Posts on Community Development

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  • The CDFI Bond Guarantee Program

    It is no secret that the struggle to preserve affordable housing and increase economic growth is more challenging than ever. Subsidies are growing smaller and building costs are increasing, making affordable housing more difficult to develop. However, a federal program known as the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Bond [more…]

  • Lessons for CED from Europe: Housing, Job, Food, or Fuel Poverty…All Roads Lead to a Social Inclusion Model

    For the past five months I served as a visiting scholar to the University of Ghent in Belgium.   The link between food insecurity, a particular focus on my work in North Carolina, and larger overall economic insecurity issues has been getting increased focus across a number of European countries [more…].

  • The Olmstead Decision: Compliance and Action in North Carolina

    The 1999 Olmstead v. LC decision, also known as the Olmstead Decision or simply Olmstead, marked one the most important civil rights cases for people with disabilities in the United States. Underpinned by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Olmstead Decision brought forth a framework that would [more…]

  • Hidden in Plain Sight

    Mobile homes are a vital but generally unloved part of North Carolina’s affordable housing stock. They come to public attention in times of extreme weather, particularly high winds and floods. Their condition and location make them especially vulnerable to damage, and often their occupants – the elderly, people with [more…]

  • Self-Driving Cars and the Changing Real Estate Market

    In a world where technology seems to be advancing exponentially, very few advancements will manage to have the effect on real estate that the evolving transportation industry will. We have already seen how a shift towards walkability and the introduction of ride hailing services, such as Lyft and Uber, [more…]

  • From Gas Station to Gastro Pub: The Potential of Gas Station Redevelopment

    According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, more than 50,000 gas stations have closed their doors since 1991, which accounts for nearly 25% of the 200,000 gas stations nationwide. With the advent of hybrid cars and a greater penchant for transit, gas stations are on the decline, with [more…]

  • Local Government Owners of Historic Property Asked to Convey Property by End of 2017: What Public Officials Should Know

    Federal tax reform is likely to be enacted before the end of the year. While the final form of the bill has not been determined, it is nearly certain that federal historic preservation tax credits—an important financing mechanism for preservation of historic properties—will be significantly affected. In fact, most [more…]

  • What Barn Raising Looks Like in Petaluma, California

    My last post argued that we should think of the role of local government in communities more in terms of “barn raising” than the more transactional metaphor of a vending machine. This idea was put forth in the great book Community and the Politics of Place by former Missoula, [more…]

  • Our Shared Fate, Part 2

    The ongoing debate about the deepening divide between rural and urban America and how this plays out in North Carolina was the topic of a previous blog post, Our Shared Fate. This post discusses some ideas about how the divide can be bridged. The Triangle J Council of Governments [more…]

  • Local Government Financial Resilience and Preparation Before a Natural Disaster

    This year’s U.S. Atlantic hurricane season is officially the most expensive ever, amounting to $202.6 billion in damages across the Atlantic basin. This record-breaking hurricane season brought some of the most catastrophic storms in recent memory. As Hurricane Katrina reshaped New Orleans in 2005, the destruction induced by Harvey, [more…]

  • Tick Tock! The Clock Is Now Running for Zoning Enforcement

    Jimmy lives on a large lot in a residential area of town.  Back in January 2013, he started a small auto repair shop in the garage behind his house.  You can hardly see the shop from the road because of the house and topography, but Jimmy did post a [more…]

  • Where and How? – The TRF Model for Community Investment

    Of the many challenges in community revitalization, determining how to allocate limited funds is often at the top of the list. Should the dollars be split evenly by focusing on the very worst neighborhoods? Or should there be a form of targeting or some sort of custom-tailored solution? If [more…]

  • In Vino, Veritable Impact on Tourism

    As of now, the fires that burned in Northern California’s wine region earlier this month are nearly 100% contained. It has been a dramatic, devastating scene in perhaps the most iconic region for grape-growing and wine-drinking outside of Tuscany or Bordeaux, and the impacts are, and will continue to [more…]

