News

Towards a New System of Community Development

March 7, 2019 | The New Localism

By Bruce Katz and Ross Baird

Our continued visits to Opportunity Zones across the country (most recently Austin, Dayton, Kansas City, Norfolk, Baltimore, and San Antonio) and our conversations with literally dozens of practitioners reinforce our sense that the new federal tax incentive is (unexpectedly and slowly) driving the creation of a new system of community economic development. The process of invention is messy, haphazard and chaotic even by U.S. standards, made more complicated by the fact that a new class of investors and a relentless market orientation has been introduced into a system that has been largely dominated by a closed loop of actors motivated by either federal bank regulation or social impact.

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The ‘heartbreaking’ decrease in black homeownership Racism and rollbacks in government policies are taking their toll

February 28, 2019 | Washington Post

By Troy McMullen

Vanessa Bulnes and her husband, Richard, bought their house on 104th Avenue in East Oakland, Calif., in 1992.

The modest two-bedroom property is where they lived for 20 years, raising three children, and where Vanessa made a living running an in-home day-care center. Neighbors in the mostly African American community often saw her planting vegetables in the backyard, with her kids in tow.

After Richard had a stroke in 2008, reducing the couple to a single income, they fell behind on their mortgage and eventually lost their home to foreclosure. A years-long legal effort to refinance the loan on the property failed, and in 2012, the couple were forced to move into a nearby rental home, where they live today.

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Single-Family Subsidies Are Needed Outside Hot Markets

| ShelterForce

By Carey Shea

There isn’t a tax credit program available to spur investment in single-family residential neighborhoods, but an alliance of national real estate, housing, community development, lending, and construction organizations is working to change that.

Before Katrina’s wind and waves toppled New Orleans’ antiquated levee system in 2005, the city was already languishing under the burden of over 26,000 vacant properties. The levels of vacancy were so severe that the city hired the Center for Community Progress—a nonprofit that helps communities address vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties—to perform a vacant property study and recommend anti-blight strategies for implementation. The presentation to Mayor Ray Nagin was scheduled for the first week of September. Katrina blew into town on Aug. 29, flooding more than 80,000 homes and ultimately adding about 20,000 vacant properties to the city’s tally.

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The Middle Class Is Shrinking Everywhere — In Chicago It’s Almost Gone

February 18, 2019 | WBEZ News

By Linda Lutton

Chicago’s middle class, once the backbone of the city, is declining so swiftly that it’s almost gone, and a set of maps from a local university lays that reality bare.

The dynamic stands to affect nearly everything about Chicago going forward, from politics to schools to who will live here.

“It raises a lot of questions as to what kind of city it will be,” said Janet Smith, co-director of the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement at the University of Illinois at Chicago, which compiled the maps that document Chicago’s shrinking middle class — and an increasingly polarized city — over the past five decades.

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Webinar: Research to Inform Policy and Practice

If you couldn’t join the Middle Neighborhoods Community of Practice on Thursday, February 21, 2019 for the webinar on future middle neighborhoods research, you can watch the recording here. The webinar, now available for download, features a presentation on new research ideas by Alan Mallach, senior fellow at the Center for Community Progress, who has been […]

Search for a New Middle Neighborhoods Project Director in Cleveland

January 10, 2019

The Middle Neighborhoods Project Director will lead the Middle Neighborhoods Initiative for the Cleveland Community Development Corporation (CCDC) and report to the City of Cleveland’s Community Development Director. To create a mixed income, middle class city, Cleveland needs to foster the development of neighborhoods that appeal to families and that are affordable to those who fall above HUD’s 80% area median income (AMI) threshold.

In order to develop a strategy around the development and creation of middle income neighborhoods, the City of Cleveland’s Department of Community Development seeks a seasoned professional over two years who will be focused on this effort. Beyond their time, they need to be able to tap into consultants and partners who will implement a plan that will be realized over the next five years. The position is a two-year fellowship funded by The Cleveland Foundation. Read more

Setting the Stage to Revive America’s Middle Neighborhoods

November 19, 2018 | Next City

By Alan Mallach

Author Alan Mallach analyzes the challenges of changing demographics, aging housing stock and increased income inequality in America’s legacy cities, particularly for African-American neighborhoods in those cities.

