Today 97 organizations from across the country sent a letter to congressional leadership showing support for the Biden-Harris administration’s proposed Community Revitalization Fund. The Community Revitalization Fund would establish a new grant program, administered by HUD, to invest in community assets that build wealth for existing residents, increase community engagement and strengthen civic infrastructure. The sign-on letter urges Congress to enact the Community Revitalization Fund as a critical complement to the broader affordable housing resources proposed by the administration and included in Chairwoman Maxine Waters’ (D-CA) Housing is Infrastructure Act.
Decades of experience in the community development industry have shown that investments in affordable housing without a complementary focus on broader civic infrastructure and community amenities can limit our ability to truly dismantle inequitable systems that impact people of color, particularly for Black and Latino communities. Dedicating flexible federal resources to community cornerstone projects is an important step towards advancing racial equity through economic and social opportunities. LIIF’s advocacy continues to center the importance of structuring the Fund to intentionally center racial and economic equity and prioritize local capacity building. For example, the letter recommends that:
- HUD should competitively award Community Revitalization Fund resources to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) among eligible entities. CDFIs can connect federal resources with a comprehensive plan and diverse local partners while also delivering technical assistance and underwriting practices to build capacity among local organizations. The Biden-Harris administration explicitly acknowledged the importance of CDFIs in meeting the program’s intended goals in the fact sheet released on the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the most recent Community Revitalization Fund program fact sheet.
- Community Revitalization Fund resources should primarily finance non-housing community assets that are in proximity to affordable housing. Affordable housing is a critical source of household and neighborhood stability, but housing does not exist in a vacuum. Parks, community gathering places, grocery stores, small businesses, child care, local ethnic media outlets and more are the broader amenities and connective tissue that Black and Latino communities need to thrive, but these are also the projects that tend to lack conventional financial products or markets. Community Revitalization Fund resources will help support and accelerate holistic revitalization efforts. It will also be a critical complement to the more than $300 billion in proposed affordable housing investments currently being considered in Congress.
- Grants disbursed through the Community Revitalization Fund should be flexible to account for the time and resources necessary to engage in truly equitable development efforts. Low-income communities across the country – and most acutely in Black and Latino communities — face compounding discrimination and inequities that result in deep-seated barriers to opportunity. Each community faces its own unique circumstances and history that must be addressed at a hyper-local level, yet each community will have varying degrees of capacity and resources to take on this work. Success in these communities will move at the speed of trust, and federal resources must be flexible to account for this reality.
LIIF will continue to advocate in support of the Community Revitalization Fund, which is an important investment in community-led redevelopment that will help make our neighborhoods healthier, more prosperous places to live and work. For more information about the Community Revitalization Fund or LIIF’s policy advocacy, contact Olivia Barrow, Policy Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.