A well functioning neighborhood is a place where investments are made in families and children, where they find the support they need to build the skills that secure a better future.
At LIIF, we are trying to create pathways of opportunity for low income people and communities by serving as a bridge between private capital markets and low income neighborhoods. We do this by investing in program areas that support Housing, Early Education and Childcare, Schools, and recently began programs in Transit Oriented Development and Healthy Foods LIIF was founded over a quarter century ago as the “Low Income Housing Fund” to promote affordable housing as a primary way to help families escape poverty. Investing in building and improving affordable homes for low income people remains a cornerstone of LIIF’s poverty alleviation strategy. Being able to afford a safe, quality home enables parents to work, save money and invest more resources in their children’s health and education. High-quality early care and education assures a strong start on the skills necessary for a child’s future success in school and life. Children in stimulating early education programs are more likely to be academically successful and less likely to need adult social services. Quality, affordable child care is an investment that enables the whole family to succeed by permitting low income parents to work or attend school while feeling confident about their children’s well-being. Unfortunately, demand far exceeds supply for high-quality child care, particularly for low income families. Using capital, capacity building and public advocacy together, LIIF builds sustainable community-based systems to support child care facility financing and development. Quality education is essential to ending the cycle of poverty. It is a critical factor in enhancing a person’s opportunity for economic mobility and asset growth, and puts every child in a position to excel. Public charter schools are a promising alternative to some traditional public schools in underserved neighborhoods, but face significant barriers to expansion. Lack of access to facilities is cited as a primary barrier for many high-performing charter schools. LIIF provides capital for charter schools, which often lack access to traditional public funding mechanisms. In this way, LIIF increases the number of educational opportunities in poor neighborhoods and the life chances of the students in those communities. More than 75% of jobs in the US are located five miles or more beyond central business districts, but most low income workers are concentrated in urban communities, where housing is more affordable. This dislocation of home and work means low income workers are often burdened with additional transportation costs in order to get, and keep, their jobs. LIIF’s transit-oriented development (TOD) program invests in projects that place affordable housing and vital community services close to accessible transportation. This helps low income people to reduce the cost of commuting and have access to retail and other services close to home. LIIF’s TOD program provides social, economic and environmental benefits to low income families and their neighborhoods. Access to nutritious, fresh and affordable food is vital to improving the health and life outcomes of low income children and adults. Families that are able to shop locally at fresh food markets make more nutritious food choices and maintain better health. This helps people stay more engaged and productive at work and in school, and helps counter diet-related health problems. LIIF’s healthy food program provides financing to develop and expand fresh food outlets in underserved communities. Through its program, LIIF increases access to wholesome food choices, promotes healthier lives and creates more job opportunities for local residents.
Recent research is making the case that the communities we live in can help or harm us at every level–physically, socially, emotionally. These effects can stay with us for the rest of our lives. There is a revolution in knowledge afoot that demonstrates convincingly that investing in people, especially in children, is every bit as important as investing in markets and buildings. Recent research has shown us that poverty and stress play a “killer” role for young minds, contributing to a well-documented achievement gap that persists through adulthood. Consider the following recent findings: • a nine point IQ reduction for children younger than five exposed to chronic poverty. • Poor kids showed a 60 percent lower cognitive performance entering school, according to the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, and have shown in other studies to score lower on language proficiency and academic achievement measures. • Five times as many poor children as middle-income kids experience poor health through their lives, according to the National Household Survey, and individual differences in adult health status are related to childhood poverty. The uneven playing field on which poor children must compete seems to start with handicaps around language and encouragement. Consider the following: • Poor children have a deficit of more than 30 million words by the time they reach school, compared to middle income kids. Over the past three decades, we have learned a great deal about what hurts and what helps.
While housing is a key in the fight against poverty, its role may be most powerful in promoting stability for children and families. But the research also makes abundantly clear that housing alone is not enough to lift families out of poverty. Other human capital strategies – child care, education and others–must be employed to truly make a difference in the life chances of children. Community development finance will thrive to the extent that we can provide a convincing case that we leverage human potential and create a good return for the taxpayer’s dollar. The cost benefit studies performed for the child care sector make a compelling case that these programs produce excellent return for the investment. The same needs to be done for other social strategies employed by community development practitioners.
Traditionally, community development has centered on the “hard” skills of real estate development, finance, and capital leverage. The softer side of the equation – human services and support–has frequently been associated with dependency, rather than true, long-term advancement. Community development programs create affordable housing and finance school facilities at scale, mobilizing billions of dollars to revitalize low-income places. However, the renaissance of knowledge now suggests that without commensurate investment in the people-side of the equation, the benefits of community investments will be weaker and more short-lived.
SSC2011_Corey Carlisle PPT
Solutions for Sustainable Communities: 2011 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy “Meeting Community Needs for Services and Education” September 27, 2011 Corey Carlisle Director, Policy and Government Affairs [email_address] (202) 772-3133
Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) <ul><li>Mission-driven organization, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization centered around poverty alleviation </li></ul><ul><li>National Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) </li></ul><ul><li>Headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in LA, New York, and D.C. </li></ul><ul><li>Primarily work on Eastern seaboard and in the Western U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>Founded in 1984 (27 years old) </li></ul><ul><li>Since its founding, LIIF has </li></ul><ul><li>invested over $994 million in projects serving highly distressed neighborhoods </li></ul><ul><li>supported more than 56,000 homes, 55,000 spaces for students, 180,000 child care spaces, 78,500 jobs and 7,000,000 square feet of greener factilities. </li></ul>
If poverty is a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment and violence, failing schools and broken homes, then we can’t just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal that entire community. And we have to focus on what actually works. President Barack Obama, “Changing the Odds for Urban America,” July 18, 2008
Creating Pathways of Opportunity for Low Income People and Communities Child Care Housing TOD & Healthy Foods Education
Community Development at the Nexus of People and Place
What We’ve Learned <ul><li>What Hurts </li></ul><ul><li>Stress and its role in harming brain development </li></ul><ul><li>Inadequate nutrition and health support </li></ul><ul><li>Unsafe, unstable homes and neighborhoods </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of language support, and the preponderance of negative verbal cues </li></ul><ul><li>What Helps </li></ul><ul><li>Human capital strategies – quality early care and education, good schools and parent support programs </li></ul><ul><li>Safe, healthy communities with a strong infrastructure of services: schools, housing, transportation, health care, food access, and nutrition support </li></ul><ul><li>Cost-benefit analysis showing return for social investment so we focus on what actually works </li></ul>
Human Capital and the Built Environment: An Integrated Vision of Community Development