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Community Development Blog

June 15, 2015

How Can Native American Veterans Gain Access to a Benefit They Earned?

A federal program exists to provide more homeownership opportunities for Native Americans veterans on Indian reservations, yet less than one in six of the over 570 federally-recognized tribes have accessed the program. This is a program that Native American Veterans have earned but relatively few are able to enjoy the benefit.

June 08, 2015

Community Context Matters: Unpacking Common Trends in Community Development across the West

What is driving the pattern of extreme unaffordability in the western states? While the trend of too-high rents and too few units is consistent across our region, the factors behind the trend vary considerably depending on the location. Community practitioner responses from an ongoing Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco survey shed light on specific drivers of the affordable housing shortage particular to each area.

April 16, 2015

Building a National Equitable TOD Network

In just a few short years, the idea of pursuing community development in tandem with transit development has gone from being a novel and ambitious notion to conventional wisdom. What we now call “equitable transit-oriented development,” or ETOD, has evolved remarkably since 2008, when CDFI and transit sector leaders first gathered to explore how to finance such opportunities. But those of us working to make this a widespread reality know there are many challenges to creating smart, sustainable ETOD. This has been an important focus at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, where we are trying to make it possible for ETOD to revitalize neighborhoods and increase mobility and access for all residents.

April 09, 2015

A Loan in the Dark: The Difficulty of Determining Local Small Business Credit Needs

It should come as no surprise that small businesses play an important role in the U.S. economy. There are 28 million small businesses operating throughout the country, and they are responsible for nearly half of all private-sector employment and 63 percent of new private-sector jobs. Therefore, maintaining an atmosphere in which these businesses can thrive is essential to the health of the economy.

April 08, 2015

Building a Cross-Sector Coalition: Sustainable Communities for All and CA’s Cap-and-Trade Program

Why should community developers care about cap-and-trade and what do carbon emissions have to do with low-income households? As it turns out, the fields of environmental sustainability and community development have significant overlap, particularly in the area of transit-oriented development, where issues of affordability, equity, and displacement converge with concerns such as vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

April 07, 2015

The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Poverty

Research shows that poverty in early childhood can have detrimental effects on a range of achievement, behavior, and health outcomes in adulthood. The time between a child’s prenatal year and 5th birthday is particularly critical, and incremental increases in parental income during this time period can have profound and positive long-term outcomes.

February 06, 2015

Veterans and Communities: Opportunities for Service and Collaboration

What is it like to be a young veteran in the United States? How do veterans reconnect with their communities, and what kind of work are they interested in? What are the greatest challenges in the readjustment to civilian life and in what ways can neighbors, employers, elected officials and others best support veterans in this transition?

February 05, 2015

Lessons on Age-Friendly Banking

A “silver tsunami” is coming; an estimated 95 million people will be over the age of 65 in the U.S. in the year 2060, comparable to the current population of California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas combined. In anticipation, some financial institutions and community organizations across the country are partnering to develop age-friendly banking products and services that better protect and preserve the assets of an aging population.

February 02, 2015

Education is Driving the Bus of Regional Economic Growth

A vital dialogue took place at the Fifth Annual Southern California Economic Recovery & Job Creation Summit in Los Angeles on December 4, 2014. The central thesis was the implication of the dramatic rise in poverty and its impact on future economic prosperity, particularly as it relates to regional job market challenges.

January 27, 2015

New CRA Resources for the New Year

Do you know your local bank’s CRA rating, or where to go to find it? Could you write a performance context for your bank’s next CRA exam? Most of us in the community development field are familiar with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) broadly, but the San Francisco Fed now offers resources for those who are interested in digging a little deeper into the CRA.

December 08, 2014

Innovations for Communities Working to Address Foreclosure Crisis

An iconic image of the 21st century recession is a boarded up house with a foreclosure notice pinned to its front door. The nationwide mortgage crisis, which began in 2008, has left behind thousands of evicted families and empty homes across the United States. If a foreclosed property was the image of the recession, now theoretically over, what is the post-recession’s photograph?

