Accelerator Fund Fuels Equitable Development in Transit-Rich Neighborhoods
|Dudley Village, developed by Dorchester
BayEconomic Development Corporation
The Hyams Foundation joined with The Boston Foundation, the Boston office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC Boston), and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to establish a $5 million “Accelerator Fund” to jump-start the development of affordable and mixed-income housing along rapid transit and light rail corridors and other transit points in Boston and throughout the state. The initiative is particularly timely in Boston, with the opening of newly-constructed MBTA stops in Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park along the Fairmount commuter rail line and improvements at the Jackson Square Orange Line station. Over the life of the Fund, it will help create at least 950 housing units at such locations, half to be affordable.
How The Accelerator Works
The Hyams Foundation and The Boston Foundation each provided a $1.5 million low-interest loan to the pooled fund, which is managed by Boston LISC, for use as early-stage financing to spur the development of affordable and mixed-income housing at these key locations. Established? in December 2014, the Fund provides loans to help finance the acquisition and pre-development costs for rehabilitated or new housing, which can include the purchase of land, architectural planning, and environmental impact studies. It can be used by community development corporations and other developers meeting the Fund’s requirements and will leverage another $30 million of additional early-stage financing.
Accelerator Results to Date
As of July 2016, the Fund had issued over $2.8 million in loan commitments to nine projects that when completed will provide a create or rehabilitate nearly 400 housing units, 75 percent of which will be affordable to low- to moderate-income families and individuals. The model received recognition from RailVolution when Hyams Foundation staff presented on it at the 2015 Conference of Minority Transportation Officials.
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|MassVOTE members hold a voter registration drive (March 2016)
The Civic Engagement Initiative has increased voter engagement in low-income communities of color.
Empowering Communities Through Voting
Over the past 12 years, a collaborative funding initiative has contributed to dramatic increases in voter participation among people of color, often by double digits, giving greater voice and political power to some of the state’s most disadvantaged communities.
The Civic Engagement Initiative
The Civic Engagement Initiative (CEI) was formed in 2002 as a collaboration of local foundations, including the Access Strategies Fund, the Boston Foundation, Herman and Frieda L. Miller Foundation, New Community Fund and Hyams, seeking to partner with grassroots groups in a non-partisan effort to increase the percentage and number of voters in low-income communities of color in Boston and Chelsea.
Working through an intermediary support organization, the Massachusetts Voters Education Network (MassVOTE), CEI provides selected grassroots groups with grants, technical assistance and access to the Voter Access Network (VAN) database to increase voter education, registration and turnout in targeted precincts comprised mostly of low-income, minority constituents. In 2012, CEI became part of a new and larger statewide effort – the MA Voter Table – which has helped expand targeted, non-partisan voter engagement work to low-income communities of color across the Commonwealth.
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The Home Funders Collaborative is a $22 million initiative to address family homelessness.
The Family Homelessness Crisis
Every year, an estimated 10,000 children and their families in Massachusetts will lack a permanent home. Home Funders was created in 2003 by private philanthropy to draw attention to this crisis and to show that there was both the desire and the will to create permanent housing for these and other extremely low-income (ELI) families.
Home Funders’ Results to Date
Home Funders has pooled over $22 million in Program Related Investments (PRIs) and grant funding to help finance 1,197 units of ELI housing as a part of developing over 4,147 new affordable homes in 89 different developments. This housing is located in 35 communities throughout the Commonwealth, providing a range of housing options for families. Two separate evaluations of Home Funders have shown the valuable role it has played as an incentive for creating more ELI housing, even within very expensive housing markets and during very difficult economic times.
How Home Funders Works
|The Home Funders 2016 Forum featured author Matthew Desmond, who discussed the housing crisis in America (June 13, 2016)
Home Funders’ loan resources are administered by two experienced housing finance intermediaries, the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC) and the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP). Home Funders also has been active in supporting public funding and policy change that supports the creation of more housing for particularly vulnerable families and has developed strong working relationships with its public sector partners.
Given the initiative’s success to date, and the ongoing challenges of family homelessness in Massachusetts, Home Funders funders are renewing their commitment to the initiative by extending their PRIs and committing to raise new investments. To understand Home Funders’ impact on families’ lives, please view its eight-minute video.
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The Communities for Just Schools Fund works to eliminate harsh school discipline practices.
Addressing Inequities in School Discipline
The Communities for Just Schools Fund (CJSF) is a collaborative funding project that supports constituency-led organizing efforts to create positive and supportive school climates, which affirm and foster the success of all students. Originally launched in 2010 as the Just and Fair Schools Fund, CJSF provides grants, technical assistance, and capacity building to groups that organize young people, parents and caregivers, educators, and community members to advocate on behalf of students, particularly students of color, who are disproportionately impacted by the over-use of exclusionary school discipline practices, including suspensions, expulsions, and arrests in schools.
The non-profit organizations supported by CJSF work to eliminate harsh school discipline policies and practices that negatively affect young people every day. Through local, state, and national campaigns, they organize communities to advocate for positive and supportive school climates by educating students, parents and caregivers, educators, and community leaders on alternatives to exclusionary school discipline methods and criminalization of young people. Such alternatives include investing in more counselors and social workers in schools, reducing the number of police in schools, increasing the recruitment and retention of teachers of color, implementing culturally relevant pedagogical curricula and practices, and utilizing restorative justice circles.
Joining a National Funders Initiative
CJSF is housed at the New Venture Fund. In addition to the Hyams Foundation, it currently includes support and participation from: Arcus Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Cricket Island Foundation, Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Public Welfare Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Skillman Foundation, Walter S. Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and anonymous donors. The Hyams’ participation in this funder collaborative complements its local investments in strategies to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, leverages national funding, and provides a platform for grantees to connect to the national movement and organizing landscape.
In Boston, resources are being used to support two youth organizing nonprofits working to monitor and support the Boston Public Schools’ implementation of legislation that requires public schools to minimize the use of out-of-school suspension and offer positive alternatives. Support through CJSF will also help position local grantees to inform state implementation of the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act, as it relates to school climate and accountability measures.
Pooling Funds to Address the Foreclosure Crisis
Public and private funders created the Neighborhood Stabilization Loan Fund (NSLF) in 2008 to acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed properties in areas with high concentrations of foreclosures that were jeopardizing the stability of these urban communities.
|Foreclosed property before renovation
||Foreclosed property after renovation
How the NSLF Worked
The NSLF was a $22 million public/private initiative to speed the acquisition and rehabilitation of foreclosed properties. In addition to the Hyams Foundation’s $1 million Program Related Investment (PRI), NSLF was financed with PRIs from The Boston Foundation and national Living Cities as well as resources from the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Massachusetts Housing Partnership and the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC), which managed the Fund.
The NSLF engaged municipal partners in streamlining funding, permitting and approval processes. City, state and federal governments also coordinated efforts to adjust policies to streamline the Fund’s disbursements. Grant funding from Living Cities provided important support to build local government, community and developer capacity to do the work.
Between 2009 and 2014, when its lending activities ended, NSLF had supported the acquisition of 866 foreclosed housing units in 325 buildings. It had its greatest impact stabilizing specific targeted areas in Boston, Worcester and Springfield. The NSLF showed that different sectors working together can deliver results, even in the most difficult of times. This was recognized nationally in 2012 when the Boston Foundation received a special award from the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Council on Foundations for its leadership role as a community foundation in helping to create the NSLF. For the Hyams Foundation, the NSLF also provided critical resources to neighborhoods of color in Chelsea and Boston, particularly hard hit by the mortgage foreclosure crisis, providing another way for the Foundation to fulfill its commitment to racial equity.
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