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The ANHD Blog raises the profile of our issues, and educates our member groups, city decision makers, and the general public on our core issue areas. The ANHD Blog offers sharp, timely and effective commentary on key public policy issues, as well as our work and the work of our member groups.

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Sketching a Roadmap for Equitable Economic Development

November 21, 2013


No housing is affordable without a job.

This week, ANHD groups gathered together with allies for a policy conference at the Ford Foundation to release a new report, Roadmap for Equitable Economic Development, authored by Larisa Ortiz Associates and Public Works Partners. Roadmap is a survey and needs analysis of ANHD member groups and documents their growing interests in equitable economic development activities as part of an expanding approach to community development. This report seeks to highlight the role that equitable economic development plays in community development; map the landscape of neighborhood economic development activities and resources in New York City; and identify the prominent successes, challenges, and needs of organizations engaged in economic development work.   The report identifies a number of themes and challenges raised by ANHD's member organizations - specifically those engaged in economic development activities - and makes the case the we can build on our affordable housing experience and encompass a fuller vision of community development that embraces economic development. And, that our groups are poised to contribute more fully to the economic development movement in a way that thoroughly touches and improves the lives of every resident, be it through job creation, industrial development, commercial development, business improvement, or workforce training, in every neighborhood of this city and for all income levels.  

"We have developed a great set of tools for affordable housing. It is time to expand these tools and more completely address other issues, like economic development and the lack of quality jobs, which deny equal opportunity to our neighborhoods."

                                                               ANHD members have shown again and again that a neighborhood is stronger and more resilient if it has the tools to respond to ongoing challenges. Our groups combine important strengths into an ongoing effort: they are focused on local development and land-use opportunities in order to build much-needed bricks-and-mortar infrastructure; they provide high- quality individual and community services that are accountable to the local residents; and their activist-movement-based approach gives them the tools to engage local leadership and create the civic infrastructure to shape the landscape of the city-wide policy debate.   But, our movement has not applied a similarly systemic, grass-roots based, multi-tiered framework to our non-housing efforts on a citywide level. The absence of this framework is notable in the area of economic development.  

Equitable economic development can include many different strategies. In this report, Larisa Ortiz Associates places that work into three categories: place-based efforts that include commercial revitalization and expanding the base of quality light-manufacturing and industrial jobs through land use advocacy and sectoral support, workforce training that provides skills and placement for quality jobs, and city-wide advocacy to shape the policy landscape.

 "No housing is affordable without a job."

ANHD groups and the community development movement they represent bring a core framework that can push forward city economic development to address community needs. Our strengths in housing already align with the economic development approaches.

Our local land-use and place-based focus coupled with bricks-and-mortar capacityleads us to work effectively on zoning for quality jobs and commercial revitalization efforts and to build the infrastructure that will be needed, our experience in providing services that truly meet the needs of our community enable us to deliver individual job training and placement services that are especially high quality, and our local civic leadership and activist-movement-based focus enable us to mobilize our neighborhood to demand long-term accountability by decision makers.

"Sometimes, the road between community-based planning and  actual policy change runs through politics."

One example of the importance and the potential of engaging the community development movement on both the issues of affordable housing and economic development has come up recently through ANHD groups' work on Guaranteed Inclusionary Zoning. In 2005, our groups were the core of the movement that won Voluntary Inclusionary Zoning, and we are very optimistic that this year we will win a real sea change in the city's land use policy by winning Guaranteed Inclusionary Zoning.   But the truth is that while we were fighting to win a very modest amount of affordable housing in return for consenting to the massive amount of market-rate housing that happened as a consequence of the rezonings, we didn't pay attention as the city took away millions of square feet of land zoned for light manufacturing and industrial use, and the better-paying jobs that land produces. In many places the need for affordable housing was played off against the need for land for quality light manufacturing and industrial jobs.  Sometimes a tension can exist between economic development and affordable housing interests, but in the end, the issue is about whether local land use decisions are made for the benefit of the local community residents, and these best interests generally include both affordable housing and quality jobs. ANHD groups may be well placed to work with this tension so that our communities can organize for the best outcome.   We look forward to continuing this discussion to enhance the work of our movement so we have a greater impact on the neighborhoods for which we work.  

 CLICK HERE to download report   


Blogger -  Benjamin Dulchin

ANHD blog team:  Benjamin Dulchin, Moses Gates, Ericka Stallings, Jaime Weisberg, Barika Williams, Eric Williams. Anne Troy, editor.

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