Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Community Development

Community Development Policy - Volume 20, Issue 3

Community Investments

In this issue, we highlight new ideas, innovations, and questions around the topic of community development policy. The articles consider the role of policy in channeling public and private investment into community development efforts, with topics ranging from established federal policies, such as the Community Reinvestment Act and the Community Development Block Grant program, to more recent movements such as stakeholder-driven community development and microenterprise.

The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or the Federal Reserve System. Material herein may be reprinted or abstracted provided Community Investments is credited. Please provide our Community Development Department with a copy of any publication in which material is reprinted.

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Table of Contents

CI Notebook

As we planned this issue of Community Investments, the timing of a new year and a new presidential administration inspired us to take a fresh look at some of the major policy issues affecting community development.

A New Safety Net for Low-Income Families

During the 1990s, the federal government promised low-income families that work would pay. Parents moved into jobs in droves in response to new welfare rules requiring work, tax credits, and other work supports that boosted take-home pay. These policy changes were enacted during one of the strongest labor markets on record. A decade later, the labor market is tepid, and policies have to be re-evaluated keeping in mind the circumstances of today’s families.

Beyond Shelter: Investing in Quality Affordable Housing

As the demand for affordable housing (that which costs no more than 30 percent of household income) grows during these troubled economic times, investment and policy aimed at shoring up supply becomes increasingly important.

Supporting Young Children and Families: An Investment Strategy That Pays

Parents across the socioeconomic spectrum struggle to balance both their children’s developmental needs and the demands of their employers.

Encouraging Entrepreneurship: A Microenterprise Development Policy Agenda

For more than 20 years, community-based microenterprise programs have been assisting emerging entrepreneurs start and sustain small businesses.

Strengthening Community Development Infrastructure: The Opportunities and Challenges of CDBG

Created in 1974, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, one of the longest continuously running programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is one of the federal government’s largest community development and neighborhood revitalization programs.

Return on Investment: The Mixed Balance Sheet of Community Development Research

In addition to grappling with the turmoil in the financial markets and the economic slowdown, one of the critical questions confronting the new administration will be how best to address the challenges facing low-income communities.

A New Look at the Community Reinvestment Act

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977 has been a part of the bank regulatory environment for over 30 years. While the statute itself and the regulations that implement it have changed over the intervening decades, a re-examination of the CRA seems particularly relevant in the current environment.

Twenty-First Century Ownership: Individual and Community Stakes

In the current economic crisis, questions around ownership are at the forefront of policy responses.