Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Building Economically Healthy Communities

I've been reading the really excellent new book Building Healthy Communities: A Guide to Community Economic Development for Advocates, Lawyers and Policymakers edited by Roger A. Clay, Jr. and Susan R. Jones.  Here's the blurb from the ABA website:

The field of Affordable Housing and Community Economic Development in the United States has evolved substantially since the 1960s. Starting as a social movement to revitalize low income communities, the field has become a solid and complex industry of stakeholders, practitioners, funding intermediaries and supporting professionals --- architects, bankers, financial experts, lawyers, social workers, urban planners and a host of other "community development professionals." Building Healthy Communities: A Guide to Community Economic Development for Advocates, Lawyers and Policymakers documents the themes and trends of the contemporary CED movement and provides guidance for strengthening our communities and ensuring that they and their residents prosper and compete in today's global economy.

This book provides an excellent short history of the CED movement along with some very current perspectives on the current lending crisis and its particular dangers for lower income communities and communities of color.  Here's a compelling quote from Chapter 2 "Perspectives on CED in a Global Economy" by john a. powell and Jason Reece:

Given the significance of the credit and foreclosure crisis, we must be diligent to ensure that communities of color are not left out or harmed by the response.  Will local strategies to rehabilitate vacant property...produce too much low-income housing, reinforcing concentrated poverty?  Will property clearance...result in a 21st-century example of urban renewal, permanently ripping the social fabric of communities of color?  Will credit market reforms essentially dry up credit options...while providing no sustainable alternative forms of credit?  In light of the crisis, attacks on several targeted policies that benefit communities of color are a chilling preview of what may come...the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) ha[s] already come under attack...These attacks persist, despite clear contradictory evidence.  First time homebuyers were clearly not the cause of the credit crisis; more than half of subprime loans were refinance loans, and only 9 percent of subprime loans went to first-time home buyers...Studies have shown that the CRA has been successful at expanding minority homeownership through fair and sustainable loans.

I'm looking forward to reading more about topics like community benefits agreements, the effect of Kelo on CED, and economic development and environmental justice.

Jamie Baker Roskie

Affordable Housing, Books, Community Economic Development, Housing, Mortgage Crisis, Race, Redevelopment | Permalink

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