Community Development Field

Shelterforce considers “community development” to be an extremely broad term. But there are still many conversations about the ways in which that broad work happens. Comprehensively or in coalitions of specialized organizations? Locally or regionally? Place or people? While the answers to all of these are usually “both,” there are many conversations to be had about “how.”

Voices From the Field: Mixed Income

Do we need more mixed-income housing? Why or why not? The following data and observations were collected via a survey we conducted from late January through mid-February, distributed via Shelterforce Weekly and social media.

“Money Must Serve, Not Rule!”

In November 2013, Morgan Stanley launched its Institute for Sustainable Investing and announced that within five years it was aiming to manage $10 billion...

Health Care Confronts Challenge to Shift from “Volume to Value”

Health care, as we all know, is a big business. U.S. hospitals alone have $782 billion in total annual expenditures, which is roughly five...

Impact Investing Resources

If you want to explore impact investing further, here are some places to start.

Address Merger Concerns Before the Merger

The Virginia Housing Coalition (VHC) and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH) both began in the early 1980’s as grassroots statewide advocacy organizations....

We Must Find the Legacies of Racism Within Our Own Organizations, Too

We can’t begin to disentangle the racial dynamics of the institutions we want to fix if we are unwilling to get to the root of the same dynamics in our own organizations.

Thinking Gray—And Positive

When I think about all the boards and committees I’ve served on, the clean-up days and neighborhood association events and protests I’ve attended, I...

A Nation—and Neighborhoods—of Immigrants

The story of neighborhood populations changing with waves of migrants is a classic part of the history of American cities. We are, as most...

Four Lessons Learned from Collaboration

We’ve seen a renewed interest in non-profit collaboration (see articles in Shelterforce here, here, and here) but effective and successful collaboration takes more than...

Fair Housing and Community Developers Can Work Together

Two organizations in New Jersey show that with a good working relationship, a balanced approach to healthy communities and housing choice for all can be more than pretty words.

People and Places 2015: Not Your Average Community Development Conference

I go to a lot of conferences. I enjoy them, generally, as places to get to talk to all...

Tackling Uncomfortable Issues, With Enthusiasm

We've written about the fissures that can appear when community developers and organizers of different ages, gender, or ethnic...

CDFIs: Bridging the Poverty Gap

Each year, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday prompts people to reflect on Dr. King’s life and legacy. By achieving passage of civil rights and voting rights legislation, the actions of King and others compelled a sharp decline in the blatant discrimination and wanton violence that had permeated the nation for generations. However, today, five […]

The Revitalization Trap

Place-based initiatives won’t address the kinds of injustice and poverty that community development was formed to fight.

With responses by Brentin Mock and Miriam Axel-Lute.

Get Big or Get Out!

Earl Lauer Butz, as the U.S. secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, used this slogan to...

Let’s Turn this Old Barn into a Theater…Part II

Moving into a newly adapted space usually entails a leap in operations—not a slow, steady climb.

Seeking Solidarity Between Place-Based and Economic Justice Work

Last week, Brentin Mock over at CityLab had an incisive response to Peter Dreier’s Shelterforce article, The Revitalization Trap....

Beyond the Cover Lines: Affordable Housing & TOD

Transit-oriented development has long been a buzz-worthy concept in planning and community development circles, and while there have been real successes in creating affordable...

The New Dawn of the Nonprofit Merger

It used to be that the idea of one nonprofit taking over another was simply anathema.  Nonprofits didn’t, you know, do that to one another. Mergers and acquisitions were the territory of national banks, energy companies and pharmaceutical giants with oversized ambitions and possibly malevolent intent. Nonprofits weren’t motivated by “creating efficiencies,” particularly at the […]
Canadian flag

Shelter Shorts: The Week in Community Development-Dec. 22

Canada says housing a human right | Protecting local business | Homelessness prevention saves money | CLT milestone in Colorado
A group of residents stand outside of the Oak Hill Meeting House holding a sign that reads "We Own It." They are clapping and cheering.

The State of Shared-Equity Homeownership

Though the need is greater than ever for resale-restricted, affordable homes, the growth of this model of homeownership appears to be limited.
Kids dance at a neighborhood street festival

What Happens When a CDC Pivots to a Health-First Focus?

Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation in Cleveland finds that being an early adopter of a community health focus has its advantages.

Modern Community Development for a Modern Crisis

A story about a nonprofit organization that achieved a large-scale bulk purchase of mortgages. The properties, all vacant and abandoned, and many deteriorated, are located primarily in the New Jersey municipalities of Newark, Orange, East Orange, and Irvington.

Precarious Values and Permeable Edges in Community Development

It has been said there are only two lasting bequests we can leave our children. One is roots. The...

Can a Community Fair Save a Dying Town?

