This issue of the Community Development Investment Review highlights a number of deliberate, innovative interdisciplinary efforts that seek to concurrently and holistically address community development and environmental issues. Many of them focus on cities and their surroundings. They are diverse in the combination of issues they touch and address including air quality, climate change, water access on the environmental side, and education, health, and affordable housing on the community development side, and they are diverse in their range of approaches and partnerships.
The worst of the housing crisis may be behind us, but the recent housing market recovery opens up a number of new community development questions. Of particular concern is the potential impact of investor purchases of single-family residences, especially in hard-hit neighborhoods that experienced severe price depreciation and offered an abundant supply of distressed property.
Accumulated wealth and diversified savings can be far more important than income for keeping household finances stable through volatile shifts in the economy. The damaging impact of the foreclosure crisis and recession on homeownership brought this point into stark relief. Many financially-constrained households concentrate their wealth solely in their homes, and the broader housing market upheaval changed the prospects for prosperity for those Americans whose hold on financial stability was tenuous at best. By further diversifying their assets beyond physical property alone, low- and moderate-income homeowners may be able to better maintain long-term financial security. It is also important to acknowledge that homeownership is not a viable or preferred asset building option for some Americans. For all of these households, a continuum of wealth building approaches beyond homeownership offers opportunities to establish, diversify, and grow their asset portfolio. This issue of Community Investments focuses on the efforts that help households build on their earnings and invest in their future. Highlighted here are programs and policies that expand consumer access to more affordable financial products; support renters in building their credit history; and provide assistance to families investing in their futures through children’s savings accounts, entrepreneurship, and retirement.
This issue of Vantage Point synthesizes the key themes that emerged in the 2013 community indicators survey based on the responses of 289 expert stakeholders from the 12th District.
Community development efforts to revitalize low- and moderate-income neighborhoods should begin with an appropriate understanding of the needs and opportunities present within these communities. This sentiment is especially true of banks looking to fulfill their Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) obligations. A truly responsive and innovative CRA program should begin with the “performance context,” or knowledge about the bank’s local markets, including the needs of the community as well as the opportunities that exist within the local network of resources and organizations. This paper attempts to demystify the performance context and establish its strategic value to the CRA process. It explores new opportunities for strengthening the performance context as a community development tool, from the perspective of both bankers and regulators.
With 90 percent of the world’s data generated in just the past two years, What Counts: Harnessing Data for America’s Communities challenges policymakers, funders, and practitioners across sectors to seize this new opportunity to revolutionize our approaches to improve lives in low-income communities. This book 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.