Bidding Farewell to Commissioner Tom Weber and Deputy Commissioner Bill Concannon

This week, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) offers thanks to two state officials who have been extremely important to the creation and successful implementation of the Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund: Commissioner Tom Weber and Deputy Commissioner for Administration/Chief Financial Officer Bill Concannon.

Both CEDAC and the Children’s Investment Fund have worked closely with Commissioner Weber and Deputy Commissioner Concannon since 2013, when the EEOST Capital Fund – the capital bond program for early childhood education and out-of-school time facilities – was signed into law.

EEOST and the growing recognition that child care is a critical component of community development have placed Massachusetts at the forefront of a national movement to improve the quality of child care facilities. Since EEOST’s inclusion in the 2013 Housing Bond Bill, the EEC team helped to create the program’s regulations, guidelines and application; worked closely with the Executive Office of Education and the Executive Office for Administration and Finance; and personally attended groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings throughout the Commonwealth to witness the program’s success.

EEOST has enabled non-profit child care providers across Massachusetts to upgrade or build new, high-quality learning centers.  In the six years since the program was created, Massachusetts has granted 25 centers – most of whom serve children living in low income communities – with $19.2 million in EEOST funds. Collectively, these centers are adding capacity to the early childhood education and out-of-school time system to serve 650 additional children, improving the learning environments for 2,500 children, and leveraging $89 million in additional investment from other sources.

We look forward to working with the next Commissioner, Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, and with the Board of Early Education and Care to continue this important program.  We know that the support of Commissioner Weber and Deputy Commissioner Concannon was essential to establishing EEOST in its earliest stages and to making sure it became the effective program it is today.  We wish them good luck and continued success in their next endeavors.

 

Top photo: Commissioner Weber. Bottom photo: Deputy Commissioner Concannon (far right)

2018 Data Demonstrates Effective State and City Efforts on Affordable Housing Preservation

Massachusetts preserved the long-term affordability of more than 3,750 units in 25 multifamily rental developments during 2018, according to data released by the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC).   This strong housing preservation performance in 2018 demonstrates the continued impact of the commitment of the Baker-Polito Administration to housing preservation, and the effective interagency coordination between the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and its sister state agencies MassHousing, Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP), MassDevelopment, and CEDAC, along with federal and local officials in Boston and across the state.

In the release, we highlight Boston’s Burbank Gardens, which is a prime example of how the state and cities like Boston work together to preserve affordable housing.  In 2018, Fenway Community Development Corporation was able to finance the long-term preservation of 52 units of affordable housing in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood with the support of the DHCD, MassHousing, and the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development along with CEDAC.

Read the full press release.

Baker-Polito Administration Awards Funding to Produce and Preserve Supportive Housing Units

CEDAC staff attended an event on May 7th at the Worcester YWCA, where Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced that the Baker-Polito Administration is awarding funding for the production and preservation of 147 new units of supportive housing in communities across Massachusetts. Lt. Governor Polito was joined by State Senators Harriette Chandler and Michael O. Moore, City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Kate Racer and Bronia Clifton of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and representatives of several non-profit partners, including YWCA of Central Massachusetts Executive Director Linda Cavaioli.  This is the sixth annual funding round devoted to supportive housing projects, with awards of capital, operating subsidy, and service funding.  DHCD awarded $8.5 million of capital funding, including $2.5 million of federal National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) resources, as well as project-based MRVPs with supportive service stipends.

CEDAC works with DHCD to manage multiple state housing bond fund programs, including the Housing Innovations Fund (HIF), the Facilities Consolidation Fund (FCF), and the Community Based Housing Program (CBH), and provides key underwriting and loan management services for this competitive funding process and subsequent loan closings. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has made a strong commitment to producing and preserving supportive housing units, which offer both housing and services to vulnerable populations.

Seven projects that will create or preserve 147 units of supportive housing received funding awards.  These projects will serve a range of populations including veterans, elders, persons with disabilities, survivors of domestic violence (DV), and persons who have experienced homelessness.  Funded projects are located in Boston, Haverhill, Lowell, Marshfield, Randolph, and Worcester.

