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Valley CDC hosts block party in downtown Northampton

  • Azucena Leiva, of Northampton, helps her son, Anthony Benvenutti, 2, eat some beans and rice from La Veracruzana during a block party celebrating Valley CDC's 30th anniversary, Sunday on the Hampshire County Courthouse lawn. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Joanne Campbell, center, who is the executive director of Valley CDC, sells raffle tickets during a block party celebrating Valley CDC's 30th anniversary, Sunday on the Hampshire County Courthouse lawn. One raffle was for a $100 gift certificate at Stop and Shop; another was for up to $500 off July rent at a Valley CDC property. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jaya Crowley, 6, and Mira Crowley, 2, of Florence, play with a hula hoop during a block party celebrating Valley CDC's 30th anniversary, Sunday on the Hampshire County Courthouse lawn. They were with their father, John Crowley, who said, "I like supporting Valley CDC, their mission and their projects. Economic diversity is an important part of the city." —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • John Crowley, of Florence, holds a hula hoop as his daughter, Mira, 2, steps through it during a block party celebrating Valley CDC's 30th anniversary, Sunday on the Hampshire County Courthouse lawn. Another daughter, Jaya, 6, watches. He said, "I like supporting Valley CDC, their mission and their projects. Economic diversity is an important part of the city." —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



@JackSuntrup
Sunday, June 18, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — Kids danced in the Old Courthouse water fountain, hula-hooped and blew bubbles. Adults sat back and listened to a live band groove.

The dozens of people who showed came down to the Old Courthouse lawn Sunday afternoon to celebrate the Valley Community Development Corp., which provides affordable housing and advice to businesses and prospective homebuyers.

Joanne Campbell, Valley CDC’s executive director, said the group is making an effort to engage with the community at large and “engage more with our residential tenants.”

As evidence, one of the raffle prizes was a free month’s rent, up to $500, for a lucky tenant. There was also a raffle that anyone could enter for a $100 Stop & Shop giftcard.

“We thought of ways to encourage people to come,” she said. “We just want people to come out, meet each other.”

(Not to mention the free food, music and drink.)

Valley CDC has big plans. In January, the group landed $5 million in state and federal money and tax credits for a 55-unit affordable housing complex on Pleasant Street. The Pleasant Street project, and another on Bridge Street, are just two projects the CDC is undertaking.

“We’ve got about 209 units in the pipeline,” Campbell said.

Besides providing affordable housing — 224 units to date — the CDC also offers home ownership resources and resources for entrepreneurs. According to its website, the CDC has helped 1,500 entrepreneurs and 8,000 homebuyers and owners since 1988.

For Jonathon Podolsky, 44, of Northampton, he received business advice from the CDC when he was operating the Last Minute Gallery downtown in the mid-2000s. 

“I found them to be very helpful,” said Podolsky, who is still on the group’s email list and went to the event Sunday.

The CDC is coming up on its 30th anniversary. To celebrate, the CDC is hosting a gala on April 12, 2018, in which New York Times columnist Charles Blow is scheduled to attend.

Jack Suntrup can be reached at jsuntrup@gazettenet.com.