The Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development (OSPCD) was created July 1, 2021 as part of the merger of the Malden Redevelopment Authority (MRA) into the City of Malden. The merger incorporated MRA staff, programs, and functions into a new City department while maintaining the MRA as a separate legal entity.
The MRA was established by state law in 1958 as a quasi-public agency. From 1958 through 1972, much of its attention was devoted to the clearance of dilapidated properties and the reconstruction of the city's residential, commercial and industrial areas under four federally funded and one state funded urban renewal programs. In the 1960s those activities overlapped with the institution of a comprehensive housing rehabilitation program that continues to operate by providing loans and grants to income-eligible homeowners to address code violations and to abate lead-based paint.
In 1974, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) was created through the Housing and Community Development Act. The program provides federal funding for cities to address the causes and consequences of poverty, principally through activities that benefit low- and moderate-income people. The MRA began administering Malden’s CDBG funds on behalf of the City from the program’s inception.
In 1990, the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program was established under the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act to provide cities with financial resources to support the development of affordable housing. To gain access to these funds, Malden joined with six other communities – Medford, Arlington, Melrose, Chelsea, Everett, and Revere – to sign a cooperative agreement establishing the North Suburban Consortium (NSC), which collectively receives and administers HOME funds for the member communities. The MRA began administering the NSC HOME program in 1991, serving as the representative member and agent of the Consortium. In 2003, the Town of Winthrop joined the NSC, bringing the Consortium to eight cities and towns.
Through the latter half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, the MRA served as Malden’s community and economic development and urban planning agency. In addition to administering the CDBG and HOME grants, the MRA oversaw development in urban renewal areas, administered Malden’s home rehabilitation and lead abatement programs, and managed a variety of public works improvement projects, including parks, public facilities, and infrastructure.
Since its inception in 1958, the MRA has had six executive directors. Deborah A. Burke, the present Executive Director, was appointed January 1, 2014. In July 2021, Ms. Burke became the inaugural Director of the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, and remains the Executive Director of the Malden Redevelopment Authority. The Director serves as a member of the City's Master Plan Steering Committee, Sign Design Review Committee, the Mayor’s Economic Development Advisory Committee, and numerous other bodies, and has also served on steering committees for major capital projects including the Advisory Committee for the Building of a New Police Station and the Internal Committee Coordinating the Redevelopment of the 200 Pleasant Street transit-oriented site.
In addition to retaining its Executive Director, the Malden Redevelopment Authority continues to be governed by a five member Board of Directors. Four members are appointed by the Mayor and one is appointed by the Governor. The Executive Director and Board enable the MRA to continue to act as a legal entity as necessary to support the City of Malden’s development needs, even as staff and programming have been incorporated into the new OSPCD.