Commonwealth Magazine, a publication addressing many of the socioeconomic and political issues in the state of Massachusetts, recently published an article featuring Hilltown CDC Executive Director Dave Christopolis along with Aaron Allen and Erin Patrick of Chester and Gateway Hilltowns Executive Director Jeanne LeClair on the contemporary challenges and opportunities for rural economic development in the Hilltowns, and what we need from State Government to make it happen. Read the full article here:
The Baker-Polito Administration has announced $8 million in tax credit allocations to Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Community Service Organizations (CSOs) through the state’s Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program.
The CITC program provides eligible CDCs and CSOs with a tool to leverage support from stakeholders and local residents to increase fundraising efforts and expand organizational capacity. These organizations partner with nonprofit, public, and private entities to improve economic opportunities for low and moderate-income households and communities. Since 2015, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded more than $22 million through the CITC program, and during this time, the CITC program has generated more than $34.5 million in private investments across the Commonwealth.
“Community Development Corporations undertake important work in our communities by supporting affordable housing, community development, and critical services for residents,”said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud to work with these organizations to ensure all Massachusetts residents have access to affordable housing and safe neighborhoods.”
“The Community Investment Tax Credit Program is a unique tool to encourage private investment,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “From instituting new lead paint programming in Central Massachusetts, to bringing on a full-time community planner in Boston’s Chinatown, our CDCs have leveraged significant funding to bring impactful programming to communities across the Commonwealth.”
Lt. Governor Polito announced the awards at an event at the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield. Through the CITC program, CDCs have been able to employ more staff, reach communities more effectively, and pursue new programming to the benefit of Massachusetts communities. CDCs help families find homes, connect residents to jobs, grow small businesses, and bring communities together in rural, urban, and suburban areas.
“Hilltown CDC is grateful to host the Lieutenant Governor as she announces the state’s CITC awards to CDC’s.” Says Hilltown CDC Executive Director Dave Christopolis. “CITC has been a successful financial and community organizing tool for our rural region. Access to capital is very limited in rural communities and this is no different in the Hilltowns of Massachusetts. This is due to declining rural populations and decades long urbanization. CITC provides a vehicle for people to invest in rural communities through Hilltown CDC.” Hilltown CDC has used it’s CITC donations to expand work with local farmers and retailers, expand our senior van with a driver pool and offer marketing and organizing support to our local artists and musicians. It has provided capital to build rural senior housing and provide technical assistance to our rural town governments. “Rural communities are struggling to survive,” says Christopolis. “Twenty-first century rural communities need a vision and the capacity to carry out this vision. It requires our government and philanthropy to invest in people and to reimagine the importance of a vibrant rural economy. CITC allows this to happen.”
“It is truly exciting to see what happens when banks, hospitals and individuals work together to make their communities a better place to live,” said Joe Kriesberg, President of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations. “Today, because of their collective belief and investment in their local community development corporations, millions of Massachusetts residents, regardless of their socio-economic status in life, will see demonstrative improvements to their neighborhoods and share in the benefits of Massachusetts’ success. For those unable to participate in the CITC for this year’s tax filing, be sure to visit the MACDC website to learn about how you can get involved next year.”
The CITC program awarded the maximum $150,000 in credit allocations to the Hilltown CDC. CDCs apply for tax credits to support fundraising for the development and implementation of their community investment plan from the CITC program. Individuals, corporations, and other entities that make a qualified contribution to a CDC earn a 50 percent state tax credit. For more information on the program and how to contribute, contact Finance Director Denise LeDuc at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 413-296-4536 x114.
