One City: Newark, NJ

Newark’s children are more likely to fail in school and suffer from health problems than children living elsewhere in New Jersey.Photo courtesy of Kerrie Ocasio/ACNJ Every day Gerard Joab receives calls from a church or group with “a great idea.” Inevitably, the caller wants to talk about starting a CDC to build housing in Newark. […]

A Changed Block: Hillside Ave., Newark

When I decided to move to Newark a year ago my expectations weren’t all that high. I had heard and read about Newark’s poverty and downward economic spiral, the lack of jobs and decent housing. I was even aware of Newark’s reputation as the car theft capital. But despite all the bad press, I made […]

CDCs in Gentrifying Neighborhoods

When community development corporations were created in the 1960s, their biggest challenge was assisting in the revival of neighborhoods that were physically and spiritually scarred by vacant land, abandoned buildings, declining real estate values, weak business districts and social institutions. Despite these origins, CDCs have for decades thrived in working-class and middle-class urban neighborhoods. They […]

Real Solutions in Real Time

When a national or regional foundation initiative comes to a close, its grantees usually disperse and continue related work independently. Some may call on one another informally, but relatively few get together on a regular basis to share notes on immediate challenges and opportunities. However, 10 community development corporations did just that. They were selected […]

Affordable in Name Only

At first glance the news of late has been good regarding fair and affordable housing in Illinois. In September Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the Comprehensive Housing Initiative, an executive order creating a state housing policy for the first time. But for those of us in the Chicago area who are committed to affordable housing for […]

One City

Visiting a big city for the first time can be overwhelming. Where to look first? And what experience is quintessential, without which you cannot say you truly were there? New York is more than Times Square, and Los Angeles is certainly more than Hollywood. Yet those landmarks, for better or worse, epitomize their cities for […]

Shelter Shorts

Starting Small Brings Big Rewards In Michigan, some organizations are coming up with creative approaches to teach the value of a dollar – a dollar saved, that is. Share Our Strength, an organization in Pontiac, offers free classes to encourage low-income families to save at least $10 a month by showing how spending less money […]

Fundraising Tuesdays

It’s Tuesday morning and as I dash out the door, my husband hands me a box of new #2 pencils. Last Tuesday, he gave me three rolls of toilet paper and the Tuesday before that, a fistful of pocket change. “Happy Fundraising Tuesday,” he says with a quirky grin. Fundraising Tuesday has become a way […]

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 words: “Prescription Drug Coverage for Seniors.” The average reader of the nation’s leading newspapers could be forgiven for believing that Congress and the Bush Administration were completely occupied by “Medicare reform” […]

From Brooklyn to Berlin: Organizing Schoeneweide

The scene looks familiar enough. In a foyer outside an elegant legislative chamber, a group of citizens is pigeonholing their local politicians. A vote on the annual budget is expected in the next several weeks and they want to know if a key project in their neighborhood is to be included. Afterwards they caucus with […]

The Fortress of Solitude

The Fortress of Solitude, by Jonathan Lethem. Doubleday. 2003. 528 pp. $26 (hardcover). When I first read excerpts from Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude in The New Yorker last spring, I got nervous. We had already decided to honor Lethem at the 25th anniversary gala of the Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC). FAC has wrestled […]

Building a Better City: Europe’s Affordable Housing Standard

In the United States, nonprofit builders of affordable housing often compete against each other as well as against larger, better-capitalized private builders for limited low-income tax credits and other scarce sources of low-cost financing. Because of this stiff competition, it’s not uncommon for needed and economically viable projects to be left on the drawing board. […]