Last weekend there were two ribbon cuttings here in Louisa County. One was for an expansion of the food...

Remembering Debby Visser

On December 4, we lost a good friend, thoughtful colleague, and champion for social justice in Debby Visser.Debby's career...

Co-ops Gain Ground in Communities of Color

Since 2010, 60 percent of new cooperative worker-owners are people of color and more than two thirds of total worker-owners are women. Worker co-ops are ...
Neon "Hands Up-Don't Shoot" sign displayed on highway overpass.

Police and Communities: Conversations Continue, Solutions Appear

Community development corporations play an important role in community safety. As such, they are often at conflict with themselves over their relationships with the police and the communities they serve.
A sign that reads "the rent is too damn high."

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, Feb. 2

Quote of the Week: “Even as the core problem in cities shifted from disinvestment to displacement, the policy paradigm has remained the same: Spur growth...
flow chart describing land value

How to Kill Land Speculation

  People live in communities because natural and human-made resources make them productive places to live, work, and play. Because geographically based resources are gifts...

Connecting CDFIs and Impact Investors

It should be a natural fit; what’s in the way?

Webinar: Can Lease Purchase Save Us?

As developers struggle to find buyers for rehabbed affordable homes, many are looking to a lease-purchase model to expand the...

The ‘Art’ of Public Planning

Café tables? Yes. Mimes? Sure. Palm trees? Oooh yeah.I checked off boxes next to the features I like in...

Turns Out Innovation Is Officially Overrated

Many nonprofits and social enterprises face constant pressure to be “innovative,” whether from funders or charitable business leaders who want...

Redefining Community Development

Part II: Collaborating for Change (Click here for Part 1: New Partnerships) Willie Mae Gaskin can't walk through the halls of the Warren/Conner Development Coalition (WCDC)...

Community Foundations Move to Adopt a New Anchor Mission

According to the Foundation Center’s 2014 Key Facts report, community foundations today have nearly $65 billion in assets, more than 9 percent of all foundation assets ($715 billion). As noted at a recent White House conference, over 700 community foundations operate nationwide. Yet while the first community foundation in Cleveland was founded in 1914, their […]
A car and truck submerged on a flooded road.

Rules for Radicals to Demand a Fair and Transformative Disaster Recovery

At Texas Housers, we've confronted a series of natural disasters over the past decade that forced us to develop new approaches for our housing advocacy. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we find ourselves back at it. Here are seven lessons we have learned.
housing construction near train station

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, March 16

A Cautionary Housing Tale from London | Hospitals Peddling Loans for Healthcare Costs? | Public Housing Resident Lawsuit | Kentucky Rezones for More Housing | Florida Sides with Payday Lenders | More...
physician takes blood pressure

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—Sept. 21

News from—and affecting—the community development world.

Staying Ahead of the Age Wave

Groups working with older adults, including many community developers, are crafting a range of creative interventions, from home modifications to service-enriched housing models, to allow seniors to age in place. Will it be enough?

Blurring the Lines Between For-Profit and Nonprofit

In my last blog post I spent a good chunk of time talking about the trend toward “complexification” in the...

On the Cover: Transformation

So you may be wondering, what is that amazing mural on the cover of the latest issue of Shelterforce?It's...

The Revitalization Trap

The community development movement began in the 1960s as part of a crusade against social injustice,...

Capital Markets & Neighborhood Stabilization

The articles in this issue depart from our usual stomping grounds a bit to look at capital markets and how they are partnering or might partner with community developers. Here's how we came to be consorting with private equity firms and their kin.
Close-up black and white photo of binoculars.

A View from the Other Side of the Funding Proposal

During my time on a CDC's board, my expectations and assumptions have been challenged. This change in perspective and experience has offered me some interesting observations and lessons.
Photo of a timer

Endangering Community Investment with Tax “Reform”

There wasn’t one Republican senator who was willing say tax reform aimed at growing our economy should augment, not diminish, community investment.
homeless camp under bridge

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, May 4

A Trauma-Centered Approach to Youth Violence in Cleveland | We May Know Who Benefits From Port Covington | What Housing Crisis? | Clearing Homeless Encampments in Philadelphia | Restaurant Tax for Affordable Housing
yellow arrows painted on sidewalk

Where Banks and the Public Agree on CRA . . . and Disagree

Despite a CRA exam pass rate of 98 percent, the major thrust of bank comments is that they want easier exams with fewer moving parts and less uncertainty.

NHI/Shelterforce Is On Facebook

We’ve been here a while, but this is a great venue for one-stop shopping for national and industry news from...
The Whittier Street Health Center.

Healthy Futures Fund to Connect Health and Housing Practitioners

Building affordable housing with integrated health services. Health centers in low-income neighborhoods.These are goals of a $100M investment fund.

Can Organizing Resuscitate Community Development?

