits will lead to 75 financial opportunity centers being opened in 33 cities, a huge push for national impact to community development by LISC.


In 2014, LISC provided roughly 7,000 ex-offenders with financial coaching and job training! Read the full story on the Wall Street Journal.


Massachusetts communities may be receiving less than 1/2 of what they need for transportation funding.


Is Boston ready for large-scale urban farming? Vertical farming sites already popping up across the country.


Did you know? Boston ranks in the top five cities for income inequality.


Give your ideas for a new Boston City Hall Plaza and they'll probably be implemented! This article proves it.


One Oakland neighborhood sees the benefits in public health through new housing development. Let's create similar impact in Massachusetts!


It's reported that Dr. Seuss modeled Whoville after Easthampton, MA. These tidbits and more in an article on the creative architecture of Dr. Seuss.


Vertical farm offers fresh produce and jobs to Jackson, Wyoming: What community impact could vertical farms bring to Massachusetts?


The Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Center for Housing, with the assistance of the MacArthur Foundation, recently released the How Housing Matters resource that provides research and key information on the impact of housing on our communities.


Check out the world's first pre-fabricated carbon positive house! An article describes how this one bedroom house produces more energy than it uses.


Will the road to revitalized transportation be longer than expected? A recent Bloomberg article deconstructs the rebuilding debate.


Check out this beautifully designed TOD project of low-income housing!


The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network has just opened the nomination pool for the 2015 Nonprofit Excellence Awards. Submit a nomination for your CDC by March 10th and celebrate your award at the State House in June!


Good piece on the nation's public infrastructure needing to be fixed.  One reason highlighted:  Repairing something isn't as awesome as building something new....


Check out this piece by CityLab on a new website: PlaceILive.com.  Can software/websites determine a community's livability?


Can plans for the London Underline transfer to unused MBTA tunnels? One article suggests underground spaces are perfect for commuting cyclists.


"Every City Needs Vancouver's Ban on Food Scraps" - The Atlantic's CityLab


Clearing sidewalks of snow in one Ann Arbor neighborhood is the job of Snowbuddy.


Should we begin mining Boston's sewers for gold and silver? News outlet Quartz covers the issue.


Housing RAP, MassDocs and OneSource, and The Fairmount Collaborative are U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Innovation of the Day Initiative Finalists.  Vote for your favorite initiative here!


Press builds for the new Neighborhood Homes Initiative, where close to 350 homes will be built through the Department of Neighborhood Development for middle-income homebuyers in Boston. Read more on this Boston.com article!


Want to know how Massachusetts measures up in asset development? Read the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, or the follow-up article in the Boston Globe.


How do we think about the "Neighborhood Effect" in terms of community development?  This article talks about the impact of where you live on how much you make.


Did you know that Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s Housing RAP program and the Fairmount CDC Collaborative are finalists for the HUD Innovation of the Day competition?  Vote now to help them win!


Want to know what's being built when in Boston?  Check out this new tool that allows you to track new housing developments in Boston as they're being built!


Famous architect, Francine Houben, in partnership with Watertown-based architecture firm Sasaki, to help revitalize Dudley Square’s buildings!


On the verge of the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Oxfam announced that by 2016 the wealthiest one percent of the world will have more assets than the remaining 99 percent of the world’s population.


New York’s MoMA has a new exhibit on how 6 cities (Hong Kong, Instanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, New York, and Rio de Janeiro) can face inequalities in Urban Design.  How do these designs compare to the future of Boston?


Chief and Director of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development, Sheila Dillon, outlines the housing plan for 250 city-owned parcels in a recent Boston Business Journal article. These parcels, mostly in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, will be developed specifically for middle-income homeowners who have recently been shut out of the housing market.


According to a study by Bloomberg, Cambridge, MA ranks #5 best bike-to-work city in the country!


5 business trends encourage social good in 2015, including more recycling and reduced food waste. How many can be seen in Massachusetts?


Could WindTrees soon take the place of wind turbines in Massachusetts?: these life-like structures may be the future of 'attractive' renewable energy sources in major cities.


Boston LISC launches The Equitable Transit Oriented Development Accelerator Fund (ETODAF).  The Fund was created by LISC, The Boston Foundation, and the Hyams Foundation to provide developers with streamlined access to acquisition and predevelopment capital that can be used to acquire and advance strategic properties along transit corridors. For information, contact Madeline Nash at Boston LISC at mnash@lisc.org.


Would Massachusetts look any different if it were designed with Legos? An article proves the products of the world's largest toy-maker are useful in urban planning and more interactive than most planning tools to date.


Could we move cars out of downtown Boston and Massachusetts Gateway Cities?  One city already plans on it.


"Rising inequality 'significantly' curbs growth" - CNBC reports on how the divide between rich and poor is hurting economies around the world


How can retailers in the Commonwealth provide better parking for cyclists?  A short article points out the good, the bad, and the ugly of retail bike parking.


Call for Presenters: People & Places 2015 Community Conference

The People & Places 2015 Community Conference committee is currently accepting proposals for speakers, panels and workshops that showcase what's working in our country's emerging neighborhoods. Submissions from individuals and organizations with and without connections to the host organizations are welcome. Submit a proposal by January 9, 2015 to be considered. Let’s show what’s working in Massachusetts! Learn more at http://bit.ly/1tHGMO5.


“Ensure Access to Public Transportation” is just one of twelve ideas for being more inclusive in the Boston community.  How well can we carry out these development suggestions?


Boston one of 16 cities honored for climate change efforts in the US: let's use development to continue this achievement!


Will road-side algae gardens be the future of green electricity?  This experiment uses the CO2 from car pollution to harvest algae plants.


Let’s beam the heat from Boston’s buildings into space!


Can robots help inform energy efficient housing policies in the Commonwealth?  Robots used in a 6-year study to prove the need of energy efficient housing policies in a Tennessee community.


A bike path inspired by a former resident, the artist Vincent Van Gogh, was installed in the Dutch town of Eindhoven just last week.  How can we incorporate the works of resident artists into Commonwealth bike paths?


Check out some of the best bike paths and roads in the world.  Great ideas for Massachusetts' cities.


Larry Andrews named MGCC President: Larry Andrews, Banking Executive, has most recently been named the new CEO and President of Mass Growth Capital Corporation.  When speaking of the new CEO, Joe Kriesberg mentioned to the press: "Larry sees the whole picture, and will continue important collaborations between community-based organizations and small businesses aiming for growth."


Solar-paneled bike paths may be the next big thing to hit our major cities.  Will this be the future of our Monday morning commute?


What can "big data" provide for community development corporations and other non-profits? A new Boston-based start up ventures to figure it out.


Do the Commonwealth's numerous higher education hubs place us at the forefront of trendy regional planning?  An article on the latest master planning trends proves it's possible.


Great profile of David and Jill Adler, a couple who set up a Donor Advised Fund with The Boston Foundation AND made a wonderful donation through the Community Investment Tax Credit Program


Community Building through in-house networking: A new company brings together community members living in the same building.


Are tall buildings good for the livelihood of cities? Are more skyscrapers really the solution to the Commonwealth's coming housing needs?  One article argues yes.


Massachusetts currently ranks 13 in a study done on Energy Efficient States.  While we're not the worst, what could we do to improve our rankings?


Is a floating bike path along the Charles on the horizon? A new floating bike path might provide a car-free and likely safer commute.


12 Trends Popping up in Affordable Housing: How many have you seen in the Boston Skyline? Green roofs and bright colors may be just a few.


Can a man made tidal lagoon power the coast of Maine? This man made tidal lagoon would power 155,000 homes.


Imagine a city where the rooftops are covered in trees! An ingenious design sets the example.


Into design and architecture?  Check out these films this fall from the 2014 Architecture and Design Film Festival in New York.


Could a building like this find a home in Boston? An apartment building and food market all in one.  While the design might be radical, the idea of creating vibrant spaces for communities to come together is quite interesting.


How are homes by the highway hurting us?


How are rising sea levels going to effect Boston?  Is Boston ready for canals instead of roads?


A farm not just for the city, but for our future?  Check out the results from this project at MIT.


Can altruism change the way our brain works?  


An interesting addition to Boston's trucks that help protect cyclists.


Good marketing and fundraising advice for all of us to use! This post about Mr. Roger's testimony in front of a Congressional committee is worth reading.


Another note on why home mortgages are so hard to acquire.


Dana LeWinter is the new Executive Director of Massachusetts Community Banking Council: MACDC congratulates Dana LeWinter on being named the new Executive Director of the Massachusetts Community Banking Council. MCBC is a membership organization comprised of banks, mortgage lenders and community-based organizations that works to promote community reinvestment and responsible banking. MACDC has served on the board and committees of MCBC since its founding in 1990. Ms. LeWinter brings extensive experience and skills to the organization, having recently served as Director of Housing for the City of Somerville and prior to that working at CHAPA. Ms. LeWinter has a Master Degree in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University.


