Working Papers

Working papers provide in-depth analysis of new community development issues from practitioners and scholars.


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Neighborhood Change and Residential Instability in Oakland

Posted May 11, 2021

In this report, we examine neighborhood change and residential instability in the City of Oakland over the past two decades, employing historical and contemporary data. Our results show that lower-SES residents experience residential instability in different ways in different parts of Oakland, suggesting the need for more targeted strategies.


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Increasing Access to Affordable Housing Opportunities in Silicon Valley

Posted October 8, 2019

The ever-growing concern about gentrification and displacement has resulted in a wide range of policy and programmatic solutions. Yet, little research has assessed the effectiveness of anti-displacement strategies, making it difficult to prioritize solutions. This study explores how renter protections affect mobility trends by focusing on the four Silicon Valley cities that currently have just cause for evictions and rent control ordinances: East Palo Alto, Mountain View, San Jose, and Los Gatos.


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When Home is the Most Dangerous Place: How a Community Development Organization Learned to Get the Lead Out - Volume 2018, Issue 01

Posted June 5, 2018

The debacle of lead-poisoned children in Flint, Michigan reminded us of the insidious and permanent impact of this toxic poison on a child’s brain. However, millions of children (and seniors) living in older homes, especially ones with flaking paint, are still being lead poisoned. Today, the vast majority of children who become poisoned by lead come from lower-income families of color—those least able to shoulder this added burden. This is where community-based nonprofit organizations—especially the 1,000+ groups that weatherize and retrofit older homes across the country—can step in and play a key role.


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The Rise of Underemployment: Supporting the Needs of Low-Income Workers - Volume 2017, Issue 02

Posted April 4, 2017

In 2016, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco held a series of roundtable discussions across the Western states to examine drivers of the recent rise in involuntary part-time employment and the impact it has on lower-income households. This paper summarizes existing research on the topic of underemployment, discusses themes that surfaced during the locally focused meetings, and proposes ways to address the underlying causes through solutions that build on the interrelated nature of housing, jobs, transportation, and child care.

CultureBank: A New Paradigm for Community Investment - Volume 2017, Issue 01

Posted March 23, 2017

Building on the concept of creative placemaking, this paper presents an idea for a Community Development Financial Institution organized around art: CultureBank. Housed at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, this nonprofit bank will specialize in unleashing asset value in art collections and focus on artists as borrowers, or Artist-Entrepreneurs.


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Staying at Home: The Role of Financial Services in Promoting Aging in Community - Volume 2016, Issue 05

Posted September 19, 2016

Older adults are indicating a desire to live and grow old in their own homes and communities. Yet there are often numerous barriers and threats to aging in community, as many communities lack a comprehensive community model. With a focus on financial institutions and utilizing the concept of Age-Friendly Banking, this paper explores the economic security of older adults and ways to improve older adults’ ability to live safely in their own homes and communities as long as possible.

Taking Stock of New Supermarkets in Food Deserts: Patterns in Development, Financing, and Health Promotion - Volume 2016, Issue 04

Posted August 12, 2016

Across the U.S., neighborhoods face disparate healthy food access, which has motivated federal, state, and local initiatives to develop supermarkets in “food deserts.” Differences in the implementation of these initiatives are evident, including the presence of health programming, yet no comprehensive inventory of projects exists to assess their impact. Using a variety of data sources, this paper provides details on all supermarket developments under “fresh food financing” regimes in the U.S. from 2004-2015.

The Emerging Economic Geography of Single-Family Rental Securitization - Volume 2016, Issue 02

Posted January 21, 2016

This working paper uses data culled from presale reports from the first wave of rental-backed securities to analyze and describe the emerging trend of single-family home rental (SFR) securitization. Authors provide a basic overview of the market, showing the number and market value of single-family homes involved in these new financial products, produce one of the first maps of the phenomenon, and examine data on the accessibility of SFR securitized homes to Section 8 tenants.

