MacArthur is awarding $4 million for comprehensive community revitalization efforts in ten U.S. cities. Funding to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s (LISC) Sustainable Communities Program will help advance work underway in the San Francisco Bay Area, Detroit, Duluth, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, rural Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, the Twin Cities, and Washington, DC. These community development efforts are based on the principles of Chicago’s New Communities Program.
“As the early accomplishments of Chicago’s New Communities Program demonstrate, once-blighted neighborhoods are sources of untapped individual and community potential,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton in a speech to the LISC National Leadership Conference. “Sustainable neighborhoods require long-term, simultaneous investment in multiple areas – schools, housing, health, economic development, safety, community cohesion, and more – that can and must improve over time in a reinforcing cycle.”
In May, MacArthur committed $26 million to LISC/Chicago for the New Communities Program (NCP), which aims to create and sustain vital, economically-integrated neighborhoods in 16 low-income communities in Chicago. This funding comes on top of $21 million MacArthur invested between 2002 and 2006. MacArthur’s early support has already leveraged more than $255 million in overall investment in the targeted neighborhoods.
In the New Communities Program, neighbors come together to craft and implement comprehensive quality-of-life plans. Their projects and partnerships address a range of issues, from jobs to child care to employment. Together, they seek large-scale improvements, often made possible by increased private investment. All this hard work translates into renewed communities and improved lives for residents. Examples of successes made possible by the New Communities Program include –
• Quad Community Development Corporation is establishing a vibrant commercial district on the city’s mid-south side that will include shops and residences.
• The Greater Southwest Development Corporation partnered with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network to build a new neighborhood health clinic.
• The Logan Square Neighborhood Association helped 54 families keep their homes in the face of redevelopment plans.
NCP’s success captured the attention and interest of practitioners and municipal leaders across the country. Now LISC is testing the Chicago model in ten cities at a total cost of $40 million. MacArthur funds will be used to support strategic and neighborhood planning; training and technical assistance; organizational development of lead neighborhood organizations; new program development and expansion of existing programs; creation of interactive learning opportunities; electronic and print communications; and evaluation.
“For too long, talk about cities has been dominated by the perception of urban decay, the flight of people and jobs to the suburbs, and skepticism about the possibilities for progress,” Fanton said. “The reality is far more interesting and hopeful. In the past decade, the population of the nation’s 50 largest cities has grown by nearly 10 percent, incomes have risen twice as fast as the nation as a whole, and homeownership has climbed, while poverty and urban crime have declined.”