By Shelley A. Sackett
The North Shore Community Development Coalition will host an evening on June 6 to spotlight the local impact the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) is having in Salem, where the funds have created affordable housing, neighborhood development, vital community services and vibrant urban mural art.
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and its partner, FHLBank Boston, are co-sponsoring the event to show investors how they have helped revitalize the North Shore community.
“We thought a donor appreciation event would be of interest to ‘spread the news’ while showing off the wonderful work they do with a walking tour,” said Senior Executive Director of the North Shore Region Bill Weihs.
This is the first North Shore CDC partnership with United Way to help market its Community Investment Tax Credits, and Weihs thinks it’s a win-win association.
“It was tremendously attractive to the donors that I cultivate and steward throughout the North Shore, since they want their donations to remain local. In previous years, they only had Boston-based CDCs to chose from,” he said.
United Way partners with a couple of dozen CDCs throughout the eastern MA region to administer a CITC strategy as they try to sell their tax credits to individual investors.
NSCDC could do this itself, but Weihs explained many CDCS choose to go through an agency like United Way because “often they are not selling out their credits. They are looking for another way to market these excess credits.”
Like most CDCs, the North Shore CDC has a particular niche — youth homelessness and vibrant urban mural art — that Weihs called “particularly unique. I don’t know of that many CDCs that focus on youth homelessness,” he said.
NSCDC Chief Executive Officer Mickey Northcutt said the nonprofit concentrates primarily on housing development projects that will have a “triple-bottom-line impact” — they create meaningful affordable housing units; they create highly sustainable, cutting-edge energy efficient housing which serves as a model for sustainable development, and they have a transformative economic development impact on the neighborhood in which they are located.
One example of a finished project is the Congress Street Residences, an 8-building, 64-unit Salem development. NSCDC acquired the buildings in 2014 because they were “some of the most distressed assets in the city. People were living in unsafe conditions,” Northcutt said.
After a $26 million rehab, the space has turned around for tenants and neighbors and includes a sculpture garden on Dow Street and a 2,000 square foot community center, called Espacio, on Congress Street.
Another finished project is Harbor & Lafayette Homes, a 2-building 100 percent affordable Salem development project that will be completed in early 2019. Of the 27 units, 16 will be prioritized for formerly homeless young people aged 16-24.
“They will have access to many services to help them with job training, support services, etc. to help them get back on track,” said Machel Piper, NSCDC director of development.
That project will have a live-in manager and additional case management services as well as a public art installation.
Future projects which have already been designed and permitted and await funding are The Lighthouse, a 2-building 46-unit mixed-income new construction in Salem, and Harbor Village, a 30-unit mixed-use 100 percent affordable project on Main Street in downtown Gloucester. This will revitalize a long-closed, blighted commercial property and when completed, will reconnect Gloucester’s west and east ends.
“We work only in low-income neighborhoods throughout our footprint on the North Shore, choosing environmentally challenged and distressed properties that are in dire need of renovation,” said Piper. “Many times this is a property that, once renovated, has the capacity to completely revitalize an area that will, in turn, transform a neighborhood.”
Both Northcutt and Piper point to CITCs, passed by MA in 2015, as helping NSCDC tap into the fundraising world and enabling it to become a strong partner with United Way and its excellent fundraising capacity. “We both have the mission that whatever is raised locally, stays local,” said Piper.
For more information or to attend, contact Bill Weihs at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-922-3966 x2005.