The Voice of the Community | Donuts With Delegates

The Voice of the Community | Donuts With Delegates

2020 is one of the busiest political years that we can recently remember. There are a number of pending housing and community development priorities in the legislature and we only have seven months before the end of the session.

For those reasons, we have called our State Representative, Jon Santiago, and Eduardo Moreno Méndez, a representative from the office of the State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, to discuss important local issues related to our community and daily life as well as important political matters that are actually being considered in the State House.

During the event, we presented for the consideration of Representative Jon Santiago and Mr. Moreno three talking points that we would like them to address at the state level. Here are the most urgent requests and initiatives:

  1. Major new revenue for housing and climate investments – IBA wants to support the effort of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC), who is a founding member of the Housing and Environmental Revenue Opportunities Coalition (HERO Coalition), which is composed of housing, climate, faith-based, labor, and social justice groups working together to secure a major new revenue stream to support investments in affordable housing, and climate resiliency and mitigation. The MACDC’s proposal is to double the deeds excise tax and dedicate 50 percent (approx. $150 million a year) to housing and 50 percent to climate resiliency. This could be the new investment in housing in decades and lay the foundation for more collaboration among housing, climate, and social justice advocates.
  2. Home Rule Petition on Linkage and Inclusionary Development from the City of Boston. On September 12, 2019, Mayor Marty Walsh signed Bill H.4115, An Act authorizing the City of Boston to limit buildings according to their use or construction to specified districts. This bill was later submitted by Representative Kevin Honan at the Massachusetts State House. As Boston becomes increasingly expensive and development in the city rises, not all individuals are benefiting equally from that success. Access to affordable housing and job training help ensure that all Boston residents are able to continue to work and live in the city. Bill H.4115 gives Boston an increased ability to address these issues at a local level. MACDC is working closely with Mayor Marty Walsh to secure legislative enactment of the City’s home-rule petition that would allow it to make modifications to these two successful programs, without seeking prior approval from the state legislature.
  3. Governor Charlie Baker and his released state budget. Governor Baker is recommending a cut to nearly 10% of the Commonwealth’s investment in the arts and cultural community. The proposal cuts the Mass Cultural Council (MCC) budget to $16.3 million. MCC has been a strong partner of IBA throughout the years from supporting our youth arts programs, and Festival Betances to helping with capital improvements of our arts center and giving visibility to our cultural work. They are there every step of the way. Promoting Latino arts, building community through the arts and increasing access to it, is what we do, and we couldn’t do it without MCC’s support and partnership. We want and claim that MCC funding please be restored.

In addition to these topics, we asked the representatives to address the need of sidewalk repairs and to tackle more decisively the establishment of groups with suspicious behavior in some areas of our community.

We sincerely thank Representative Santiago and Mr. Moreno for their presence in a so very important event for our community. We trust that our concerns will be addressed and will provide periodic updates on these issues.