Community Investments

This quarterly publication focuses on community development issues and innovative solutions relevant to communities within the Federal Reserve’s 12th District.


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Posted January 30, 2015

In this issue of Community Investments, we look into some of the reasons why we are seeing a degree of disconnection between what veterans need and the resources available to them. As we consider how the public can address these missing links, this issue’s articles provide evidence from local initiatives demonstrating effective ways for communities to recognize, support, and collaborate with veterans in the arenas of employment, housing, education, and financial stability. Many of the efforts presented here also highlight the ways in which veterans themselves are serving and supporting their fellow veterans and their broader communities.


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Posted September 16, 2014

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.

Posted March 26, 2014

Realizing that disconnected silo-based efforts cannot effectively address these interrelated conditions on their own, innovators within the community development field have increasingly experimented with a different approach that speaks to linked community challenges. In this emerging approach, professionals from different but related community development sectors work together in a multi-sector coalition toward a common goal with an aim to holistically improve conditions for a group of people, neighborhood, or region. This approach is referred to as cross-sector community development, collective action, systems-level change, or collective impact, among other names. This issue of Community Investments explores this emerging approach and lifts up early learnings from pioneers in the field. The articles discuss how to establish and grow collective action leadership organizations and working groups and build a strong but flexible initiative framework; consider how government can be an effective partner in collective action work; and convey the critical role of data and measurement in these initiatives. We also examine some early examples of collective action initiatives in practice.


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Posted December 11, 2013

In this issue of Community Investments, we look at a selection of Native initiatives across the country. We learn how Native communities are partnering with federal agencies to build and support sustainable housing in Indian Country, and establish modern water and sewer systems for remote Native communities in Alaska. The articles also examine a community-based health worker initiative that extends culturally-sensitive health care to the farthest reaches of Navajo Nation, and a Native Hawaiian financial education program and community-based lending institution. In addition, we discover how a community center in Portland, Oregon is bringing urban Native Americans together and preserving community ties in a city environment.

Posted June 6, 2013

This issue of Community Investments asks how different stakeholders within the affordable housing industry are looking ahead and considering adjustments to their practices, in order to continue to provide affordable homes in a challenging fiscal environment. In this issue, we take a look inside affordable housing practitioners’ thought processes around current affordable housing challenges, and look at the beginnings of innovative models for the new housing paradigm. We examine new public-private funding partnership models, and consider innovations underway within existing housing programs that could streamline the development process and encourage more efficient construction of safe and stable affordable homes. We learn about new cross-sector efforts with health care, transportation, and energy efficiency practitioners in which affordable housing serves as a crucial base to support resilient neighborhoods, and discover how service-enriched housing helps the most vulnerable members of our communities to lead fuller lives in a more stable environment.


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Posted December 26, 2012

This special issue of Community Investments highlights excerpts from a new book published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund titled Investing in What Works for America’s Communities: Essays on People, Place & Purpose, 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.

Posted August 1, 2012

This issue of Community Investments focuses on the intersection between education and community development in an attempt to identify shared goals and seed a conversation between the two sectors. The articles in this issue examine broad trends in educational equity and new models for better integrating community development and schools. We address issues such as the importance of setting standards for collective impact and explore how a thriving network of community schools in Multnomah County, Oregon is strategically aligning youth, family, and community services with schools to improve educational outcomes. The issue also examines the widening academic achievement gap between the rich and the poor, which has important implications for inequality in America.

Posted January 20, 2012

This issue of Community Investments focuses on the topic of data and measurement and its implications for community development. The articles provide an introduction to the basic concepts and challenges related to impact measurement in the field, and also explore more in-depth issues, such as the impact tensions that arise in place-based initiatives and the use of a logic model for CDFIs to conceptualize their impact. We also examine Social Impact Bonds, a new investment vehicle that reflects an important movement in the impact investing sector toward robust measurement of social progress. Our “Eye on Community Development” section features articles on new research findings from the Supplemental Poverty Measure and a new REO EQ2 lending program that meets the needs of nonprofits utilizing NSP funds for local neighborhood stabilization.


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Posted November 1, 2011

This issue of Community Investments explores the issue of income inequality from a community development perspective, examining the broad trends that have contributed to its rise as well as the impact of inequality at the individual and community level. The articles consider different facets of income inequality, such as the geographic segregation of income groups at the neighborhood and regional level, and the increasing polarization of the labor market. A "Community Perspectives" thought piece examines the causes and consequences of the broad changes in income distribution. In addition, we address the impact of poverty stressors on LMI households. Our "Eye on Community Development" section highlights important advancements in the community development field, including the CDFI Bond Program and new approaches to addressing adult literacy. We hope this issue of CI sheds light on the complex topic of income inequality in the United States, and more importantly, on the community development field’s role in addressing it.