December 04, 2014

Data Use is Key to Improving Communities: New Book Challenges Policymakers, Funders, and Those Seeking to Broaden Opportunity to Work More Strategically

With 90 percent of the world’s data generated in just the past two years, a new book released today challenges policymakers, funders, and practitioners across sectors to seize this new opportunity to revolutionize our approaches to improve lives in low-income communities. What Counts: Harnessing Data for America’s Communities from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Urban Institute provides a roadmap for the strategic use of data to reduce poverty, improve health, expand access to quality education, increase employment, and build stronger and more resilient communities.

November 19, 2014

New Players and New Approaches for Improving Health Outcomes

The fields of health and health philanthropy have seen dramatic changes in recent years. Certain new players in health philanthropy – termed “nontraditional actors” (NTAs), to distinguish them from traditional health foundations – bring new approaches and priorities to the field. NTAs can have a significant impact on health and health care, especially if the extensive content knowledge of traditional health foundations informs their work, and by working with NTAs, traditional foundations can stretch limited resources and increase their own effectiveness.

November 18, 2014

The Rise of Single-Family Rentals in Arizona, California and Nevada

The geographies that were hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis are now struggling with the rise of investor-owned single-family homes. This tenure shift from ownership to rental was most pronounced in those areas that experienced severe price depreciation and offered an abundant supply of distressed property. This trend of growing absentee ownership raises important community development questions around the issues of neighborhood stabilization, rental costs, property maintenance, and lost asset building opportunities for potential first-time homebuyers.

November 03, 2014

Using Pay-For-Success To Increase Investment In The Nonmedical Determinants Of Health

Pay for Success is a new financial and contracting tool that pays investor-funded nonprofits for delivering measurable social outcomes. This approach, while still new, increases investment in evidence-based programs and creates investable opportunities for impact investors and potentially CRA-motivated banks as well. One particularly ripe opportunity for Pay for Success is in health improvement. “Using Pay-For-Success To Increase Investment In The Nonmedical Determinants Of Health,” written by Federal Reserve researcher Ian Galloway for the health policy journal Health Affairs, explores how Pay for Success could be used to increase investment in illness prevention, save health care costs, improve patient outcomes, and create a market that values health, not just health care.

October 07, 2014

Financial Literacy Needs a Facelift: A Networked Approach to Financial Capability in California

People typically pursue financial education on an as-needed basis and usually when there is a crisis or a big purchase involved. What it would take to get people thinking about their finances earlier on? How do we integrate financial capability into the everyday? The California State Controller’s Office is trying to promote financial capability via community networks rather than a standalone formal educational program. They will build a financial capability infrastructure enabling the experts and the high-touch community leaders to better serve communities by reducing program redundancies and increasing outreach.

October 01, 2014

Collaboration versus Competition: Lessons from a Banker for Hospitals

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), hospitals are finding themselves in a similar environment that banks were when the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was passed in 1977. Hospitals now have a clear obligation to the communities (especially under-served ones) they serve through Community Benefits requirements, similar to the way banks are required to serve the needs of low-income communities through the CRA.

September 30, 2014

Rebalancing the American Dream: Forging Pathways to Financial Security

In the news and among the public, recent discussions have focused on the income gap between the rich and the poor in the United States. Yet the deep and growing divide between American households in terms of wealth – the sum of assets, such as retirement savings or a house, minus debt – has received less attention, even as it is proving deeply disruptive and quite difficult to reverse.  Accumulated wealth and diversified savings can be far more important than income for keeping household finances stable through volatile shifts in the economy.

August 25, 2014

How Are Low-Income Households Faring Five Years after the Great Recession?

According to a new report by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, 60 percent of Americans describe themselves as “Doing okay” or “Living comfortably,” but a closer look at low-income households reveals a different picture.

August 20, 2014

Are San Francisco’s Low-Income Residents Moving Up or Moving Out?

We all know that San Francisco is an expensive place to live. While the data seems to indicate a city that is doing well on all fronts, it does not tell a complete story.