There has been a lot written about the uncertain future of community development and the way forward for community...

Who Is It For?

A Washington, D.C. nonprofit undertakes a redevelopment project and tackles the issue of cultural displacement.
Photo by charlene mcbride via flickr, CC BY 2.0

Industry versus Movement – Redux

Three years ago, I posted a blog in which I wrestled with the question of whether community development is an “industry” or a “movement.”...
The now vacated Robert Mueller Municipal Airport in Austin, Texas. An old sign pointed to the direction for arrival pick-up in the foreground while an old tower stands in the back.

What If We Didn’t Have to Beg for Community Benefits?

Perhaps publicly owned land should be developed for the community first—and market-rate developers should be asking us for access to part of it.
This woman says Four-County employees assaulted her. She did not want her face shown.

Taking Sexual Harassment Seriously: Tips for Nonprofits

Sexual harassment is a topic that’s not often addressed in the community development field, but it should be.

Two Structured Community Development Funds: A Peek at How They Work

The details, lessons, and impact of two innovative community development funds created by Enterprise Community Partners.

Why Leadership Pays

In previous blog posts (Why Evaluation Stinks), I’ve discussed how the fragmented nature of the nonprofit sector makes it very...

Defining Language

Comprehensive. Scale. Development. Capacity. Impact. These words (and many others) took on new definitions when I began working at Shelterforce just two...

Are You TED Talk Ready?  The Importance of Conceptual Capital

In the callow youth of the nonprofit sector, you needed two kinds of capital: (1) financial capital, because money does,...

Housing Advocate, Minnesota State Representative Karen Clark

Mention the word "housing" in the Minnesota state legislature, and you're likely to be referred to the office of Representative Karen Clark. Clark, a...

Happy Holidays From All of Us to All of You

                    As we wind down 2014 and prepare for the new year, the folks at Shelterforce would like to express our thanks to you—our readers and supporters. We’ve enjoyed connecting with you through Shelterforce in print and on the web, Rooflines, and our Shelterforce Weekly newsletter, […]
NYC skyline painted on brick wall.

New York City Becomes a Hotbed of Community Land Trust Innovation

New York seems poised to move the concept of community land trusts in new and exciting directions.
Jeanne Fekade-Selassie

New Money on the Block: Funders for Housing and Opportunity

A new funding collaborative, Funders for Housing and Opportunity, has just launched. The collaborative, officially a project of the New Ventures Fund, involves (so far) nine large and well-known foundations.
Close-up of the back of a t-shirt that says "Because the rent won't wait."

The Warren Housing Bill: Ready to Take On The Affordability Crisis?

Sen. Warren's proposed bill represents the kind of holistic housing strategy we need from the federal government in facilitating affordable housing for all Americans in all cities and towns who have been left out, locked out, or exploited over decades by the national housing market. 

Interview with John Henneberger of the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service–Part 2

John Henneberger talks about expansive definitions of fair housing, exciting organizing work in Texas that the rest of the country should keep an eye on, the role of a state-level advocacy organization, and more.

Nine Rules of Engagement for Recruiting and Retaining Community Volunteers

In community development's formative years, it would have been unthinkable for a nonprofit housing organization not to have a grassroots...

Let’s Turn this Old Barn into a Theater…Part III

Taking on a “fixer upper” means taking on the unexpected.  If you are a cultural organization seeking a home,...

Community Development of Tomorrow

Community development is when people join together to improve conditions and create change at the community level. It can...

Capital Markets & Neighborhood Stabilization: Introducing the New Issue

Mark Calabria, the director of financial services regulation at the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, said recently that while “there are disagreements over the...
The cover of the Summer 2017 edition of Shelterforce magazine, which focuses on racial justice. Topics include character loans, policing, gentrification ...

Editor’s Note: Racial Justice — Beyond Good Intentions

Race affects everything in American society. Working to fight racial injustice is a large part of what the community development field does. And yet, that doesn’t get us off the hook.
An African-American man in blue T-shirt and shorts, carry full shopping bags approaches the top of a ramp, where he is greeting by a white woman in a multicolored blouse. Two other people with belongings follow him up the ramp.

Shelter Shorts: The Week in Community Development, Jan. 5

2018 Housing predictions | Gentrification News | Local Resistance | Unlikely inspiration for planners
storefront

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—May 11

Democrat’s Housing Proposal | Tracking SNAP Recipients Is a Bad Idea | Including Antiracism Practices Into The Housing First Model | An Asylum-Seeker Game? | Mick, Can We Rate You?

Sustainability: Still a Novel Idea

I had an exchange with an acquaintance about a recent tweet we put out when we were covering the fourth annual summit of the...

CDCs and Creative Placemaking: Who Should Learn from Whom?

Feb 2013: I'm attending a small conference in Miami. With me are over 150 participants—all folks deeply committed to their communities,...

