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.

Evolution of the Fund: A Look Back With Viki Bok

At INSITES this week, we continue our series of spotlights on previous directors of the Children’s Investment Fund (“the Fund”). Today, Viki Bok, the organization’s second director, reflects on how the Fund’s role in the nonprofit child care provider community has evolved throughout the years.

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

I worked at the Fund from 1999-2005. I had two young children of my own at the time, and the importance of ensuring an adequate supply of high-quality child care – including well-designed, beautiful facilities – was a very personal issue for me. But as I quickly learned at the Fund, most child care center directors were fighting hard simply to balance their budgets due to insufficient voucher reimbursement rates, and if they had a dime to spare, their top priority was paying their staff decent wages.  As a result, there typically wasn’t much money left over to invest in their physical space, no matter how much they wanted to. It was hard to interest child care providers in taking on debt to finance improvements to their facilities, given their financial challenges. So we worked hard to develop other ways to support providers that met them where they were – primarily raising pools of grant money to re-grant for facilities projects, and also developing technical assistance and training programs to help providers plan and carry out these projects.

The initiative we developed that I’m proudest of is Building Stronger Centers (BSC), a comprehensive, multi-day training for providers on the nuts and bolts of undertaking a facilities project. We developed the BSC program from scratch, pulling together teams of architects, project managers, providers who had completed successful facilities projects, and past and current Fund staff to walk providers through the steps of what’s involved – raising money, coming up with a design, pulling together and overseeing a project team, and so on. Our first BSC was a full week long. Center directors were nervous about taking that many days off of work, but we held the trainings in a beautiful inn by the sea in Rockport, MA. The ocean views and the warm chocolate chip cookies the inn staff regularly brought out kept the providers from complaining too hard about the time away! We offered BSC three times during my tenure at the Fund, and I’m thrilled to see that it has become a Fund staple, having now been offered 10 times to many dozens of providers all around the state.

We also worked hard to raise capital grant funds for providers to implement projects. We operated two separate grants programs, one for preschool programs and one for school-age programs. We raised money from a mix of philanthropic and other institutions, as well as public agencies, and pooled it, offering competitive grant funding rounds that came with significant technical assistance attached. We also developed a new family child care training/ technical assistance and grants program, enabling us to work with this important part of the sector.

I thoroughly enjoyed my six years at the Fund. I couldn’t have asked for better colleagues at the Fund and CEDAC, both staff and Board. And as I came to know the child care provider community, I was deeply impressed with their dedication to their field and the children and families they served.

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

Before coming to the Fund, I had worked for years in the affordable housing field – as director first of the Salem Harbor Community Development Corporation and then of New Haven’s Office of Housing and Neighborhood Development. So I was familiar with non-profits, with getting buildings financed and built, and with how important high-quality, well-designed buildings of all kinds are to a community’s fabric. To me, community development has always been about more than just housing – a healthy community needs great child care organizations, schools, businesses, housing, public spaces, transportation access, and more, and I’ve always been interested in how to help build and sustain healthy communities, broadly speaking. When I moved from New Haven back to Boston in the late ‘90s and had my own first child, child care became a newly personal issue for me, as I struggled to juggle my continued work life with being a mother. It was just about then, when my son was one and a half, that Dan Violi, then-director of the Fund, reached out to me about the job. I had gotten to know CEDAC years before as a valuable source of all-too-rare predevelopment financing and technical assistance, and I had always loved the people there. I jumped at the opportunity to work at a great place, with great colleagues, on a part-time schedule, building on my past experience with financing and facilities development but also learning about a new field for me – child care.

  1. How have you seen the sector evolve?

It has been wonderful to see the Fund’s involvement in nudging the sector in new and exciting directions, such as securing significant, ongoing, public capital grant financing for child care facilities in Massachusetts. The resources now available to the sector via the state’s Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Grant program are something we only dreamed about when I was at the Fund. We knew how important grant financing was for the child care sector, but we had to expend significant time each year raising these funds. We always knew that the real goal was to secure an ongoing public source of this kind of financing. I was thrilled to see this dream become reality in 2013 with the creation of the EEOST program.

Another positive trend has been the move towards natural playgrounds and natural materials more generally. I am thrilled to see the child care sector increasingly move away from mass-produced, plastic play structures in garish colors, and towards outdoor play spaces that incorporate natural elements such as trees, water, and stones. And again, I’m so pleased that the Fund is right there, providing training in this area.