Best library ever for supporting community and literacy?


"Cloud Citizen" Design Wins Award: Will this be the future city for our children?


Elevated Parks vs. Overpasses?  Determine if this new design works for your community.


Should Massachusetts bring Happy Street Signs to the Commonwealth? Check out this new initiative.


Two 2014 MacArthur Fellows recognized for their creative community redevelopment.


Will dancing stop lights help end jay walking?


Add a bike AND increase the flow of traffice in a city!  It's an idea working NYC.  Can it work in Boston?


These photos are comically charged and provide some context to the need for us, as residents of Massachusetts, to say, "No on Ballot Question #1" this November.


"Another Reason To Live In A Diverse Neighborhood: It Could Make Your Kids Smarter" - Fast Company


"Despite $900M in CPA outlays, many Mass. towns fail housing mandates." - Boston Business Journal


Waiting for that stalled MBTA train is better than dealing with traffic on the Pike. Read more


Great new resource to find a mortgage that you can afford! http://mymassmortgage.org/.


When merging old and new architectural designs goes wrong! Check out this article from The Guardian.


Families often age out of affordable urban living, due in part to parking laws that require parking spaces with new housing developments. Cities serious about affordable urban housing will rethink parking laws that raise the cost of urban life.


A new study from Harvard, published in the American Sociological Review, finds that racial composition did, in fact, have a significant effect on a neighborhood's chance of improvement and ultimate gentrification. Neighborhoods that are more than 40% black are far less likely to gentrify.


A new interactive map from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies reveals that in many metro areas across the U.S., more than 50% of renters could afford to own a home. Many do not, however, due to a tight credit market and corporations paying cash for houses.


The Stanford Social Innovation Review has a great Urban Development resource on its website, with access to relevant news articles, blog posts, podcasts and more.


Despite seeing the number of residential building permits issued in Massachusetts nearly double since 2011, affordable and moderately-priced homes and apartments are still elusive.


According to a new study, free office parking can actually neutralize the effects of other commuter benefits. Commuters would drive less if they weren't offered free parking.


In the summer months, the population of Martha's Vineyard swells - and the availability of affordable housing plummets.


Last week, the White House Rural Council announced the creation of the new U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund through which private entities can invest in job-creating rural infrastructure projects across the country. An initial $10 billion has been committed to the fund with greater investment expected to follow. Target investments will include hospitals, schools and other educational facilities, rural water and wastewater systems, energy projects, broadband expansion, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure.


It appears Congress is not likely to enact a FY15 Transportation-HUD (THUD) appropriations bill or other appropriations bills before the start of the new Fiscal Year on October 1. Instead, Congress is expected to enact a continuing resolution, providing funding for programs equal to FY14 amounts.


The Federal Reserve of Minneapolis is seeking input community development and community health experts, to provide information for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation about the types of data and metrics that organizations use to demonstrate impact. They are interested in how organizations are measuring their results and how attention to social determinants of health, i.e., access to healthy foods, affordable housing, quality education and child care, etc., has influenced their work. Survey results will appear in a report delivered to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in October. Results will also be made available to practitioners who have an interest in measuring the impact of their initiatives. Click here to take the survey.


By the year 2100, summers in Boston may be much hotter - more comparable to North Miami Beach than New England. An interactive map from Climate Central looks at the potential rise in summer temperatures if nothing is done to prevent or reverse emission trends.


The Urban Observatory compiles publicly available data for major cities (such as population density, traffic patterns or available green spaces) and provides quick and easy visual analysis, saving businesses and cities valuable time and money.


Does housing count as health care? New York is currently debating that question, as some question whether Medicaid should contribute to housing costs for the chronically homeless.

 


A new study shows that housing values rise considerably near brownfield cleanup sites.


An apartment building with a separate entrance for low-income renters? A real estate developer in NYC is coming under fire for proposing that exact plan for a new building with both market-rate and low-income apartments.


According to the 25th annual Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count report, Massachusetts is first in the nation for children's well-being. Last year, the Commonwealth was third place. The report ranks each state according to 16 indicators in four areas: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. The report also pointed towards areas that still need improving.


Should housing policies support renters more? The New York Times asks that exact question, as some metropolitan areas see home prices rise past the point of making homeownership a bargain.


When we talk about "cost of living," we're really talking about housing.

 


Enterprise Community Partners recently released a report that a lack of affordable housing may be affecting progress in other areas, including education, health care, and transportation.


Replace boring dummy text with "social entrepreneurship storytelling." That's the idea behind Social Good Ipsum, a text generator for designers and editors that replaces the standard placeholder text with words and phrases relating to nonprofits and NGOs.


Why renting (instead of buying) a home may be the better option, using Boston as an example.


Finland's capital, Helsinki, has an ambitious plan to make car ownership pointless in 10 years.


In Boston, savvy MBTA commuters can now ride with style, thanks to the Sesame Ring, 3D-printed wearable technology that acts as an MBTA pass.


A new report, from a coalition of artists, activists, creative manufacturers, and policy makers in New York City, explores the value in the intersection between arts, culture and community. The researchers found that communities which provide outlets for aesthetic expression are more resilient in the face of adversity.


Three examples of abandoned properties redeveloped into beautiful spaces.


Coffee addicts throw out about 500 disposable coffee cups a year. The new, collapsible Smash Cup could change that.


The majority of of small business owners (61%) with employees support increasing the minimum wage.


The U.S. Senate confirmed Julian Castro as the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


An op-ed from the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance and the Mayor of Somerville explains why Boston's zoning laws are outdated and need to be changed.


The Boston Public Library and Bike Boston are teaming up to bring the Bibliocycle to local neighborhood events. The bike and book trailer is a library on wheels, designed to encourage Boston residents to use bikes for fun, exercise and transportation.


A new modular housing unit could help with housing displacement during natural disasters.


The rising popularity of bike share programs could mean changes for transit-oriented development.


Best Community Economic Video Ever?
 


"Awesome Tool Lets You Watch Boston Grow Over the Years" - Boston Globe


'Valuing the Intersection Between Arts, Culture, and Community: An Exchange of Research and Practice' - NOCDNY.org


"Rebound in Bay State construction jobs overshadows decline in Greater Boston" - Boston Business Journal


NeighborWorks is helping nonprofits and community development organizations use oral storytelling to keep the stories of neighborhoods and cities alive. 


Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will serve as vice chairman of a national task force focused on addressing income inequality. According to the United States Conference of Mayors, the taskforce will focus on how municipal government can craft policies that allow for greater equality and opportunity. 


Communities across Massachusetts are turning unusable land, such as old landfills, into solar energy farms


Parklets are returning the Boston. The small, pop-up public places cover an area roughly equal to one or two cars and offer additional outdoor space for everyone to enjoy. 


Boston ranks number three on the list of the top 10 walkable cities in the U.S. The rankings come from a recently released report from Smart Growth America, in conjunction with The George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate & Urban Analysis. 


Vermont recently became the first state to pubish a state-level 100-year climate assessment report


Across the country and in Washington, politicians debate raising both federal and state-level minimum wages. According to Oxfam, one in five workers - or 25 million people, nearly 14 million of whom are women - would benefit from the wage increase. Massachusetts is leading the way, with the state legislature recently passing a bill to raise the minimum wage to $11/hour by 2017. 


Rooftop and urban gardens are becoming more and more abundant. Love & Carrots, an urban agriculture firm, offers tips and tricks for making the most of a garden in a small space. 


A new report finds that Boston's art community is a $1.4 billion sector. Boston boasts more arts and cultural organizations per capita than any other U.S. metro area. 


Top 10 questions you should think about asking before buying a home. 


Women of color are a driving force behind entrepreneurship and represent one-third of all women-owned businesses in the nation. From 1997 to 2013, businesses owned by women of color grew an average of 183%. 


With income inequality and housing linked, more and more people are finding that the idea of "middle class" is rapidly changing - and even disappearing in some places. 


A new study from Johns Hopkins University suggests there might be a link between the percentage of income a family spends on housing could affect a child's cognitive ability. Spending too much or too little on housing can have a negative impact on children's reading and math abilities. 


Nine creative solutions to unique city problems won funding in Boston's first ever Public Space Invitational, a crowd-sourced design competition aimed at reimagining public spaces on a small budget.


Within the community development field, the practice of "creative placemaking" - partners from public, private, nonprofit and community sectors strategically shaping the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, tribe, city or region around arts and cultural activities - is taking hold. 


In Roxbury, MA, artists are providing a unique perspective to Boston LISC's Resilient Communities, Resilient Families community development initiative. LISC's Melissa Jones details how these artists are helping community developers move beyond the numbers. 


The MacArthur Foundation recently released its second annual How Housing Matters survey, which polled the American public about their view of the housing crisis. The survey found that 70% of respondents believe we are still in the middle of a crisis, and more than half (59%) believe it is challenging to find affordable, quality housing in their communities. 


