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Ingrid Gould Ellen, Director of the Urban Planning Program at NYU, discusses housing prices.
by Sam Marks
LISC NYC Executive Director
Although the abandoned, blighted neighborhoods of the 1970s and 1980s have seen a remarkable physical transformation, community development work is still vitally important. Movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter illustrate a society that is still grappling with profound structural issues of income inequality and segregation. Disasters like Hurricane Sandy further underscore the vulnerability of low-income neighborhoods.
Citywide, there is still much work to be done to address these gaps.
As the executive director of LISC NYC, I thought it was important to bring my staff together to address the challenges facing community development. In the spring, I convened a series of panels to strategize around the critical questions facing our city’s community development sector, including:
Our first panel details the challenges before us. The global trends driving high real estate prices, economic polarization and displacement all present enormous challenges to those of us working on place-based initiatives. These challenges are not rooted in place. It’s easy to be daunted, but LISC believes that by working with our partners we will improve neighborhood institutions, including housing, retail corridors and connections to the broader economic opportunities in the city.
Neighborhoods are aggregations of social networks, civic associations, public spaces and networks of interdependence. We believe it’s possible to make every neighborhood a high opportunity area, by building assets and institutions. It’s not the presence of affluent people that makes an area “high opportunity.” It’s that affluent people have the resources and social capital to ensure that institutions are functional and accountable. In low-income neighborhoods that’s a vital role that community development corporations play, and it’s our role at LISC NYC to ensure that they can.
A vital, new program, Communities for Healthy Food NYC, was launched February 25th, at the New Settlement Community Center in the Mt. Eden section of the Bronx. Funded by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and managed and executed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) NYC, the pilot initiative seeks to improve access to healthy food, increase nutrition education and create jobs in low-income communities. It will be rolling out city-wide with four of LISC NYC’s community development corporation partners: West Harlem Group Assistance in West Harlem; Cypress Hills LISC in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn; Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation in Bedford Stuyvesant and New Settlement Apartments in Mount Eden in the Bronx.
In poor neighborhoods you will often find the same kind of local staples: storefront churches, liquor stores, corner bodegas and fast food joints. The Mt. Eden section of the Bronx is no different. Here, a vast number of fast food establishments and bodegas beckon to residents. Cheap and easy, they are nominally not healthy. But residents are about to enjoy much healthier, and equally economical, options
By learning how to cook healthier meals, Marvin Mickell is building self-confidence and self-reliance, which will serve him for the rest of his life.
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