The location of this event was perfect, as the Worcester YWCA is planning a major $24 million renovation to their 50+ year old facility, including both the 45 single room occupancy housing units and the early education and out-of-school-time programs.  This is a unique project where affordable housing and child care are co-located in one facility, and both CEDAC and our affiliate the Children’s Investment Fund have actively assisted the project with training and technical assistance, as well as a predevelopment loan.  The staff leadership of the YWCA participated in the Fund’s Building Stronger Centers training several years ago.  CEDAC and CIF have structured a participation in the predevelopment loan to the project.

Also notable is a landmark community benefits agreement that the YWCA has created for the project with its general contractor, Consigli Construction.  The benefits agreement, which is the first in Worcester history, provides for a 100% women-led construction management team, 100% living wage jobs for construction workers with benefits, and diversity guidelines for the construction workforce including apprentices.

You can read more about each of the individual projects, and the organizations building them, below, or in the official press release:

Award Recipients:

123 Crawford Street, Boston

This is an existing Single Room Occupancy (SRO) project currently serving 17 formerly homeless individuals. The Commonwealth Land Trust is expanding the program to serve 22 formerly homeless individuals with 2 live-in staff and case managers who will provide intensive supportive services to a high-need target population, including individuals with major medical and/or mental health challenges.

112-116 Emerson Street, Haverhill

Emmaus, Inc. owns and operates this existing twenty-one unit project providing permanent, supportive sober housing for homeless elders and individuals with disabilities at three properties. DHCD is supporting the project with MRVP vouchers with supportive service funding. These enhanced vouchers will assist Emmaus in providing affordable independent rental housing with robust supportive services to both Community Support Program for People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness (CSPECH) and non-CSPECH eligible residents.

Opening Doors, Lowell

Alternative House provides emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing to survivors of DV. The Opening Doors project involves the new construction of an eight bedroom residential shelter for survivors of domestic violence. The new shelter will offer eight bedrooms on two floors and will accommodate eight women and up to fourteen children. The existing shelter, an aging single family home, will be sold and the sales proceeds will help defray the cost of the new building.

420, 423, and 445 Broadway, Lowell

This existing twenty-nine unit project consists of three multi-family properties on Broadway in Lowell. Common Ground Development Corporation, an affiliate of Community Teamwork, Inc., will undertake exterior improvements to all three buildings, and convert two standard units into accessible units for residents with mobility impairments.

2033 Ocean Street, Marshfield

Marshfield Veterans House will provide supportive housing for eight homeless veterans. NeighborWorks Southern Massachusetts will convert a vacant town-owned historic property into eight studio units of permanent supportive housing to formerly homeless individuals, with a preference for veterans. The project also includes plans for a small archive room for the local historical society. Father Bill’s & MainSpring will provide comprehensive supportive services to the residents.

26 Moulton Street, Randolph

Father Bill’s & MainSpring developed a partnership with Envision Bank to construct ten studio apartments for homeless veterans on a vacant parcel behind the bank. FBMS proposes to develop ten units of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals, with a preference for veterans, on this vacant lot in downtown Randolph. The building will also include staff office space.

One Salem Square, Worcester

The YWCA of Central Massachusetts is renovating its headquarters in downtown Worcester including an existing SRO program for women, twelve child care classrooms, and its health and fitness program areas. DHCD funds will allow the YWCA to renovate forty-one existing SROs and add six more rooms, for a total of 47 units. This is a unique project that will co-locate affordable housing and child care services, both of which include CEDAC financing.

Mike Gondek Offers Tribute to Community Development Leader Amy Anthony

In December 2018, former Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Communities and Development (a precursor to the state’s current Department of Housing and Community Development) Amy Anthony passed away suddenly. We’ve asked Mike Gondek, CEDAC’s former executive director, to share with us why Amy’s commitment was so important to CEDAC and the community development sector in Massachusetts:

CEDAC’s 40th Anniversary Celebration appropriately honored former state representative Mel King as the Godfather of Technical Assistance.  Mel’s larger than life presence, physically and symbolically, drove the creation of the entire Massachusetts community development infrastructure, and his pivotal role is unquestioned.

