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.”

The Just City

Yesterday was the second of three, day-long symposia being held this year by the Ford Foundation to celebrate its 75h anniversary. This one, subtitled...

9-28-11 Poll: How do conflicting market data affect your neighborhood stabilization efforts?

You said: “Sadly, we may know our economy, but the funding sources require us to use the economists or market study data that may...
Pogue’s Run Grocer Mural, an initiative of the Indy Food Co-op.

Done Right, Eliminating Food Deserts Result in Community Oases

While eliminating food deserts often involves resources from outside of the community, a neighborhood must maintain control of its assets and identity.

Defining Language

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

A Sense of Place: Mind + Body in Community Development

How can we practice effective community development and engage a community that suffers from a dwindling stock of physical historical references and is in the process of healing from the wounds of decades of urban decay? In the Bronx, community members are coming together, taking pieces of the past and making history.

Bostic: HUD’s PD&R Was “Stagnant” In Recent Years

We sat down with Raphael Bostic, HUD’s assistant secretary for Policy Development & Research in a substantive interview slated for publication in the Summer...

Building Communities From the Inside Out

In distressed communities across the United States, savvy organizers and leaders are rediscovering ancient wisdom about what builds strong communities, and then developing new...
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
Q: Can Support Community Development Improve Outcomes for the Health Sector? Yes! Over 50 percent of premature deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to preventable non-medical factors, specifically behavioral, environmental, and social conditions. Graphic of a home and all the areas that community development helps with health outcomes. Image links to PDF version of The Answer.

Q: Can Supporting Community Development Improve Outcomes for the Health Sector?

Yes! Over 50 percent of premature deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to preventable non-medical factors, specifically behavioral, environmental, and social conditions.

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...

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...

Is Community Development an Industry–or a Movement?

Anyone like me who’s spent more than a few years doing community development is likely to have been force-fed...

Tips for Getting Your “Innovative” Project Funded

In her July Rooflines post on the idea of “disruptive innovation,” Miriam Axel-Lute addressed how innovation has been over promoted in...

Can We Build a Movement for Structural Economic Change? We Must

This July, the New Economy Coalition (NEC), a coalition of over 140 organizations from across North America, will convene in Buffalo for its biennial...

How do you feel about the proposed QRM rule that would exempt banks from...

Results of the Shelterforce poll of October 12, 2011 Click continued for more results You said: “20 percent is far more than necessary to protect banks against...

On Optimism and Space: The Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference

Before 2016’s first presidential debate plunged into birtherism and beauty pageants and Donald Trump ran into a wall of...

Can Nonprofits Use Volunteerism to Achieve a Sustained Increase in Capacity?

Last week, we asked readers if volunteerism could play a factor in growing an organization’s capacity. Respondents offered a mixed...
johns hopkins medical library

In Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Seeks to Be a Good Neighbor

The current HopkinsLocal effort, a three-year program launched in September 2015, is also clearly a response to the death of Freddie Gray and the events that followed.
A group of activists and community-based partners in Philadelphia discuss how to deal with a Mantua neighborhood hotspot and possibly solve the problem through a process called “crime prevention through environmental design.”

Roundtable: Policing and Community Development

Many people in the community development field are conflicted about the police presence where they work. We invited a group of practitioners to share their experiences and talk through this tension.

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...

Peoria LISC

What does it mean when the country's largest community development intermediary opens its first new office in 15 years in...

An Artful Rebirth in Columbus

In two excellent articles and a video, The Atlantic magazine profiles the good work the community development field is doing in Columbus, Ohio. As part of a larger series on reinvention and resilience in communities throughout the country, the magazine takes a close look at the Franklinton neighborhood and the Franklinton Development Association (FDA). Like […]

Anatomy of a Merger

The merger of two nonprofit housing development corporations in Nashua, New Hampshire, provides an opportunity to examine one path these organizations can take to increase the odds of survival.
Three tiny homes.

Shelter Shorts: The Week in Community Development-Dec. 8

“Attainable” housing | Defeating land contracts | Harassed tenants get legal win | Preaching against gentrification | Housing on Bill Gates’ mind

High Cost of Affordable Housing Is Not CDCs’ Fault

You know what doesn’t help lower the cost of affordable housing? Spuriously blaming some of the organizations that are working hardest to create it in the most difficult situations.
migrant farm workers

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 27

Climate Gentrification | A Marijuana Tax for Housing? | Homeownership Alone Can't Close the Wealth Gap | Illegal ICE Raids on Farms | Keeping An Eye on Opportunity Zones | More...
Two employees of Grace Federal Solutions in North Carolina, an African-American man and woman, chat in the hallway of their offices. The company secured a loan from a CDFI.

CDFIs Led By People of Color Face Financial Disparities Too

A lack of access to capital, capacity-building resources, and technical assistance significantly constrains the ability of CDFIs led by people of color to achieve greater impact.