According to a new study from the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, charities will see a boost in bequests through 2061, due to expected transfers of wealth among American estates. The report estimates $6.3 trillion in charitable bequests from 2007 to 2061. 


Rising student loan debt, tight lending standards and tough competition have left many Millennials squeezed out of the housing market. 


A new crowd-funded campaign in Boston is hoping to reward people who give back and reinvest in their communities. 


According to the Sustainable Cities Collective, Boston ranks number 5 on the list of Top 10 Bikable Cities in America. The cities were ranked by factoring in the miles of bike lanes, hills, numbers of commuters, destinations, and road connectivity. 


To buy or to rent - that is the question. A calculator from the New York Times helps you take all the variables into consideration. 


Even nonprofits need a great logo and strong brand recognition. Here are six questions to ask when designing a brand. 


David Brown, Executive Director of TUGG, talks about why the next generation of leaders need to care about, and give back to, inner cities. 


At Boston Medical Center, some doctors are prescribing memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-sharing program, in an effort to fight disease and illness that's linked to poverty. 


In the Boston Business Journal's Data Center, new findings from the U.S. Census Bureau highlight the cities and towns with the fastest growth in Massachusetts. Overall, the state's population grew about 2% from 2010 to 2013. 


In Harvard, MA, the town has started a new kind of community garden; instead of sharing produce, the community members get a share of solar energy. 


When local farms aren't local enough, savvy entrepreneurs are looking at alternatives to bring fresh produce into urban areas, including farms and greenhouses on rooftops or grocery stores where you can pick your own produce right in the store. 


Real estate website Trulia recently released its inaugural middle-class affordability report, outlining where in the U.S. the middle class can afford to buy a home. (Hint: you might want to stay away from California.) 


Richard Guarasci, President of Wagner College, believes universities should increase their civic engagement programs to help spur economic and community development. 


The Affordable Care Act has the potential to improve the overall health of communities, by having nonprofit hospitals focus on and invest in more community building activities. 


Underneath the Manhattan Bridge overpass, on South Street, a new outdoor community gym finds a unique way to make use of an otherwise neglected space. 


In New York City, a converted firehouse from 1895 now serves as an incubator for small tech startups. 


A new tool is coming that will help make infographics easy to create.


Check out these great infrographics and the firms that designed them.


Reusing and sharing that to-go coffee cup.  It's worth consideration financially, and environmentally.


The SPARKING NEW IDEAS, Parking Strategies for Stronger Communities conference held on April 8th at The Colonnade is now online.


Boston's Mayor, Martin Walsh, releases the complete transition team working group documents (Be Aware: 181 page PDF)  


Check out a new report by Smart Growth America on measuring sprawl.  Check out Andre Leroux's comments on this report and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


Participate in the One Day on Earth: Your Day. Your City. Your Future, a multi-city participatory media-creation event. On April 26th, 2014, hundreds of filmmakers, non-profit organizations, and inspired citizens in 11 U.S. city-regions will document stories that they believe most affect the future of their city.

The idea is to have people, organizations, and groups across the Boston region film on the same day within a 24-hour duration (on Saturday, April 26, 2014) to tell their stories.  Video stories submitted to One Day in Boston will result in a 90 minute film — a localized version of One Day on Earth.   Video submissions not included in the 90 minute piece will feature in a geo-tagged film archive featuring the people, stories, and events of Greater Boston.  Participation is voluntary.  You can make your own film, partner with a videographer/film-maker, or reach out to Cecily Taylor, producer of the Boston project at Cecily.Tyler@onedayonearth.org.

It is a great way to document stories about our lives, our families, our organizations, our communities, and our city.  We encourage you to get involved and participate to showcase our city.  You can learn more about this project by clicking on the following links:


Boston joins 5 other cities to improve bike lanes.


3,267 organizations tell Congress to grow the pie. Letter to House and Senate Appropriators on FY15 THUD 302(b)


Roxbury forum examines 1960s anti-highway fight - The Bay State Banner


Check out resources available through the Mass Broadband Institute to help eliminate the digital divide.


Over 1,400 Massachusetts households are without Section 8 vouchers due to Sequestration


"CDFI Network Pledges to Support 'My Brother’s Keeper' Initiative" - Philanthropy News Digest


The Equality of Opportunity Project:

Researchers from Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley developed the Equality of Opportunity Project to share their findings on intergenerational income mobility across U.S. metropolitan areas. Their website offers an interactive map, presentations, and papers to describe how measures of social capital, inequality, segregation, family structure, and quality of schools correlate with mobility.


"Cities Mobilize to Help Those Threatened by Gentrification" - The New York Times, 3/3/2014


Check out the fastest growing private companies in Massachusetts. - Boston Business Journal


"Creative Placemaking: A Tour" - LISC Institute for Comprehensive Community Development


"How arts and culture can transform a neighborhood." - Erik Takeshita


"Why Government Should Support The Arts" - Nick Paleologos for Cognoscenti


"Boston needs cooler buses" - Opinion, Boston Globe


"10 Lessons in More Engaging Citizen Engagement" - planetizen


Which Eastern Massachusetts communities have the most and least homes under water? - Boston Business Journal


Check out the new Google Maps Gallery.  A great and growing resource for the data-driven and map-loving.


Community Investment Tax Credit Award Announcement!

MACDC is proud to join the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development at an event to announce the first awards for the Community Investment Tax Credit Program (CITC).

The Main South CDC will be hosting the event and we will be joined by Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein and other local and state officials.

The announcement will take place on Tuesday, March 4, 10:30 A.M. at The Boys and Girls Club of Worcester, 65 Tainter Street, Worcester.


Why is a health insurance company is investing $150,000,000 in affordable housing?  Learn more.


Apply for the Achieving Excellence leadership program by March 26

The NeighborWorks® Achieving Excellence Program (AE), carried out in collaboration with Harvard University, is now accepting applications for its next round, set to begin in October 2014.  The proven results of Achieving Excellence demonstrate that it is one of the most high-impact programs in the nation for organizations seeking to transform the way they work for even greater results.  This 18-month organizational investment program assists 50 experienced leaders (generally Presidents/CEOs) from the fields of nonprofit housing, community and economic development, financing, health and wellness, and other organizations working to benefit their communities as each organization tackles a performance challenge that is most critical to their future success and the communities they serve.  With the participant’s organizational performance challenge as the focal point, the interdependent components of the program include:

  • three week-long cutting-edge academic sessions developed and delivered by faculty at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government;
  • intensive one-on-one executive coaching by a team of top-notch leadership consultants;
  • structured peer group learning and best-practice sharing.

Achieving Excellence provides the forum, the challenge, the tools, the space and the opportunity for leaders to transform their organizations to achieve a higher level of effectiveness and sustainability.  For more information or for an application, please go to www.nw.org/ae.

 


"People stress us out, but they are also the key to happiness in cities" - The Guardian

"The Future of Urban Freeways Is Playing Out Right Now in Syracuse" - The Atlantic Cities

“Community development is an investment, not an expenditure,” said National Development Council (NDC) President Bob Davenport. And, he’s got the numbers to prove it. "How Federal Community Development Investments Affect the Nation's Bottom Line" - NACEDA interview with National Development Council (NDC) President Bob Davenport.

Income inequality in Boston, new study by Brookings Institute reports. (Link to Christian Science Monitor article)  

Check out the CFED Assets and Opportunities scorecard for Massachusetts.

Do you know an incredible immigrant entrepreneur?  If so, nominate them for an award. The 2014 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards Dinner will honor outstanding Massachusetts immigrant entrepreneurs in four categories: outstanding business growth, neighborhood business, life science and high-tech business. The evening will commence with a reception, followed by dinner and an awards ceremony with master of ceremonies Richard A. Davey, Jr., secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and ILC board trustee.

A strong paper worth reading: "Comparative Advantages: Creating Synergy in Community Development" by Robert O. Zdenek

Learn about a powerful lending program to establish credit set up by LISC.

Good article on online fundraising by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Somerville rents to go up with expansion of Green Line.

ULI and Enterprise release new report on how to increase supply of affordable housing.

The Guardian has a new section dedicated to cities.

Great article on the Community Investment Tax Credit in Banker and Tradesman

New regional growth projections released for the greater Boston metropolitan area.

Check out NECN coverage of the housing needs in the greater Boston region with interviews with MAPC's Marc Draisen and POAH's Patricia Belden.

Check out WBUR's "Square by Square" special reporting that covers how Boston has changed over the twenty years Mayor Menino was in office.


The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston just announced $1.8 million to six cities in Massachusetts as they launch a new pilot program: the Working Cities Challenge.  Each of the awarded cities has a strong CDC operating within their communities:

Lawrence CommunityWorks (Lawrence)

Twin Cities CDC (Fitchburg)

The Neighborhood Developers (Chelsea)

Somerville Community Corporation (Somerville)

North Shore CDC (Salem)


Check out this idea for transforming Hamburg into a incredibly "green" city.

