2023 Community Advocacy Awards
Each year our Community Advocacy Awards celebrate passionate nonprofit leaders and organizations focusing on the most critical needs in the communities Eastern serves.
In alignment with the Foundation’s commitment to advancing economic inclusion, mobility and social justice, this year’s honorees are doing inspiring work to combat our region’s well-known affordable housing crisis by driving more inventory, disrupting barriers to access and preventing homelessness for individuals and families, domestic abuse survivors, LGBTQ+ youth, veterans and more.
2023 Community Advocacy Awards: Securing Safe and Affordable Housing
Jessica Andors, Executive Director
Lawrence Community Works
“We have a hard-working community of immigrant families and some are paying more than 70% of their income for rent.”
Lawrence Community Works (LCW) helps design, develop and steward affordable housing units but is primarily focused on taking a holistic and transformative approach to complete neighborhood development. They are now embarking on the last phases of their flagship equity-driven development project in the East Island/North Canal Mill District. This includes 80 units of green, highly affordable new housing, a new home for the SquashBusters and LCW’s Movement City youth programs, a full service Latinx grocery store, and a new outpost for the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center. This project builds on the already 133 affordable apartments and 45,000 square feet of commercial space for businesses, nonprofits and artists that LCW has already created.
Will Arvelo, Executive Director
Cross Roads House
“Homelessness can happen to most of us under the right circumstances and that does not take much.”
Cross Roads House is the second largest homeless shelter in New Hampshire and also serves South York County in Maine. Providing strong case management and wrap around services and recruiting and retaining landlords willing to rent safe and deeply affordable units, they help people move with dignity and purpose to permanent housing. Working across government, developer, faith, media and other nonprofit community members, they also serve as advocates and educators on the issues of homelessness and affordable housing. 98% of individual and family residents staying more than 90 days at Cross Roads go on to permanent housing.
Yun-Ju Choi, Executive Director
Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA)
“45% of the population of Lowell is housing burdened yet push back for affordable housing remains.”
CBA is a membership-based community development corporation dedicated to resident empowerment and sustainable community revitalization for current and future residents of Lowell, Dracut and Haverhill. They house 1,600 people in 529 affordable rental units, provide foreclosure, financial and workforce development counseling and training, keep a strong eye to veteran housing, and work successfully with supportive housing service providers. In summer 2023, they will cut the ribbon on 27 units of affordable housing for individuals in recovery from substance abuse disorder, in partnership with Lowell House Inc. This development will also be the first Passive House certified building in the City of Lowell and in CBAs portfolio.
Lyndia Downie, President & Executive Director
Pine Street Inn
“With a 96% retention rate in our permanent supportive housing, we know firsthand placing people in a stable, safe home with staff assistance works.”
A Boston institution, the Pine Street Inn offers a “holistic” spectrum of services to 2,000 people daily, helping them anywhere in their homelessness journey from street outreach and emergency shelter to permanent housing and workforce training. As part of their core goal to assist people in moving towards a lasting home, they will reach a property management milestone of 1,000+ apartments later this year with projects in development in Back Bay and Jamaica Plain. They also help first-time shelter guests find alternatives to homelessness by connecting them with family and friends.
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island
Aaron Gornstein, President & CEO
Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH)
“In 2021 the median renter household making less than $30K a year had $380 left over after paying rent – that’s the lowest amount in over 20 years.”
POAH acquires and rescues at-risk affordable housing so it can remain attainable and provide healthy homes that support economic security, racial equity, and access to opportunity in perpetuity. Neighborhood redevelopments such as the Whittier Street public housing in Boston and Clarendon Hill Apartments in Somerville are also in its wheelhouse to revitalize distressed affordable housing areas. With over 4,800 units across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, they run one of the country’s largest Family Self-Sufficiency Programs to help their residents build income and assets. They are also expanding technology access with high-speed low-cost internet access and providing environmentally friendly unit design and operation.
Chrystal Kornegay, Executive Director
“The level of rent burden that people are carrying is beyond troubling. It has resulted from a lack of housing supply available to serve people at all income levels and to help create healthy, livable, diverse communities.”