Getting Through the Storm

U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, (D-Md.) offered a sobering, but empowering assessment of the state of the U.S. economy and the impact on families...
Upside-down image of a faucet dripping.

Trickle Up Housing: Filtering Does Go Both Ways

Here's something we don't talk about enough: developing affordable housing in a tight, high-cost market also increases overall affordability through filtering! Just in the other direction—it trickles up.

Financial Metrics Won’t Tell the Full Picture

Cost savings alone do not measure the full value of the collaboration between the health care and housing sectors.
3 women posed at the sides of a sign.

Nun Funds: The Original Impact Investors

Rising out of a practice of shareholder activism that began in the 1970s, Women Religious made the leap from monitoring their investments on Wall Street to becoming pioneers in investing directly in the communities and social justice causes for which they cared.

Making a Pipeline for Vacant Building Rehab

Baltimore’s Vacants to Value program sparked revitalization block by block with a few key legal powers and partnerships.
Painted gentrification sign on wall

Who Gets to Live Where, and Why? The Answer May Be Settled By Our...

Why housing messaging is backfiring and recommendations on how to change course.
police talking to homeless

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—Aug. 17

HUD's Latest Assault on Fair Housing | Decriminalizing Homelessness | "Buying the Block" | FEMA's Roadblocks In Puerto Rico | Public Transport And Health

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, […]
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.

Election Polling, Big Data, and Movement Building

There is a data geek Internet flame war going on between Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium and Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com over 2014 election projections. Evidence of the confrontation can be found here, here, and here. My research interests (such as they are) tend more toward demographic analysis, and I am far from […]

Building Community Note by Note

As I listened to a fine bluegrass band play in Courthouse Square in Virginia the other night, I was...
Avalon Trace was renamed Cottage Gardens after the 176-unit complex was sold to a new owner in 2018.

Condemning Asthma, Not Homes in North Carolina

An apartment complex in North Carolina generated 120 times as many hospital visits as would have been expected for its population, until a creative coalition forced its sale and worked with the new owner to change things.
women sitting in chairs on grass

Practical Ideas for Addressing Micro-Segregation in Mixed Income Communities

Practical lessons from long time community builders on promoting integration and interaction among residents of mixed income communities.

5 (More) Things Dividing the Government and CDCs

I was recently in a room with representatives from government, banks, private developers, and CDCs for a conversation about...

I’m a Recovering Funder

I spent 10 years as a corporate foundation program officer in New York City.  I managed our $5 million community...

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...

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...

First, Some Perspective

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan’s father and stepmother were in attendance today as he offered the luncheon remarks for the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s...
grand rapids skyline

Smaller Cities Are Laboratories for Change

In smaller cities it is typically much easier to engage high levels of leadership, get traction for strategies that are more visible, engage the wider community, build trust, and scale solutions more quickly than in larger areas. Here are a few examples.

The New Age of Code Enforcement

A recent post in Rooflines by Alan Mallach entitled “5 Things Cities and CDCs Don’t Get About Code Enforcement”...
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.
video in window

Regrets of an Accidental Placemaker

Had I unintentionally contributed to the gentrification of my neighborhood and other neighborhoods around Washington, D.C.?
In the center are blue doors that are surrounded by orange, white, and brown pieces of metal-looking material. This is what a warehouse looks like in a Mumbai slum.

What Mumbai’s Slums Do Right, And Why We Should Emulate Them

Sometimes to understand our own cities and community development practices it is helpful to understand a radically different setting. In the slums of Mumbai...
A yellow house on a corner.

The Power of Proximity: Making the Case for Living Where You Work

Twenty years later, it’s hard to overstate how wise I think that group of board members was in imposing its residency requirement on me. While initially skeptical, over the years I’ve learned some powerful lessons about the benefits of proximity.

Creating Sustainable Jobs by Rebuilding America’s Neighborhoods: America’s First Priority

Today, we face “gilded age inequality, robber baron corruption, financial booms and busts, a broken health care system, increasing poverty, and spending as much...

Who Will Lead Community Development Corporations?

Community development corporations are surprisingly short on executives of color. Why? And how can the field do better?

We Can’t Eliminate Poverty, And We Can’t Stop Fighting

“We have spent $15 trillion from the federal government fighting poverty, and look at where we are, the highest...
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 Cure for the Memphis Blues

As the Bluff City picks itself up, its CDC community faces a host of challenges that are increasingly common across the field.

Remembering Debby Visser

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

Loneliness Kills; Community Developers Can Help

Some social determinants of health are concrete and physical. A substandard house with mold and pests, for example, will lead to more asthma and...

Four Kinds of Concentrated Areas of Poverty

In a fair housing workshop yesterday at the National Low Income Housing Coalition's annual conference Sara Pratt of HUD's Office of Fair...

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...