August 05, 2014

Enhanced Supportive Housing as an Alternative to Skilled Nursing Facility Care

The Direct Access to Housing (DAH) program of the San Francisco Department of Public Health opened its first master leased, renovated single room occupancy hotel in January 1999 providing permanent supportive housing for 86 formerly homeless adults. With the expansion of access to health insurance in the majority of states in the United States following the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, there is increased interest in evaluating the DAH program to assess if supportive housing can help to achieve CMS’s Triple Aim (reduced cost, improved measurable outcomes, improved patient experience).

July 14, 2014

Tech Entrepreneurs Can Play an Important Role in Financial Inclusion

The terms “tech entrepreneur” and “low-income” typically don’t go together, but an innovative collaboration of philanthropists and investors is trying to change that.

June 17, 2014

Business Lenders can still be Key Players in Alternative Loan Market

Many bankers will continue to build long-term relationships and educate borrowers about options, even if the financial products borrowers are seeking are not offered at their financial institutions. This relationship building is not part of the bottom line, but it is a part of the small business lenders’ practices.

June 11, 2014

Healthcare vs. Health

Infographic: These terms are often conflated, but they refer to two very different ideas. Understanding the distinction is an important step towards creating a marketplace that values health.

June 05, 2014

Successfully Revitalize Communities through a Cross-Sector Approach

Video: Elizabeth Kneebone and David Erickson discuss how community revitalization is possible in suburban communities by adopting a cross-sector approach that engages education, health, transportation, job training, and other sectors.

May 14, 2014

Health: The Untapped Market

The U.S. spends $2.7 trillion each year on health care—yet we are raising a generation of children who may live shorter and sicker lives than their parents. Recent changes in health care require a fresh, innovative look at how we leverage that capital and where promising investment opportunities lie to reduce health costs and improve lives.

April 30, 2014

Collective Action for Community Development

It’s not surprising that the idea of collective action has gained rapid interest and followers recently. The framework, which seeks to produce true alignment of purpose across related sectors working on social, economic, and environmental challenges, offers a great deal of promise for making significant improvements in the life chances for disadvantaged populations.

April 29, 2014

The Outlook on Pay for Success / Social Impact Bonds

The Housing California conference, an annual conference held in April with more than 1,000 participants involved in housing, included an informative session on the outlook on Pay for Success. Following is a summary of key highlights.

April 14, 2014

If the Entire Population of the 12th District Was 100 People…

What would our economic and demographic breakdown look like?

March 10, 2014

Community Development’s Role in Disease Prevention

How do you prevent disease caused or triggered by social and environmental factors? By meeting it head on in the community.

February 14, 2014

Homesick: The Continuing Need to Stabilize Neighborhoods

We all need a place to call home. Increasingly, a safe, decent and affordable home seems beyond reach for many Americans still struggling with foreclosure. Thankfully, nonprofit organizations have remained at the forefront, helping households and communities address the profound challenges and disruptions precipitated by the crisis and subsequent recession.

February 12, 2014

New Community Development Data Reports for the 12th District

We’re seeing overall trends of lower unemployment rates, improving house prices and reductions in foreclosures, but many communities that were hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis continue to struggle.

February 07, 2014

Innovating our Way out of Poverty

We should encourage bold prototyping, supported by a public-private finance system that emphasizes innovation, lifts up strategies that work best, and jettisons those that don’t. Specifically, we need an approach that rewards positive outcomes and encourages reasonable risk taking and experimentation among social sector service providers.

January 10, 2014

For-Profit Colleges and the Student Debt Crisis

Student debt is a growing issue, particularly as it relates to for-profit colleges and low- and moderate-income students. In this post, Laura Choi highlights striking statistics on the student loan debt burdening our nation’s LMI students.

December 17, 2013

What Happens in Vegas… Lessons on Cross-Sector Community Development

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Sin City’s slogan may be appropriate for thrill-seeking visitors, but the people who live here have an important story that needs to be told. Beyond the spectacle and extravagance of the Strip, Nevada struggles with the nation’s highest unemployment rate, one of the lowest high school graduation rates, the lowest share of young children enrolled in early childhood education, and the highest violent crime rate.

December 05, 2013

Five Reasons Why Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Poverty Remains Invisible

Josh Ishimatsu from the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development highlights five reasons why AAPI poverty remains invisible, even though AAPIs have had the fastest growing poverty population of any racial/ethnic group since the onset of the Recession.

