The Public Interest

Community action for the 1990s

Louis Winnick

Winter 2000

THANKS to its success and growth, the community-development approach to urban renewal is finally attracting serious scholarly attention. As documented in Urban Problems and Community Development, † a volume of essays based on a Brookings Institution conference, the movement is long past its role as bit player, when George Sternlieb, former director of the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University, joked that the raison d’Stre of grassroots development organizations was to warm the hearts and open the purses of credulous foundation trustees. Today, community-development programs are concrete, widespread, and effective. The movement’s prime instrument is the Community Development Corporation (CDC), which takes the lead role in developing and restoring low-income housing in forsaken neighborhoods.  The larger, more sophisticated CDCs have ripened into versatile real-estate entrepreneurs and mortgage brokers, and often provide such social services as day care, health clinics, and job training.

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