Best Practices in the Design and Implementation of Learning Communities - Volume 2016, Issue 01

Posted January 12, 2016

Over the past decade, national foundations and the federal government have designed many multisite initiatives that seek to address complex social problems. These initiatives have spanned fields, from criminal justice to early childhood education to community development and health. In addition to providing sites with funding and technical assistance, a number of these initiatives have included some type of cross-site convening within the design, often referred to as “learning communities.” The findings in this report emerge primarily from interviews with 15 individuals who have had experience in designing and implementing learning communities and communities of practice and individuals involved more broadly in the field of interorganizational learning.


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Understanding the Crowd, Following the Community: The Need for Better Data in Community Development Crowdfunding - Volume 2015, Issue 07

Posted December 28, 2015

Crowdfunding has emerged as a popular way to raise money online for a wide range of projects, and the community development field has the potential to benefit from the practice. This paper makes the case that in order for community development crowdfunding to reach its potential scale, and to involve the full range of potential stakeholders, better standards of data reporting and collection need to be established.

Weathering the Great Recession: A CDFI Case Study in Patient Capital - Volume 2015, Issue 06

Posted September 1, 2015

This working paper looks at the lending performance of one CDFI, the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), through the Great Recession. Its authors argue that LIIF’s success weathering the downturn—relative to similarly-sized banks—is the direct result of a “patient capital” approach to portfolio management unique to the CDFI industry.

Gentrification, Displacement and the Role of Public Investment: A Literature Review - Volume 2015, Issue 05

Posted August 24, 2015

Scholarly interest in the relationship between investment and displacement dates back to the 1970s, in the aftermath of displacement related to urban renewal. More recently, a new wave of scholarship examines gentrification, primarily in strong market cities, and its relationship to public investment, particularly in transit. The results of these studies are mixed, due in part to methodological shortcomings. A primary finding looking across the literature is that there is a need for a new methodology to analyze displacement risk.

Leveraging the Power of Place: Using Pay for Success to Support Housing Mobility - Volume 2015, Issue 04

Posted July 28, 2015

Families who use housing vouchers to move from areas of concentrated poverty to better-resourced neighborhoods have been shown to experience higher earnings and improved health. Housing mobility programs increase the effectiveness of housing vouchers by providing education and support to voucher holders facing barriers to such “opportunity” moves. This working paper proposes using a Pay for Success financing mechanism to increase investment in housing mobility programs based on the hypothesis that health care savings stemming from a positive mobility outcome—specifically related to diabetes and obesity— are sufficient to pay the entire cost of the mobility program. The authors draw on a unique dataset and use a dose-response model to produce four potential health savings scenarios that vary the expected effect timing (when health actually improves). Even the most conservative scenario generates sufficient projected health care cost savings to pay for the housing mobility program’s costs within a ten-year timeframe.

Pathways to System Change: The Design of Multisite, Cross-Sector Initiatives - Volume 2015, Issue 03

Posted July 21, 2015

Over the past few years, there has been significant growth in the number of multi-site, cross-sector initiatives to improve communities and the lives of their residents. Through a comprehensive literature review, interviews with key project evaluators and funders, a recap of a December 2014 roundtable discussion, and the authors’ significant expertise, this report provides detailed descriptions of “what works” and “pitfalls” in its analysis of design elements and project parameters of both past and current multisite initiatives. In addition, the paper provides insights into the design and implementation of place-based efforts for community development practitioners, financial institutions, and other organizations, such as healthcare payers, who are involved in site-specific initiatives seeking to improve the economic well-being of low-income residents.

Building a Cross-Sector Coalition: Sustainable Communities for All and CA’s Cap-and-Trade Program - Volume 2015, Issue 02

Posted April 8, 2015

Why should community developers care about cap-and-trade and what do carbon emissions have to do with low-income households? As it turns out, the fields of environmental sustainability and community development have significant overlap, particularly in the area of transit-oriented development, where issues of affordability, equity, and displacement converge with concerns such as vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Adopting Age-Friendly Banking to Improve Financial Well-Being for Older Adults - Volume 2015, Issue 01

Posted January 16, 2015

This paper explores age-friendly banking products and services that better protect and preserve the assets of an aging population. In order to examine the unique financial needs and increase the financial well-being of low-income older adults, the California Coalition for Rural Housing (CCRH) partnered with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) to conduct an intensive study of over 400 low-income tenants living in subsidized senior housing. CCRH and NCRC recommend that banks develop more affordable banking products for seniors on fixed-incomes, assist customers in applying for public benefits, proactively address financial abuse and fraud, and provide in-person customer service and better early retirement planning. Financial institutions can incorporate these recommendations into the development of effective Age-Friendly Banking initiatives.


