Advocates Push for Grassroots Involvement in Community Preservation Act at Council Hearing

Contacts:
Joe Kriesberg, MA Association Community Development Corps, 617-721-7250, joek@macdc.org
Greg Galer, Boston Preservation Alliance, 508-930-6521, ggaler@bostonpreservation.org
Linda Orel, The Trust for Public Land, 617-360-1857, Linda.Orel@tpl.org
Cortina Vann, MA Affordable Housing Alliance, 617-822-9100, cvann@mahahome.org

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BOSTON – The Yes for a Better Boston (YBB) alliance, which helped pass the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in Boston on the November 8, 2016 election, is calling for grassroots involvement in CPA implementation in Boston at a City Council hearing on March 23. YBB is a broad and diverse coalition of groups working with the Walsh Administration and City Councilors to ensure that the implementation of CPA is transparent, equitable and accountable to all Boston residents.

CPA, which passed with 74% voter support, will help Boston to create new affordable homes, preserve open space and historic sites, and develop outdoor recreational opportunities. Funds will be generated by 1% property tax surcharge matched by a statewide trust fund, with exemptions for low-income homeowners and the first $100,000 of property value. The typical Boston homeowner will pay about $24 per year towards this investment, and the City will generate approximately $20 million every year for CPA projects.

At Thursday’s hearing, the Government Operations Committee will accept testimony on the CPA Ordinance, which will spell out the membership on Boston’s first nine-member Community Preservation Committee (CPC). CPC members are expected to be appointed later this spring so they can administer the CPA program that launches on July 1. The CPA ordinance will define the committee's composition, length of member terms, how the four "at large" positions will be appointed, as well as outlining the committee’s responsibilities.

YBB hopes to participate in the nomination process of the four “at large” positions. Grassroots involvement will ensure credibility and transparency, alleviate potential concerns about politicizing grant making decisions, increase the chance that grants will be made equitably throughout the City, and better meet the needs of those in underserved neighborhoods.

“This is a special opportunity to fund historic preservation and park projects, while creating much-needed affordable homes for families, seniors and veterans, and producing jobs,” said Joseph Kriesberg, West Roxbury resident, President of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations. “Involving Boston’s grassroots in appointing members of the CPC, and making sure funds are distributed equitably is critical to a successful CPA program in Boston.”

    YBB is also advocating for:
  • Public access to CPC decisions, activities, projects and hearings;
  • Public reports that describe grants, including a map showing the geographic distribution of CPA projects;
  • An independent CPA Office with dedicated staff overseen by the CPC, and housed in a neutral department in the City;
  • Public hearings held by the CPC in neighborhoods throughout the City;
  • Term limits for CPC members to enable active participation of new members and to bring new ideas and experiences to the CPC;
  • Determination of allocation of CPA revenues to be done on an annual basis based on input from public hearings, data on need, and number of “shovel-ready” projects.

"The effort to pass and now implement CPA has, from the beginning, been a remarkably cooperative effort between the historic preservation, parks, and affordable housing communities,” said Greg Galer, executive director of the Boston Preservation Alliance. “We support a process for selecting CPC members who are passionate about projects that don't just meet these needs in individual but who encourage projects that cross and merge these boundaries. Affordable housing in adapted and preserved historic buildings and the restoration of historic parks will benefit all neighborhoods of the city."

YBB will continue to work with officials in the Walsh Administration and City Council to ensure that CPA is implemented in fairly and equitably.

To learn more about the Community Preservation Act, CLICK HERE.

To research examples of CPA projects in the 172 Massachusetts cities and towns that have adopted CPA, CLICK HERE.

The Yes for a Better Boston Steering Committee includes Allston-Brighton CDC, Boston Park Advocates, Boston Preservation Alliance, Chinese Progressive Association, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Friends of the Public Garden, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, Historic Boston, Inc., Mass Affordable Housing Alliance, Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants, Mass Association of Community Development Corp, New England United for Justice, Right to the City Boston, and The Trust for Public Land.