Worcester’s CDC’s come under attackWritten by admin on September 17th, 2012
By Rosalie Tirella
Here’s what we read recently in the T & G, in an “expose” designed to destroy the city’s Community Development Corporations – CDCs – and all the great homes/housing they built/are building for working-class people and inner-city folks in Worcester’s older/poorer neighborhoods. The article was written to destroy all the good buildings, deeds, jobs, etc the CDCs of Worcester have built/created over the decades – in some instances, as with the Main South CDC – turning an entire neighborhood around. The CDCs were in Piedmont, Main South, Green Island long before any private developers would touch our old crappy three deckers/buildings. They were there when no one – absolutely no one! – would touch these sometimes toxic ‘hoods in the 1980s/90s…
From the T & G article: “This program [CDCs] has not been run in an effective and efficient manner and has numerous violations of program requirements,” Robert D. Shumeyko, director of HUD’s Boston office, wrote in a letter accompanying the seven-page monitoring report given to city officials in July.
“Based on non-compliance with program requirements we are directing the city to immediately discontinue the program as it is currently run and not to enter into any new … agreements with any of the neighborhood-based non profits … .”
Did T & G reporter Shaun Sutner take a tour of the homes the CDCs have built, the projects they are working on, the tracts of inner-city neighborhood land that they have turned around before writing his story? Did he go inside and tour a few units/homes? Did he visit the CDC offices to talk with the young Latino women who have jobs at the CDCs and serve their neighborhoods with pride?
Why was Sutner’s story so pathetically one-sided? Why didn’t he take just one tour of one inner city ‘hood with Main South CDC Executive Director Steve Teasdale? Why didn’t he have Teasdale show him (through old photos) what a Main South or Beacon Street ‘hood looked like before he and his organization came in to do their work and then hop in Steve’s car and ride around the neighborhood today – to see the sea change!
I don’t get it!
What about the Kilby Hammond project (run by Steve Teasdale’s Main South CDC), a decade long dream in process that has turned some of the sorriest places in Worcester into places with pretty homes and three deckers, a NEW Boys Club, a soon to be completed track for inner-city famlies to share with the Clark University community? I am in Worcester’s ‘hoods all day, delivering the papers or visiting customers or just being snoopy. What a joy it is to see those new colorful homes being built on lower Beacon Street as I make my turn onto Southbridge or Canterbury streets! The construction, the families, the bustle – the colorful homes! I want one!
The T & G has actually run articles on the Kilby Gardner urban renewal project! Positive ones! It was all made a reality by Congressman Jim McGovern, LG Tim Murray and our own city officials! Why would city officials turn around and cut the balls off an ally?
It really is a shame that City Manager Mike O’Brien and Tim MCGourthy, the Robbin to Mike O’Brien’s Batman, have bought the lines of some developers in town (a few of whom we know and with whom we have discussed urban issues) but who seem hell bent on driving a stake through the hearts of Worcester’s CDCs. Do they resent the fact that the CDCs are a SUCCESS? OR: that the CDCs do things like create beautiful spaces with state of the art green technology! Beautiful homes that are affordable for working class people and enable working class people to realize their own American dream! Homes! Real homes! Not apartments! Homes for less than $130,000.
And then there are the CDC apartments, spaces that are simply beautiful, that are not slum dwellings! Apartments whose rents will always be affordable, apartments which families can enjoy for years – creating stable lives for themselves. Their kids stay in the same schools and the adults get up ready to work. They do not have to worry about their building being flippped so their landlord can make a buck. They do not have to worry about making sky high rent payments and then having not enough money for other essentials. They do not have to go begging a landlord for stuff to get fixed and worry that if they get too vocal they will be “punished” by the all powerful landlord. There is no ass kissing involved. Tennants know the CDCs manage their apartments beautifully, that stuff gets fixed and fixed well. And that the buildings will stay affordable. Because they are owned by a non-profit corporation that MUST keep rents affordable if they are to receive government funds!
And this: What about all those great paying construction jobs the CDCs create? Main South CDC aint hiring shit kickers for 8 bucks an hour, guys that lots of contractors hire to merely exploit. CDCs are hiring skilled carpenters and contractors, people who do good work for fair wages. The CDCs pay them good wages so they, in turn, can go home with a decent pay check to pay their own mortgages or rents and other bills. And maybe have a little dough left over for a vacation with the kids, a new washer or dryer.
What is so horrible about this?
Let the City of Worcester – Mike O’Brien and Tim McGourthy – get their shit together. Let them put some controls in, let them lay off the polite Latina women who work at the CDC offices, let them say “NO, Steve Teasdale , we don’t want your expertise. You can shove it! And we don’t thank you for all the good you’ve done our poor neighborhoods … we want to hand them over to developers” …
… who at the end of the day, are in it for the bucks – not poor little kids or babies, etc.
Poor little kids and babies. That is what this really comes down to. The health of a poor neighborhood, the futures of its children. They are the ones who suffer most as their parents fall into homelessness, as their parents struggle to pay rent, so much so that they may not have the money to purchase good healthy food for their families.
As one CDC director told Sutner: “The city doesn’t build affordable housing. We build affordable housing.”
You want private developers to take over? Help determine the fate of Latinos or babies or little kids? You want the private sphere to think families before the almighty buck? And to some, it is merely a game: hustle the CDCs out and WIN! Now they have the playing field all to themselves.
What a tragedy!
This is not to say there is a developer or two out there with a tender heart. I had a landlord who liked me and let me pay $475 monthly rent for 9 of the 13 years I lived on his property. But when I began to complain to police about some nefarious activities going on with my downstairs neighbors, my rent went up and up! It was like a divorce! We still don’t acknowledge each other.
Better to tweak the CDCs and keep the nonprofits going in town. Don’t fall for bull Sutner did, when he wrote: “City officials also say they want to refocus housing efforts on renovating rundown three-deckers and other buildings and providing rental subsidies to the homeless rather than large-scale construction projects that some CDCs have concentrated on.”
Fine, City Manager MIke O’Brien, I have a very run down, empty three decker in my sights, very run down. Give me the subsidy I need to get it up and running/fixed. Don’t give it to the private developers – give the money to me (a regular working stiffette) and I’ll hire my own pals, one of whom is a contractor, and we will get started tomorrow.
We all know the city’s argument is a red herring. We all know that this is a ruse for private developers to muscle in on Worcester’s old housing stock and get TAX DOLLARS to finance their projects, be they the creation of good, fairly affordable housing for working class folks … or shit holes (who will have oversee these private developers working for their own private three decker project and their own profit/goals?!).
It will be back to where it was before the CDCs came in to save the day for Worcester’s poor, inner-city neighborhoods: homeowners/tenants won’t stand a chance.
Hey, Sutner! Call the CDCs and ask them for a tour of all their properties. You will see flowers in the concrete.