October 18, 2013

Health and Wealth Inequities across Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Stations

For many people living in the Bay Area, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is an integral part of everyday life (just ask anyone affected by the recent BART strike). A casual ride on any BART line reveals the economic disparity that exists between an affluent suburb, such as Pleasanton or Fremont, and the urban core of Downtown Oakland, but a little data can reveal how much deeper this disparity goes. Consider this: a short ride between BART stations can mean an 11-year difference in life expectancy.

September 23, 2013

Life Expectancy as a Barometer of Health and Wealth

The income of a county can often be directly correlated to the life expectancy of its inhabitants, pointing to a need for those in the community development field to rethink their traditional approach to health in low-income neighborhoods and embrace a more comprehensive, cross-sectoral attitude that addresses the “social determinants of health.”

August 26, 2013

Engaging Working Youth in the Financial Mainstream

There are almost 20 million employed youth in the U.S., and younger households are more likely to be unbanked. Earning a paycheck is a critical teachable moment and presents a unique opportunity to provide youth with access to financial education and quality financial products.

August 22, 2013

An Uneven Housing Recovery: Implications for Community Development

After years of gloomy housing reports, we’ve been seeing some promising signs of a national housing market recovery. However, these encouraging indicators mask the realities of what’s happening on the ground in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities that were disproportionately affected by the housing crisis. Complicating matters is the unprecedented role of investors in the housing recovery and the changing nature of local housing markets.

August 12, 2013

Beyond the Hype: The Promise and Pitfalls of Pay for Success

Interest in Pay for Success (PFS) financing tools, like the social impact bond, has been growing steadily since 2010. Many governments are exploring PFS solutions, including the State of California, which recently convened an informational legislative hearing to discuss the idea.

In his testimony to the Select Committee on Procurement and the Business, Professions & Economic Development Committee, Ian Galloway highlights four potential benefits and pitfalls, based on the most recent issue of the Community Development Investment Review, which explored PFS in depth.

August 05, 2013

The Chicago Regional Healthy Communities Summit Explores the Converging Visions of Public Health and Community Development

People who live in economically challenged areas endure more stress and demonstrate higher levels of mental illness, are more prone to serious and earlier onset of disease, and live shorter lives, irrespective of genetic predispositions. With these challenges in mind, the Chicago Fed’s Community Development and Policy Studies department partnered with the Illinois Public Health Institute and others to host the Chicago Regional Healthy Communities Summit. This two-day event considered more deeply the common interests among community development and health-focused organizations in the region.

July 19, 2013

New Role for Health Care Providers: “Hot-Spotting” Unhealthy Communities?

In his now legendary approach to urban medicine, physician and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grantee Jeffrey Brenner, MD, pioneered the technique of hot spotting—making block-by-block maps of Camden, N.J., examining residents’ hospital costs and identifying the handful of patients who cycled in and out of those institutions and racked up stratospheric medical bills.

What if America’s hospitals and health systems used similar techniques to identify the nation’s poorest and least healthy communities—and then teamed up with local community development organizations to set them on a path to better health?

June 21, 2013

New State-Level Data on Housing and Labor Market Trends

Looking for economic data on housing and labor market trends in your state? Want to see zip code level maps of foreclosures in your area?

June 06, 2013

The New Era of Affordable Housing

Affordable housing development and finance models must evolve and expand to replace lost resources and meet growing and changing demand.

May 06, 2013

An Overview of the San Diego Labor Market and Economy

At the aggregate level, the regional economy is experiencing recovery, but low- and moderate-income communities continue to face workforce challenges.

April 22, 2013

New Research Brief Explores Household Net Worth and Asset Ownership among the Economically Vulnerable

Data supports the idea that households whose balance sheets were dominated by housing, particularly those in depressed markets and those exposed to high-cost predatory mortgages, were deeply exposed to the downside risk that became reality during the Great Recession.

