Welcome to our latest edition of our Community-Wealth.org e-newsletter. Once again, we have added more links, documents, and other materials to our site. Look for this symbol *NEW* to find our most recent additions.
Our updated home page features the third in a continuing series of profiles ofCommunity Wealth-Building Cities. The citizens of Cleveland, Ohio have implemented a wide variety of methods to build community wealth, including community development corporations, city land banking, foundation investments, and community-university partnerships.
Thanks to all of you who continue to send us material to post. Your contributions enable us to keep expanding the site and to better link community wealth-builders around the nation.
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative
NEW & RECOMMENDED:
More than $2 Trillion in Socially Responsible Investments (PDF 356KB)
In January 2006, the Social Investment Forum released its latest biennial survey on social and community investing. Among its findings, the asset value of the community development finance industry (CDFIs) climbed 40 percent in the past two years from $14 billion to $19.6 billion, while assets in socially screened mutual funds increased from $151 billion to $173 billion. All told 9.4 percent of the $24.4 trillion of assets under professional management — a total of nearly $2.3 trillion — is involved in socially responsible investing in some way.
Policy Innovations in “Red States”? Absolutely! (PDF 536KB)
“The building blocks of a new domestic policy framework are being constructed today in the states of the nation … with ‘asset-building’ at its core,” according to this December 2005 study from the Institute of Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. Emphasizing the bipartisan reach of community wealth building, the report details policy innovations in over a dozen “red” states. The authors suggest these efforts “can serve as a roadmap for officials, policymakers, and the public in other states.”
Rust Belt Cities on the Move (PDF 6.9MB)
Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh are often referred to as rust belt, weak market, slow growth, or undercapitalized cities. Yet each is home to public, private, philanthropic, and community institutions that are advancing innovative community wealth building approaches and strategies. This report from PolicyLink and the Community Development Practitioners’ Network highlights a wide range of over 50 community development policies in these five cities and elsewhere, including university-community partnerships, inner city retail, transit-oriented development, reclamation of vacant land, neighborhood revitalization, community broadband, and affordable housing.
Progressive State Policy Agenda (PDF 2.7MB)
In December 2005, the Washington D.C.-based Center for Policy Alternatives held its annual Summit of the States, a national meeting of progressive state legislators. The 2006 Progressive Agenda for the States provides a “policy toolkit” that can be enacted at the state level on a range of issues, a number of which concern housing and workforce measures related to community wealth building.
IN THE NEWS:
Bi-Partisan Support for Community Wealth Initiatives (PDF 128KB)
The Democracy Collaborative and the Aspen Institute Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy Program held a policy roundtable on January 18. The session focused on how community wealth-building institutions provide jobs, build assets, and alleviate poverty. Before an audience of policy experts, journalists, foundation representatives, and community economic development specialists, political-economist Gar Alperovitz reflected on the emerging trajectory of policy options aimed at stabilizing communities, anchoring capital locally, and developing individual and collectively held economic assets. A panel of respondent commented on the political potential of this new direction in social change – one of the rare policy areas that many believe can win bi-partisan support. Panelists included William Galston, senior fellow at Brookings’ Governance Studies Program (pictured above), Robert Borosage, president of the Institute for America’s Future; and Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and former mayor of Indianapolis.
To see a 6-minute video clip from the event, click here.
Community Broadband Dispute Heats Up (PDF 100KB)
The United States used to be the world leader in broadband access. Today it ranks sixteenth. Frustrated by sluggish private sector provision, states such as Kentucky and Maine and cities including San Francisco, Tucson, and Philadelphia are themselves providing, subsidizing or overseeing contracts for community broadband. These programs are designed to ensure consistent and affordable broadband for rural and economically disadvantaged urban residents.
DC Renters Form Housing Co-op to Stave Off Gentrification (PDF 240KB)
In Washington D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood, as in many US inner city communities, rising property values have displaced many low-income, long-term neighborhood residents. At the 102-unit Capitol Manor complex on W Street, however, tenants with an average income of under $20,000 a year banded together to fight back. After a marathon four-and-a-half year effort and with support from the local Manna community development corporation, D.C. housing officials, and the National Cooperative Bank, tenants purchased the building through their newly created Capital Manor Cooperative.
