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.”

In Memoriam: Marva Smith Battle-Bey

Marva Smith Battle-Bey, director of the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation in Los Angeles, which she founded in 1979,...

Report Back: NY Grantmakers in the Arts “Creative Placemaking” Panel

Your Man About Town’s middle name is Moderation, Dear Reader; and although it is a somewhat awkward locution when making...

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...

The Complexification of the Nonprofit Sector

Nonprofit sector organizations are getting bigger, operations are getting more tentacled, financial tools are getting wonkier, and budgets keep growing....

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 […]

Peoria LISC

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

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...

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 […]
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.

Community Development: It’s What’s For Dinner

Last week we heard from Alan Mallach and Mindy Thompson Fullilove on different aspects of stable neighborhoods. Mallach, in his post, looks at some of...

Social Impact Investment and the Failure of Imagination

Domestic social impact investment is stuck. Each year a few deals trickle through, but despite the potential and promise, impact investments in the United...

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...
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.

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...
Black and white photo of a row of police cars.

The Problem with “We Have to Do Something”

This summer, Eve Ewing, a sociologist of race and education at the University of Chicago, wrote an article called “The Chicago Negro and the...
Barcelona apartment buildings

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 20

NIMBYs, YIMBYs, PHIMBYs-Oh My! | Can Algorithms Make Equitable Cities? | Retail Segregation Takes a Toll | E.R. Visits and "Tough" Neighborhoods | Enough Innovation Already | More...

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 […]
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.

The Art$

I was invited recently by the Municipal Art Society to do a research project called “Who Pays for the Arts.”...

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...

Skipping “Placed-Based” Work Leaves Cities Vulnerable to Climate Change

I remember it clearly. “The Myth of Community Development,” Nicholas Lemann’s 1994 New York Times Magazine article, cracked the...

How Millennials Are Rocking the Cradle

On this blog recently there have been several posts wondering whether the millenials are going to stay in the...

Viewing Housing Within a Context

Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry were honored this week with the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Edward W. Brooke III...

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...
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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.
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.
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?

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?

In Troubled Times, Taking Stock of Our Community Wealth

In thinking about how to face the current federal environment, it might be helpful to take stock of where gains have occurred. Among these growth areas are:

The Art$, Part III: Some Quick Fixes

In my earlier posts on this subject, dear reader, I first endeavored to put a finer point on the more...

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...
beige house

The CLT Solution: In Suburbia and Beyond

After 30 years and the development of thousands of units of affordable housing, the Long Island Housing Partnership Inc. and its affiliates are now concentrating on the Community Land Trust model.
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.

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...

Going Where the Big Boats Are

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) went a bit off script today at that NCRC 2010 National Conference when, after a emphasizing responsive, empathetic government...
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Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, March 2

Are Black Incarceration Rates Really Falling? | Clinics in Schools Remedy Absenteeism | Hispanic Homeownership Rate Increases | Uber is Causing Traffic Jams | "Adjustable" Houses | More

Invest In Your Values

In a panel discussion at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s 2010 National Convention assessing the administration’s mortgage modification initiatives, Gordon Whitman, director of public...
Rubin cover, Advocacy for Social Change

Advocacy for Social Change: Coalitions and the Organizations that Lead Them

Many books discuss the corrosive effect of money in politics and lobbying organizations, but few are devoted to how those representing the have-nots organize on a national level to fight for laws and regulations that seek to empower communities.

What Works–and What Doesn’t–in Community Development

“Let’s invest in what works,” is a common and recurring slogan that has gained currency in recent years and why...

CDFI Certification Helps Credit Unions Perform Better

The Credit Union National Association and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions released a report last week...

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.
young men playing horn instruments

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 13

Really, YIMBYs? | TOD Without Displacement | Tracking 80 Million Evictions | MLK's Campaign, Revitalized | Airbnb Hastening Demise of NOLA Culture? | Bike "Borrowing" for Equity | More

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....

Why Leadership Pays

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

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.

The Past, Present, and Future of Community Development

The changing face of achieving equity in health, education, and housing in the United States.
Melvin L. Oliver, Ph.D., joined the Ford Foundation in 1996 as vice president for asset building and community development.

Interview with Melvin L. Oliver of the Ford Foundation

Melvin Oliver, vice president for asset building and community development at the Ford Foundation, talks about community development, black and white wealth, and racial inequality.
A street is covered with flowers and photos of Heather Heyer, as people look on the background

Terrorism in Charlottesville — And Possibly Your Town Next

The Trump-era increase widespread racial terror, as was on display in Charlottesville, is going to affect community developers' work at least as much as as his legislative and funding agenda.

