With every new year comes the promise and hope of progress—we glean lessons from our past about what works and what we need to change going forward. This is difficult work at the individual level and it’s an even more daunting task to apply this introspective lens to an entire sector. But a new book published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund aims to do exactly that for the community development field. Investing in What Works for America’s Communities: Essays on People, Place & Purpose takes a holistic approach to moving the field forward, gathering insight from leaders in policy, practice and academia to offer a range of fresh ideas on how to best meet the needs of low- and moderate-income communities.
This special issue of Community Investments highlights excerpts from these essays, with a particular focus on the topic of “integration,” a prominent theme that emerges from the book. The most promising models of community development going forward all include elements of integration, such as layered financing, joint development, shared accountability, or coordinated services. The authors argue that the dichotomy of “people versus place” and the rigid siloes separating housing, education, health, and other sectors must become a thing of the past in order to effectively address poverty in the future.
The articles in this issue cover the past, present and future of community development, each pushing the field to think in new and creative ways. Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution and Peter Edelman from Georgetown University Law Center provide excellent commentary on the context in which the future of community development is unfolding. Angela Glover Blackwell of PolicyLink, Ben Hecht from Living Cities, Paul Grogan of The Boston Foundation, and Sister Lillian Murphy and Janet Falk of Mercy Housing provide perspective from the field, outlining ideas and opportunities for greater collaboration. And finally, David Erickson, Ian Galloway and Naomi Cytron from the San Francisco Fed offer next steps for bringing these integrative approaches to fruition. In addition to these thought pieces, we also profile successful models of integration taking shape in communities across the country. These include the Evergreen Initiative in Cleveland, Ohio, Neighborhood Centers, Inc. in Houston, Texas, and Purpose Built Communities in Atlanta, Georgia.
The articles in this issue of CI are just a glimpse of the rich discussion captured in Investing in What Works for America’s Communities and I’d encourage you to view the entire book, which can be downloaded for free from www.whatworksforamerica.org. We hope these essays catalyze a spirited dialogue in the field about “what works” and how we can achieve meaningful progress going forward.
Happy New Year!