How Can We End Homelessness?  Let’s Start—and Finish—With Veterans

We are so close to this goal. We should not change our focus before we meet it.

We Served Too

Women are an increasing percentage of veterans, and of homeless veterans—but their experiences of homelessness differ from their male counterparts, and so must the solutions.

One Veteran’s Story

Michael Powell’s journey from childhood poverty to military service and subsequent struggle with addiction is probably not unlike thousands of others who have served; but in listening to his story, you realize that somewhere along the way it may have become more complicated than it needed to be. For people who are struggling with these demons, a clear lifeline to help is often the key that can be the difference between a struggle that lasts one year, five years, or a lifetime.

Let’s Talk About Jobs—And Ownership

In theory, the recession has been over since 2009. But that theory means little for most workers in this country, who have only seen...

Bonus: Diversifying the Public Sector

CDC boards can be a first stop for preparing resident leaders for roles on public authorities or boards, or elected office. “A lot of...

Big Business Parents of Subsidy

Big business parents of subsidy recipients identified so far: 965 Total number of subsidy awards associated with these parents: 25,000 Total value (of that known)...

More Tips

RATE YOUR CONTRACTORSConsider creating “contractor report cards.” Chances are contractors bidding on a project have worked in your city before. Check to see how...

Questioning Drug Testing

Arrest records aren’t the only barrier to employment out there that’s not about skills and job readiness.During the post-Katrina redevelopment of the New Orleans...

What Makes Humboldt Construction Company Valuable to Bickerdike?

It enables Bickerdike to exercise control over construction work on its own development projects. It collaborates internally with property management to support better security and...

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...

After HUD: Seeking New Answers to Old Questions

Three years at HUD gives you quite the perspective.  Ask anyone who has worked in the esteemed Weaver Building—affectionately known...

Answers from Red States for Our Broken Criminal Justice System

Left, right or center, few dispute that our criminal justice system is broken. But two new and thrilling victories this month...

Getting Together–Using National Gatherings to Learn from Each Other

Given our national economic climate and the growing recognition of collaborative, place-based and culturally-grounded approaches, it is only fitting then...

Do Fences Prevent Good Neighbors?

Lately I've been reading about places where communities are separated by fences. Not divided, as if they had previously been...

Phillip Henderson, President, Surdna Foundation

Phillip Henderson was only 38 when he took the helm at the Surdna Foundation seven years ago, becoming Surdna’s second director in what he calls its “modern era.” Henderson came to the family foundation from a career that had been focused on international philanthropy, but he applied many of the lessons he learned fostering civic engagement in post-Communist Europe to Surdna’s domestic grantmaking. Henderson sat down with Shelterforce to talk about aligning program with mission, cross-pollination between programs, and Surdna’s recent launch into the impact investing world.

Urban Art or Graffiti Vandalism?

Review of Stations of the Elevated, by Manfred Kirchheimer, 1981.

Stories of Change

The Architecture of Change: Building a Better World, edited by Jerilou Hammett and Maggie Wrigley. University of New Mexico Press, November 2013, 328 pp. $49.95 (hardcover).

Fighting for the Right to Remain in Southwest Yonkers

Waverly Arms is a federally subsidized building located in southwest Yonkers that my organization, Tenants & Neighbors—a tenant advocacy group—has been involved with since...

Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

We first met Darren Walker about 15 years ago while planning an issue on faith-based development. Darren was the chief operating officer of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, the storied community development arm of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City. We asked Darren to write an article that was not simply a cheerleader’s promotion of church-based CDCs, but a realistic assessment of the benefits and challenges to an institution embarking on that path.

Darren was optimistic and enthusiastic about the work he was doing at Abyssinian creating hundreds of units of affordable housing in Harlem. But he was pragmatic and realistic also. His article encouraged organizations to temper the enthusiasm necessary to even consider this work with a realistic analysis of an organization’s capacities and a clear-eyed examination of their assumptions about the rewards of creating a CDC.

Darren approached his work enthusiastically, I think, because he had visceral understanding of the challenges low-income folks had and the opportunities that were available to them with the right help. The kind of help that the stability of an affordable home could provide. His understanding came from personal experience that would inform his work wherever it took him, from law school to international finance, from a storefront afterschool program and Abyssinian to the Rockefeller and Ford foundations.