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

To be honest, I’m really not sure. But whatever the future brings, I bet that the Fund will be playing a leadership role, as it always has.

CEDAC’s Commitment to Funding Permanent Supportive Housing for Veterans

On Veteran’s Day in 2013 and throughout that year, CEDAC highlighted the funding commitments we had recently made to a number of organizations helping homeless veterans, including the support we gave to Father Bill’s & MainSpring to develop the Montello Welcome Home project. The Brockton-based organization has worked hard to help end homelessness among veterans in the area, and it was our pleasure to provide capital funding through the Housing Innovations Fund to this supportive housing project so that the area’s veterans would have both the housing and services they need.

So we were gratified to join Father Bill’s & MainSpring just a few weeks ago to celebrate the ribbon-cutting for the second phase of this project, Montello Welcome Home Again. In honor of Veteran’s Day, we wanted to share that celebration with you, too. The $5 million development brings 23 new units of permanent supportive housing to the South Shore, 12 of which are set aside for veterans.  CEDAC is honored to work with organizations like Father Bill’s & MainSpring, Soldier On, the New England Home and Center for Veterans, and others who continue to support and expand housing opportunities for our nation’s veterans.

Evolution of the Fund: A Look Back With Dan Violi

At INSITES this week, we introduce the first in a series of spotlights on previous directors of the Children’s Investment Fund (“the Fund”). Today, Dan Violi shares his experiences as the original program manager and how he has seen the Fund evolve as a key resource for the non-profit early education and care community.

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

I joined CEDAC in 1989, at which time I managed a portfolio of affordable housing projects and offered our clients both predevelopment financing and technical assistance in the early stages of these projects. I helped non-profit agencies that had little to no development experience and needed technical assistance and financial support to move their projects forward. Two years later, Carl Sussman, the executive director of CEDAC at the time, asked me to take on the role of the Children’s Investment Fund (“the Fund”) manager. The attributes and skills I had gained in the housing field directly transferred to the child care provider community.

In this new role, I came to understand the importance of well-designed facilities and the unseen design elements that make a childcare space successful.  Thoughtful design had many positive effects on the center – greater staff retention, child responsiveness, and family satisfaction. I worked at the Fund when it first began offering training sessions to non-profit providers, who benefitted greatly from having the time and resources to understand what makes a project successful. Carl helped push the need for these trainings, and Mav Pardee – who later became the Fund director – was invaluable in educating the two of us.

  1. What are some notable child care facilities projects you were involved with? What made them a success?

Two early projects come to mind: SMILE Pre-school and N.I.C.E Daycare. In both cases, the non-profit providers acquired vacant buildings to renovate and then relocate their facilities. With N.I.C.E. Daycare, we helped convince the City of Boston to sell the property in Roxbury’s Egleston Square. Both of these projects brought energy and credibility to the Fund and allowed us to develop really great centers that addressed the needs of the families and staff.

These projects shared some common design concepts that made them high-quality early education facilities, including separate reception areas and staff rooms. They also contained appropriately sized resource rooms and bathrooms within the classrooms. All of these elements help to increase educational time and allowed the non-profit providers to best utilize their resources.

  1. How have you seen the sector evolve?

From its inception, the Fund has collaborated with other advocates for quality child care for low-income households through collective support of public policy changes and increased funding opportunities

Overall, I have seen our non-profit clients mature and grow better in-house capacity to tackle their facilities projects.

I have also watched the Fund establish a very strong reputation so that when non-profits are approaching the state, a bank, or other funders, lenders take it as a positive endorsement when they hear that the Fund is involved in the project. This credibility is in large part due to the foundations that contributed to the Fund and helped the organization establish a strong track record and reputation for providing capital needs solutions for early education and child care, particularly for low-income households. These funders include United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, the Ford Foundation, the Hyams Foundation, and the Barr Foundation. These contributions also encouraged support from other private investors.

In 2013, Massachusetts passed a bond bill for childcare through the Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund. To get this funding established in the state budget was a huge accomplishment and something that the child care community had advocated for years.