Hilltown Community Development is pleased to accept a consulting role to assist the Town of Holland (MA) in planning for a Senior Housing development in the town. The project will include a survey of senior citizens, market analysis, preliminary site feasibility analysis, and a cost estimate to build. Work will be ongoing from late May until December of this year. Hilltown Community Development has previously developed small scale senior housing in the towns of Westhampton and Goshen and has developed expertise that may be valuable to other communities. Building small scale developments in rural areas comes with challenges that include the need to bring infrastructure to rural sites that are not served by public utilities, compliance with wetlands regulations, adapting to site-specific topographic issues, and working with more limited funding than is available in many larger municipalities.
The study is funded as part of a regional Community Development Block Grant distributed by the Mass Dept of Community Development (DHCD) and Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) is the grant administrator.
Hilltown Community Development is pleased to announce we will send staff and board members to the 2019 Rural LISC Seminar, an annual national conference convening more than 250 rural community development experts to catalyze new opportunities in rural America. This year’s Seminar will be held in Monticello, New York June 4-7 and will provide a unique forum to learn about new rural economic development opportunities; gain valuable insight on critical issues facing rural America such as the 2020 Census; develop asset building tools and organizational development strategies; and offer a networking environment for sharing knowledge with rural development colleagues from across the country.
LISC President and CEO Maurice Jones will welcome attendees with a keynote address. Participants will engage in three days of plenary and workshop sessions organized around:
· Economic Development – exploring new ways to catalyze economic development through downtown revitalization efforts, innovative wealth and skill-building strategies, and Opportunity Zones.
· Capacity Building – discovering how to increase organizational capacity through bridging generational differences in the workplace, asset and property management, and innovative financing tools.
· Community Development – learning about the latest rural community development trends and how to best respond to them, including the opioid crisis, transportation barriers, and fighting isolation/striving for inclusion among our LGBTQ community.
“Hilltown CDC exemplifies the very best in bringing innovative programming to their community, and we are delighted that they are attending this year’s Seminar,” said Suzanne Anarde, LISC Vice President and Rural LISC Director.
About Hilltown CDC
Hilltown CDC seeks to improve the quality of life for Hilltown residents by addressing economic, housing, educational, social and community needs while preserving the rural character of the area.
Over 30 years Hilltown CDC has evolved into a multiservice organization, providing affordable housing, small business assistance, social services, planning and grant management assistance to the region. We have invested over $50 million in rural community development in the Hilltowns over the past three decades and engaged local residents in community development activities as well as local governing select boards in municipal planning and support services.
Hilltown CDC was founded in 1981 and currently serves 22 rural towns with a combined population of 32,700 people. It remains the only community development organization based in the Hilltowns, advocating for rural policy and resources at the state and federal level on behalf of the region.
About Rural LISC
Launched in 1995, Rural LISC is the rural component of the largest community development support organization in the country, called LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation). For 24 years, Rural LISC has partnered with rural communities, helping to forge innovative solutions that lead to prosperity and opportunity. Rural LISC’s investments in rural America have totaled $1.25 billion in grants, equity and low-cost loan funds. Rural LISC has leveraged this investment resulting in $3.3 billion from public and private sources, to produce 35,000 affordable homes and apartments, create 4 million square feet of commercial and community space, assist 700 businesses, create 12,000 jobs and support 20 early childhood centers. By generating resources and investing in the grassroots efforts of its 89 partner community-based organizations, Rural LISC is committed to making rural communities good places to live, work, do business and raise children. Learn more at www.lisc.org/rural.
The Hilltown CDC, in collaboration with the Office of Attorney General Maura Healey, will be holding an informational event to learn how to protect yourself, your family, and loved ones from scams, fraud, and identity theft, including:
Why to be on the “Do Not Call List”
Signs of a scam
How identity theft happens
What to do if your identity is stolen
When: June 19, 2019, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Chesterfield Community Center, 400 Main Rd, Chesterfield, Massachusetts
Who: Ann E. Lynch, Assistant Attorney General
Sponsors: Hilltown Community Development & Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
The HUD Income Limits have just been released for FY19, with a significant increase over last year’s income limits. These brackets are used to determine eligibility for several of our programs including Housing Rehab, Childcare Subsidy, and the HEN Program. If you or someone you know previously applied for one of these program and were not eligible, we encourage you to apply again! This is a great opportunity to access services that may make a significant difference in your life or the lives of your neighbors. Call us today to make an appointment! 413-296-4536
The Town of Chesterfield recently received a Community Development Block Grant on behalf of the Town of Worthington to explore the feasibility of creating a new town Senior/Community Center. In February, the Hilltown CDC collaborated to distribute a survey to all town residents about their views and visions for a new Town Senior/Community Center. We received 250 responses and many thoughtful comments expressing residents’ ideas, questions, and concerns about the project.