For MassHousing, 2013 was record year for lending.

Check out the Rapoza Associates report on 2013 Community Development Corporations titled: "Stories of Community Impact," which details how CDCs in urban and rural communities across the country work with federal community development funding.

Check out a report from The Harvard Joint Center for Housing "America's Rental Housing: Evolving Markets and Needs." 

A few good rules to follow to make sure those awesome looking infographics aren't leading you astray.

Third Sector New England is offering to valuable trainings worth checking out:  Creating Highly Functional Teams (February 13th) and Presentations and Public Speaking (March 27th).

A great resource for online trainings:  http://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/2013/12/02/free-non-profit-webinars-for-december-2013

How do you engage a membership/network in crafting policy online and with other technological resources? http://www.rooflines.org/3555/the_quest_to_create_standards_for_affordable_homeownership/

What are the most walkable cities in the country? http://www.governing.com/topics/urban/gov-most-walkable-cities.html

Are you living in a happy city?  How do you make a city's residents happy? http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20131213-how-to-build-a-happier-city

Check out a peformance hall this is underground in the city of Boston:  http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/style/2013/12/13/steinert-hall-most-famous-subterranean-theater-you-never-heard/hmNEd74IQpIcqP35X0d9GP/picture.html

Is it time for us to start building our cities underground?

Knight Foundation reports that $430 million invested in technology designed for civic engagement.

"America's Rental Housing Evolving Markets and Needs" - New study released today by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

Right now, East Boston is the hottest housing market in Mass:  http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/mass_roundup/2013/12/the-hottest-housing-markets-in.html?ana=e_bost_real&s=newsletter&ed=2013-12-06

MACDC's President, Joe Kriesberg, and Vanessa Calderon-Rosado, CEO of Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion, become co-chairs of the Boston Mayor-elect's Housing Working Group: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/11/23/mayor-elect-martin-walsh-expands-transition-team/tZMQH2YVI909YKzx6bNDsO/story.html

Check out this great website for data visualization: http://visualizing.org/

What do we want out of our communities?  http://www.theatlanticcities.com/housing/2013/11/americans-are-very-confused-about-what-they-want-out-community/7691/

Could co-living housing be an answer to some of the challenges we're facing in eastern Mass?  http://www.theatlanticcities.com/housing/2013/12/one-answer-san-franciscos-overpriced-housing-co-living/7654/

Creative crosswalks?  Interesting idea. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/12/03/248461489/something-cool-a-hopscotch-crosswalk-in-baltimore?utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprnews&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=twitter

Turn a bike into a hybrid?  Local company thinks so... http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/startups/2013/12/superpedestrian-debuts-wheel-that.html

Solid and thoughtful feedback on the HUD and Department of Transporation new online tool, the Location Affordability Portal in Shelterforces' Rooflines:  http://www.rooflines.org/3523/3_good_and_3_not-so-good_uses_for_huds_new_data_on_location_affordability/

Nice article on Community Organizing and Community Economic Development in Shelterforce.  It nicely builds off of MACDC's Theory of Change for CDCs.  Check it out.

Check out this great new video by MAHA:  http://www.mahahome.org/

“There’s new evidence that the quality of housing can affect a child’s brain growth”. Hear more of what “Home Matters for Health” panelist Dr. Megan Sandel has to say on how housing is a vital sign for health in the first Home Matters Talks video http://youtu.be/xnneRi5v01k

Imagine having this seat and directional stand combo in your neighborhood.  http://www.yankodesign.com/2013/11/20/wayfinding-rest-stop/

Check out this infographic prepared by our peers at the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development: Creating Adaptive Prosperity for Indiana Communities - https://www.pinterest.com/pin/416723771741446631/

Check out what happened to this old factory site!  http://www.fastcodesign.com/3021481/how-architects-transformed-this-former-set-from-the-wire-into-a-training-ground-for-tomorrow

A new traffic light that works and is attractive and compact. A new look for our streets?  http://www.tuvie.com/kayserius-traffic-light-design-for-kayseri-turkey/

Trying to quickly express and share complex blocks of information that is really engaging is tough.  Check out more great infographic examples:  http://www.coolhunting.com/design/information-is-beautiful-award-winners-2013.php

Infographics are a great way for community development groups to communicate.  Check out 8 great infographics: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3021783/infographic-of-the-day/8-of-the-years-most-creative-infographics

Should the MBTA follow Moscow's lead on fitness and free subway passes?  http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/winter-olympics-moscow-free-ticket-machine

An interesting fundraiser idea:  Doll Houses design competition.  It creates very interesting pieces for a social event too.

Green housing and other means to help prevent the accelerated melting of the polar ice caps shouldn't be delayed.  Check out these graphics of what the world would look like if the ice melted.

"Building Support for Affordable Homeownership and Rental Choices: A Summary of Research Findings on Public Opinion and Messaging on Affordable Housing" A Center for Housing Policy Study by Janet Viveiros and Rebecca Cohen

Not surprising:  "How Crummy, Run-Down Housing Harms the Children Who Live in It," an article by Emily Badger for The Atlantic Cities

To Curb Medicaid Spending Tomorrow, Invest in Housing Today http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terri-ludwig/curb-medicaid-spending_b_4117001.html

Check out this house that's only 15 feet wide:  http://www.fastcodesign.com/3020868/innovation-by-design/a-15-foot-wide-house-youd-kill-to-live-in

A very good, comprehensive and balanced summary of the literature about poverty and place: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/26/division-street-u-s-a/?_r=1

Could suburbs be a good source of power one day?  http://www.fastcoexist.com/3020666/the-suburbs-might-be-the-source-of-power-for-cities-of-the-future

Check out how this chapel became a gorgeous bookstore:  http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2013/10/a-15th-century-cathedral-transformed-into-a-modern-bookstore/

Coakley Weighs In On U.S. Supreme Court Case, Urges Acceptance Of Broad Fair Housing Protections:  http://www.bankerandtradesman.com/news157152.html

Google releases new mapping tool that's great for CDCs as they visually represent what they're doing in the community:  http://techcrunch.com/2013/10/21/google-introduces-maps-engine-pro-a-5-per-usermo-service-to-help-businesses-make-decisions-using-location-data/

Save the Date! MACDC's Annual Meeting & Conference will be on November 15th at Clark University in Worcester.

CLICK HERE to read Joe's article on the CITC program in the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's Communities and Banking magazine.

Join MPHA and our partners on October 9th for "Healthy by Design: Planning and Development for Vibrant Communities" with internationally renowned public health, planning and transportation expert Mark Fenton. 

HUD's "Ideas in Action" is tranforming into the "HUD Switchboard."  This is an additional way to learn more about what HUD is doing...  CHECK IT OUT.

The Mass. Nonprofit Networks Annual Conference is coming up: October 29! 

The Boston Foundation's Greater Boston Housing Report Card event is 10/10/2013.  CLICK HERE to register.

Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) Update: The Commonwealth's Legislature and Governor approved an important technical change to the Community Investment Tax Credit as part of the Supplemental Budget making the credit refundable to taxpayers who don't have sufficient tax liability. The CITC, first enacted in 2012 and scheduled to take effect in January 2014, provides a 50% tax credit to individuals and corporations, including banks, who make donations to qualified community development corporations in the Commonwealth. The credit will be a particularly useful tool for banks seeking to deepen their community engagement, increase the impact of their philanthropic efforts and obtain additional CRA credit. By making the credit refundable, the legislation will allow taxpayers to participate without worrying whether they will have sufficient tax liability to take advantage of the credit. For more information contact Joe Kriesberg at MACDC at joek@macdc.org.

Share! Nominate a CDC that you think is doing great work that should be highlighted as the MACDC CDC Innovator of the Month. Send your nominations and ideas to John Fitterer at johnf@macdc.org.

Learn More! 2013 EcoDistricts Summit:
Coming to Boston November 12-14, the EcoDistricts Summit is the premier conference dedicated to the global movement to promote sustainable neighborhood development. Each year the EcoDistricts Summit convenes community leaders to share best practices and shape the growing EcoDistricts marketplace. More than 60 plenary sessions and panel discussions are carefully curated to introduce conference participants to cutting-edge projects and thought leadership in green buildings, smart infrastructure and community action. For More Information: CLICK HERE

In Brief:  If you're using Twitter for your organization and receive CDBG funding, use the hashtag #wearecdbg to help acknowledge what you're doing and from where you receive part of your funding support.

In Brief:  The TD Charitable Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2013 Housing for Everyone grant competition. A total of $2.5 million will be awarded this year to 25 local non-profit organizations that make a meaningful difference in meeting the affordable housing needs in communities served by TD Bank. Applications will only be accepted through the TD Charitable Foundation's online application system and should be submitted by 4:00 p.m. (EST) on Friday August 30, 2013. Paper applications will not be accepted. The online application and additional information about the Housing for Everyone grant competition are available at www.tdbank.com (click on 'Our Community').