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Understanding Community Development Needs through the CRA Performance Context - Volume 2014, Issue 02

Posted December 8, 2014

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.

Long-term Cost Effectiveness of Placing Homeless Seniors in Permanent Supportive Housing - Volume 2014, Issue 01

Posted July 28, 2014

This paper demonstrates that the greatest reduction in health care costs after placement in supportive housing is seen among chronically homeless adults and seniors who are frequent users of the health care system. Employing data from Mission Creek Apartments, a senior affordable housing project in San Francisco with 51 units reserved for homeless seniors, the researchers estimated savings to Medicaid and Medicare from avoiding placing these seniors in a skilled nursing facility of $9.2 million over 7 years. Their findings support the conclusion that permanent supportive housing can be a highly cost-effective placement option for homeless seniors exiting skilled nursing facilities, particularly as they approach the end of life, and points to the importance of this housing option for managed care organizations that are increasingly taking on the financial responsibility for the health care of this population.


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Lessons on Cross-Sector Community Development: The Las Vegas Healthy Communities Coalition - Volume 2013, Issue 7

Posted December 17, 2013

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, launched the “Healthy Communities” initiative in 2010 to explore how the health and community development sectors can collaborate. A regional meeting took place in Las Vegas in January 2012, which led to the formation of the Las Vegas Healthy Communities Coalition (LVHCC), a collective impact initiative with a mission to “foster collaboration and coordination across multiple sectors and stakeholders, to generate healthy outcomes for all Southern Nevadans.” This report details the formation and progress of LVHCC, which is still in the early stages of development. Unlike other case studies, which often report on an initiative’s success after many years of careful planning and implementation, this study aims to provide a candid look at the challenging and emergent nature of cross-sector collaboration in progress. It is meant to shed light on specific challenges and lessons that have been learned in Las Vegas thus far in order to help other communities that have embarked on their own community collaboratives.

CRA Collaboratives and the San Joaquin Valley - Volume 2013, Issue 6

Posted November 29, 2013

California’s San Joaquin Valley is one of the nation’s most impoverished areas. Recent developments such as the foreclosure crisis and the Matosantos decision have heightened the Valley’s needs, and there is also evidence that the Valley is beginning to garner more attention from financial institutions and federal regulators. These developments create an opportunity for community-based organizations (CBOs) and financial institutions to work together in a mutually beneficial way. This paper describes how stakeholders have successfully collaborated to increase reinvestment in other locales, with lessons learned for the San Joaquin Valley. The results show that CBOs and financial institutions can improve conditions in the region and banks can still make a profit.

Comparative Advantages: Creating Synergy in Community Development - Volume 2013, Issue 05

Posted September 9, 2013

The goal of this paper is to provide insights and tools to help community development practitioners, policymakers, funders, and other stakeholders better understand how to maximize the effectiveness and impact of different types of organizations at the local and regional level. Understanding your comparative advantages is critical to addressing complex community development initiatives from foreclosure prevention, to sustainable energy, to urban education, to job creation.

The New Family Philanthropy: Investing for Social and Environmental Change - Volume 2013, Issue 04

Posted August 20, 2013

The impact investing marketplace is gaining traction—investment vehicles now span asset classes, infrastructural improvements are enhancing transparency and investor confidence, and social enterprise is maturing with a new generation of entrepreneurs. On the investor side, industry growth is being driven by large institutional investors such as public sector pension funds, banks, and private foundations. Today, we are also seeing a growing movement by families who seek to realize their core values, and effect societal change, through their family assets.