Community Development Research Briefs

Research Briefs feature data and commentary on community development trends and issues.

  • Driving Systems Change Forward

    Corianne Payton Scally, Lydia Lo, Kathryn L.S. Pettit, Camille Anoll, and Kassie Scott, Urban Institute

    A slate of multisite, cross-sector initiatives has emerged to address structural root causes of inequities by changing the systems that shape community conditions and individual well-being. This report reflects on recent progress and shortcomings and provides strategies to drive systems change forward. The findings highlight the complex intersections of systems, racial equity, and power that can work for or against systems change.

  • Transforming Conflict to Empower Community and Decrease Displacement in Gentrifying Communities

    Amy Minzner, Community Science

    Conflict Transformation (CT) is an approach that grapples with and seeks to address deep social conflicts in addition to visible disputes. CT holds promise for helping communities navigate the challenges of gentrification in ways that bridge differences, facilitate communication, and further equity. This paper highlights principles of CT that illuminate how existing development and equity-focused strategies can be combined to foster true transformation.

  • Impacts of COVID-19 on Nonprofits in the Western United States

    Laura Choi, Elizabeth Mattiuzzi, and Bina Shrimali, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

    Nonprofit organizations play an important role in the response to COVID-19, but the crisis is straining their ability to serve communities. This report summarizes data from a Federal Reserve survey to assess the impact of the pandemic on nonprofit respondents and the communities they serve in the Western United States. Article Citation Choi, Laura, Elizabeth […]

  • The Mental Health Implications of COVID-19 on Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color

    Laura Choi, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

    Shelter-in-place and social distancing measures have been critical for “flattening the curve” and managing the spread of COVID-19, but the sudden shock to our economic and social lives is raising concerns about mental and behavioral health issues. Low-income communities and communities of color were already more likely to experience risk factors for poor mental health, such as low socioeconomic status and substandard living conditions. This research brief explores these risk factors in the context of COVID-19, and why mental health promotion should be part of a comprehensive approach to equitable economic recovery.

  • What are Banks Doing to Address the Impacts of COVID-19 on LMI Communities? Early Approaches to Addressing the Crisis

    Bina Shrimali, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

    Banks play a key role in helping to alleviate the economic impacts of COVID-19 and have been encouraged to leverage Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) activities in their response. This research brief presents findings from interviews with community development officers across CRA-motivated financial institutions in the Twelfth Federal Reserve District and summarizes their early response actions. Interviewers asked about changes to lending, services, and investments; whether the recent CRA guidance had spurred any changes to the ways banks were operating; how banks were prioritizing growing need; and ways banks were being responsive to evolving community conditions.

  • Community Development Leadership: Early Visionaries Inspire Tomorrow’s Success

    Robert Zdenek and Dee Walsh

    This paper draws on interviews with 12 diverse long-time leaders in community development and identifies a number of common themes for what inspired and drove them. It provides a framework to describe four phases of leadership and makes recommendations for current and future community development leaders.

  • Why Credit Scores and Payday Lending Matter for Health

    Kirsten Wysen, MHSA, Public Health – Seattle & King County

    Greater inclusion in affordable credit markets and other policies that protect consumers from high cost debt could improve both the financial well-being and physical health of millions of adults. New epidemiologic evidence has shown strong connections between exposure to high cost short-term debt and poor health. This paper summarizes what is known on this topic and potential solutions.

  • Climate Adaptation Investment and the Community Reinvestment Act

    Jesse M. Keenan, Harvard University, and Elizabeth Mattiuzzi, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

    This report introduces the field of climate adaptation finance and explains its connection to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) within the context of the disaster provisions guiding pre- and post-disaster investments. In a demonstration of need, the report provides evidence of the spatial concentration of disaster declarations in areas with CRA-eligible populations. It highlights existing innovative and hypothetical investments within a broader context for stimulating greater pre-disaster planning and investment.

  • On the Sidelines of the Hot Economy

    Bina Shrimali, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

    While the current economy is often characterized as “hot,” marked by low unemployment, stable prices, and sustained economic growth, many residents are not enjoying the prosperity reflected in the aggregate measures of economic well-being. This report focuses on those who have not reaped the benefits of recent sustained growth in the economy. The report highlights groups who have faced barriers to economic participation and documents interrelated rising costs—particularly for housing, transportation, and childcare—that contribute to keeping people on the sidelines of the economy.

  • At What Cost? Student Loan Debt in the Bay Area

    Bina Shrimali, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Jacob DuMez, San Francisco Treasurer’s Office of Financial Empowerment; Sarika Abbi, San Francisco Treasurer’s Office of Financial Empowerment

    For most Americans, an investment in higher education is a key driver of economic security and mobility. However, rapidly rising costs of attendance, combined with stagnant wages and inadequate support systems for vulnerable borrowers have resulted in outcomes that are at odds with our collective vision of higher education as a crucial foundation for achieving the American Dream. This report highlights the local contours of this issue in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area region, particularly for low-income communities and communities of color, using Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax Data.