Welcome to our latest www.Community-Wealth.org e-newsletter. Once again, we have added dozens of new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol *NEW* to find the most recent additions. We also have added two new categories to the “Strategies and Models” section.
- Reclaiming the Commons - In the past decade, efforts to “reclaim the commons” — that is, create a sphere of economic activity that benefits the public by creating common rights— has gained increasing prominence in a number of areas, including the digital realm (“information commons”), environmental and natural resource protection, and the promotion of public spaces. This section highlights these innovative efforts to establish and protect a broad sphere of public assets.
- Transit-Oriented Development - Integrating public transportation with community development has become increasingly critical for both transit agencies and communities. Done well, transit-oriented development can help boost transit systems both by increasing ridership and providing lease revenues to cities and transit agencies, while supporting communities by ensuring easy access to jobs and needed services. This section provides an overview of TOD efforts nationwide.
This month, our updated home page features the fifth in a continuing series of profiles of Community Wealth-Building Cities. The citizens of San Jose, California have implemented a wide variety of methods to build community wealth, including a broad range of community development efforts, co-ops, employee-owned companies, and university-community partnerships.
Once again, many thanks to all of you who 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:
National Survey Finds CDC Housing Production Tops 1 Million Mark
The first industry-wide survey of community development corporations in seven years shows continuing CDC movement growth. Among the findings, as of the end of 2004, CDCs had produced 1,252,000 homes and apartments, up from 650,000 through 1997; developed 126 million square feet of commercial and industrial space, up from 65 million square feet through 1997; created 774,000 jobs, up from 247,000 through 1997; and increased their ranks to 4,600 as compared with 3,600 in 1997. Another important finding: the percentage of CDCs with ownership interest in neighborhood business increased from 31 percent in 1998 to 45 percent in 2005.
Valuing the Wealth of Neighborhoods
In the premiere issue of the new journal Democracy, Gar Alperovitz, the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and a founding principal of The Democracy Collaborative, examines the role community wealth strategies might play in developing a more equitable distribution of assets in U.S. society. While the “ownership society” advocated by the Bush administration has effectively reinforced existing inequality, Alperovitz finds that the basis for an alternative and more equitable, progressive ownership society, based on the proliferation of community wealth building institutions, is already taking shape at the grassroots.
Rebuilding Economies through Local Ownership
Contrary to popular belief, many small, locally owned businesses actually out-perform their “big box” and Fortune 500 competition. In this new book, social entrepreneur and author Michael Shuman details dozens of specific strategies small and home-based businesses are using to successfully out-compete the world’s largest companies. And it shows how consumers, investors, policymakers, and organizers can effectively revitalize their own communities by supporting local businesses.
For more information, see www.smallmart.org.
IN THE NEWS:
City of Portland, Oregon Invests in “Green” Building
Portland’s South Waterfront project, built on a decaying industrial site south of downtown, signals a watershed in a national green-building boom. Nationally, six percent of all residential construction this year is expected to meet national green building standards, up from less than one percent six years ago. Portland, well known for its leadership in smart growth and transit-oriented development, is leading the way again. To support the effort, the city is paying 15% of the cost to build a $57 million tram to serve Waterfront tenants. By doing so, the City has leveraged a privately financed transit-oriented/green building project that will cost $2.2 billion.
Study Documents High Cost of Predatory Lending
According to a July 2006 Brookings report, 4.2 million lower-income homeowners paid higher than average prices for their mortgages in 2004, while 4.5 million lower-income households paid higher than average rates for auto loans. And at least 1.6 million pay excessive fees for furniture or appliances. Reducing the costs of living for lower income families by just one percent would give these families $6.5 billion in added spending power, speaking to the vital importance for more concerted policy effort to reduce predatory lending, writes Brookings Fellow Matt Fellowes.
San Diego Uses Community Ownership Model to Spur Development
Neighbors of the 10-acre Market Creek Plaza shopping center in southeast San Diego are being offered an equity stake in a new enterprise. The Jacobs Foundation, which developed the shopping center with the support and participation of area residents, has created an investment plan that gives nearby residents up to a 20 percent stake in the enterprise – with the goal of transferring complete ownership and control within 12 years. Ownership “units” in the shopping center will be available to a maximum of 450 people who live, work, volunteer, or own a business in area. Potential investors will be required to buy at least 20 shares at $10 apiece and must demonstrate that they have contributed in some way to the overall health of the community.
Building Savings through Payroll Deductions
To rebuild the U.S. savings rate (which fell below zero in 2005 for the first time since the Great Depression), Reid Cramer of the New America Foundation has drafted a proposal to create an automatic payroll deduction system for savings (with the ability to opt out), to be invested in index funds that would allow ordinary Americans to earn reasonable returns without having to become financial experts. According to Cramer, not only would this boost the U.S. savings rate, but could reduce the need for lower income Americans to access predatory lending to meet emergency needs.
Group Aims to Launch Community Development Guarantee Company in 2007
Founded in 1998 and modeled after “Doctors Without Borders,” the nonprofit Wall Street Without Walls provides pro bono assistance to nonprofit community development groups to help them access capital markets. In 2007, the group aims to launch its next big effort, a community development financial guarantee company that could underwrite projects, thereby lowering the cost of borrowing.
Hundreds Gather to Promote Employee Ownership
About 700 people gathered at the annual conference of the ESOP Association conference held May 17-18, 2006, in Washington, D.C. Highlights included presentations by the CEOs of Acadian Ambulance of Louisiana and Brookshire Brothers of Texas, two employee-owned businesses that found themselves in the middle of hurricane zones in 2005. Acadian is widely hailed for its adroit evacuation of New Orleans hospitals flooded by Hurricane Katrina, while Brookshire Brothers retail outlets played an important role in community rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita.
Forum Identifies Rural Community Development Policy Priorities
Founded in 2001, the National Rural Funders Collaborative work to build the field of rural practice, policy, and philanthropy, and to leverage more than $100 million in new or untapped resources to support and strengthen rural communities and families facing persistent poverty. NRFC recently held a gathering of funders, academics, and practitioners to assess the progress of the collaborative at the halfway point of its 10-year effort.
Community Energy Cooperative
The Community Energy Cooperative is a Chicago-based non-profit membership organization helping consumers and communities obtain the information and services they need to control energy costs. The Cooperative was founded in January 2000 by the Center for Neighborhood Technology.
Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL), Loyola University
The Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) of Loyola University Chicago acts as an important community resource, linking the research of Loyola faculty and students to the needs of community and nonprofit organizations, civic groups, and Chicago government agencies. Recent reports issued by CURL include a report on domestic violence, a study of gentrification, and an assessment of the legacy of Chicago’s first African American mayor, Harold Washington.
Native American Bank
Native American Bank was founded in 2001, organized by a group of Tribal Nations and Alaska Native Corporations. With a mission statement of “Pooling Indian Economic Resources to Increase Indian Economic Independence,” the Bank aims to (1) be a powerful engine for Indian economic development, (2) establish a significant Indian presence in the financial marketplace, and (3) project the growing economic power of tribes and Indian businesses onto the national scene.
Cooperative Home Care Associates
Founded in 1985 to provide quality home care at living wages in the South Bronx of New York, Cooperative Home Care Association now anchors a national cooperative network yielding over $60 million a year in revenue and employing more than 1,600, making it the largest worker cooperative in the United States.