Thank You to our Funders: 

The following organizations awarded grants in July to MACDC:

  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
  • MassHousing
  • The Hyams Foundation
  • Bank of America
  • The MetLife Foundation
  • NeighborWorks America
  • Boston Private Bank and Trust
Commenting Closed

A Community Development Agenda for the next Mayor of Boston

July 14th, 2013 by Joe Kriesberg

Boston is widely known across the country for having one of the strongest CDC networks in the United States.  One reason for our success has been the close partnership between the CDCs and City Hall during the tenure of Mayor Thomas Menino and his predecessor, Mayor Ray Flynn.  Both Mayors have worked with CDCs as partners and the results speak for themselves. In particuar, under Mayor Menino’s Leading the Way Initiative, CDCs and the CIty of Boston have successfully built and preserved thousands of homes and created thousands of jobs.  Can you imagine what Boston neighborhoods would be like today if the Mayor and the CDCs were in conflict and competition, instead of collaboration? Personally,  I’d rather not think about that!

With the campaign to succeed Mayor Menino now fully underway, the MACDC Boston Committee has developed a 10 point Community Development Agenda that we are releasing as part of our effort to ensure that this extradorinary record of achievement and collaboration continues regardless of which candidate emerges as the winner.  We recommend the following:

  1. Enact a strong Inclusionary Development Ordinance:  Such an ordinance should (a) require that a minimum of 15% of the units in new market-rate developments be affordable, (b) establish “pay-out” fees sufficient to produce a comparable number of off-site units, (c) ensure greater transparency at the Boston Redevelopment Authority, (d) ensure neighborhood equity, and (e) empower DND to administer IDP dollars along with other housing funds.
  2. Strengthen the City’s Linkage program:  This requires increasing the linkage payments for housing and workforce development and allowing linkage funds to be used for a broader array of community economic development and small business development programming.
  3. Continue Leading the Way: The City of Boston must continue to “Lead the Way” on affordable housing by establishing ambitious, measurable multi-year goals for housing and by growing the City’s annual Leading the Way appropriation from $5 million to $10 million per year.
  4. Leverage public land disposition: The City should establish land disposition policies that require or at least favor affordable housing development and price such land to enable developers to build homes that are affordable to Boston residents. The City should also prioritize selling properties to community based non-profits that propose development plans consistent with neighborhood priorities. The City should also exercise leadership to ensure that state-owned parcels are developed with similar guidelines and priorities.
  5. Support neighborhood economic development: The City should fund a robust and city-wide small business development support system that leverages the capacity, expertise, and physical presence of CDCs and other community based organizations across the City. Such a program should provide training, technical assistance and financing to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs and should be designed to leverage private, federal and state dollars.
  6. Promote Mixed Use and Transit Oriented Development: The City should partner with CDCs and other private developers to support mixed use developments, especially those near transit nodes, which help create the lively, vibrant urban neighborhoods that Boston resident’s desire. This means strategically leveraging housing dollars, CDBG funds, public land, and zoning tools to make it easier and less expensive to bring those projects to completion.
  7. Enact the Community Preservation Act: The new Mayor should lead a campaign to win ballot approval of the Community Preservation Act to provide new funding for affordable housing development, historic preservation and green space. The CPA would establish a 1% property tax surcharge and leverage millions of dollars in state matching funds.
  8. Partner with community based organizations: The City should leverage the assets and capacity of local community based organizations, CDCs and others, to implement housing, economic development, workforce development and other city priorities.
  9. Ensure the Casino benefits Boston residents: If Boston becomes home to a new casino, the new Mayor must ensure that Boston residents are able to access jobs during both construction and operation of the facility. Local, minority and women owned businesses must have access to contracting opportunities and community mitigation funds must be provided to impacted neighborhoods.
  10. Advocate for state and federal resources: The next Mayor of Boston must be a leader at the State House and with our Congressional delegation to make sure Boston has access to state and federal dollars for housing, economic development, brownfields recapitalization and many other programs.

 

Commenting Closed

Are poor families stuck in place?

July 8th, 2013 by Joe Kriesberg

A few weeks ago, I wrote a review of a new book by the Brookings Institute called Confronting Suburban Poverty that highlights the growing number of poor people living in suburbs and small cities across America.  While I have some strong concerns about the book, it does draw needed attention to the changing demographics of poverty in America. Interestingly, when I bought the Brookings book on-line, Amazon.com kindly recommended that I buy another new book that highlights the persistent and long standing problem of concentrated poverty in the inner city. This book, Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality, by Patrick Sharkey, provides new insights into this old problem.

Drawing on detailed, longitudinal data about white and African American families over the past several decades (comprehensive and long term data does not exist for more recent immigrant groups), Sharkey documents that the negative impacts of concentrated poverty deepen as successive generations of the same family live in poor neighborhoods, especially for African American families.  Some of Sharkey’s key findings:

  • Disadvantage can be inherited just like wealth can be. Says Sharkey, “to understand neighborhood inequality we must think in terms of generations not single points of time or even single periods in an individual’s life.”
  • Neighborhoods clearly account for some, but by no means all, of the social and economic disparities that exist between African Americans and whites.
  • African Americans not only have less upward mobility than whites, but they have significantly higher rates of downward mobility.  In other words, those African Americans who do attain middle class status are often unable to sustain it over time as they are “caught between two worlds, one dominated by the ideals of education and advancement up the income ladder, the other dominated by the presence of gang activity, poorly functioning schools and violence.” Moreover, the social and family connections that can be a source of support for some African Americans can pull others downward.
  • There is strong evidence that when neighborhoods do improve “the economic fortunes of black youth improve and improve rather substantially.”
  • The “most common pattern of neighborhood ‘improvement’ for African Americans in the 1980s entailed improvement in the economic status of residents combined with ethnic diversification in the form of a rise in Latino and foreign born newcomers.” This is very different than the “common conception of gentrification which often connotes a racial turnover where new white entrants …displace original minority residents,” writes Starkey.
  • Mobility programs that help families leave low income neighborhoods have shown mixed results with the most significant impacts on families who left the most devastated neighborhoods and moved to suburbs outside the central city.  Less dramatic changes in neighborhoods generated less clear results.

Based on these findings, Sharkey has important policy recommendations to offer:

Programs that work only at the neighborhood level can be overwhelmed by larger economic forces, but efforts to focus on regional and national economic strategies often leave challenged neighborhoods behind. Therefore, he concludes, we need to have policies working at all of these levels at the same time.

  • Given the generational nature of the problem, we need a “durable” set of policies that are sustained over time, unlike the War on Poverty programs that were quickly abandoned or scaled back after a few years. There is no quick fix to these long standing problems.
  • Mobility programs have a role to play, but they cannot be taken to scale, almost by definition. We can’t move everyone out of the inner city and if we were to move a significant number of people they are likely to end up in newly concentrated areas of poverty – assuming we could find the housing and the political support needed for such a policy. (He does not mention, but I will, the problem of what happens to the people left behind in poor neighborhoods if mobility programs were to scale up and depopulate these places.)
  • Placed based programs that work to comprehensively improve poor neighborhoods are essential and need to be sustained over time.
  • “One of the most formidable challenges to maintaining cohesive urban communities in the years and decades to come will be dealing with the destabilizing consequences of mass imprisonment.”
  • Sharkey offers a resounding endorsement of CDCs. He writes that “local community organizations focusing on housing and physical development, economic development, asset building, and resident organization must continue to be supported, as these types of organizations provide a stabilizing force in city neighborhoods, even in the most challenging economic and political climates.”

While the problems detailed in the book can be overwhelming, it was refreshing to read such a detailed and honest account of the challenges we face and such a balanced and thoughtful approach to the policies we need.  He recognizes the need for many different strategies, emphasizes the long term nature of this work, and cautions against policies that look for a quick fix.  With all of this, Starkey remains hopeful as there is significant evidence that we can make progress if we as a society are prepared to make a deep and durable commitment to doing so.

For those who want to see our country make that commitment, Sharkey’s book is essential reading.

Commenting Closed

Is Poverty Growing in the Suburbs or the Cities? Or Both?

June 8th, 2013 by Joe Kriesberg

What do Lynn, Brockton, Lincoln, Westwood, Watertown and Revere have in common? According to a new report by the Brookings Institute “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America,” they are all suburbs of Boston, despite their vast differences.  Does this seem strange to you? It does to me.

The Brookings report is getting a great deal of attention in recent days because it offers a compelling and challenging message:  Suburban poverty is exploding across America and our federal policies are poorly designed to meet this challenge.  Many people are already citing the report as evidence of the need for a new anti-poverty strategy.