Now we are seeking additional input through a series of focus groups. Each focus group will go into more depth on the many considerations of this project, from site selection and funding sources to amenities and programming. We welcome your input on all aspects of this project.
All focus group sessions will take place at the Worthington Town Hall. Light refreshments will be served. Please register for one of the following focus groups using this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/focusgroupworthington
Tuesday, April 23, 6:30-8pm
Tuesday, April 30, 6:30-8pm
Tuesday, May 7, 6:30-8pm
We will cap each session at 15 participants so please register early to get your first choice. If you are not able to attend any of these sessions, we invite you to submit a letter with any additional thoughts for the project committee to review. Please email Kathy Ford, Project Manager at email@example.com or mail your letter to the Hilltown CDC, PO Box 17, Chesterfield, MA 01012.
This spring we are launching our new quarterly newsletter to share some of the many things we are working on here at the Hilltown CDC. Take a peak inside to read more about planning the new Worthington Senior/Community Center, Climate Resilience planning, the new Rural Policy Advocacy Commission, and the upcoming Hilltown Open Studio Tour!
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The Chesterfield Selectboard will hold a Public Hearing regarding the Mass. Community Development Block Grant FY18 for two Program Amendments. The hearing will take place on Tues. April 16, 2019 at 5:30 PM in the Selectboard meeting room in the Town Office Building, 422 Main Road. The building is accessible to persons with disabilities. Any persons needing special accommodations should contact Hilltown CDC (296-4536, ext. 115) at least one week prior to the meeting. All persons or organizations wishing to be heard will be afforded the opportunity.
Public comment is invited on the following meeting topics:
A Program Amendment is being requested to add a Planning Activity to support ADA activities within the town.
A Program Amendment is being requested to add a Personal Medical Device component to the HEN program.
The general public and representatives of participating towns and organizations with ideas or comments regarding these programs should attend to present their views. The Town of Chesterfield, through its Selectboard, is the recipient of funds for this program. Hilltown CDC is the grant administrator responsible for oversight and implementation. For additional information or if you cannot attend the hearing, but have comments you would like to make, write Hilltown CDC, P.O. Box 17, Chesterfield, MA 01012, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Every Thursday in April the Office of State Representative Natalie Blais will be hosting public office hours in Chesterfield at the Hilltown CDC from 1-6PM.
Rep. Blais and/or her legislative aide will be available to meet with constituents to discuss issues they may be having and/or their legislative priorities.
This location allows for confidential meetings and walk-ins are always welcome. To ensure the Representative’s attendance please email email@example.com to book an appointment.
If you would like to contact Representative Blais the district address is P.0. Box 450 Sunderland, MA 01375. You can also call her district office at 413-362-9453 to schedule a meeting or voice your opinion on legislative matters. Rep. Blais looks forward to meeting you and hearing your thoughts, questions, and opinions.
It’s here! Watch your mailbox for the 2019 edition of the Hilltown Business Directory. It’s your go-to resource for finding what you need locally, full of at-your-fingertips information on local businesses and services throughout the Hilltowns. No wi-fi necessary, and it even works in a power outage! Produced each year since 1986, the Hilltown Business Directory now covers 23 towns and is mailed to over 15,000 households each spring. It contains a comprehensive listing of everything from contractors and snow plowing, to attorneys, surveyors, doggie day-care providers and yoga classes. Please remember to tell them you found them in the Hilltown Business Directory! Working together we can support and grow our local Hilltown economy!
