The City as a Human Environment

By Duane G. Levine; Arthur C. Upton | Go to book overview

3
THE LOCAL INITIATIVES SUPPORT CORPORATION'S APPROACH

PAUL S. GROGAN

As the 1980s draw to a close, America is rediscovering the serious problem of urban poverty and its alarming associated ills, including the dwindling availability of decent low-income neighborhoods and the underclass phenomenon. My purpose today is not to document in any detail the scope of these problems. Instead, I want to talk about the kinds of grassroots institutions that low-income communities throughout the United States are forming to combat these problems. While they are still relatively unknown, these institutions are quietly becoming a primary force nationwide for stabilizing low-income communities and fighting poverty. They are most often called Community Development Corporations, or CDCs.


THE EMERGENCE OF CDCs

CDCs are nonprofit development corporations that are accountable to the communities in which they operate. The ultimate mission for CDCs is to reduce poverty, stabilize distressed or declining neighborhoods, and gain economic power for their communities. Development activity is thus not just an end to its own right, but also a tool for achieving this broader mission.

A 1991 nationwide survey by the National Congress for Community Economic Development (NCCED) indicates that 2,000 CDCs have completed at least some housing, commercial, or business enterprise development activity. Housing development is the most common activity of

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