I would agree that we need new approaches to reducing poverty. Indeed, perhaps the most stunning finding in the report is how much poverty has grown over the past decade in cities and suburbs, largely as the result of the deep economic recession. Hopefully, that will turn around as the economy slowly recovers, but deep structural problems in our economy will likely result in high poverty rates for years to come unless we embrace a much larger national commitment to reducing poverty. I would also agree with Brookings that smaller municipalities struggle with addressing poverty because they have less financial and technical capacity than larger cities. Regional collaboration – a core recommendation of the book – is certainly a part of the solution.

All that said I have some questions about the report’s findings and recommendations.

1. What is a suburb?

Brookings defines “suburb” as any municipality with less than 100,000 people regardless of its wealth, density, housing stock, or anything else.  Therefore, according to the report, wealthy communities with mostly single family homes can be considered “urban” while dense, poor cities with significant rental housing can be considered “suburbs”.  Such an incomplete and inaccurate definition makes the use of the word “suburb” meaningless at best, and misleading at worst, especially in Metro Boston.  It is a serious mistake to conflate truly suburban communities like Lincoln and Westwood with smaller urban cities like Lynn, Brockton and Revere because they face different challenges, have different resources, and need different solutions.  There may in fact be more poor people in the “suburbs” as Brookings contends, and maybe this even means that we are moving to a more equitable distribution of poverty in our region.  I’m skeptical about this, at least for Greater Boston.  What might be happening instead is that our smaller cities are getting poorer and the true suburbs remain largely exclusive.  The Brookings data clearly indicates that poverty is dispersed across metro regions, but without further analysis, the Brookings findings do not help us to understand whether this is a suburban phenomenon or a small city one. The difference matters, especially in Massachusetts where we have many small cities with significant poverty.

2. Are  federal dollars too focused on so-called place-based programs?

Brookings goes on to contend, based on these flawed definitions of “urban” and “suburban” that the Federal Government’s anti-poverty programs are too “placed-based” and overly focused on “urban” areas.   Yet, the largest anti-poverty programs by far in America are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps.  None of these are placed-based! Moreover, Brookings definition of “placed-based” does not make much sense as it includes programs such as HOME and LIHTC that provide housing in urban, rural and suburban communities.  The report even includes mobile housing vouchers that are explicitly not placed-based and the new HUD Sustainable Communities Program, which is explicitly regional.  I worry that Brookings perpetuates the false impression that the Federal Government actually spends significant money outside of our core entitlement programs on fighting poverty. With recent budget cuts, this is less true than ever, and the Brookings report could reinforce the false notion that federal programs are too expensive, ineffective and should be slashed.

Of course, Brookings does not advocate for federal budget cuts. Rather, Brookings says on its website that “the answer to these challenges is not to shift limited resources from poor urban to poor suburban communities.” That sounds good until you read the next paragraph where they propose to do just that by taking 5% of the funding now focused on so-called “placed-based” programs and creating a new Metropolitan Opportunity Challenge program.  This might be a great new program, but robbing Peter to pay Paul is not an effective strategy.

3. Are we really still debating the efficicacy of placed-based vs. people-based programs?

There is a growing body of evidence connecting place to social/economic outcomes.  I find it strange that Brookings is now suggesting that we move away from efforts to improve places.  I thought we were done with the tired debate about place-based vs. people-based efforts and that it was widely understood that both were needed. (The same is true for the newer, but already tired, debate about whether to focus on regions or neighborhoods.)

4. Will the Brookings report help re-energize a national commitment to reducing poverty?

There is no doubt that we need a more thoughtful and direct approach to addressing poverty in suburbs and smaller cities, as well as our larger cities for that matter.  Our members struggle with these challenges every day.  If the Brookings report helps spur that conversation and drives resources to that effort, then it would have a positive impact.  By making it clear that poverty is an American problem not just an urban problem, perhaps the report can generate more public support for progressive policies. And the report is likely to push a very important conversation about regional equity and reducing concentrated poverty. But I would encourage you to read beyond the headlines and examine the report’s assumptions, definitions and recommendations. And I would encourage Brookings and others to conduct a more fine-tuned analysis. The stakes are too high to misdiagnose what is going on with poverty across America.

Commenting Closed

Is there a common theme that unites the CDC sector?

June 1st, 2013 by Joe Kriesberg

What does an organization supporting fisherman have in common with one that’s cleaning up a brownfields site along the Housatonic River in Great Barrington?  What does a foreclosure prevention counseling program in Roxbury have in common with a small business microloan fund in the Quaboag Valley?  The answer is these are all programs run by CDCs.  If CDCs are this different and this varied in the services they provide and the communities they serve, is there a common theme or thread that binds them all together?  Are all the CDCs operating from a same “theory of change” implicitly if not explicitly?  Is there a common framework that can be developed to evaluate and measure their impact?

I would like to offer a tentative yes to these questions.  With due respect for the individual qualities and attributes of each CDC, and with recognition that CDCs are not equal in terms of scale, capacity and impact, I do think there is a unifying theory that captures what CDCs do.

The power of the CDC model, I have come to believe, is providing a vehicle for local residents and stakeholders to initiate, implement and steward community change by fostering a virtuous and reinforcing cycle that builds the local civic culture, improves the places where we live and ultimately changes lives.  Let me elaborate.

The first step is to change the way people in a community work together to create a functioning civic culture that includes everyone and allows things to get done. In many places, each constituency has just enough power to stop things, but none have enough power to get things done on their own. This can lead to gridlock. Effective CDCs help people in the public, private and nonprofit sector work together.  They also help address another common problem in the civic life of many communities – the fact that certain groups in the community are not always at the table – lower income people, new comers, linguistic minorities, youth and disabled people are generally less likely to be engaged unless there is an intentional effort made to include them.

As communities begin to come together, the physical environment in a neighborhood or community can begin to change. New housing, businesses, jobs, parks, and infrastructure can provide residents with the stability, safety and access to opportunities that they need to improve their lives. CDCs have the technical, financial and yes, the political capacity to undertake, and/or spur others to undertake, the complex development projects that are needed to create and sustain effective local economies, while also creating safer and healthier environments for local residents. Often, CDCs are able to drive a series of development projects over a period of years to completely transform a neighborhood.

As these neighborhoods improve, people can begin to change their life trajectories. Stable housing enables adults to better compete for jobs or obtain the job training they need. Students with a stable home do better in school and have the ability to pursue their dreams and talents. Safer streets, improved community facilities and new businesses bring new opportunities to local residents. CDCs often complement their placed based work with a wide variety of programs designed to help residents enter the economic mainstream and connect to the regional economy. These programs can include financial education and savings programs, homebuying classes, foreclosure counseling, ESOL and youth programming.  As these efforts help to stabilize people’s lives and they gain entry to the economic mainstream, they are better able to participate in the civic life of their communities. Time and again, we see participants in CDC programs become leaders in their communities, helping to pay it forward for the next family that needs help. And the cycle begins anew.

This approach is validated by the experience of practitioners across the country. More and more academic research is also coming out that documents the ways that improved neighborhoods, stable housing and economic security produce positive outcomes in public heath, educational attainment, public safety, and environmental sustainability.  Policy makers at the state and federal level are recognizing these linkages in new programs like Choice Neighborhoods and Promise Neighborhoods at the federal level and the Community Investment Tax Credit recently enacted in Massachusetts. Going forward, we need to improve our ability to collect meaningful data and evidence that allows us to evaluate the efficacy of this approach, refine our models, build our capacity, and tell the story of our field so we can obtain the resources we need to scale our impact.

Commenting Closed

Did law school teach me something about evaluation?

May 3rd, 2013 by Joe Kriesberg

My teenage sons enjoy making fun of me for spending three years in law school and then getting a job that does not involve being a lawyer. I try to explain that you learn a lot in law school that is useful for other professions (how to write, think, and argue, for example), but they remain skeptical.

I was thinking about this recently because I was engaged in several conversations about program evaluation and how we can better understand whether our efforts are having the desired impact.  As I wrote in my last article, our field is often wrongly and harshly judged because poverty rates in America have not declined in the last fifty years. For some, this is evidence that what we are doing is not working. What if poverty rates are the wrong benchmark to measure our field’s success?  If so, how do we measure our efficacy and overall performance?

I certainly don’t have a simple or complete answer for these questions, nor does anyone else. At some level, it is impossible to answer given that the community development field seeks to serve many different constituencies with different needs and goals. And many actions and programs may benefit some at the expense of others.

Given the complexity of the questions and the murkiness of the data, I would like to suggest that we consider applying some legal thinking to the question.  Perhaps, the way our legal system resolves conflicts – in particular civil law suits – offers some guidance.

First, in a civil legal case, the jury must make a decision based on a preponderance of the evidence, unlike a criminal case in which the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  This strikes me as the right standard for community developers because the complexity of human life means that there will always be some doubts about what caused certain outcomes. But that does not mean we can’t make judgments and decisions about what is or is not working; about which programs should be funded or not funded.  Most of the time, a preponderance of the evidence will point in one direction or the other; at a minimum it can significantly reduce the guess work.

