By Jeffrey Li
This past summer, Steve Teasdale, executive director of the Main South CDC, received a very prestigious award: the “Excellence in Community Development Award,” from the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC). MHIC presented the Main South CDC with this award for its vision that the Main South community could again become an attractive, healthy and desirable place to live, its commitment over 25 years to assembling the people, the institutions and the resources necessary to realize this vision, and its impact in creating an inclusive, revitalized community, with attractive homes, safer streets and engaged citizens. The award is also for J. Stephen Teasdale’s extraordinary leadership of Main South CDC since 1988.
The Main South CDC is a non-profit organization that was born in 1986 to address the Main South neighborhood residents’ concerns about the evident decline in the neighborhood and the increasing shortage of affordable housing. Main South is a diverse neighborhood in the Main Street area, the heart of Worcester, which has struggled for many years to regain its footing after a precipitous post-industrial decline and major demographic changes.
With the help of state and federal funding and private equity and the cooperation of Worcester government, Clark University and other local communities, the Main South CDC has acquired, rehabilitated or constructed more than 300 units of housing in the neighborhood over the last 27 years.
Their housing development programs have not only physically transferred sections of Main South but also provided much needed safe, well managed affordable housing for the neighborhood residents.
Proud of what they have achieved, Stephen Teasdale and his team are determined to do more for the neighborhood, even though they have already initialized many programs to help the local society beyond housing, such as computer classes, resume assistance, VITA program for tax returns, and summer youth employment programs, just to name a few. Learned from their decades of housing developing experience, they have realized that rebuilding the physical environment itself is not enough for community revitalization and they need to get more involved in helping the neighborhood residents than just the housing.
“The mission of the Main South CDC is the revitalization of the Main South neighborhood and to create economic opportunity for its low-to-moderate income residents,” said Stephen Teasdale. “The Main South CDC is much more than just a housing development agency. As a non-profit group, we have developed quite a lot of housing but the idea was to discuss the sort of broader role of the Main South CDC has in Main South community with a particular focus on the sort of efforts to create collaborative partnerships these days, particularly look into the importance of providing educational opportunity for the youth of this neighborhood that has struggled in the past to achieve the academic standards.”
To learn more about the Main South CDC, please visit their website: http://www.mainsouthcdc.org/