Franklin Native Maddox Honored for Helping 50,000 Families Avoid Eviction Small Business Coalition Members Recognized
Jennifer Maddox, Undersecretary of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), received the 2021 LISC Community Impact Award in recognition of her leadership of the statewide Eviction Diversion Initiative. The award was presented by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Boston. Maddox, a graduate of Franklin High School and LaSalle University, who assumed leadership of DHCD in February 2020 just weeks before the pandemic onset, was honored for her effective housing leadership through the crisis, and specifically for preventing widespread evictions after expiration of the legislative moratorium ended in October of 2020. The Eviction Diversion Initiative led by Maddox and her team provides deep assistance to tenants and landlords, including funding for rent and overdue utilities with state and federal funding, as well as free and low-cost legal aid and professional mediation services to help households avoid evictions. Through October of this year, more than 50,000 unique households had received $360 million to avoid eviction, and eviction filings and executions continue to remain below pre-pandemic levels. Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy credits Maddox for these outcomes, “You don’t get these kinds of results without a leader with incredible vision, compassion, commitment, and desire to improve the lives of others, with a tenacity – a quiet tenacity in Jennifer’s case – to get things done and make things better.”
The award was presented to Maddox by Rachel Heller, Chief Executive Officer of Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), who called Maddox the epitome of grace under fire, stating that, “Because of her leadership, Massachusetts is a leader in the nation, helping people to avoid evictions and ensuring that rent is paid so that people stay stable in their homes, and landlords and neighborhoods also remain stable.”
Accepting the award, Maddox said, “I have an incredible team backing me up at DHCD -dedicated public servants who have solved problems that were considered impossible before Covid-19. We’ve worked with regional agencies, legal aid organizations and community mediation partners, and brought on expert assistance, to fundamentally transform how we deliver housing assistance and keep people in their homes.”
The Eviction Diversion Initiative team includes hundreds of support staff at DHCD, regional housing agencies, legal aid organizations, and community mediation organizations. Maddox has
steered DHCD through the process of administering emergency assistance; providing hundreds of millions of emergency support to shelters, public housing, municipalities, and community foundations; and scaling rental and mortgage assistance to families from $20 million per year to more than $40 million a month.
SMALL BUSINESS COALITION MEMBERS RECOGNIZED
The statewide Massachusetts Equitable PPP Access Initiative was also honored by LISC for its dedicated and coordinated assistance to businesses owned by people of color in the wake of the pandemic. The coalition of community development financial institutions, banks, business support organizations, foundations, and other supporting partners formed to provide timely and equitable access to forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for underbanked businesses and historically disadvantaged and underserved demographic groups, including businesses owned by women and people of color.
The announcements were made at the 2021 LISC Story Slam, which took place Wednesday, November 10, 2021–virtually and at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter in South Boston.