MassHousing is a mission-driven agency that confronts the State’s housing challenges, to improve the lives of its people. By helping families achieve homeownership and partnering with mission-oriented developers to create and preserve high-quality affordable rental housing, MassHousing is stabilizing families, addressing the racial homeownership gap, and supporting the growth of the state’s economy. Most recently they closed on $12.4 million in financing for the refinancing, renovation, and preservation of the 99-unit St. Mary's Plaza community in Lynn which comes with affordability protections for senior citizens and residents with disabilities for at least 25 years.
Rita Lara, Executive Director
Maverick Landing Community Services (MLCS)
“Having food, a home and a living wage is essential for community health and family wellness.”
MLCS works at the heart of the Maverick Landing housing development in East Boston as a key organizer and service provider helping long-time residents avoid displacement from their neighborhoods due to gentrification. Their innovative co-creation and management of the Housing Support Station of East Boston during COVID-19 helped over 300 families access more than $1 million in rental aid assistance. While advocating and providing services that underpin the irrefutable connection between housing and health, they also deliver education and training on workforce development, finance, digital access and literacy and ESOL, as well as youth development support to help people not just survive but thrive.
Cape Cod & Islands
Alisa Magnotta, CEO
Housing Assistance Corporation
“A family needs to make $210,000 annually to afford a home on the Cape, but the average homeowner makes $82,000. This is resulting in the loss of 1,000 households every year.”
Housing Assistance Corporation is the leading Cape & Islands agency addressing the area’s protracted and escalating housing crisis. Steep home prices, scarce rentals and high second-home demand require innovative solutions to narrow the affordability gap for low- and moderate-income residents, increase inventory, and engage residents to speak up for housing. Some examples include financial stability building programs for childcare and disability care workers, and a mapping tool developed with local environmental leaders pinpointing areas that can support both natural habitats and multi-family housing. Serving 6,200 clients last year, they also have 200+ new housing units in the pipeline and are initiating their first-ever endowment to ensure operation in perpetuity.
Josephine McNeil, Founder & Executive Director
“It’s not enough to house people on the brink. Helping stabilize their lives with hands-on services so they can successfully access available housing, economic and social resources is critical.”
CAN-DO has been focused for over two decades on serving as a housing creator and supportive service provider and connector for very low and extremely low-income individuals and families in the city of Newton. Partnering with local human service organizations and citizen groups, they reach out to those at the most risk and work with them 1x1. Most recently this meant mobilizing a team of volunteers to help residents work around tax filing and deadline catch-22’s of the COVID-19 American Rescue Plan Child Tax Credit program.
Connor Schoen, Co-Founder & Executive Director
“Every day that a young adult experiences housing insecurity their chance of becoming chronically homeless increases by 2%.”
Breaktime serves people aged 18-25 who are at a high risk of homelessness, currently experiencing homelessness, or transitioning out of temporary housing -- including those from our LGBTQ communities. Working in compliment to housing providers and agencies, and acting as an advocate to raise awareness and action to break apart unjust stigmas, their mission is to disrupt the cycle of homelessness by empowering young people with the job experience and financial education and support needed to achieve housing security. They are currently working to expand their geographic footprint and to bring their successful service model North and West of Boston.
Sara Stanley, Executive Director
“80% of homeless mothers have experienced gender-based violence.”
With a 45-year history, HAWC (Healing Abuse Working for Change) helps individuals experiencing domestic violence live free from violence and fear -- including women, children, men, nonbinary, LGBTQ, undocumented individuals and people with disabilities. They provide a 24/7 hotline, emergency shelter, legal and children's services, and support groups for more than 2,000 families across 23 cities and towns annually and advocate for social and cultural change by raising awareness and bolstering prevention through public education, volunteer opportunities, community events and timely communications around related news and legislation.
John Yazwinski, President & CEO
Father Bill’s & MainSpring
“Reducing Homelessness with Innovative Approaches.”
Father Bill’s & Mainspring (FBMS) works to develop housing for individuals and families with the lowest incomes in our community, serving 41 cities and towns south of Boston. In addition to providing nightly shelter and wrap-around services, it is pioneering hotel-to-housing conversions and a new and nationally recognized model for reducing homelessness with the Yawkey Housing Resource Center in Quincy opening this summer. This campus-like complex will feature an on-site licensed health clinic, housing supports, workforce skill training, access to partner resources, behavioral health support, respite beds and 30 new permanent supportive housing units. Another FBMS Housing Resource Center is slated to begin construction in 2023 in Brockton, MA.