The Soul of the Neighborhood

Why do we call community-based development an “industry” rather than a “movement” these days? “Industry” is such a satisfyingly hard-nosed word. It says, ‘we are engaged in the pursuit of something tangible, quantifiable. We produce!’ Just compare: the “civil rights industry” or the “conservation industry.” The very uniqueness of what community-based development organizations do and […]

Empowering Redevelopment: Toward a Different CDC

The community development corporation (CDC) has crept relatively quietly into the struggle to rebuild cities in the last 30 years. CDCs have built housing, started small businesses, and provided social services in poor urban neighborhoods and even some rural areas. Lately, CDCs have been popularized by two public television documentaries, numerous press reports, and special […]

Citywide CDCs: Chicago CDCs Increase Efficiency

It is no secret that community-based CDCs in Chicago have recently been experiencing trouble on several fronts. Despite their efforts, the deterioration of Chicago’s neighborhoods continues, accelerated by the flood of drugs and the proliferation of gangs. The buildings CDCs have spent 15 years rehabilitating and managing are showing signs of wear, vacancy, and pools […]

Shelter Shorts

The Rich Get Richer Still… The Census Bureau recently found that the gap between incomes of the most affluent Americans and everyone else was wider than since the end of World War II. According to The New York Times, the Census report, A Brief Look at Postwar U.S. Income Inequality, found a pronounced increase in […]

Organize! Shedding Some Light on Fighting the Right

Draconian cutbacks in health, welfare and housing services, attacks on the civil rights of people of color, gays and lesbians, immigrants, and the reproductive rights of all women has solidified one rallying cry among social justice organizers – “Fight the Right.” But who makes up “the Right” and how do you fight them? Many organizations […]

Habits of the Heart

Habits of the Heart, by Robert Bellah, Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan, Ann Swidler, and Steven M. Tipton. 1986. Berkeley, California, University of California Press. Updated with a new introduction 1996. Habits of the Heart examines one of the most important unresolved problems in American history – the conflict between individuality and community. The authors […]

Washington News and Views

National Advocacy Groups Write to Leach, Banking Committee Democrats On CRA By Allen Fishbein Twelve national community reinvestment and housing development groups have written to House Banking Committee Chair Jim Leach [R-IA], detailing the various provisions of his expanded bank powers bill, HR 2520, that “would do real damage to the nation’s underserved urban and […]

Community Building Finds a Home

What do community-based, affordable housing developers do? We know they build houses: bricks and mortar, glass and steel, places where people live. But that’s not all, is it? Since their early years, community-based organizations have been about change. The goal has been to reverse the decay and disinvestment of our poor inner-city and rural communities. […]