The dramatic rise of American industry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries drew millions of workers into U.S. cities, triggering the expansion of the nation’s urban middle and industrial working classes. Across the country, “middle neighborhoods” sprang up to house these middle-income households: blocks of single-family homes connected by busy arterial streets, with businesses, houses of worship, public schools, and distinct ethnic or racial identities that sustained a social fabric paralleling their physical form.

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Support Middle Neighborhoods with a Federal Investment in Home Rehab

By Julia Gordon & Theo Chang

Neither rich nor poor. Neither gentrifying nor in steep decline. “Middle neighborhoods” have recently captured the attention of community development circles (and are the subject of ongoing coverage in Next City). These neighborhoods, broadly defined as areas with households earning 80 to 120 percent of the area median income, currently face a growing number of challenges. One glaring challenge is age — while homeownership rates are high, houses in middle neighborhoods are often quite old, and residents tend to have fewer resources for upkeep.

We work in a number of cities with many middle neighborhoods, connecting foreclosed homes to community housing organizations that will acquire and properly rehabilitate those homes. For example, in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, more than half of residents live in middle neighborhoods. As is the case in many of the cities along the East Coast, three-quarters of the homes in Baltimore were built before 1960.

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What Product Will Capture Massive Missing-Middle Opportunity? Providing right-priced product for the working class takes diligence.

November 4, 2018 | BUILDER Online

By

The development and delivery of right-sized, right-priced workforce housing is one of the most challenging yet undervalued opportunities for builders and developers today.

This so-called “middle neighborhood” defines a third to half of urban America, representing a wide variety of ethnicities to form some of the most racially and socioeconomically diverse areas in the country, says Paul Brophy, principal at Brophy & Reilly, a community development consulting firm based in Ellicott City, Md., and editor of On the Edge: America’s Middle Neighborhoods. In the book, he shares dozens of case studies from policymakers, scholars, and other community development professionals.

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How Communities of Practice Make a Difference in Middle Neighborhoods

October 22, 2018 | Next City

By Oscar Perry Abello

Not quite thriving, not quite distressed and ignored by policymakers, middle neighborhoods look to community development groups for support and stability. A look at the programs that can improve outcomes in these precarious places.

The story of Chatham, on the South Side of Chicago, while unique in many ways, can also sound familiar to those in neighborhoods of cities all across the country. Families moved here from far away, often fleeing violence and oppression. Parents found good paying, steady jobs. They put down roots and purchased homes. Children grew up with encouragement from parents, teachers, relatives and friends, some of them going on to Ivy League colleges and illustrious professional careers.

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(The Urgent Case for) Middle Neighborhoods, One of the Most Overlooked Assets in America

By Paul Brophy and Frank Woodruff

The recently-released Opportunity Atlas provides fresh evidence that neighborhoods — even blocks within neighborhoods — are determinants of children’s life chances, even when families have similar incomes. Similarly, the Neighborhood Life Expectancy Project shows how disparities in health, block by block, are based on neighborhood conditions.

These new reports are a reminder that the streets we call home — even more than the cities, counties, towns and suburbs we live in — are major predictors of quality of life and life opportunity. Given this growing understanding of how neighborhoods affect life outcomes, why aren’t more policymakers, civic and private leaders turning their attention to them?

One important issue gaining traction in urban policy discussions is the critical role of middle neighborhoods, which may be the most overlooked asset in today’s cities and suburbs.

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National links: Middle neighborhoods — ordinary, important, underfunded

By Jeff Wood

“Middle neighborhoods” are prevalent and important — so why are they ignored? Your bus network may never change, even though changing it would make it better. During campaign season, mayoral candidates shift their focus from downtowns to neighborhoods.

Neither the little guy nor the bigwig: “Middle neighborhoods” are home to much of the US population. They aren’t flashy — most residents make 80% to 120% of area median income — but they’re often strongholds of racial diversity and allow people to be upwardly mobile. Despite their importance, they don’t get the same attention and funding as the poorest or wealthiest places. (Kelly Regen and Stephanie Sung | Next City)

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