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?

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.

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...

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...

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...

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.

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.

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,...

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.

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 Rooflines. Detroit’s problems have accumulated...

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...

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...

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...

An Island Where There Is a Standard

Like so many of its counterparts across the country, Brick’s is more than just a barbershop in Albany, N.Y. It’s a haven in a troubled neighborhood.

Saving The Village Pub

When a small U.K. village’s pub closed, a group that had formed to create affordable housing found itself launching a campaign to form a community-owned business and save a community gathering space as well.

Flowers Follow

Sometimes all a vacant lot needs to become a community hub is for someone to know who owns it and who can turn over the keys.
A Jazz in the Garden session at Clayton Williams Community Garden in Harlem.

Hanging on to the Land

Community gardens and urban agriculture are crucial gathering places—and revitalizing forces—in neighborhoods with lots of vacancy and low values. But what happens to them when the market turns around?

Claiming Space

Community-driven art projects are helping to define and reshape neighborhood spaces in Philadelphia.

Not Just for School Kids

All across our communities are wonderful parks, fields, and playgrounds … behind locked fences, or marked with big warning signs that they are only...

Ballin’ at the graveyard

The documentary Ballin’ at the Graveyard looks at the hardball culture and strong supportive ties between players that have brought two generations of...

The Case of NYCHA’s Disappearing Open Space

What looks to a public housing authority like “unused development rights” often looks to public housing residents like important gathering places.

Where Community Is at Work Making Itself

Creating and proctecting third places in low-income communities. A conversation with May Louie, Neeraj Mehta, Ken Reardon, and Chuck Wolfe.

Update: Atlanta Beltline

In our Winter 2010 issue, we published a series of articles about the Atlanta Beltline, a rail loop surrounded by multiuse trails that is...

Our World Revolved Around Our Block

From when I was 10 to when I was 16, my mother and I lived in a diverse working-class neighborhood of single-family attached brownstone...

Parking Lots to Craft Fairs

I am always surprised by how few Nashvillians actually grew up here like I did. A lot of people have moved here over the...

HUD Regs Change May Hurt Local Housing Groups

Even before the much discussed (and critiqued) Washington Post “exposé” on the federal HOME program in 2011, HUD officials were purportedly concerned that too...

Safe Havens

I grew up in a low- to moderate-income community in a single-parent-headed household. For a time my mother was working three jobs to sustain...

A Tree and a House

Abingdon, Maryland, 1988: Newly constructed townhomes nestled amidst remnant woodland created my ideal third space as a five year old: the setting for a...

596 Acres creates tools to help neighbors “Find the lot of their lives” by:

making municipal information about vacant public land available online through a searchable map and on the ground by placing signs that explain a lot’s...

Sacred Places

What makes a place sacred? That was the question posed by a recent study that involved a group of East Texas residents. The...

Writing About Recovery

Watching the scenes of devastation coming out of New York City and New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy, it's hard not...

Disaster and Recovery

Dear Reader,I’m writing to you from Man About Town’s Brooklyn redoubt – where we have been...

A Bolder Vision for the Secondary Mortgage Market

The housing finance market is going to be restructured. Here's what we need to consider in order to do it right.

From Farm to Subdivision to Farm… or Forest

Soil is an important word in rural places, for many people's livelihoods have historically depended on it. From good soil comes vegetables, fruit, and...

Notes from the Road: High Rises and the Four Concerns of City Government

I'm on the road this week, with stops in Chicago, Kalamazoo, and San Antonio. I left Chicago this afternoon by...

Public Housing, Private Property

1070 Washington Avenue in the Morrisania section of the Bronx sounds like just another address, but it’s notable for being the home of a...

Picking Up Acorn’s Pieces

The loss of ACORN and changes in election laws could keep young people from voting in 2012. Will community-based efforts to engage young, disenfranchised voters fill the vacuum?

Who Owns Our Neighborhoods?

Outside investors are buying up foreclosed properties in Oakland, Calif., at a rate that not only has Oakland residents uneasy, but has also raised...

Where’s the Money for Democracy?

A breakdown of the funding climate for civic engagement.

Direct Action Governing

When community developers and organizers get elected to office, how do they preserve the community-minded sensibility and ethos that got them there? What lessons can they bring back to their colleagues on the ground? Shelterforce sat down with a cadre of organizers- turned–New York City Council members to find out how to bolster the bridge between the city and City Hall.

Silence on the Stump

Talk of housing is notably absent from the presidential campaigns, but there are efforts underway trying to drive the housing issue home for good.

Learning From Mount Laurel

In the suburb whose exclusive zoning led to New Jersey’s fair share affordable housing law, new research explores what the affordable housing finally built there has meant to the town—and to the people who have gotten to move there.

Housing and Communities Built to Last?

Shaun Donovan is secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Outside of the limelight, the Obama administration has been quietly pursuing ambitious changes to better support healthy neighborhoods and regions. Will these programs be allowed to come to fruition?

Get Back the Vote

The United States has made slow, deliberate progress throughout its history to increase the voting franchise. But now, for the second time in our history, the nation is in real danger of moving backward.

Providing Tools to Age in Place

A bill that would establish a program to ensure support services for neighborhoods with high concentrations of seniors cleared a...

Where the Community Comes Together

There's a place in every community where people congregate to exchange ideas, socialize, pray, engage, or just plain hang...

Breathing Easier

A Massachusetts-based program provides home environment assessments, education, and home remediation services—often resulting in the improved health and lives of families.

Healthy by Design

Can America’s most populous county design its way to better physical health and lower obesity rates? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave...

Florida Flipper Nabbed in Cleveland

The head of a sham financial corporation was arrested late last year for illegally flipping hundreds of homes in several Ohio counties, including Cuyahoga...

Urban Reprisal

Cities are growing again, with young people increasingly interested in moving to more walkable communities. And it’s not just traditionally hot market cities that...

Putting “Silent Pickpockets” on Notice

Discriminatory lending practices are a “silent pickpocket” skulking among unsuspecting borrowers, said Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, at the National...

Healthy Yards with Youth in Charge

The Worcester, Mass., Toxic Soil Busters co-op shows improving a neighborhood’s health doesn’t have to be limited to experts and outsiders. 

A Community-Driven HIA

The healthy corridor for all HIA examined the effects of zoning decisions around a planned light rail line in the MinneapolisÐSt. Paul area (see...

The Six Steps to an HIA

A health impact assessment is a six-step, systematic approach to assessing the likely health consequences — good and bad — of a proposed action....

Urban Farms and Growing Communities

Urban farming has long served as  a way for distressed communities to turn blighted land into socially and economically productive...

Taking Health Into Account

By systematically assessing the health risks of development decisions upfront, health impact assessments can prevent costly and harmful mistakes.

Foreclosing on Our Health?

In a dangerous cycle, medical bills are a common cause of foreclosure—and the stress and financial crisis of foreclosure causes an increase in serious health problems.