The Malden Redevelopment Authority (MRA), on behalf of the City of Malden, received the prestigious 2016 Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award in recognition of its creative use of federal HOME and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars to leverage private investment in projects that have helped transform neighborhoods.
The award was presented to the MRA January 22 by the National Community Development Association (NCDA), a non-partisan national nonprofit membership organization that represents local governments which administer federally supported community, economic development and affordable housing programs, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), CDBG and HOME programs. The MRA is a longstanding member of the organization and is one of 16 entities selected from a competitive field across the country to receive the Audrey Nelson Award.
Malden was recognized for the transformation of a former rooming house in the West End section of the City into a residence for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who live independently with on-site support as well as the major renovation of South Broadway Park recently renamed Richard C. Howard Park in honor of Malden’s former longtime Mayor. Today this eight-acre park is considered a recreational showpiece with its synthetic turf, walkways and field lighting, four tennis courts and a tot lot. The project also included significant drainage improvements and traffic calming measures in the abutting neighborhood.
The Audrey Nelson Award, granted on an annual basis, is named for the first Deputy Executive Secretary of NCDA, who died from cancer at the age of 29. She grew up in an inner city Chicago neighborhood which was a target area for the local Model Cities Program. According to the NCDA, she had an intense commitment to her neighborhood and a drive to serve low income people. NCDA is committed to making communities better places to live and work, particularly for low and moderate income people in Audrey’s honor.
“These two projects have had a great impact on our City. Using HOME and CDBG funds, we have been able to leverage investment in our neighborhoods that have made a big difference for our residents,” said Mayor Gary Christenson. “I thank the members of our federal legislative delegation who have lobbied tirelessly for these much-needed federal dollars on which our community greatly depends to make these types of projects happen.”
U.S. Senator Edward Markey said: “The CDBG and HOME programs have made such a difference in the lives of many by providing decent and affordable housing, public facilities and services and economic opportunity. I commend Mayor Gary Christenson, the Malden Redevelopment Authority, and the City of Malden for their innovative use of federal funds.”
Congresswoman Katherine Clark said: “The CDBG and HOME programs provide our communities with the resources to address a wide range of unique local development needs. I applaud the City of Malden for utilizing these critical federal programs to transform its neighborhoods and to enhance the quality of life for its residents.”
Federal CDBG dollars covered 10 percent of the total project cost for multi-year renovation of Richard C. Howard Park. The remaining funds came from a $6 million City of Malden bond approved by the Malden City Council, $1 million private investments from both Malden Catholic High School and Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, state funds provided through the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities Program and Gateway Community Program administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and land donations by the owners of the abutting South Broadway Shopping Plaza.
Ward Six Malden City Councillor Neil Kinnon, whose district includes the newly-refurbished park, credited former Mayor Howard, for whom the park is named, and the Malden Redevelopment Authority with developing a “creative financial approach that brought together public and private partners to achieve this major renovation effort.” “This is a premier park that will serve generations for years to come,” he said.
Cedar House, with its onsite support staff, provides 12 adults with a safe and affordable place to live. HOME funds covered 19 percent of the total $2.135 million development cost. Partners in the project included New England Communities Inc., a development and consulting firm dedicated to the creation and preservation of affordable housing for the elderly, families and persons with disabilities; Jewish Family and Children’s Services, which provides on-site supportive services, the Malden Housing Authority which provided 12 Project Based Section 8 vouchers; East Cambridge Savings Bank which provided permanent financing, and Beth Israel Senior Citizens Housing, a non-profit investor.
Ward Three Malden City Councillor John Matheson, whose district includes Cedar House, said: “This new use of a former rooming house serves a part of our population that truly benefits from our investment. This is government at its best and I was proud to sponsor it. This newly transformed 19th Century Philadelphia style home meets a unique community need and it is truly a neighborhood asset.”
The MRA administers the HOME and CDBG programs on behalf of the City of Malden. Deborah Burke, MRA Executive Director, noted: “This is a great honor for the MRA which has been a longtime champion of bringing improvements to the neighborhoods across the City.”