The Hilltown CDC has partnered with the Berkshire United Way and Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity to bring VITA Volunteer Tax Assistance Program to the Hilltowns. IRS-trained volunteers are available for day, evening, and weekend appointments in Chester, Chesterfield, and Williamsburg. If your household income is $54,000 less and does not include self-employment or rental income, call to make your appointment today: 413-296-4536 x 100. Leave a message with your contact information and your choice of location. Our VITA coordinator will return your call to confirm your appointment and provide a list of needed documents for your appointment.
Hilltown CDC has acted as the Collaborative Applicant for the Three County Continuum of Care HUD funded program for the past 6 years. This program provides regional funding across Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties to agencies who are providing services to the homeless. After six years Hilltown CDC determined this program was not aligned enough with the mission of the agency and began the process to find another agency interested in administering this important federal program. Through a public bidding process, Community Action of Pioneer Valley was selected to administer the program going forward. Hilltown CDC has begun the transfer of the program and the process should be complete by June 30, 2019. Community Action of Pioneer Valley is well suited to operate this program. They have a presence in all three counties and a number of programs and services that address poverty and it’s symptoms. The program provides close to $2 million in funds for the region and provide rental assistance and case management services to reduce homelessness.
In a statement about the transition, Hilltown CDC Director Dave Christopolis writes, “We believe that housing is a right not a privilege. We know that many of our friends in western MA struggle with homelessness and have difficulty finding affordable housing. We know wages have not kept up with costs of living and that there is a desperate need for new jobs and housing production. We know the cost of homelessness is putting a burden on the tax payer and on our social fabric. We know that homeless people are often treated like criminals. We know that this can be generational and that children who grow up in homeless shelters are at a disadvantage later in life. We know that people’s lives are robbed because they don’t have the economic opportunity to maintain stable housing where they can find work, raise a family and contribute to society. We know that the millions of homeless in the United States on any given day is a reflection of the current state of our spiritual bankruptcy.
“We support Community Action of Pioneer Valley in its willingness to administer this program regionally and ensure that these resources are preserved for our friends and neighbors who need some help.”
The Village Enterprise Center (VEC) in collaboration with the Hilltown CDC, Southern Hilltown Adult Education Center and Jacob's Ladder Business Association is offering an ongoing series of classes and workshops aimed at helping entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow their businesses in the Hilltowns!
Some of the classes being offered this spring at the VEC in Chester and the CDC in Chesterfield:
Graphic Design Fundamentals and Branding Identity: Your brand reflects what and how other people think about you, your company, your product, or your service. Learn how to make it shine!
Selling on eBay: With more than 100 million buyers, eBay is one of the world's largest online marketplaces. This class will help you start selling!
Grantwriting: Learn the basics on how to research and identify potential foundations and government funders that might be able to fund your project or program, as well as how to prepare and submit a grant to foundations.
Starting an AirBnB: Learn how to turn an extra room, apartment or cottage into additional income through short-term and vacation rentals on AirBnB.com.
Marketing Your Business: Learn the fundamentals of marketing and what it means to create a marketing plan. Leave with a basic marketing plan, as well as a few marketing pieces designed and ready to print or post!
Deadline extended until Feb 22! The Town of Worthington has received a federal grant to identify potential buildings or properties in town that could support a public facility for use by seniors and the community. The Worthington Select Board has appointed a committee to work with Hilltown CDC to conduct a study of the current real estate in town to determine the feasibility of renovating or building a new facility for this purpose. The committee has designed a town-wide survey to gather public input and is currently visiting area senior centers to get ideas for the types of facilities and amenities Worthington Seniors may enjoy. If you are a resident of Worthington (all ages) please let us know what you think about this project and share your views on the needs of the town by filling out the paper survey that was mailed to you, or by taking the online version using the link below. Please submit your responses by Feb 22st! Thank you for participating!
