Public Policy and Civic Leadership
We believe that good policy emerges from successful practice. BlueHub Capital’s work, including its efforts as Boston Community Capital (BCC), is rooted in practice—on-the-ground actions we take to respond to the evolving needs of underserved communities. We translate our practice into policy by leveraging our experience and the power of our ideas to bring about systemic change and to amplify our efforts to promote an inclusive economy.
Building healthy communities is not a solo task. BlueHub creates bridges across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. We work with civic, government, community-based, and private partners and stakeholders to create and preserve resources for neighborhood stabilization and revitalization and to advance initiatives that have the potential to transform our communities.
Our advocacy and civic leadership focus on cultivating inclusive prosperity and economic equity through socially responsible investment in community development projects in such areas as:
- Healthy Communities Read more
- Foreclosure Prevention Read more
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, particularly in low-income communities Read more
- Socially Responsible and Impact Investing Read more
- Civic Leadership Read more
As BlueHub Capital and formerly as BCC, our values and professional experience drive our contributions to the development of policies and practices for improving the lives of low-income people. For example:
- BlueHub Loan Fund contributed to a policy paper for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston aimed at accelerating investment in mixed-use and commercial projects: “Capital and Collaboration: An In-Depth Look at the Community Investment System in Massachusetts Working Cities” (September 27, 2016).
- BlueHub Loan Fund’s experience deploying federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) dollars to help build grocery stores in low-income communities prompted our participation in the Massachusetts Healthy Food Financing Working Group whose recommendations led to the establishment of the first Massachusetts Food Trust. The Trust provides financing for projects that will increase access to healthy, affordable food and encourage innovation in healthy food retailing and distribution in underserved communities.
- BlueHub Loan Fund staff are actively engaged in organizations driving local, regional and national policies and practices that promote healthy communities, including serving on a steering committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Cities Challenge, on the advisory board for Eastern Bank’s Business Equity Initiative, and through active membership in the national Charter School Lenders' Coalition (CSLC) and the national Lenders Coalition for Community Health Centers.
In 2009, BlueHub SUN launched its foreclosure prevention initiative, then called the SUN Initiative, in response to the financial crash, subprime mortgages, and collapsing real estate prices that triggered the mortgage crisis. BlueHub SUN continues to serve as a model of nonprofit, business, and government cooperation.
- Based on our experience serving low-income communities, BlueHub anticipated the crisis with a 2007 white paper "Recouping the True Costs of Foreclosure,” and with the launch of the SUN Initiative, we published and shared widely a blueprint for the program to encourage other organizations and agencies to replicate it.
- When prospective SUN borrowers faced legislative and regulatory hurdles that blocked the resale of homes to existing homeowners, SUN successfully lobbied for changes to the law in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, removing requirements that our prospective borrowers vacate their homes to save them. We continue our efforts to lower hurdles for all homeowners facing foreclosure in all the states in which we operate.
- Our advocacy continues, as illustrated by our most recent opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "The Hidden Costs of Foreclosure" (July 9, 2018); and a 2014 white paper co-authored by CEO Elyse Cherry, in Community Development Investment Review of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco: "Scaling Social Enterprises: Flexible Responses for Neighborhood Stabilization."
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Initiatives
Our policy goal today, as well as in the past as BCC, is to ensure that low-income communities and residents benefit from and participate in the adoption of new, clean, and sustainable technologies and policies. We focus on financing tools and strategies that encourage construction of high-performing buildings—ones that are less expensive to operate and maintain, healthier to live in, and located in convenient, transit-oriented sites.
- In 2015, our CEO Elyse Cherry was recognized by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for our innovative initiative to overcome barriers to solar installations and lower the cost of electricity for affordable housing developments—an initiative that has galvanized organizations in other states to start similar programs.
- BlueHub Energy, in its earlier BCC incarnation, has a long history of promoting access to solar energy for low-income households and other residents unable to install solar panels on their own roofs, a population that has been underserved by prior solar programs. Our installations have generated over 111 megawatts of solar energy, which on an annual basis is enough electricity to power about 17,000 households. In 2014, we led the effort to assure that affordable housing was included as a priority of the Massachusetts Solar Carve-Out Program. (Comments on draft regulations for Massachusetts’ Solar Carve-Out Program, (January 29, 2014).
- We are also working with Massachusetts officials to develop the state’s new solar program, Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target, (SMART). See testimony submitted on proposed SMART regulations and rules: Comments in a letter to Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson (July 11, 2017) regarding SMART solar incentive program, as well as commentaries in briefs (April 23, 2018) and reply brief (May 15, 2018).
Socially Responsible and Impact Investing
BlueHub Capital has engaged in impact investing for over 30 years. We have deployed over $2 billion in capital from institutions, government, and individuals to support projects that create opportunities in low-income communities. We are a self-sustaining nonprofit and CDFI, and we work to create an inclusive economy while also meeting the needs of investors.
CEO Elyse Cherry’s public comments and opinion pieces on impact investing include:
- Opinion piece in Financial Advisor magazine, “The Other Side of SRI” (August 27, 2018).
- Interview with NextStreet in "CDFI Leaders Thinking Ahead and Acting Now: Elyse Cherry, Boston Community Capital," (March 2018.)
- Keynote address on impact investing at the Big Path Impact Investing Summit in Boston, (December 12, 2018).
BlueHub Capital Employees’ Civic Leadership
We encourage our staff to engage with their communities both personally and professionally. Active civic engagement and leadership allow BlueHub to broaden our networks; to build bridges across disciplines, geographies, and institutions; and to cultivate relationships and knowledge as we help to build healthy communities. We encourage our staff to engage in their communities: in schools, in local government and planning, in community and civic organizations and beyond. Our staff engagement strengthens BlueHub while also strengthening our communities.