Second, in a civil case, the attorney assembles as much evidence and data as s/he can to support his or her version of the case.  This evidence can take many forms – physical evidence, testimonials, statistical data, photos, and other sources of information. The fact that there may be some evidence that is contradictory, confusing or incomplete does not automatically negate the case depending on the overall weight of the evidence. This can be applied in our context, where community developers and others can use stories, anecdotes, output data, surveys, population level data, pictures, and other forms of information that begins to paint a picture of what is happening.

Third, and most important, a good trial attorney puts the evidence into a story that the jury can understand. Like all good stories, a lawyer’s story must have a beginning, middle and end, with a logical flow throughout that allows a jury to conclude, “yeah, that makes sense.”  Without a story, the evidence is just noise and is likely to be unconvincing. Without a story, jurors will have a hard time reconciling contradictory evidence and they will be unable to fill in the blanks if the evidence is incomplete. With a clear and logical story, jurors can make reasonable assumptions and inferences based on the inevitably incomplete evidentiary record. Jurors can also rely on scholarly research to help them understand the evidence and how it fits in the story. In fact, jurors can even apply common sense!  All of this is also true in our context. We need to have a story (in evaluation jargon we might say “theory of change” or “logic model”) about how we think the world operates and how we can change or alter its course. Data and evidence can then be used to see if things are playing out in a manner consistent with our story/theory/logic model that we have developed – or not.

As we work with DHCD and our members to devise an evaluation system for the newly enacted Community Investment Tax Credit program, I hope we can apply some of these ideas. CDCs should be able to articulate a theory or story about why they think their efforts are creating the desired change. They should have both quantitative and qualitative evidence that can shed light on whether they are having the desired impact.

We should not expect proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather a preponderance of the evidence as to whether our efforts are working. Gaps in data or knowledge should not be seen as evidence that programs are failing, nor should the complexity of human and community behavior deter us from seeking better understanding about the impact of our work. 

In future articles, I will offer some thoughts on an overall theory of change for the CITC program. I will also reflect on what I have learned from collecting data for the GOALs initiative for the past 10 years and how those lessons might be applied in the CITC context.   With a clear story or theory about our work and with more accurate and complete data, I am confident we will be able to effectively evaluate the work of our member organizations and the CITC program itself.  Of course, this model does leave a major challenge which is aggregating and comparing the work of different CDCs given that each group may have a slightly different approach and set of goals.

I’m not sure I needed three years of law school to figure this out – most people know the basic elements of a civil trial.  And I suspect my kids will always think that I wasted my time and money going to law school.  But for me, I continue to believe, based on a preponderance of the evidence, that I made the right decision to go to law school.  If nothing else, I met my wife during law school and my kids ought to see the value in that – even if meeting someone was not part of the logic model that motivated me to enroll in the first place.

Commenting Closed

“Does persistent poverty in America mean that community development is failing?”

April 28th, 2013 by Joe Kriesberg

Community developers, like others fighting to improve the lives of low and moderate income people, are rightly frustrated at the persistently high rates of poverty in our country. A new book called “Investing in What Works for America’s Communities,” frames the issue in the following manner: “It may seem obvious, but the most important reason why community development needs to evolve is that it is not solving the problem it was set up to fix-namely, reducing the number of people living in poverty. The percentage of Americans living in poverty when the War on Poverty was underway was about 15 percent, and it is about 15 percent today.” 

In fairness to the authors, the book proceeds to give a much more balanced and nuanced explanation of what is and is not working in the field and the reasons for persistent poverty. But this simple statement “seem[s] so obvious” that it is frequently repeated in various ways by countless policy makers, scholars, funders and even practitioners. Indeed, it has become so widely accepted as to reach the level of “conventional wisdom.”   It is often used not just to critique the community development field, but the much larger anti-poverty movement and most if not all government programs designed to address poverty.  And it is a big part of the argument made by advocates for so called “pay for success contracts” and social impact bonds (see my article on this topic for more discussion of those models.)

But is it true?

My first objection to this argument, as I noted in an earlier article I wrote for this blog, is that I don’t think that community development was “set up” to simply to reduce poverty. I certainly agree that poverty reduction is one of our goals but we are just one small part of a much larger effort in that regard. If we expect community development to solve poverty than we are setting ourselves up to fail – even if we are successful at the more limited (yet still important) goals we can actually achieve like improving the quality of life for local residents, providing some economic stability for low income families, helping many of them break out of poverty, increasing resident control over community assets and local development, and simply enabling low income people to live with greater dignity, hope and pride. Those goals are hard enough!

But let’s put that issue aside for a moment. Is it fair to suggest that persistently high poverty rates is evidence that non-profit and government programs are ineffective and need to be redesigned and reinvented? Do we need to adopt “pay for success” contracts so we stop wasting money on supposedly ineffective programs as many now argue?   I think not.  Many nonprofit and government programs may very well need reinvention, but persistent poverty rates is hardly evidence one way or another. In fact, several other factors have a much bigger impact on our high poverty rates – stagnant wages, tax policy, social welfare policy, immigration, labor policy, globalization, institutional racism, growing numbers of single parent households, and even oddities in the way “poverty” is defined by the U.S. government.  For today, I want to focus on two of these other issues because they reveal the danger in this new conventional wisdom.

I believe that immigration promotes economic growth and significantly benefits our economy. That said, it is certainly true that over the past fifty years millions of impoverished people have come to our country (as my grandparents did 100 years ago) seeking opportunity. These immigrants arrive poor and often remain poor for most if not all of their remaining lives. In this respect they add to our poverty rates and contribute to the perception that we are failing.  Yet, according to a recent New York Times article on immigrants, second and third generation immigrants are doing substantially better than their parents and grandparents.

•  “Immigrant Latino households have a median income that trails the national median by $24,000 (or more than 40 percent). Among second-generation Latino households, the gap is only $10,000, according to a recent Pew Research Center report;” and

•   “For decades, the average Latino immigrant has had slightly more than a junior-high school education. An average child of a Latino immigrant today completes high school and attends almost one year of college. A typical grandchild attends more college,” said the article.

This is immensely encouraging. It suggests that it is still possible, indeed still perhaps common, for low income immigrants, with limited education, to come to America and to see their families eventually make their way into the economic mainstream. Perhaps part of the reason the overall poverty rates remain so high is that America continues to attract lower income immigrants to our shores where they can find new opportunities. That’s good for them and good for America, even though it may not be good for our poverty statistics. This is evidence that some of our programs are working – not failing.

A second reason poverty rates remain so high is that we have decided as a society that most of our assistance to the poor should be in the form of providing things rather than cash.  Most assistance now comes in the form of free or subsidized food, shelter, day care and health care. Indeed, health care benefits to the poor have risen dramatically along with the cost of health care nationwide. But these benefits do not factor into the poverty rate, even though they substantially improve the quality of life.  What if the poverty rate did consider these benefits? However, New York City uses a different standard than the federal government, one that takes account of non-cash assistance to the poor, but also reflects the higher cost of living in New York. (The official federal definition of poverty is absurd, but that is another article for another day.)  A recent New York Times article reported that researchers have found that affordable housing subsidies reduce the City’s poverty rate by 6.2 percent.  This is just one example of a government program (one that often involves non-profit agencies) that helps poor people even if it does not reduce the official US poverty rate.  This is evidence that our programs are working – not failing.

I don’t mean to sound naïve or to diminish the extraordinary hardship that poverty continues to bring to millions of families in America. I also am not suggesting that we be complacent about the need for non-profits to continually improve our efforts.  However, I fear that focusing on non-profit performance to the exclusion of other, more significant issues, is a dangerous distraction that will impede progress, not advance it.  One problem is that we may wrongly conclude that effective programs are ineffective because we are using the wrong benchmarks or flawed data (like poverty rates.)  Worse, by perpetuating the myth that social programs are largely ineffective, we provide a political excuse to cut the very programs that we need to help lift people out of poverty.

Commenting Closed

Are we props or citizens?

March 24th, 2013 by Joe Kriesberg

A few weeks ago, Boston Globe columnist, Joan Venochi, wrote an op-ed entitled “The Props for Patrick’s Wish List” in which she urged the Governor to “respect the public’s intelligence and stop using fellow citizens as props in a tired political play.”  She was referencing several public events that the Governor had held in recent days with various groups and constituencies that are supporting his call for increased revenue to support transportation and education investments. It was one of those columns that can really upset an otherwise quiet Sunday morning in my house.

I tweeted and I wrote a letter to the editor which was published the following Sunday. But her column still rankled.

Why did it get under my skin? I don't consider myself naïve about the nature of politics. There is much about which to be cynical and skeptical -- the influence of money, apathy, petty personal feuds, the lack of competitive races, the weakness of the Republican Party, back room deals and much more. Political theatre can be silly or worse and motives are not always pure. I have certainly voiced those views on many occasions both privately and publicly.