Another milestone occurred earlier this year when the Fund became a certified CDFI. This not only reinforces the organization’s reputation but also recognizes the significance of investing in child care and early education facilities. These achievements speak to the fact that resources for capital to support these facilities have come a long way since the Fund was established.

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

Back when I worked at the Fund, it was always difficult for providers to find sites to relocate their centers. Many of these providers lacked the capital to acquire property, and it was hard to absorb these acquisition costs. Therefore, it would be wonderful if there were more participation and investment from towns and cities to prioritize options for site acquisition, specifically if child care facilities could be recipients of surplus public land and buildings at a reduced price. The social payback of investing in high-quality early education and child care facilities in the community is worth whatever discount the cities or towns could offer.

I am pleased to see that the sector has continued to push for public policy changes, as it’s important to secure adequate funding for vouchers and direct subsidies to child care providers serving low-income families. It’s also important that providers have the resources to retain their staff by offering reasonable wages, which incentivizes staff to continuing investing in the children they serve.

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), with much support from House Speaker Robert DeLeo who led an Early Education and Care Business Advisory Group in 2017, issued a report that discussed stabilizing the early childhood workforce through a rate increase to providers with a goal of working toward a higher market rate over the next few years. The Advisory Group focused on a plan to strengthen the field through annual rate increases and to create professional development opportunities for teachers. The rate increases in FY18/FY19 – the largest increases in the past ten years – allowed providers to increase teacher salaries, but they are still considerably lower than the salaries of pre-school  teachers in public schools.

Earlier this year, Governor Charlie Baker signed a $41.8 billion state budget for FY 2019 that allocated $645 million for the EEC. This marked the first time in a decade that the budget has surpassed the pre-recession high point of state funding for EEC. It is promising to observe this level of commitment to the early education and care sector.

  1. Why are child care and early education worthy investments?

As a parent of two children who are now adults, I witnessed firsthand the value and power of strong early child care and education, both for intellectual and social development. I believe that these facilities are the foundation for successful adults.

  1. Anything you’d like to add?

I’ve been impressed and amazed at the growth and accomplishments of the Fund since I left. I wish them continued success.

Children’s Investment Fund Awarded $300,000 from CDFI Fund to Support High-Quality Early Education Facilities

At INSITES this week, we share the great news that Children’s Investment Fund, an affiliate of CEDAC, has received $300,000 from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund). This award will allow us to continue financing capital improvements for early education facilities and strengthening the child care sector.

Read the full press release.

 

Governor Baker’s FY18 EEOST Award Announcement

On August 15th at Crispus Attucks Children’s Center in Dorchester, Governor Baker announced $4 million in FY18 Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund awards to the following organizations, each receiving $1 million:

  • Citizens for Citizens, Inc. in Fall River, which serves 200 children and plans to make playground improvements, window replacements, and critical safety and security upgrades to an existing Head Start program in a 118 year-old building.
  • Crispus Attucks Children’s Center serves 200 children and will replace the HVAC system and make building envelope upgrades. It also plans to improve the design of its infant area and reconfigure toddler classrooms.
  • Elizabeth Stone House (ESH) in Roxbury provides an emergency shelter, transitional housing, and supportive services for both adults and children with a focus on trauma-informed care. ESH plans to construct a new 5-story multi-service building which will include 32 units of affordable housing and a licensed early childhood education (ECE) program serving 51 children.
  • Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Head Start, Inc. in Springfield will construct a new Educare model facility for 141 ECE children.

In his remarks, Governor Baker touted EEOST’s success as a true public-private partnership, thanks to the millions of dollars that are leveraged by the state grant funds as well as the strong collaboration between Children’s Investment Fund, CEDAC, non-profit ECE/OST providers across the state, and the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

“The EEOST capital improvement grants provide critical funding for non-profit early education programs to upgrade their facility spaces and provide better physical environments for the children they serve,” EEC Commissioner Tom Weber said.  “We are pleased to make these awards as this public investment in building construction and renovation of early education programs will benefit children, local communities, and the state for years to come.”

The FY19 EEOST round is now underway. Please visit the EEC Funding Opportunities page for details on how to access the application materials on COMMBUYS. Information sessions will be held on October 2nd and 4th.  The Children’s Investment Fund and CEDAC administer the EEOST Capital Fund in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.

For more information on EEOST, please contact Theresa Jordan at tjordan@childrensinvestmentfundma.org or 617-727-5944.