Hilltown CDC, on behalf of the Town of Chesterfield, invites you to a public hearing to collect your input regarding potential projects to be included in the FY2019 Community Development Block Grant application. Typical programs included are: Housing Rehabilitation, planning projects, Hilltown Elder Network, Health Outreach Program for Elders, Hilltown Food Pantry and Childcare Subsidy. If there are new programs/activities you would like to have considered, please let us know as well! Your participation and input on these programs is greatly appreciated.
The Hilltown CDC is pleased to share that MassDOT has accepted the Complete Streets Plan put together by the town of Goshen Select Board, Highway Superintendent, and the town’s Complete Streets committee, making Goshen one of the smallest communities in the state to adopt such a policy! The plan was developed in partnership with the Hilltown CDC and Healthy Hampshire, with assistance from WalkBoston, who conducted a walk audit with community stakeholders in the Spring of 2017 (pictured). The plan emphasizes safe walking, signage, streetscape design and walking trails that connect the town center to the DAR State Park and other recreational areas. With recent renovations to the Town Hall and the new senior housing development project completed in June 2018, accessibility - particularly for older adults - including crosswalks, ramps, and other amenities became a high priority for the town. Creating a sense of place that is both accessible and attractive will also encourage pedestrian activity, calm traffic and contribute to a sense of community. Now, Goshen is turning their sights to a town-center planning process funded through the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs. Congratulations Goshen!
Hilltown CDC is seeking community input regarding potential projects to be included in the FY2019 Community Development Block Grant application. Current programs funded by this grant are: Housing Rehabilitation, Hilltown Elder Network (HEN), Health Outreach Program for Elders (HOPE), Hilltown Food Pantry and Childcare Subsidy. If you have participated in, or know someone who has participated in any of these programs and would like to share support, success stories, or ways to improve the programs, please let us know by taking our survey below or sending us your comments! Or, if there are new programs/activities you would like to have considered for funding next year, we want to know. Your participation and input on these programs is greatly appreciated!
To share your comments you may also call us at 413-296-4536 x115 or email Bea by January 2, 2019
Hilltown Community Development Corporation has acted as the Collaborative Applicant for the Three County CoC serving Berkshire, Franklin and Hampshire Counties for the last 6 years. Due to a number of factors, Hilltown will discontinue its role as the CoC’s Collaborative Applicant as of June 30, 2019. This Request for Information (RFI) seeks to gather information and qualifications of any party or entity interested in taking over the role of the Three County CoC, with planning and coordination for the transition beginning in mid-January 2019. We ask for responses to the RFI to be submitted by the end of November. In addition, the CoC Annual Meeting on Dec 5th at 10am at the Hilltown CDC offices will serve as a forum for provider and community input on the transition process and all are invited.
October 16 was a special evening for Hilltown Community Development as we gathered to thank State Representative Stephen Kulik for his 25 years of service to the Hilltowns. Constituents, community leaders and former staffers took the opportunity to thank Steve and reminisce fondly of the years of leadership and hard work he has given to his district. The gathering took place at the Worthington Golf Club, and music was provided by Executive Director Dave Christopolis on Upright Bass accompanied by friends Charlie Tokarz on Saxophones and Dave Bartley on Piano. The gathering also doubled as Hilltown Community Development’s Annual Meeting with voting for Board positions. For years, the organization has held a spring Annual Meeting – yes, we had one in spring 2018 – but needed to move the Annual Meeting to fall to better align with the close of our fiscal year. By having two Annual Meetings this year, we have officially made the change and will have our next one in the fall of 2019. Finally, the evening was a first introduction to the community of our new logo and tagline, a refresh of our look and a more polished image to take us into the future.
Photos by HCDC Board Member Susan Slattery