April 15, 2013

Transforming the Social Sector into a Competitive Marketplace

Pay for Success financing has the potential to improve the social sector’s effectiveness by rewarding programs that work, encouraging innovation, validating progress, and attracting private capital to the anti-poverty cause.

March 18, 2013

Increasing Financial Capability among Economically Vulnerable Youth

The Make Your Path (MY Path) initiative provides disadvantaged youth with peer-led financial capability trainings, a savings account at a mainstream financial institution and incentives to set and meet savings goals.

February 25, 2013

The Subprime Crisis in Suburbia

The vast majority of foreclosures have been in suburban areas, but the mechanisms for addressing the challenges associated with concentrated foreclosures are difficult to implement in suburban areas.

November 15, 2012

Vision During Crisis: Reinventing Neighborhood Revitalization

Vision During Crisis: Reinventing Neighborhood Revitalization, held in Los Angeles on March 1, 2012, was a call to action for principal stakeholders to create new approaches to neighborhood revitalization based on stabilizing the single-family foreclosure crisis.

October 23, 2012

Investing in What Works for America’s Communities: Essays on People, Place, and Purpose

One in six Americans lives in poverty, and where a person lives remains one of the most powerful influences of their life chances. Investing in What Works for America’s Communities: Essays on People, Place, and Purpose highlights entrepreneurial solutions for addressing poverty.

October 10, 2012

Capital Markets for Impact at Scale

On October 1, 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco hosted Capital Markets for Impact at Scale to showcase content on “institutional” impact/community investing and the effort to mainstream social capital markets.

September 02, 2012

Future of Economic Development and Revitalization Post Redevelopment

On September 6, 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco hosted The Future of Economic Development and Revitalization Post Redevelopment to address the recent elimination of redevelopment in California and how this change might affect efforts to attract private capital and finance projects that in particular have benefited economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

August 15, 2012

Community Development and Education

As summer draws to a close, kids across America are preparing for the inevitable: the start of a new school year. Whether they greet this season with dread or excitement, the fact remains that their educational experience will shape the course of their lives. Having the means to access and absorb high quality K-12 educational resources lays the groundwork for postsecondary success and ultimately higher paying jobs.

August 13, 2012

Dr.CRA: OREO properties as rentals?

Dear Dr. CRA,

Like many other banks, we have a large inventory of residential other real estate owned (OREO) properties. I’ve heard that rental demand is increasing in my market – vacancies are down and rents keep going up. Could we rent out our OREO properties as part of our disposition strategy, and if so, would we get CRA credit?

August 01, 2012

Foreclosured in 2009/10? Free Review

If you had a mortgage loan on your primary residence and believe you were financially harmed during the mortgage foreclosure process by any of 25 identified servicers in 2009 or 2010, you can request an independent review and potentially receive compensation. The review is intended to determine if borrowers suffered financial harm directly resulting from errors, misrepresentations, or other deficiencies that may have occurred during the foreclosure process.

May 15, 2012

Dr. CRA: Help, I missed the Community Reinvestment Conference!

Dear Dr. CRA: 

I couldn’t make it out to Seattle this year for the National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference, but my fellow CRA officers told me there were some great CRA training sessions.

May 14, 2012

The Impact of Data and Measurement

Peter Drucker, the famous management expert, is often quoted as saying, “What gets measured gets done.” Over the years, this adage has taken on different forms, including “What gets measured gets managed,” and “What gets measured gets funded.” The fact that this statement is so easily adaptable, and appropriate in any number of contexts, reveals the power of data and measurement to drive action. Within the community development field, the implications of Mr. Drucker’s statement are all too familiar.

May 10, 2012

Building Sustainable Organizations for Affordable Housing and Community Impact

On May 8 in San Francisco and May 9 in Los Angeles, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco partnered with Enterprise Community Partners to host Building Sustainable Organizations for Affordable Housing and Community Impact.

April 20, 2012

Suburbanization of Poverty in the Bay Area

The shifting geography of poverty compels the community development field to reevaluate how we do our work because it signals important changes in the communities we care about. It remains to be seen if suburbanization will increase or diminish access to opportunity, but we can identify several challenges that the suburbanization of poverty presents, as well as possible ways to address these challenges.