But of all the problems we face in our civic and political culture, I would not put citizen engagement on the list. We should be celebrating when citizens organize themselves to petition their government. We should be proud when we have a Governor who wants to engage citizens and work with them to achieve shared policy objectives. It is encouraging when the people most impacted by government programs are able to participate in the process – even if that participation is limited to showing up at a rally or press conference to lend their support. As Woody Allen famously put it, 80% of success is simply showing up. This is especially true in politics!

That is why, every year, MACDC brings people to the State House for our annual lobby day.  (This year’s event will be on May 1.)  Every year we hear from people who have come to the State House for the first time. These folks are inspired and awed by the fact that legislators actually listen to them in their meetings.  And they do listen. They may not agree, but I know they do listen. And often, they act on our behalf to pass important legislation like the Community Development Partnership Act or anti-foreclosure legislation, or funding for affordable housing. I take pride in creating an opportunity for people to experience the State House for the first time - or the 100th time for that matter.   Sure, some of it is theatre (Joan Vennochi is right about that!) But all of it is democracy and I don't think it is fair to dismiss the citizens who take the time to participate as mere props for elected officials. Indeed, when it comes to the need for new revenue it is more accurate to say that Governor Patrick is responding to citizen pressure than the other way around.

For me, the current debate about taxes and revenues is democracy in action. The Governor has put forward a thoughtful proposal. Legislators are engaging in vigorous debate. Citizens are making their voices heard, both pro and con.  My side might win the debate and we might lose it. Most likely the legislature will land somewhere in the middle. Either way, I’m proud to be participating in the process and grateful to live in a state where we make important public decisions in this manner.

Joan Vennochi may think that I’m a prop for the Governor. I consider myself to be a citizen.

Commenting Closed

The Hardest Part of Leading an Association

February 6th, 2013 by Joe Kriesberg

Perhaps the hardest part of directing MACDC is balancing the valid, yet competing, interests of our diverse membership. This challenge came to the forefront at a recent MACDC Member Policy Summit in Framingham.

The main agenda item at the summit was to discuss how we think the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) should allocate its limited affordable housing resources.  With the competition for housing dollars tighter than it has been in years and with developers waiting in line for years before they can secure the needed subsidies, this is a critical question.

Should we prioritize the preservation of existing affordable homes or the production of new ones?

Should we locate more homes in higher income communities or focus resources on traditionally underinvested neighborhoods?

Should we prioritize seniors or families? the working poor or homeless families? Should we build a smaller number of large projects or a larger number of small projects? Rental homes or homeownership? The list of competing interests goes on and on.

The Massachusetts Housing Partnership made a significant contribution to the discussion recently by looking at the 403 projects and 20,973 units financed under the Patrick Administration.  Did you know that “non-urban” areas received 26% of the units and Gateway Cities 31%? Did you know that 63% of the units were Preservation units and 7% were for Special Needs populations? Do those numbers seem like good outcomes to you?

When we presented this data to our members there were many opinions. Most thought that DHCD has done a good job balancing competing goals, and that DHCD’s decision to institute a pre-application process and clearer funding priorities should help the system function better. That said, most agreed that there is room for further improvement and refinement. We also agreed that MACDC members need to talk further to see if we can fashion specific recommendations for the future and our policy committee will be tackling these questions in the months ahead.

In the meantime, I offer these thoughts about how we can approach these challenging questions.

  1. Grow the pie: We can’t allow these competing interests to distract us from the need to increase the resources allocated to affordable housing. This means passing the Affordable Housing Bond Bill this year, maintaining the state housing tax credit at $20 million per year, and increasing the state’s annual capital budget for DHCD.
  2. Take a balanced approach:  We need a balanced approach that responds to the different housing needs across the state – it should not be an all or nothing equation. One approach to doing this would be to set goals (or ranges) for key objectives so people understand that the state will fund a diverse mix of project types. EOHED does this in the MassWorks program and DHCD has done it as well for particular items - we currently have a goal of creating 1,000 supportive housing units over the next three years.  Boston Mayor Thomas M Menino’s Leading the Way program is another example of how this can be done. Goals should be flexible and multi-year so they don’t get applied in a rigid manner, but they are a useful way to express state objectives, drive performance,  and to measure progress over time.
  3. Look for “two-fors”:  While most of the resources allocated to DHCD are housing dollars, it is important to remember that state has both community development and economic development goals as well.  DHCD should prioritize projects that advance multiple state objectives across program silos. One welcome advance in this direction is new language in the Affordable Housing Bond bill filed by Rep. Honan and Sen. Eldridge that would make it easier for DHCD to finance mixed use developments.
  4. Put homeownership back in the mix: MACDC understands why the state stopped funding new homeownership projects during the housing meltdown that began in 2008. However, over the long term, our housing agenda must include both rental and homeownership development.  Rental housing should remain the priority but allocating 5-10 percent of the state’s resources to homeownership development seems like a reasonable balance.
  5. Use flexible dollars flexibly: Tax credits are by far the largest resource in the housing system (78% according to MHP) and therefore most projects will be funded with tax credits and subject to the rules and constraints of this resource. Thankfully, the Massachusetts Legislature and Governor have wisely allocated significant state resources to affordable housing (over $80 million/year) that can be allocated more flexibly to finance deals for which the tax credit program does not work (e.g. smaller projects, homeownership projects and deals serving slightly higher income levels.) Unfortunately, over 80% of those flexible state dollars are being used to support LIHTC deals, leaving very little money left over to fund anything else.  If (say) 50% of the state's flexible funding was allocated to non-LIHTC projects, the state could fund more smaller rental projects which are often the best fit for special needs populations, rural and suburban communities, and for key sites and buildings in distressed urban neighborhoods. (Of course, this would mean fewer LIHTC deals funded each year and it would require adjusting program rules related to caps on tax credits so I'm sure some of my readers would object to this recommendation!)

Any reallocation of existing resources will involve winners and losers so it is never an easy conversation or decision. As hard as it is within the MACDC membership, it is even harder when all the stakeholders are brought into the conversation so I offer these ideas as a way to advance a conversation - not to suggest that there are easy or obvious answers.  And in the meantime, MACDC will devote most of our time and energy to the first suggestion - growing the pie - because that makes all of the other decisions a bit easier!

 

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My New Year's Resolutions

January 2nd, 2013 by Joe Kriesberg

Our former board chair, Charles Rucks, has a wonderful expression that the “biggest room in the house is the room for improvement.”  In that spirit, I have been thinking about some of things that I want to improve on in 2013. While I’m sure my family could think of many things I could do better at home (cook more, nag less), I’m focusing this post on some areas for professional improvement. So here are some key challenges that I will be working on this year:

  1. Travel more: With my office located in downtown Boston and most of my regular meetings also in downtown Boston, I need to make more of an effort to visit our members across the Commonwealth. I also hope to travel a bit around the country this year to see how the field is evolving nationally as we can learn a great deal from our colleagues in other states.
  2. Collaborate better: Virtually everything MACDC hopes to achieve in 2013 will be accomplished through various collaborations and partnerships. This includes implementing the Community Development Partnership Act (working with DHCD, DOR, United Way, and others), passing a new Affordable Housing Bond Bill (working with Building Blocks Coalition), enacting Transportation Finance Reform (working with Transportation for Massachusetts), advancing smart and equitable development policies (working with MA Smart Growth Alliance), and successfully staffing the Mel King Institute (working with LISC and our many other partners.)  Therefore, I resolve to be a better partner this year. This means listening first, searching for common ground, sharing credit and following through on the commitments that I make.
  3. Read more: I’m going to make an effort in 2013 to read more about what is happening in our field and related sectors so that I can be a more thoughtful and informed leader for MACDC. When I read something that I think others might find interesting, I will be tweeting about it, so I hope you will read alongside with me by following me on twitter.  (And send me your suggestions for what I should be reading.)
  4. Speak more clearly: One of the key challenges for our field is clearly articulating what we do and why it is so vital for our communities. Community development is a broad term and I have struggled at times to find a way to express what it is, and what it is not.  I will be working with my colleagues at MACDC this year, including our new Director of Communications, John Fitterer, to tell the story of our field more effectively. This will include building a new website, designing a new MACDC logo, and a revamping the social media strategy for our organization, so be on the lookout for those changes!

In addition to these new resolutions, I need to follow through on a very important commitment that I made last year when lobbying the Legislature and the Governor to support the Community Development Partnership Act.  Throughout the year, I repeatedly told them that we would implement the law in a way that would make them proud. With the Community Investment Grant Program starting in 2013 and the Community Investment Tax Credit scheduled to start on January 1, 2014, now is the time to fulfill that promise and I am resolved to make sure we do. Of course, I made this promise on behalf of the entire community development field so we all have to work on this one together!

Feel free to suggest more opportunities for me to improve – and to hold me accountable on these resolutions!

Happy New Year!

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