Is “Creating Community” Still the End Goal of Community Development?

This is the final part of my series on community organizing and community development. Click here for Part 1...

FHFA’s Proposed Duty to Serve Rule – New Opportunities for Community Builders

Community housing and community development advocates could see new opportunities for financing from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2016 and beyond under a...

Earned Income Should Not Replace Public Funding for Community Development

The second article in our New Frontiers series, “Getting Beyond the Developer Fee“ has spurred some discussion. ...
People line up next to donation items after Hurricane Katrina.

Civil Rights Organizations on Hurricane Relief Efforts

Throughout what we know will be a long recovery over the coming weeks, months, and years, Shelterforce hopes to share the stories of the...

Why Do We Care About Health Equity?

The fight for health equity—for everyone to have a roughly equal shot at the potential and choice that good health offers—is of course, similar to the fight for economic justice and the work of community development.
housing sign

Housing Advocates—Seize This Moment!

I’ve been working to address housing affordability since the late 1970s. There has never been this much media and public focus on the issue.

The Healthy Nonprofit Ecosystem

In the halcyon days of my youth, way back in 2006, I went to New Orleans. I traveled there...

CAPACD 2013: ‘Lei’-ing the Groundwork of Future Reform

Aloha! No, I did not just return from a tropical Hawaiian vacation. Rather, the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD) conference, where...

Moving Forward: It’s What We Do

It is with an odd combination of relief and sadness that I see that my hometown—my community—is no longer the...

Comprehensive Community Initiatives: Redefining Community Development

Part I: New Partnerships Driving through the Germantown neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia is a study in contrasts. Huge stone mansions stand side-by-side with boarded and...

Do Good Techies Make Good Neighbors?

Everybody knows that if you want to restore integrity to your downtown business corridor or your local industrial park, if you want to create jobs and point your community toward the future of the workforce, or if you want to capture the hearts and minds of DIY makers and social entrepreneurs, you'd better have a […]

Land Trust Conference Models Better Ways to Get People’s Attention

People are not made to sit in windowless rooms breathing recycled air and squinting at tiny writing on screens for days on end. If...
Michael Bodaken

Interview with Michael Bodaken, retiring director of the National Housing Trust

Shelterforce took the occasion of Michael Bodaken's retiring from the National Housing Trust to speak with him about how he got into housing, some of his favorite projects, and his recommendations for the field going forward.
Residents of four historically African-American neighborhoods hold up a sign that reads "This Land is Our Land! #TentCityATL"

The Right to Stay Put

There is much work to be done around housing and equitable development, but the solution is not simply to move people around. A key challenge is creating real choice.

Staying Afloat by Branching Out

As the surge of crisis-level funding recedes from housing counseling agencies, they are looking to technology, fee-for-service arrangements, new partners, and types of counseling to keep themselves going. But can the tricky and highly detailed business of foreclosure counseling in particular survive the transition?
community garden

Community Development and New Understandings of Health and Wellness

In June 2012, I attended the Institute for the Future’s Health Horizons conference Innovating Information Ecosystems: The Next Decade and Beyond as an expert...

Marketing the Farmers’ Market

After making only our second visit to the farmers' market in our county this summer, my wife and I...

Detroit Future City’s Plan for Revitalization Pushes Job Creation

For supporters and enthusiasts of Detroit’s revitalization, the city is poised to be a “model for the future;” but...
A black and white illustration of a head broken into puzzle pieces.

Chipping Away at Implicit Bias

Structural discrimination has led to an unconscious association between blackness and poverty and neighborhood disinvestment. Here’s what we can do to change the status quo.

The Mysterious Art of Collaboration

Five housing organizations' effort to merge reveals both pitfalls and practical possibilities for bringing community development groups together.
rusty door knock

Panacea or Problem? The Possibilities in Opportunity Zones

With Opportunity Zones, the potential is there for great benefit, but it is not yet clear where, how, and to whom any benefits will accrue. People who care about connecting residents and businesses in distressed communities with opportunities need to act now so they fulfill their promise.

Awesome Choice: Shelley Poticha to Take Sustainability Post at HUD

Wow. Only a week after I wrote a post celebrating how well the Obama administration seems to be getting its...

The Affordable Care Act: Implications for Community Development

Even if you have not tuned out of the long-running debate about the future of health care in the United States, you can be...

Cause of Death: Rural Life?

Every once in a while I read that the federal government has come up with some new definitions for...

Starting a Social Enterprise? You Need to Know This

Those of us in the affordable housing industry have often required our general contractors to have a payment and...
Black-and-white photo of DACA information table.

Defending DACA Is a Moral and Economic Imperative

President Donald Trump has decided to end the Obama-era program that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants. Over the course of its five-year history,...