When we sat down with Darren on March 18 to conduct this interview, we were glad to see that enthusiasm, optimism, and pragmatism were as strong as ever as he starts his leadership of one of the world’s largest foundations.

Impact Investing Resources

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

Thank you!

We want to thank the many people who helped us put together this issue. We’re always grateful to our authors who share their insights and expertise. The people listed below guided us through the complexities of trying to understand a relatively new field so that we could frame the right questions. Most of the people listed below participated in a large advisory meeting we held on the topic hosted by our good friends at the Ford Foundation, others spoke with us in the weeks and months that followed. Everyone’s help was invaluable to us, but we’d like to note a few people for special thanks. We also compiled a resource guide with some additional impact investing-related organizations and reports that deserve your attention.

Impact Investing

New sources of mission-driven private capital could step up to support community development where traditional sources of financing are withdrawing.

Doing Well by Doing Good

With a little knowledge and effort, investors of many kinds can work with financial advisors to learn how to match their investments with their values and build a meaningful portfolio with solid returns.

Small Dollars, Big Returns

So what can you make happen with a domestic impact investment anyway?

Measuring Blended Value

Tracking social return on investment is more complicated than measuring financial return. How do impact investors do it?

Connecting CDFIs and Impact Investors

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

Preparing for Business as Unusual

An impact investment can move a nonprofit to a high level of effectiveness and stability—but only if it’s done its homework first.

The $15 Trillion Shift

“Investor apartheid” securities rules are keeping investment artificially blocked from the businesses with the most positive impact on communities— small, local ones.

What Is Philanthropic Equity? A Roundtable Discussion

As we prepared this issue, the term "philanthropic equity" kept surfacing. What is this new concept in philanthropy, and how is it different from both traditional grantmaking and program-related investments? In December we gathered a group of people from foundations and nonprofit intermediaries to explore the concept, its promises and pitfalls.

“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...

Seed Capital for Some Capital Seeds

High Mowing Seeds, an organic seed company, grew out of what is known today as “slow money,” or patient capital.The founder, Tom Stearns, started...

New Hampshire Community Loan Fund

New Hampshire Community Loan Fund began one of the strongest CDFI individual investor programs in the country by simply offering donors the option to...

Who is at the table?

Who is at the table is important for both capital absorption and for the success of investments that get made. For example, in the...

Enterprise Community Impact Note

Enterprise Community Loan Fund created the Enterprise Community Impact Note in 2010 with the goal of raising $50 million from impact investors. By systematically...

Can Youngstown Make It On Its Own?

Youngstown is a small city in the hills of northeast Ohio, once famous for steelmaking; and sadly, if famous for...

Mission Above Method

Shelterforce is graciously allowing me to weigh in on a current topic of debate within the field of “shared equity homeownership” or “permanently affordable...

Once a City Dweller, Always a City Dweller?

Just how strong is the long-term allure of the city to young people today? Sure, cities don't have the...

Ground Leasing Without Tears

Editor’s note: There are two major legal mechanisms out there for making a privately owned housing unit permanently affordable: (1) a stewarding organization can...

Philadelphia Achieves Land Bank Through Compromise

Philadelphia is about to become the largest city in the country with a land bank.A land bank is a nonprofit or government agency...

The March of the Millennial Generation to the Cities is Real

This past fall, the Washington Post ran a series called “The March of the Millennials“ about how this generation...

Better Business, Better Food…Better Community?

At a grand opening for a new retail market operated by a farm family, celebrants posed for a group...

Educate, Motivate, Organize

An Interview with Chokwe Lumumba, mayor of Jackson, Mississippi

Here’s How CDCs can Overcome the People-Based, Place-Based Gap

“Self interest generalized is community interest” — Kenneth Jones, Community Organizer Throughout my experience in leading NeighborWorks America's Superstorm Sandy response, two critical aspects have...

Nelson Mandela was a Community Organizer

Off the top of your head, what was Nelson Mandela's job title?“Icon?”Nope.“Inspiring speaker?”Nope.“National leader?”Nope.“World figure?”Nope.He was, of course, all of these...

You Put One Seed in the Ground, You Get Many in Return

The passing of two annual events: Thanksgiving, a time to celebrate the harvest and by extension with family, and Black Friday, an event that...

Our Financial Reform, Our Health

The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future, by Joseph Stiglitz, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., June 2012. 448 pp. $27.95 (Hardcover). Available on Amazon.