Posted April 20, 2011

This issue of Community Investments focuses on community development practice–what are some emerging ideas for programs and policies that can help lower-income communities rebuild after the recession, and what do we know about their effectiveness?  The issue profiles two new efforts to improve consumers’ financial decisions, including a lottery-based savings account for youth and a nonprofit check cashing outlet. It also highlights new research on shared equity homeownership programs, local strategies for responding to investor purchases of distressed properties, and the early implementation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.


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Posted December 12, 2010

This issue of Community Investments examines the relationship between health and community development and the rich opportunities for cross sectoral partnerships between the two fields. The articles explore the striking health disparities that exist across populations of different socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds and delve into specific examples of community-based approaches to improving health outcomes.

Posted August 20, 2010

This issue of Community Investments explores the growing practice of transit-oriented development (TOD) and its implications for community development. The articles provide an introduction to basic TOD concepts and also explore issues such as how transit affects economic opportunities for LMI workers and the interrelationship between transit and schools. We also examine equity issues in TOD and transit funding, and highlight models for protecting the interests of LMI communities affected by TOD.

Posted March 20, 2010

This issue of Community Investments explores key issues in place-based community development. The articles highlight some of the lessons learned over the past two decades of place-based work and introduce new ideas to inform future initiatives, such as using a neighborhood typology to inform investment strategies. We also consider the effect of place on youth and explore the very difficult task of evaluating place-based initiatives.


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Posted December 12, 2009

In this issue of Community Investments, we explore the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the field of community development finance. The articles cover a range of issues, including practical strategies for coping with the current economic environment, ideas for strengthening the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, as well as information on the unique financial structure of nonprofits and its implications for nonprofit sustainability. We’ll also look at how small businesses are faring in the difficult economic climate and examine the role of P2P lending in community development finance.

Posted August 20, 2009

In this issue of Community Investments, we explore how the growing field of financial education can help people maximize their financial well-being. We discuss best practices in financial education, the role of financial institutions in delivering financial education tied to financial products, and how insights from behavioral economics can improve the design of financial education. In addition, we take a closer look at a research study measuring the effectiveness of financial education among soldiers and consider strategies to promote asset building at tax time.

Posted May 20, 2009

In this issue, we address the challenges that low-income communities face in times of high unemployment and explore a variety of workforce development efforts that can improve prospects for low-wage and low-skilled workers. This issue also includes a new “look” new quarterly features, and timely updates on relevant community development topics, such as the National Community Stabilization Trust and innovations around the Earned Income Tax Credit.


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Posted December 1, 2008

In this issue of Community Investments, we highlight efforts that demonstrate a growing commitment by the community development field to taking environmental concerns into account. The articles in this issue illustrate how developers, investors, and grassroots organizations are finding creative and effective ways to bundle environmentally responsible outcomes with community development ends.

Posted August 1, 2008

We highlight efforts that demonstrate a growing commitment by the community development field to taking environmental concerns into account.


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Posted September 1, 2007

This issue of Community Investments focuses on youth and education, and considers how the community development field can contribute to improving access to a high quality education for low-income children.

Posted May 1, 2007

This issue of Community Investments focuses on rural community and economic development issues, highlighting ways that practitioners and policymakers are shifting their efforts toward the development of local assets, such as building leadership and entrepreneurial capacity, and looking for innovative ways to leverage limited resources to build housing, improve infrastructure, and reduce poverty.


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Posted October 1, 2006

The immigration reform debate that has been swirling through Washington’s political corridors is enormously complicated. At issue are concerns over national security and the effects of competition in U.S. labor markets, as well as the costs that immigrants may impose on government budgets.


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Posted December 1, 2005

In this latest issue of Community Investments, we look at the challenges facing low-income neighborhoods and explore some of the principles underlying successful integrated approaches to community development.

Posted May 1, 2005

This year, the Community Affairs Offices of the Federal Reserve System have launched an exciting System-wide initiative on asset building, Innovations in Asset Building Policy, Products and Programs.


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Posted June 1, 2002

For years, representatives of financial institutions have gone into schools with piggy bank programs to introduce the importance of savings to young children in the hope of establishing positive, life long financial habits.


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Posted December 1, 2001

The CRA encourages financial institutions to use intermediaries to expand their capacity for delivering community development services; and faith-based organizations have long been recognized as one of the most prominent and successful examples of intermediaries.

Posted September 1, 2001

While some aspects of the “new economy” have gone the way of the leisure suit, web portals continue to evolve and change the way business is done.


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Posted December 1, 2000

Representatives from the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York and San Francisco were invited to participate in a series of meetings in England last month to provide information about the United States’ community development industry.

Posted September 1, 2000

On September 7th, 2000, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco held a public hearing on the HOEPA, capping a series of public hearings sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board at branches across the country.


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Posted December 1, 1999

The last month has seen a flurry of editorial activity and op-ed pieces written about the newly enacted Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999.

Posted February 1, 1999

Articles on the revolving loan fund industry, microbusiness opportunities, NAFTA, financing special needs housing, and targeted loan products.


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