The anniversary’s timing coincided, sadly, with a tribute to another luminary in the national housing and community development world, who played a role in CEDAC’s history nearly as crucial as Mel’s.  Amy Anthony, former Secretary of the Executive Office of Communities and Development (EOCD) under Governor Michael Dukakis, died tragically in Africa in December.  Family and friends held a memorial service at Harvard University for Amy just two days after CEDAC’s anniversary fete.

For its first few years, CEDAC endeavored to build a technical assistance program with a bare minimum of capital base.  When the Legislature created the Massachusetts Housing Partnership Fund in 1985, Amy saw an opportunity to capitalize CEDAC.  Always a strong supporter of CEDAC, Amy and another long-time colleague, Austin Miller, worked with us to allocate $3.8 million of the funding that endowed the MHP Fund to CEDAC to serve as a capital base from which we could leverage private debt to fund its program.

Amy’s generous and visionary decision really put CEDAC on the map.  $3.8 million may not sound like much in this day and age, but at that time it was a game changer for CEDAC, and allowed the agency to ramp up its operations and scope substantially.  The housing and community development world lost a huge figure in Amy, but the coincidence of the timing of the anniversary event and her memorial service serve to underscore her enormous contribution to CEDAC.

Pictured above: Amy Anthony during the Dukakis administration. Pictured below: Mike Gondek and Mav Pardee, former program manager of Children’s Investment Fund, at CEDAC’s 40th Anniversary Celebration (photo credit: David Fox, Photographer)

CEDAC’s founding executive director, Carl Sussman, adds his thoughts:

“Amy played an important strategic role. CEDAC became operational at a point where the state’s political leadership had little interest in CEDAC. When Amy became Secretary, she saw the value of CEDAC and made a deal to place the agency under EOCD’s oversight instead of under the Secretary of Economic Affairs. This was not accomplished legislatively until much later. Amy installed senior EOCD official Lang Keyes as chair, followed by Mike Tierney. Up to that point in our development, CEDAC’s founding board had been insistent on working on the business development side although we had embraced a number of Section 8 mod rehab projects on a pilot basis. Seeing that business development was not a winning proposition, Amy and Lang were instrumental in the board’s strategic decision to refocus on housing. The rest is history.”

Baker-Polito Administration Commits to Funding New Affordable Housing Production

In late February, CEDAC attended the Baker-Polito Administration’s announcement of funding awards for nine projects that will support the creation of over 600 new rental units across the state, including nearly 400 units of affordable housing.  The administration has invested over $45 million directly and allocated over $22 million in state and federal low-income housing tax credits for these projects. The announcement took place at the former Worcester Courthouse, a historic site that was also awarded state funding and will be preserved and redeveloped by Trinity Financial into 117 new, mixed-income housing units.

CEDAC works closely with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and its state agency partners on several of the bond programs used to develop supportive housing for homeless families or other vulnerable populations. In addition to all nine projects receiving state bond funding, CEDAC has provided a total of $3,795,000 in predevelopment and/or acquisition financing to four of the nine projects that have received funding awards:

  • Downing Square Broadway Initiative in Arlington, sponsored by Housing Corporation of Arlington (HCA). This project will develop a total of 48 units of affordable multifamily housing – 10 of which will be designated for extremely low-income (ELI) households – as well as ground floor commercial space to house an existing food pantry serving the local community. CEDAC has committed $970,000 in acquisition financing and $500,000 in predevelopment financing to its non-profit community development partner, HCA, including the use of capital provided by the Home Funders collaborative to support affordable units for ELI families.
  • Cote Village 4% LIHTC in the Mattapan neighborhood of Boston, sponsored by Caribbean Integration Community Development. This project will be developed in two phases: a 24-unit 9% low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) component and a 52-unit 4% LIHTC component. The project is a joint venture between two non-profit developers, CICD and the Planning Office of Urban Affairs of the Boston Archdiocese. The 24-unit component consists of four 4-story townhouse buildings with parking and a play area, and the 52-unit component consists of a 4-story, multifamily building with 1200 square feet of commercial space. CEDAC has committed $400,000 in predevelopment financing to CICD.
  • Library Commons in Holyoke, sponsored by Way Finders, Inc. This project will create a total of 74 units, 55 of which will be affordable family rentals, and 10 of which will be designated for extremely low-income households. CEDAC has committed $625,000 in acquisition financing and $900,000 in predevelopment financing.
  • 571 Revere in Revere, sponsored by The Neighborhood Developers (TND). This project will create 51 units of affordable and workforce housing. CEDAC has committed $400,000 in predevelopment financing.