On Board

How do you make a community development organization's board welcoming to residents and low-income members, and ensure that once there, they are more than window dressing?
Dr. Jim O’Connell sits on a patient's bed at Pine Street Inn Supportive Housing in Boston.

Not Just Partners, But Neighbors: Health Care in Affordable Housing Developments

Offering on-site health care in housing developments makes sense. But developing and managing housing and health care facilities can be very different. How do you make them work together?

Trasviña Hints at a Fairer Housing Act; Principal Reduction in Store?

John Trasvina, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, emphasized HUD and Treasury’s central role the federal response to the housing crisis,...

Better Together

The community development and health sectors can and should work together to reduce health disparities and improve everyone’s health.
"For Rent" sign

Shelter Shorts: The Week in Community Development-Dec. 15

Walmart and Ben Carson looking out for your financial health?! | Homelessness numbers up, but lowering them saves money | Rental market finally slowing down.

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?

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...

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.

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.

Community Development: Let Your Mission Do the Talking

In Part 1 of this post, I discuss the issues around the term “gentrification.” Here are two other terms that have become problematic in...

The Complexity of Compliance

Native American Connections (NAC) is a leader in the development and management of high quality, affordable housing communities. It...
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.

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...

5 Guiding Principles to Build Capacity and Attract Capital

In the community development and investment fields, we have traditionally looked first to local organizations to address local needs. ...

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...

Webinar: Are Our Neighborhoods Making Us Sick?

Inadequate housing conditions—the presence of lead, radon, water leaks, poor ventilation, pollution or mold—are linked to poor health. But research also shows that even...
Word bubbles made of paper materials.

10 Ways to Talk About Inclusionary Housing, Differently

We need to talk about inclusionary housing in a different way that circumvents common misperceptions and creates a new narrative for policymakers in moderate markets and more conservative political climates. Here are 10 messages to help frame your conversations.
westlake mural

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—Aug. 24

Philly's Fight for Affordable Housing | HUD Targets Facebook In Complaint| An Eviction App | A "Massive" Multifamily Housing Fraud

#OMG: Is the #NPO Sector Tech Averse?

I was speaking with a friend of mine who works at a very large nonprofit organization (very large as in over $100 million in annual revenues). They serve thousands of clients every year with job development, alcohol and other drug abuse treatment, affordable housing, psychological counseling and a variety of other supports. As a result […]
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.
A sign that reads "wellness center."

Aligning Health Systems With Community Development

Hospitals and health systems can’t solve societal challenges alone. But they can play a key role in mobilizing and aligning joint resources to bring positive changes to low-income communities.
A woman who attended the 2016 National Housing Conference's event in New York City speak at the microphone.

How to Build a Case for Community Development and Affordable Housing

In the new administration, housing programs will feel the pressure of budgetary cuts and tax reform. Advocates should be careful not to put down other programs in the process of defending their own, or everyone will lose.

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 ...

Does Richmond Show the Future of Community Wealth Building?

Richmond’s creation of the nation’s first Office of Community Wealth Building marks a reimagining of community economic development policy.

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...
Two woman hold a sign that reads, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed Taught me ..."

Preparing a Career Path for Community Change Agents

College credentials combined with local organizing experience helps create a new generation of community activists.

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...
protesters with signs

Shelter Shorts: The Week in Community Development-Dec. 1

Demolitions conducted using Hardest Hit Funds have exposed already suffering communities to asbestos; Vancover gets accessory dwelling units right; Obama dismisses the idea of a community benefits agreement in Chicago; and more in this week's Shelter Shorts, a look back at the week in community development news.

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...

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...

Awardees Honored at NLIHC 2012

The National Low Income Housing Coalition gave out a number of  its annual awards this morning at its annual...

Interview with John Henneberger, Texas Low Income Housing Information Service–Part 1

It’s not every year (or even every decade) that community developers and housers see themselves represented in the ranks of the coveted MacArthur Fellows (or “genius grant” recipients). That in and of itself would be sufficiently exciting, but when Shelterforce staff sat down to talk to John Henneberger of the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, one of the 2014 MacArthur geniuses, we certainly found ourselves impressed and excited. Driven by a sense of justice since college, he has been on the frontlines of the fight for equality and equity since those years. Henneberger has extensive knowledge of the field, an ability to clearly relate many of our most basic concerns to each other, and a clear-eyed focus on end goals above interim measures. In this two part interview, he 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 much more.
physician takes blood pressure

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

News from—and affecting—the community development world.
store closing

The Displacement Crisis of Immigrant-Owned Small Businesses

Growth of new business is a sign of a robust economy, but New York City’s true success hinges on ensuring that all residents have access to opportunity and community resources.

Cause of Death: Rural Life?

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

The Revitalization Trap

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

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. ...

Landlines Turned Lifelines

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the growing hardships of people living a rural life. They tend to have...

Engaging Banks–And Fighting Them at the Same Time

John Taylor, the President of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), proudly told me that NCRC’s Annual Conference is...