Despite Changing Dollar Store Demographic, NIMBY Attitude Persists

Last winter I wrote about a possible trend in which dollar stores were moving into older downtowns, filling vacant...

Preserving Affordable Housing Through Tenant Advocacy

In March 2013, the National Low Income Housing Coalition introduced the United for Homes campaign, which proposes to create a source of funding for...

Homeowner Associations Have Draconian Rules. Why?

I’ve always been somewhat puzzled as to why people choose to buy houses in neighborhoods with homeowner associations (HOAs)....

Pushing Back Against the Demolition Juggernaut

Memphis has knocked down all but one of its public housing complexes — and the housing authority assumed that a Choice Neighborhoods grant would be license to demolish the last one. But the community had a different idea.

Revitalization: Not Despite Us, But Because of Us

Low-income residents transform their complex into a community of choice through ownership—without importing higher-income neighbors

The Whole City’s Watching

A legacy of racial strife hangs over Little Rock, Arkansas, the city internationally known for the 1957 Central High School Crisis, in which an...

Jersey City: Lessons from Unequal Development

Across the water from Manhattan, this once working class city has experienced dramatic economic growth—but the rising tide did not lift all boats.

Lighting a Spark Between Energy Advocates and Community Development

Partnerships between utility companies and affordable rental housing owners are ripe for development, when the right switch is flipped.

Role-Playing for Energy Efficiency

Connecticut experiments with a “megacommunity strategic simulation” to move the needle on residential energy efficiency—providing a look at a tool that could also apply to other community development challenges.

Maintaining a Bastion of Quality—and Affordability

As afforable housing developments age, managing and preserving them, both physically and financially, while neighborhoods change and energy costs rise is becoming a key concern for community developers. Here’s how one group in Philly is taking that on.

Homeownership Without a Net

Despite some new reforms, low-income households buying homes outside the traditional mortgage market are still at tremendous risk—and often legal limbo.

Community Land Trusts Have Renters Too

CLTs can and should include their renters, not just their homeowners, in governance and wealth-building.

Community Collaboration Results in Brilliant Transformation

This is a project you truly have to see to believe.Artist Matthew Mazzotta, the Coleman Center for the Arts, and community in York, Alabama,...

The Long Road from C.J. Peete to Harmony Oaks

Those charged with redeveloping one of New Orleans’s Big 4 public housing developments faced an extreme version of nearly every challenge that public housing redevelopment struggles with. and while it wasn’t perfect, they took their responsibilities to work with the residents seriously, and learned some lessons to share with others.

Lessons Learned from Harmony Oaks Redevelopment

You can do good work even in a devastated city, but you have to build an alternate set of systems until the regular systems...

The Long Road from Harmony Oaks to C.J. Peete: Full Report

The full length version of NHI's Harmony Oaks report by Katy Reckdahl is now available here. If you want to read the Shelterforce article excerpted from the report, you can read that here.

The report was produced with the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the C.S. Mott Foundation.

Also check out Leila Fiester's complementary report Investing in New Orleans: Lessons for Philanthropy in Public Housing Redevelopment published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Wealth Creation in Hawaii: ‘Aina, ‘Ohana, Aloha

How would you define “wealth”? Owning your own home?Accumulating an abundance of financial resources and goods?Celebrating a network of relationships...

Property Tax Madness: Another Part of the Detroit Puzzle

There are many reasons that Detroit has filed for bankruptcy, and some have already been explored by others on...

Unlikely Poets / Guerrilla Haiku Movement / Sharing The Sidewalk

We hailed down a police car in Orange, N.J., and Police Director John Rappaport pulled over. We explained our...

Uncertain Future in the Absence of Planning

Planning Chicago, by D. Bradford Hunt and Jon B. DeVries. APA Planners Press, 2013, 352 pp. $34.95.

Community Land Trusts Across the Pond

The CLT sector in the United Kingdom is young but booming

The Community Builder’s Guide to Vacation

We’re all familiar with the benefits of vacations. They keep us healthy and happy. They give us time to...

It’s Our Race Relations, Not the Economy, That Need Healing

Last Thursday, I was listening to Bruce Katz on NPR talk about Detroit’s recent bankruptcy and the set of...

Who Owns That Vacant Building? Scan the Art to Find Out

In a brilliant mash up of classic protest/beautifying strategies and state-of-the-art data management, artists are painting murals on abandoned Baltimore...