In honor of Black History Month, Patrick Lee of Trinity Financial also announced that the renovated Worcester Courthouse will include a public museum dedicated to the life and accomplishments of legendary African American bicycle racer and Worcester resident Major Taylor (pictured below). Born in 1878, Taylor was a professional racer with seven world records to his name and considered the fastest cyclist in the world at the time. Karen Donovan, Major Taylor’s great granddaughter, attended the announcement and expressed her family’s gratitude for this tribute.

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Janelle Chan, Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr., State Senator Harriette Chandler, State Representative Mary Keefe, and the other local leaders and developers participated in this event.   CEDAC is pleased to support the efforts of its non-profit community partners and are grateful for the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to increasing the production and preservation of affordable housing.  To learn more about the funding announcements, read the official press release.

CEDAC Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary at Event Honoring Mel King

“Teamwork makes the dream work.”

Mel King, legendary community activist and former state representative, invoked this phrase as he concluded his remarks at our 40th anniversary celebration on March 14th.  And Mel did not just speak these words, but rather inspired the audience to chant them together with him.  This phrase sums up his philosophy on community development and the commitment of residents to organize themselves to build strong and resilient communities.

CEDAC honored King for his foundational work in the 1970s to convene a series of weekly working group sessions of community activists and planners – the so-called Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club – that led to CEDAC’s creation.  But it was clear from our large gathering of organizations and individuals from across the state’s community development sector that everyone was celebrating Mel for his vision and leadership in the movement as a whole.

Mel provided inspiration for this community development movement in Massachusetts, and he played an instrumental role as an elected official in helping to create a state infrastructure to support community development, including sponsoring the legislation that established CEDAC.  We held the 40th anniversary event at MIT’s Samberg Conference Center, a fitting venue, since it served as the location for those weekly sessions where the idea for a public/private agency that provides technical expertise to non-profit community development organizations was first discussed. At the time, Mel was teaching at MIT’s Department of Urban Planning and Studies and leading the Community Fellows Program there.

The Massachusetts system now serves as a national model of community development, and it was truly a wonderful moment to have the chance to thank and recognize Mel.  We were pleased to have Governor Charlie Baker share his support as he offered congratulatory remarks by video.

In addition to hearing from Mel, we presented lightning talks featuring representatives from the state’s community development sector on CEDAC’s three key program areas: affordable housing preservation; supportive housing; and early education facility development, through our affiliate, the Children’s Investment Fund.  These brief talks covered the evolution and growth of these programs over the 40-year history, and identified some future challenges and opportunities.  Participants in the program included former CEDAC staff members Vince O’Donnell, Charleen Regan, and Mav Pardee; current CEDAC staff members Bill Brauner, Sara Barcan, and Theresa Jordan; and non-profit community partners Leslie Reid of Madison Park Development Corporation, Lisette Le of Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (VietAID), and Gail Fortes of YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts.

In the 40 years since CEDAC was created, the organization has committed over $402 million in early stage project financing, and has helped to fund the creation or preservation of nearly 50,000 affordable housing units across the Commonwealth.  Additionally, CEDAC manages a number of supportive housing bond programs on behalf of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), with commitments of more than $490 million over the past thirty years.  These bond programs include the Housing Innovations Fund (HIF), the Facilities Consolidation Fund (FCF), and the Community Based Housing (CBH) program.  You can read more about our accomplishments in the March 11th issue of Banker and Tradesman and hear more at the OA on Air podcast. You can also learn more about our past, present and future in the 2018 CEDAC Annual Report, featuring an interactive 40-year timeline.