Alaska Governor Urges State Ownership of Oil Pipeline (PDF 56KB)
Alaska’s Republican Governor Frank Murkowski told a joint session of the state legislature that Alaska should buy a share of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, the 800-mile energy artery that ships North Slope crude. With this proposal, Murkowski joins a growing number of governors (both Republican and Democrat) in advocating the use of state investments to spawn local economic development and raise revenues. Buying into the oil pipeline complements Alaskan state plans to negotiate a 20 percent share of a yet-to-be-built, $20 billion pipeline.
Can Asset-Based Policies Reduce the Growing Wealth Gap? (104KB)
The drive for assets is as old as the nation, but, as the personal savings rate plunges below zero, the issue has a new urgency, according to a February 2006 article in USA Today The article notes that while the top one percent of the population has about one-third of the nation’s wealth, the bottom half owns less than three percent. Concerned about this growing wealth divide, the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks have launched a joint effort with Washington non-profit CFED (originally the Corporation for Enterprise Development) to develop strategies for building wealth.
A Homestead Act for the 21st Century (PDF 68KB)
As many as one-quarter of all adult Americans enjoy a legacy of asset ownership traceable to the Homestead Act of 1862. In this Harvard Business Review article, New America Foundation President Ted Halstead proposes a new “Homestead Act” that would guarantee each newborn American $6,000 at birth to provide everyone with an asset base to help finance education or housing needs. Halstead estimates that the annual cost of such a program would be about $24 billion—only one percent of the federal government’s $2.4 trillion budget.
New Strategies for Inclusive Growth (PDF 108KB)
The Opportunity Finance Network, the newly formed successor organization to the National Community Capital Association, unveiled its “opportunity finance agenda” in January. The group aims to build partnerships between community development financial institutions and mainstream capital providers to develop new loan products that can reduce predatory lending, preserve the affordability of manufactured housing, and provide a financial relief and recovery fund that will invest in regions affected by natural disasters or terrorist attacks.
University-Community Partnerships Lead to Urban University Revival (112KB)
Not so long ago, colleges faced with urban decline might respond by building walls around the campus. In the past decade, at many campuses including Penn, Yale, Howard, Clark (Worcester, MA), Trinity (Hartford, CT), and Columbia, universities have instead invested faculty and student hours and university dollars in partnerships with community groups. The results include revitalized urban neighborhoods and increased student recruitment for urban campuses.
Free Press is a national organization working to generate policies that produce a public interest-oriented media system with a strong nonprofit and noncommercial sector. Its Community Broadband campaign website has a map showing municipally-owned networks across the country and links to information about related federal, state, and local legislative campaigns.
Take Back Your Time
Take Back Your Time is an initiative that challenges the trend of longer working days in America. The group aims to bring parental and personal leaves laws in the United States up to the standards already in place in all other industrial countries. The website includes information about the group’s shorter work hours campaign, downloadable posters, and information about the group’s Take Back Your Time book, a collection of essays by over two dozen authors on the impact of increased hours of work on American communities, as well as public policy suggestions for remedies. In January the group sponsored a strategy roundtable in Washington, D.C. at the headquarters of the AFL-CIO. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader wrote a report about the discussion. Why is it, he asks, that the United States is the only advanced industrial country to fail to set legislative minimums for paid sick leave or vacation time?
(Also see article-nader.pdf (60KB))
Community Forklift is wholly-owned subsidiary of a Maryland nonprofit organization. This surplus and salvaged building materials outlet disassembles buildings that are targeted for demolition and recovers and recycles the materials for other uses. Nationally, between 1998 and 2002, 200 stores opened in this industry. According to the Washington-based Institute for Self-Reliance, sales in this sector as of 2002 had reached an estimated $70 million per year.
Pension Funds and Urban Revitalization
This joint website project, sponsored by the Harvard Law School and the University of Oxford, investigates and promotes best practices in urban economic development by U.S. public sector pension funds. The website contains a spreadsheet outlining state pension fund policies and a number of case studies and related news articles.