Pictured above: FY18 EEOST Awardees with Governor Charlie Baker, EEC Commissioner Tom Weber, State Representative Chynah Tyler, Crispus Attucks Children’s Center (CACC) Executive Director Maritza Juliao, CACC Board Chair Daniel Farley, CEDAC Executive Director Roger Herzog, and Children’s Investment Fund Director Theresa Jordan

Recovery in the Community: Housing’s Role in Mental Healthcare

The Department of Mental Health (DMH) embraces a community-based approach to treatment and recovery from mental illness, which focuses on the question of how individuals can have more active control over their lives and thrive in their respective communities. DMH’s mission assures and provides access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals of all ages; enabling them to live, work and participate in their communities.”

It is nearly impossible to discuss access to mental health services without touching on the need for housing.  For a community-based mental health system to work effectively in promoting recovery, there must be an “exit” that supports community integration, health, wellness, and access to services.  The largest barrier to this “exit” is accessing affordable housing.  Without affordable housing, clients remain in programs for longer than necessary, which in turn creates access issues at the “front door” of the mental health system.

While housing has long been a crucial component of DMH’s service delivery system, it has recently become a Department priority. In 2016, Commissioner Joan Mikula established a Housing Plan with the explicit goal to “create movement through the DMH system by securing a predictable flow of State and Federal housing resources that enable individuals to move into safe, affordable community-based-housing.”

The Housing Plan lays out a series of objectives that include the expansion of the DMH Rental Subsidy Program (DMHRSP), along with greater utilization of capital investments.  The Facilities Consolidation Fund (FCF), which is managed by CEDAC on behalf of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD),  allows DMH to obtain access to apartments exclusively set-aside for its clients (“integrated supportive housing”) in multi-family developments for 30 years.

The plan also touched on enhanced cooperation with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the re-use of C689 Special Needs Housing owned by Local Housing Authorities and used as group living residences that are no longer appropriate for the DDS clients; it includes collaborating with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and DHCD to access federal Section 811 rent subsidies tied to meeting the objectives articulated in the Olmstead Plan which seeks to move clients from institutional settings; and finally, expanding training opportunities to the field, and securing qualified outside expertise to advise the Department in its housing work.

In order to meet the goals of the Housing Plan, the Department has tapped into its extremely strong working relationships with CEDAC, as well as MassHousing, the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC), local housing authorities (LHAs), and contracted service providers.  In FY19, the DMHRSP Program expanded by $2 million, a 20 percent increase in funding that translates to about 160-170 units, bringing the overall program to over 1,500 clients, most of whom live in scattered site studios and 1-bedroom apartments.

On the capital side, the Baker-Polito Administration has made a tremendous investment in affordable housing.  In late July, Governor Baker announced awards from the 2018 Rental Housing funding competition, which will provide financing for some 1,300 affordable units, with over 200 targeted to extremely low-income residents.  FCF resources were awarded, and DMH will secure 20 units for long-term use.  FCF investments provide nearly 1,000 units of “integrated supportive housing” for DMH clients. FCF resources were reauthorized for $65 million through the passage of the $1.8 billion Housing Bond Bill, signed by Governor Baker in June. The Administration issued a five year capital budget that represents an 18% increase over prior capital plans, with an emphasis on supportive housing for disabled persons.

Through collaborative efforts on the Federal, State, and local levels, DMH has been able to drastically improve access to safe, affordable community-based housing for clients; and these relationships will be vital in order to continue to create housing opportunities for all individuals in the Commonwealth.

In the rebidding of the DMH adult services system, the following provisions describe the Department’s approach to ending and preventing homelessness, which promotes the core principles of the “Housing First” model:

  • All individuals can achieve housing stability in permanent housing that is safe and affordable.
  • Housing support services are flexible, individualized, developmentally and culturally appropriate, including those of young adults, elders, and families.
  • A Person-Centered approach that emphasizes the right to determination, dignity, and respect.
  • Recovery and stability, including improved quality of life, health, mental health, and employment, are linked to having a safe, affordable place to live, and success is measured through housing tenure.
  • “Integrated supportive housing” (e.g., scattered site units) provides opportunities for social connections and community inclusion.

None of this is possible without the strategic partnerships DMH has at all levels in order to provide the necessary housing for clients.