At the same event, the Children’s Investment Fund, an affiliate of CEDAC, presented Judy Cody, executive director of the Beverly Children’s Learning Center (BCLC), with the Mav Pardee Award for Building Quality.  The award, which recognizes organizations or individuals working to address the need for physical environments that support high-quality early education, is named after Pardee, who was the Fund’s former program manager.  Cody oversaw BCLC’s expansion to a new 16,000 square foot facility that provides safe and affordable early education and care for nearly 160 children in the North Shore region.

Pictured above: Judy Cody with Mav Pardee, the Fund’s former program manager, and Gail Fortes, Executive Director of YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts.

BCLC was one of the first child care facilities to open that utilized grant funding from the Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund, and that is because of the tenacity and dedication that Judy Cody demonstrates as executive director. Since it was established in 1990, Children’s Investment Fund has committed $55 million in project financing and state bond resources, and supported the creation or improvement of more than 30,000 child care slots.  EEOST is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care in partnership with CEDAC and the Children’s Investment Fund, and it offers child care providers capital resources to develop high-quality early learning facilities.

Thank you to all of our partners, supporters, and current and former board and staff members (including my executive director predecessors, Carl Sussman and Mike Gondek) who joined us as we celebrated 40 years of strengthening communities in Massachusetts. And thanks again to Mel King for helping to build the foundation for community development in Boston and neighborhoods across the state.

Thanks to David Fox, Photographer for capturing this event. See more photos here.

CEDAC to Honor Mel King at 40th Anniversary Celebration

CEDAC is proud to celebrate 40 years of strengthening communities across the Commonwealth. We are thrilled to announce that we will honor former State Representative Mel King as we commemorate this anniversary this month. As a Massachusetts State Representative, Mel King sponsored legislation in 1978 which created CEDAC with a mission to support community-based development organizations.

At the same event, CEDAC’s affiliate Children’s Investment Fund will also present Judy Cody, executive director of the Beverly Children’s Learning Center (BCLC), with the Mav Pardee Award for Building Quality.  The award recognizes organizations or individuals working to address the need for physical environments that support high-quality early education.

Click to read the press release announcing CEDAC’s 40th anniversary celebration.

New Survey Tool Offers Insight Into Tenant Outcomes in Permanent Supportive Housing Projects

We are proud to present the final report from our first-ever project survey using the CEDAC Supportive Housing Data Collection (SHDC) Survey Tool. Last year, CEDAC designed and administered this survey in order to understand tenant outcomes in permanent supportive housing (PSH) projects, specifically projects funded through the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Supportive Housing for Vulnerable Populations rounds.  With an advisory committee that included staff from DHCD, Mass Rehab Commission and the Department of Public Health (DPH), CEDAC hired Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), a national supportive housing consultant, to assist with survey design, data collection and final report.  The final report offers insight into the impact permanent supportive housing has on housing stability, employment and income, access to community health and social services, with positive outcomes in projects with a wide variety of staffing ratios, housing stabilization strategies, and partnership models.

Read the final report on the survey tool to learn more, and stay tuned in future years as we plan to administer this survey again as our portfolio of PSH projects grows.

Evolution of the Fund: A Look Back With Mav Pardee

At INSITES this week, we complete our series of spotlights on previous directors of the Children’s Investment Fund (“the Fund”). Today, Mav Pardee, the organization’s third director, recounts the Fund’s long history of working with non-profit providers to create high-quality learning environments for the most vulnerable children in Massachusetts.

1. Describe your experience as the director for Children’s Investment Fund?

I became director of Children’s Investment Fund (“the Fund”) in 2006 and led a small and talented team until late 2015.  During my tenure with the Fund, we refined and expanded the Building Stronger Centers Training Institute (BSC) to introduce the leadership in early childhood education (ECE) and out-of-school time (OST) programs to the facility development process. We also provided training on developing multi-sensory outdoor play spaces with an emphasis on nature and natural elements.

