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Three Decades of Rebirth and Renewal in Boston

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This week marks the 30th anniversary of Greater Boston LISC. Reprinted below is an excerpt from Executive Director Bob Van Meter's op-ed in the Boston Globe.

By Bob Van Meter

March 15, 2013

This week marks an important civic anniversary — the start of a movement that gave the people of Greater Boston a say in what happens in their neighborhoods, and gave many of those neighborhoods a second life.

Thirty years ago a group of local visionaries looked around and saw a Boston crumbling under the weight of urban blight — rising crime, vacant lots, abandoned houses. Corruption plagued the city programs that were supposed to come to the rescue and community groups had little voice.

Those far-sighted leaders looked outside to a newly formed national corporation based in New York whose mission was to help neighborhoods find their way out of poverty. That group with a mouthful for a name — the Local Initiative Support Corp. — agreed to set up its first local office here in Boston.

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MHP Launches New Program to Fund Energy Improvements

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There is now a new tool for affordable housing owners looking for ways to pay for energy retrofits!  The Massachusetts Housing Partnership just launched a new loan program, called the Energy Performance Improvement Program (EPIP). to help affordable housing owners make energy improvements.  The new loan program is available to owners that have first-mortgage financing from MHP. Up to $15,000 in funding per unit is available in performance-based financing to implement energy efficiency and conservation strategies that will lead to at least a 15 percent reduction in utility use.  

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Bob's Thoughts on LEED-ND & Climate Change Part I

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The Relationship between comprehensive community development, environmental sustainability and the use of LEED for Neighborhoods as a tool

In early October, Boston LISC, with additional capacity building resources from national LISC sponsored a LEED for Neighborhoods charrette in a section of the Codman Square/Four Corners neighborhood.  Codman Square/Four Corners is one of the three neighborhoods where LISC is supporting a Resilient Communities/Resilient Families comprehensive approach to community development.  The LEED charrette process was led locally by the convening agency for the Resilient Communities/Resilient Families effort, the  Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation.  It also included strong participation from one of the community partners, the Talbot Norfolk Triangle association.
 

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Bob's Thoughts on LEED ND and Climate Change Part II

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Climate Change Adaptation and Community Resilience


In 2009 I first heard Andy Mooney, then the executive director of Chicago LISC, describe a goal of the Chicago’s comprehensive community development program as building the “ resilience of neighborhoods to respond to challenges and opportunities”, whether it was the foreclosure crisis or an upsurge in crime. We adopted that language to describe Boston’s version of comprehensive community development and we believe that Resilient Communities/Resilient Families describes the goals of our work in the neighborhoods. 

 
In a separate but related vein, resilience has increasingly been discussed in relation to impact of climate change since Sandy hit the eastern seaboard two weeks ago. The general concept is that climate change means that there will be more extreme weather events. Extreme weather events are best responded to by a socially cohesive community. Steps which can increase the social cohesion of a community are therefore of value to society in responding effectively to climate change. One can also argue that steps that will mitigate climate change also require a socially cohesive community. As sociologist Robert Sampson has outlined in his recent book Great American City, the collective efficacy of neighborhoods is a real and important variable in the quality of life in those communities. It is not wholly a dependent variable of the income and education of the community’s residents. There are low income communities with more collective efficacy and those with less. A major product of LISC’s Building Sustainable Communities work should be a higher degree of collective efficacy for our communities.  
 
 

NEF and Morgan Stanley Announce $75 Million Expansion of Disaster Relief Fund to Accelerate Recovery in Communities Battered by Sandy

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Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, Morgan Stanley and National Equity Fund Inc. (NEF) have announced a $75 million expansion of their joint Rebuilding Local Economies Fund to support the development of replacement housing in communities affected by Sandy. The newly expanded fund, once fully invested, will have helped to develop 1,500 units of affordable housing and create thousands of construction and permanent jobs. 

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