Urban Fold

Yes, CDCs Must Do it All

Communities are complex. And the truth is, CDCs are in key positions to bring all the moving parts together, so they must work comprehensively. All the elements of a good neighborhood—schools, retail, housing, jobs, food—are strategic to each other.

"When I hear the 'debate' regarding whether CDCs should work 'comprehensively,' and whether comprehensive work is or should be 'fundable,' it makes me smile," writes Jim Capraro, senior fellow at the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development.

"For 35 years I served as the executive director of the Greater Southwest Development Corporation—a place-based, geo-bounded, nonprofit neighborhood CDC working on the southwest side of Chicago. From the day I started the job on Jan. 15, 1976, I knew we would be working comprehensively (although, at the time, we never used that word).

Why did we think this way? If our goal was to revitalize a neighborhood, it just made good sense. All of the elements of a good neighborhood—good schools, retail vitality, decent housing, safety, employment and entrepreneurship, nutritious food choices, and opportunities for youth—had to be present. In high-quality neighborhoods all of these items, and more, have to rank somewhere between adequate and excellent.

How did we come to think like this?"

Full Story: Can Successful Community Development Be Anything But Comprehensive?


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