Specific programs include:

  • Special Needs Housing (Chapter 689/167): Administered by DCHD and designed to provide housing with specialized services for person with mental illness, cognitive impairment, or physical disabilities. The purpose of these programs is to provide onsite services so tenants can maintain a maximum level of independence.
  • Elderly Housing (In conjunction with DCHD) (chapter 667): State funding for housing specifically designated for Elder (60+) and disabled low-income
  • Metropolitan State Hospital Housing Trust Fund: Money granted to the state from the sale of the Metropolitan State Hospital, to be used for the purchase of condominiums across Metro West under agreement with CASCAP. Based on many years of successful collaboration on the FCF program, DMH selected CEDAC to manage the process of selecting the private non-profit developer, finalizing the acquisition and rehab plan, and implementing the strategy.
  • Danvers State Hospital Housing Trust Fund: A Loan fund created from sale of Danvers Hospital to be used in the communities within the DMH Northeast Area.
  • MassHousing Set-Aside (DMH/DDS): Memorandum of understanding (MOU) with MassHousing, DMH, DDS since 1978, which sets aside 3% of all affordable units for DMH/DDS clients.
  • Facilities Consolidation Fund (FCF) (DMH/DDS): State bonded-financed loan program developed in 1993 to build community-based housing for clients of DMH and DDS. FCF loans can finance up to 50% of the total development costs of each project, with payments deferred for 30 years. Land-use restrictions require that the land be used to provide community based housing for DMH/DDS clients only. Available to non-profit and for-profit developers, builds integrated units or GLE settings, must be affordable, enforced by underwriter CEDAC. HUD- Project-Based Vouchers (PBV) secured to support operating costs in most developments. Through FCF, DMH works with CEDAC to ensure that clients have access to quality affordable housing throughout the Commonwealth.
  • CHOICE – DMH: DMH owned housing, a state initiative in which specific properties were purchased specifically to provide client housing in mainstream neighborhoods. Client rent (25% of income, max $100/month) goes into a reserve fund for repairs and renovations. Program supports multi-bedroom residential buildings; DMH owned, assigns provider, tenants selected by DMH.
  • DMH Rental Subsidy Program: Subsidy program specific to DMH clients. Administered by DHCD in cooperation with DMH, LHAs administer at local level. Uses closed referral process, client rent is calculated at 30-35% of the client’s adjusted household income, depending on utility inclusion.

On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, the Housing Subcommittee of the Massachusetts State Mental Health Planning Council is hosting “Housing and People with Serious Mental Illness: Taking Actions to Implement Solutions at Scale.” The conference will highlight best practices in developing and subsidizing a housing stock that fits the needs and scale of people with mental illness statewide. Learn more here.

Happy Birthday, INSITES!

It’s hard to believe but CEDAC’s blog, INSITES, turns one year old this week.  We’ve been astounded by the positive response we’ve received from so many who are regular readers of the blog.  So thank you all for supporting us!

First, we wanted to share where the name INSITES came from.  More than a year ago, when we were in the process of developing the blog, we came across an old newsletter that CEDAC distributed in the early 1990s.  It was called INSITES, as you may have guessed.  In fact, we even borrowed the typeface from that newsletter for the blog header.  Why is this important?  Because CEDAC has worked to support the community development sector in Massachusetts for four decades, and we wanted to remind ourselves – and you – of the depth and longevity of our work.  And we think it’s still a pretty clever name!

Over the past year, the blog has allowed us to share information about our efforts in developing and preserving affordable housing, supportive housing for vulnerable populations, child care facilities, and workforce development.  As importantly, it has given us the opportunity to share stories about CEDAC staff, non-profit partners, and the families across the Commonwealth impacted by our work.  It has also given us the chance to share our history – and the history of some important community development leaders (many of whom also wear the mantle as CEDAC alumni) – and provide our vision for the future.

We’ve been so pleased by the emails and comments we’ve received since September 2017 from individuals who have read our posts and passed along ideas. As we head into year two of the INSITES blog, we will be sharing content every other week.  We have some exciting posts lined up over the next few months, but if you have ideas you want to share, please feel free to drop us a line at 617-727-5944 or tcarenbauer@cedac.org.  And stay tuned for more great insights.

Access the full INSITES archive.