In 2011, we sponsored research on existing conditions in non-profit ECE and OST sites across Massachusetts that served children on public subsidies. The results were sobering, even shocking: 22 percent of centers had poor indoor air quality, 20 percent had at least one classroom without windows, nearly 70 percent lacked classroom handwashing sinks, and 34 percent had inadequate heating and cooling. Those and other findings were the basis of a campaign by the Fund, the United Way of Mass Bay and the Merrimack Valley, Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association, some key legislators, and providers statewide to secure public bond financing for facilities improvements. In 2013, the Massachusetts Legislature authorized the creation of the Early Education and Out-of-School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund, which is jointly overseen by the Department of Early Education and Care, CEDAC, and the Fund, and which to date, has invested $19.2 million in 25 projects that serve over 2,400 children. Governor Baker recently reauthorized the funding for another five years.

2. How did you become involved with child care facilities development?

My initial involvement with children’s facilities was as a young parent developing a toddler program for my first child.  That led to my co-founding the Child Care Resource Center in Cambridge, where in addition to helping parents find programs, we worked with community groups to set up centers in all the used-to-be usual places:  church basements, office buildings, former schools, etc.  Some were wonderful places for childhood and others were merely adequate.

In 1986, I helped develop the Transportation Children’s Center in the State Transportation Building, which led to involvement with two publications on centers in state office buildings: Architectural Prototype Document: A Study for the Development of Day Care Centers in State Facilities (1987) by Citydesign Collaborative and Anita Olds & Associates, and Child Care by Design: a Handbook for the Planning and Design of Child Care Centers in Massachusetts (1993) by Archetype Architecture & the Division of Capital Planning & Operations.  Over time, I worked on another 40 or so renovation or construction projects around Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York.

Eventually I consulted on projects for the Fund in its early days, first with Dan Violi, and later with Viki Bok.  They taught me a great deal about the formal facility development process.

3. How have you seen the sector evolve?

It’s been far too slow, but very gradually our society has begun to understand that most children spend significant time in ECE and OST programs and that those programs play a crucial, and often underappreciated role, in their healthy development and life-long prospects for good health, school success, and well-being. In 1995, the “Relations Between Preschool Children’s Child-Care Experiences and Concurrent Development: The Cost, Quality, and Outcomes Study” reported that only 14 percent of child care centers nationwide provided a level of quality that supported healthy development. More than 10 percent of centers were described as poor quality, and 74 percent were labeled mediocre. That report led to a number of much-needed quality improvement efforts by federal and state policymakers.

Beginning in 2004, research from the National Council on the Developing Child emphasized the critical importance of the first five years of life on brain development, resilience, executive function, and other key factors in healthy development. The terminology changed—from “child care,” a support to help parents enter the workforce, to “early childhood education,” which emphasized child development and learning.

There were efforts to raise teacher qualifications (but little attention to salaries), an emphasis on program accreditation, and learning standards based on children’s ages and development with periodic funding increases to support those efforts. And eventually, thanks to the efforts of the Fund, the provider community, some enlightened policymakers and others, we’ve seen the “quality agenda” expand to include facilities as a key component of high quality ECE and OST services for children in Massachusetts.

4. What do you think is next for child care facilities development?

This sector is about relationships – educators with children and families, programs with each other, the communities they serve, and with funders and policymakers. Because of its role, the Fund has relationships with all those groups as well, but also with architects, licensers, and the professionals who help programs complete successful facility projects.

Because of its long history working with seriously under-capitalized programs, the Fund knows that access to funding continues to be a critical barrier to facility improvement. EEOST has been an enormous benefit, but the demand for project financing continues to outstrip available resources. The Fund has long sought access to more affordable loan capital, and recently CEDAC, Theresa Jordan, and the Fund secured certification as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). This certification allows the Fund to apply for federal funding as a source of low-cost lending capital.  It’s great news and will lead to further development of suitable learning environments for the most vulnerable children in Massachusetts.

