Strong Cities: Flint, Gary, St. Louis, Macon & more

By Stephanie Sung

The Obama Administration and the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative (SC2) have recently announced its expansion to include seven new cities:

Brownsville, Texas; Gary, Indiana; Flint, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Rockford, Illinois; Rocky Mountain, North Carolina; and St. Louis, Missouri.

SC2 is a program that helps link urban leadership with federal resources and expertise with the hopes that it will help reduce red tape and improve local capacity. What this means is that the federal government has placed capable officials in cities that could use them. People like Kathleen Fox, SC2 Fellow and recent Legacy Cities Design Initiative participant, have been on the ground for nearly two years in several legacy cities, including Cleveland, Youngstown, Detroit and New Orleans.… Read More

New Market Tax Credit Expires

By Stephanie Sung

The future of the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC), a federal subsidy for businesses and development agencies to encourage investment in underserved communities, is now unclear as the program expired at the end of 2013. NMTC officially ended at the close of 2011 but was quickly renewed. There’s no sign of extension this time around, though senators Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) introduced legislation to make the program permanent in June.

Next City’s Bill Bradley has been covering the successes of NMTCs and recently wrote on what one distressed community in Chicago now faces with its recent expiry:

The loss of NMTCs won’t entirely scare off investors, but it could certainly give them pause. Southside Community Optimal Redevelopment Enterprise (SCORE), an organization on Chicago’s South Side, was awarded $20 million in credits in 2012. Joe Bakhos, SCORE’s community outreach director, expressed worry for how developers and investors will finance projects in low-income neighborhoods once the NMTC program expires.

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Lessons from Suburbia

By Stephanie Sung

Mount Laurel, once a small, rural farming town in central New Jersey, has become a model for the integration of affordable housing in higher-income neighborhoods. A report by Princeton sociologist Douglas S. Massey called “Climbing Mount Laurel” reveals the positive outcomes of the long-fought land use battle, finding that fears of crime, drugs and blight were largely unfounded. The affluent families felt no impact, while low-income families saw their lives improve.

In a New York Times article, David L. Kirp reports:

There have been changes in life in Mount Laurel. But the changes are entirely consistent with those in demographically similar suburbs that surround the township. In all these communities, crime rates fell. Property values rose during the housing boom and dipped during the recession. Tax rates declined. Even in the Mount Laurel neighborhoods closest to the affordable housing, property values were unaffected. To most residents, the fact that poor families now live in Mount Laurel has proved entirely irrelevant.

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