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Special Initiatives

In addition to ongoing technical assistance at the community level, the Community Assistance Team also engages in specialized initiatives to further community and state policy needs.

Many of these initiatives have involved working with a variety of partner agencies. We’ve collaborated with the Attorney General’s Office, the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), other quasi-government offices, nonprofits and regional planning agencies.

Emergency Rental Assistance

MHP's efforts to help communities use local funds for rental assistance began shortly after the Baker-Polito Administration declared a COVID-19 state of emergency on March 13, 2020. As the shutdown began, over 30 communities contacted MHP about how to use local funds for rental assistance. By April, MHP had created guidelines for using CPA funds for ERA, organized a webinar and helped create a comprehensive Q&A on how to use local funds for rental assistance. Since then, MHP has been working with the state and the Citizens' Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) to do further training and tracking of ERA programs and best practices. As of August, over 80 communities had pledged more than $30 million in local funds for housing assistance. All materials are available on MHP's Housing Toolbox website.

Municipal Affordable Housing Trusts

In 2016, MHP received a three-year grant from the Kuehn Charitable Foundation to help communities create and run effective Municipal Affordable Housing Trusts. To lead this effort, MHP hired Shelly Goehring, who had previously worked at the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance as a program manager. At MAHA, Goehring supported over 60 communities in their efforts to create more affordable housing, much of it through better understanding of trusts and Community Preservation Act funds, which are often a key source of revenues for trusts. To learn more about this initiative email sgoehring@mhp.net. MHP's increased emphasis on CPA and trust education builds upon years of work, which includes three guidebooks that have been updated in recent years:

· Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Guidebook

· Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Operations Manual

· Create, Preserve Support: Using CPA for housing

Rural Housing

MHP regularly brings together municipal, non-profit and state partners to address issues and challenges observed in rural communities, especially related to housing opportunities. MHP conducted a listening tour across the state in rural regions, organized leaders in rural areas, reviewed existing literature and data, and researched best practices and policies from other states to come up with six recommendations.

Receivership/Distressed Properties

These publications explain how communities can use receivership and other resources to develop a step-by-step strategy to assess the health of their neighborhoods, define and quantify particular problems, and develop and implement specific strategies to combat disinvestment to stabilize properties and neighborhoods.

Housing authorities & HILAPP

Administered by MHP, the High Leverage Asset Preservation Program (HILAPP) provides grants to local housing authorities (LHAs) that are able to secure matching funds from local and/or other non-state sources to support the modernization and redevelopment of state-aided public housing. Goals of the program are to preserve as many units as possible, prioritize development with significant capital needs that cannot be addressed with regular funding, prioritize developments in communities with the highest need for extremely low income housing, and to leverage as much capital as possible from sources besides the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

For more information, contact Program Manager Emma McGurren at 857-317-8517 or emcgurren@mhp.net.

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