We must define the community development field in terms of impact and organizational structure and look at CDCs as facilitators of development, not just developers.
Between HARP, TARP, HERA, ARRA, TALF, NSP 1, NSP 2 and the rest of the alphabet soup of stimulus funding, there's a lot of government money circulating around the country right now. How are communities using this money, and will the stimulus provide the springboard needed for equitable, sustainable change?
The story of the American foreclosure crisis begins with reckless and abusive lending that leads to a wholesale emptying out of homes. But the story is far from over.
Despite current economic woes, families continue to aspire to own their own homes. For many, homeownership represents a path to stability, community, and long-term wealth building. But achieving these social and economic goals requires a new policy regime and regulatory framework that mitigates the inherent risks of the process. If done right -- by matching buyers with appropriate mortgage products in a transparent and fair manner -- we can make homeownership work for a broad range of American families, even those with low incomes and few resources.
The functions of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- liquidity, stability, and access -- remain important for the housing economy. Indeed, the two companies today are providing more than 70 percent of all the financing for housing even while under conservatorship. But their collapse into the federal government's arms is causing a wholesale reevaluation of how best to provide those functions in the future.
Today's economic crisis is devastating neighborhoods and households across the country. Urban, low-income communities that were slowly recovering from the disinvestment of earlier decades are now falling back to where they were in the 1970s. Rural communities, walloped by the collapse of key economic generators, have suffered no less. Families that had begun to break the cycle of poverty and build small amounts of savings are now being plunged back into debt. Yet, at a time when the work of community development corporations is more needed than ever, there are growing questions about their long-term viability and efficacy.
Xavier de Souza Briggs, Associate Director for General Government Programs at the White House Office of Management and Budget has a portfolio that includes HUD, Treasury, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, and Homeland Security departments, as well as the U.S. Postal Service and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. All of these make a direct and profound impact in the community development world.
The current downturn in housing has seized the markets, pushed home prices down further than any time in generations and has sparked the worst recession since the Great Depression. At the same time, nearly 18 million households are severely burdened with housing costs that consume over half their household incomes. While few have escaped the fury of the recent downturn in housing, tenant, low-income, and particularly minority, households have fared the worst.