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...
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.

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...

Making Progress in the Preservation of Affordable Housing

During the last six months of 2003, one could easily make the case that the nation’s entire domestic priorities were summed up in five...

Engagement Before Efficiency

I recently stepped down from my role as the executive director of a community development corporation and I'm in the...
for rent sign

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

News from—and affecting—the community development world. This week: rent burden relief, policy suggestions for worker co-ops, a new credit scoring model?, states take on housing, and more.

The Healthy Nonprofit Ecosystem

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

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 […]

Day 2 at NCRC’s 2010 National Convention

It’s the second full day of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s 2010 National Conference and people are already assembling to hear morning remarks offered...

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...
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...

Cause of Death: Rural Life?

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

Interview with George McCarthy, President of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

After 14 years at the Ford Foundation, most recently as the director of the Metropolitan Opportunities Unit, George "Mac" McCarthy became the fifth president of the 41-year-old Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, trading in his long daily commute to New York City and returning to Boston, where he grew up. McCarthy brings to the job that critical and nuanced eye for detail that comes with being an accomplished housing economist with the mission of bringing social justice to those denied it around the world. Well-known for his blunt and honest views and his ability to challenge as well as inspire those he works with, McCarthy has long seen land use policy as a means to reach the equity goals he's worked for in his roles as a teacher, researcher, and funder.

Moving Hospital and Health System Investments Upstream

Across the country, nonprofit hospitals are under intense scrutiny due to the discrepancy between the substantial revenues they generate compared to the level of...

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...
demolished building

Is “Sustainability” Old Hat?

Americans have treated the word “sustainability” as though everyone practices sustainability daily and the concept is old hat. We should know better.

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.

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...

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...

In Supporting Financial Protection Bureau, Merkley Looks Back

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) addressed a roomful of renters, housing advocates, and practitioners today as he called for increased protections for consumers, including...

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...

Foundations Shrugged

Editor's Note: Ruth Loess (her pen name) is our newest blog contributor who will bring something different to our...

Assessing Impact at Anchor Institutions

This week, The Democracy Collaborative is releasing a new paper that seeks to create a framework for measuring the...
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.
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...

What If Community Developers Held a Congress and Everyone Showed Up?

The question we pose captures some of the feeling emanating from the People & Places conference, which took place in Washington, D.C. earlier this...

Braiding Resources, Place, and Opportunity

Creating economic opportunity for people who live in distressed communities is by necessity place-based, or if you prefer, place-conscious,...

Building Community Note by Note

As I listened to a fine bluegrass band play in Courthouse Square in Virginia the other night, I was...

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 […]
demolition of pruitt igoe

Public Housing: Building Communities vs. Providing a Place to Live

Successful housing isn't merely a function of its form—design is not destiny—it's also a function the economic and social mix present within the communities.
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.
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...

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.
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...

Rethinking Community Economic Development Beyond “Rent or Own”

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physician takes blood pressure

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

News from—and affecting—the community development world.

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. ...
modular home Y:Cube

CDCs and Nonprofits are Indeed Leading Affordable Housing Innovation

Blaming community development corporations (CDCs) for the high cost of affordable housing construction is not only misguided, but it ignores the work of CDCs and nonprofits that are leading efforts to reduce costs in the key areas of financing, construction, and land costs.

Will Co-ops Spark a New Civil Rights Movement?

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In Memoriam: Pete Garcia

The community development world lost a leader on May 3. Pete Garcia, who was the director of Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) from 1984 to 2008, passed away at the age of 71.

#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 […]

A Tale of Conflicting Circumstance

The next few years promise to feature both the best of times and worst of times for affordable housing finance and those who practice or are somehow affected by affordable housing and community development.

What’s in a Name?

The government leaders in Paterson, N.J., are learning the hard way about the importance of community involvement in the naming and branding of...

Live Blogging From NCRC 2010 Conference

Rooflines will be live blogging from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s 2010 National Conference beginning Wednesday, March 10. Join us here at Rooflines as...
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.

Much Ado About Clean Air, But How About Our Clean Water?

The President made a big to-do about climate change in his State of the Union speech the other day, and...

Better Together

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

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”...
Boarded window with "Resist Immigration Raids" sprayed.

What to Do When ICE Comes to Your Buildings

If you own and/or manage affordable housing, do you know what to do if ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) shows up on your doorstep looking for someone? If you haven’t thought it through yet, now’s the time.