5. Anything you’d like to add?

Children and families take special note of the environments where children spend their days because those spaces send powerful messages about how much or how little we value children. Children from affluent families spend their childhoods in attractive, well-appointed spaces, and children from low-income families too often get the leftovers. There are two incidents that program directors recounted that stick with me:

  • One was the reaction of the 4-year-old class in a center that moved from the basement of a housing development where they had been underground in cramped, shabby rooms without windows.  The center moved from that site into a beautiful new building with bright, well-equipped classrooms.  Everyone was excited about the new space, but for weeks after the move, the teachers saw children gravitate to the big windows in their new classroom where they would stand and notice the weather, point out activities in the neighborhood, and envision a bigger world.
  • The other was the reaction of a couple of school-age children who tracked down the director on the day the OST program opened in its new space.  They were very excited about the new site, but it took her by surprise when they asked “You built this just for us?”

This work matters a great deal. All children deserve physical learning environments that stimulate their imaginations, give them room to move, let them see the larger world, and support the development of positive self-images and self-esteem.

CEDAC Celebrates 25 Years of Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities

The Facilities Consolidation Fund (FCF) is an important capital program that provides funding to build supportive housing for persons with chronic mental illness or developmental disabilities.   This program is managed through interagency collaboration among the Departments of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Mental Health (DMH), Developmental Services (DDS), and CEDAC.  The FCF program celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2018, and has served as an effective resource in creating community residential options for persons with disabilities.

Over the past 25 years, CEDAC and its state partners have helped to produce 2,604 units of supportive housing with FCF capital.  We’ve loaned more than $150 million for the development of 437 projects that include FCF units.  FCF was created in 1993 in response to strong advocacy by disability rights organizations who demanded that the state offer community-based options for DMH and DDS clients rather than the large state institutions that housed heavy concentrations of people with chronic disabilities and were often disconnected from the surrounding community.

The program creates two distinct models of supportive housing: integrated housing, in which a small number of apartments are included in larger affordable housing developments; and group homes, designed as single-family homes for four or five DDS or DMH clients, who receive assistance from a service provider.  Earlier this year, INSITES offered a primer on CEDAC’s work funding group homes.

CEDAC works with supportive housing providers developing FCF units throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in urban, suburban and rural settings.  Both non-profit service providers and affordable housing developers are key participants in the effort to provide safe, community-based housing for men and women in need of both homes and services.  It is gratifying to know that in the 25 years we’ve managed this fund, thousands of residents have benefitted from it.

A good example of how FCF improves lives is a group home developed by MAB Community Services, the nation’s oldest social service agency providing services to blind or visually impaired individuals. MAB is currently working on the development of community-based housing for individuals with acquired brain injuries (ABI). In a landmark 2008 class action lawsuit, Hutchinson vs Patrick, the state reached a settlement with a group of plaintiffs, led by Cathy Hutchinson, which established the right of individuals with ABI to live in community-based settings. According to the settlement, of the more than 8,000 individuals with ABI living in nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities across the state, at least 2,000 would be able and prefer to reside in community-based settings, provided they received the appropriate aids and support.

CEDAC began its work with MAB in 2016 by providing technical assistance for the development of new housing in Canton for individuals with ABI. This year, DHCD and CEDAC committed more than half a million dollars in FCF financing to MAB Community Services. The resident population served by MAB in Canton requires highly specialized supportive housing given their medical needs, and FCF capital funds and CEDAC’s technical assistance to MAB were key elements in the successful development of this .

At its annual meeting in October, MAB honored CEDAC for our work financing supportive housing for individuals with disabilities.   At that event, we were honored to meet a new resident of the Canton home, a young man with ABI who had been living in an institution. His mother reported that his health has improved considerably since he moved out of the nursing home and into the house in Canton.  The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, Cathy Hutchinson, was also in attendance and provided inspiration to attendees.

CEDAC remains dedicated to expanding affordable housing opportunities across the state, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with our state partners, affordable housing developers and service providers to support vulnerable populations through FCF.