Community Development Innovation Review

December 2009

Prescription for Healthy Communities: Community Development Finance


We are at a crossroads in the fields of both community development finance and public health. Persistent poverty in many of our nation’s communities, along with increasing economic challenges faced by the working poor, are forcing a realization that traditional approaches to community development finance focused on affordable housing and business development are not sufficient to move and keep families out of poverty. Since the 1990s, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and their partners have augmented traditional community development approaches with investments in human development (child care, education, and workforce development), family economic security (savings, insurance, and asset building), and “green” initiatives aimed at better positioning low-income residents to achieve health and financial security. Although the current economic crisis has interrupted and in some cases drastically reversed progress, innovation within the field continues to advance these trends.