What Is Community Development?

Over the following pages, our authors explore many aspects of the community development field, and especially the role of community development corporations in it. But we know you have opinions too. To set the stage, last year we invited our readers to take a survey about how they understood the community development field and community development corporations. The survey was promoted through our weekly newsletter and social media. We got about a hundred responses.

Community Development Corporations at a Crossroads

For nearly half a century, community development corporations (CDCs) have been a tool of choice for organizing and implementing grassroots economic development programs. Emerging...

The Regional/Local Dance

Q & A with Kimberley Burnett

Scale, Schmale. What About Impact?

If you think what's wrong with CDCs today is their failure to “go to scale,” you are looking in the fundamentally wrong direction, asking...

Neighborhoods or Regions? A Trick Question

There is a narrative out there about how much of community development has lost its soul — community development has become too much about...

Juntos Somos Más: Collectively Building Local Assets

National organizations adapting to meet the needs of growing minority populations should throw their funding behind well-established grassroots

The Changing Model of CDCs

Staying relevant in a changing economy will push CDCs to place importance on green initiatives, sustainability, and out-of-the box funding methods.

CDCs Adapt to the New Normal

CDCs and their support organizations consider what it takes to weather the recession—from business model changes to different funding streams to mergers.

Stuck in the Middle

What do community development intermediaries do these days, and why do we need them?

The Value of the Local Touch

Last November, we surveyed readers about what they thought the rise of high-capacity nonprofit housing developers meant for neighborhood-based community developers that use real...

Can Successful Community Development Be Anything But Comprehensive?

To truly help a neighborhood you need a lead agency to organize, plan, and coordinate many actors.

Coming Together…And Staying Together

Lessons from three decades of state CDC network formation.

Why Is Housing Development So Central to CDCs?

We asked our readers why they thought housing development had become so central to community development. While over three-quarters responded that it’s because it...

Restoring Confidence in the CDC Model

Have we lost faith in our friends? Results driven standards killed a system meant to help in ways beyond the quantifiable. We need trust to revive the model.

How Did the Community Development Industry Become So Housing Centric?

The nonprofit community development industry has grown and matured over the last thirty years. During the 1970s this nascent movement was boosted by the...

Are Poor Families Stuck in Place?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a review of a new book by the Brookings Institution called Confronting Suburban Poverty...

Students Push Universities to Invest Locally

In response to my earlier post about anchor institutions and community development, Andrew Frishkoff, executive director of LISC Philadelphia, commented “Too often we have seen...

To Move Forward, Richmond Must Confront Its Racist Roots

Successful cities adapt. They do not achieve success by remaining static. Adapting might be thought of in terms of building a...

Collective Empowerment or an Invitation to Vigilantes?

Jeremy Liu's post on combining “proactive” and “protective” services to both give people a greater sense of agency and help control costs for municipal...

Can Community Development Solve the Municipal Budget Crisis?

Oakland, Calif., like many cities, is beginning an annual or biennial budget process and coming to terms with the...

Life Without Fossil Fuels

Last fall, I wrote on Rooflines about people in intentional communities who engage with the market economy, even as they...

3 Reasons We’re Not Reaching Rural Communities

Rural communities are being ignored. Again.As discussion of the federal sequester and fights over funding dominate the news channels as well as policy discussions,...

Police Train in Public Housing, Terrorize Neighboring Residents

When Lauren Manning, a resident of the Ida Yarbrough Homes in Albany, NY, posted this public photo on her Facebook...

5 Things Cities and CDCs Don’t Get About Code Enforcement

In most circles, all you have to do is say “code enforcement” and people start mumbling about previous engagements.As I’ve been increasingly immersed in...

Places of the Heart

Everyone has a story about third places—those gathering places that are not home or work—in the communities they have lived...

More than Hair: Barbershops

Last year when I was walking my neighborhood, flyering for the Tale of Two Cities march and feeling out of...

“Where Are They?” Do We Think of Third Places When We Make Decisions?

“No community should be without these kinds of spaces. Therefore, when we think about planning or revitalization efforts...

Aligning Grants with Impact Investments

Impact investing—the deployment of capital with the intent of not only generating financial return, but also producing measurable social and...

Hearts of the Neighborhood: “Third Places”

Several years ago, the family-owned florist two buildings down from my house closed. There was great consternation in the neighborhood...