LISC's Building Sustainable Communities Program — An Overview

Several years ago, a broader vision of community development came together in an ambitious new strategic plan for LISC, to create what are called Sustainable Communities. These are places that offer the positive environments needed to ensure that all residents of varied income levels are provided the opportunities and tools to build assets, to participate in their communities, and to become part of the mainstream economy. They are, in effect, the embodiment of both "community" and "development" — places where human opportunity and social and economic vitality combine.

For almost 30 years LISC has been in operation, it have seen huge, positive changes in urban neighborhoods and rural communities throughout the country. Communities once characterized by blight and hopelessness now reflect widespread physical improvements, safer streets, increased property values and more engaged residents. But as neighborhoods have changed and the business of community development has evolved, so too has LISC's role. In addition to stimulating change, LISC must now ensure that neighborhoods which have climbed back from disinvestment and abandonment can sustain and build upon those gains.

To that end, LISC's focus has turned to the next phase of building healthy communities: creating opportunities for residents of those communities to raise their incomes, build assets and gain access to quality education, health care, jobs, services and recreational amenities.

Five program goals define this larger vision of Sustainable Communities:

  •  Expanding Investment in Housing and Other Real Estate
  •  Increasing Family Income and Wealth
  •  Stimulating Economic Development
  •  Improving Access to Quality Education
  •  Supporting Healthy Environments and Lifestyles

LISC believes that a new, deepened focus on Building Sustainable Communities will help communities to achieve the next level of their development and residents to enjoy more fulfilling lives.  Over time, it sees this strategy contributing to moving the entire field toward a more comprehensive development agenda, and delivering a wealth of new resources and talent to communities where the supply of affordable housing is dwindling, family incomes remain low, financial services are poor, jobs are elusive, and quality education continues to be largely unavailable.

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