The Revolution Will Not Be Grant Funded

For 40 years community development corporations (CDCs) blossomed from the financial nutrients provided by myriad government programs and America’s wealthiest foundations. Now that this era of soft money is coming to an end, some CDC managers are filled with dread. We believe the more appropriate response should be one of excitement, because CDCs can – […]

Business Wisdom in the High Country

In the Spring of 1992 Mike Loftin moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to become the new executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services, a small nonprofit engaged in home improvement and rehabilitation on the city’s poorer west side. As soon as he arrived, Loftin, who was then 34, canvassed the organization’s existing clients, a practice […]

Creating Community Realty

When Sandy LeVan met with her broker at the beginning of her house search two years ago, he asked her two questions: Where she wanted to live and how much she was willing to spend. Then he began showing her houses. But LeVan, who works at United Tenants of Albany for what she gently calls […]

The Last Line of Defense

The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, on the west bank of the Mississippi River in the city of Minneapolis, is unique. In the 1960s a developer started buying up the community’s detached single-family homes and duplexes, temporarily converting them to rentals. His plan was to tear them down and build massive high-rise housing. But the young, radical residents […]

After Katrina: Fighting to Survive

I recently returned from Gulfport, Mississippi, a second home to this Yankee lawyer from the Midwest. I expected to find signs of Hurricane Katrina’s passage, painful but not overwhelming. What I saw was complete wreckage and abandonment. In Katrina’s shadow, an entire community is fighting for survival. With phone lines down and neighborhoods uprooted, I was […]

It Didn’t Begin With Katrina

We must always remember that New Orleans was suffering from an economic and political disaster long before Hurricane Katrina hit.

Moving Toward the Market

Most of us work in nonprofit organizations; many in community development corporations. In our nonprofit world, our “customers” are rarely the ones who pay our salaries. We rely instead on patrons – government and foundation donors – to underwrite much of what we do, with a percentage coming from fees or sales. Some say this […]

Shelter Shorts

Home Loans for the Undocumented The Illinois Housing Development Authority will soon offer home mortgages to people who do not have social security numbers or a credit score. In the place of traditional ID, the state agency will accept taxpayer identification numbers issued by the IRS. The agency says the program will protect potential homebuyers […]

Managing Grant Money

Jeff Anderson, of Oregon Community Foundation, says, “Don’t apply for a foundation grant unless you’re truly ready for the scrutiny of outsiders, regarding everything from your office’s appearance to the documentation of your organization’s impact to the accuracy of your accounting.” Financial management is the weak link in many grassroots groups. Planning and budgeting combine […]

The Fight to Save Section 8

In April 2004, when the Bush Administration launched a major assault on the program that helps Marion Brady pay her rent, she sprang into action. Though she suffers from a debilitating illness, it did not keep her from organizing 70 hours a week that spring to protect herself and others who rely on Section 8 […]

Class Ties That Bind

Class Matters: Cross-Class Alliance Building for Middle-Class Activists, by Betsy Leondar-Wright. New Society Publishers, 2005, 192 pp. $18.95 (paperback). Just as I was completing this book review, Hurricane Katrina blew into all of our lives, catapulting class and race from the political margins into the national headlines. The message was writ large for all to […]

Real Estate and Mortgage Licensing for CDCs

Research is a critical support for practice. It can uncover creative new approaches to old challenges, help us think about our work in a broader context and confirm or disprove our assumptions and beliefs. It can help make the case for funding programs or projects to government officials and foundations or help us fight NIMBYs. […]