  • Equity with a Twist: The Low Income Investment Fund’s Social Capital Tool

    The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) is a community development financial institution (CDFI) dedicated to providing innovative capital solutions that create a bridge between private capital markets and low income neighborhoods. The organization strives to create pathways for investors in projects that have high social value, but may not [more…]

  • Catawba County’s Innovative Water Service Partnership Model

    It seems like almost everyone, including regulators and utility organizations, recognize the benefits and need for expanded partnerships and collaboration in the water and wastewater sector. Small towns are finding it difficult to meet their growing infrastructure and regulatory needs and are talking with each other and their larger [more…]

  • Lessons for CED from Europe: Inclusive Communities and a New City-Run Food Pantry

    The photo was eerily familiar to anyone interested in CED.  The headline from the New York Times article on September 20, just days before the German national election, read, “Merkel Says Germans ‘Never Had It Better.’ But Many Feel Left Behind.”  The accompanying photo by Gordon Welters, shown here, features

  • Vending Machines or Barn Raising: The Role of Local Government in Community Building

    I recently was asked to speak to a joint meeting of town councils of four communities in Eastern North Carolina. The subject they asked me to speak about was community engagement. What I ended up spending most of my time talking about were two frames for thinking about the [more…]

  • What’s the deal with modular construction?

    In May of this year, Marriott International announced that it would ramp up the use of modular construction in its hotels. Marriott said they anticipated signing on at least 50 hotels in 2017 alone that would be primarily modular, citing that this type of construction would enable them to [more…]

  • Legal and Business Reasons Why Downtown Development Programs Should Involve Secured Loans—Not Grants

    Dr. Blaine Beeper is a retired hospital administrator who was recently elected to council in the Town of Bushwood. Dr. Beeper thinks he has figured out how to jumpstart revitalization of Bushwood’s historic downtown. He proposes for the Town to offer annual cash grants to any owner who redevelops [more…]

  • Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Programs in North Carolina: Part II

    There are several ways for state and local leaders to promote investments in their communities and reduce utility costs for residents. One tool that has been often overlooked in North Carolina are Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. This post examines the benefits and drawbacks of commercial and residential PACE [more…]

  • Property Buy-Outs: A Good Option for Local Governments and Homeowners?

    The devastating impact of flooding is once more in the public spotlight following the unprecedented rainfall from Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Nearer to home, residents in Princeville, Fair Bluff, Seven Springs, Windsor, Kinston and Lumberton NC are planning how to build stronger and safer after Hurricane Matthew last October [more…].

  • The Missing Middle: An Affordable Housing Solution?

    Throughout the United States, the cost of housing is rising faster than incomes. While there are many discussions taking place around this issue, an important one is how the types of housing being developed can have an impact on affordability, particularly in areas where demand is high – namely, [more…]

  • System Development Fees are the New Impact Fees

    As detailed here, in 2016, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that municipalities (and by analogy counties) lack the statutory authority to impose certain upfront charges for water and sewer services. Upfront charges are charges imposed on new or existing development before a property parcel is actually connected (or [more…]

  • One Neighborhood at a Time: The Incremental Development Alliance

    In the Town of Riverdale, Betty Cooper is taking a walk through her neighborhood. She notices the dilapidated structures and blight that plague the area, and thinks to herself, “someone should do something about this.” Is Betty just a disgruntled citizen…or a developer in the making? The Incremental Development [more…]

  • 4% LIHTC Use in North Carolina’s Triangle Region

    A Brief Introduction to the 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Development of low-income housing in the United States continues to be a challenge for local governments, affordable housing developers, and policy advocates. Institutional, market, and financing obstacles are all barriers to increasing the supply of affordable housing. Since the [more…]

  • How Should We Measure Community and Household Economic Conditions?

    One of the fundamental measures for CED officials to track is a community’s economic condition. This issue of measuring economic condition, whether for an entire community or a single household, has taken on a central role in policy discussions recently, ranging from an emphasis on income inequality in academic [more…]

  • Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Programs in North Carolina: Part I

    There are several ways for state and local leaders to promote investments in their communities and reduce utility costs for residents. One tool that has been often overlooked in North Carolina are Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. This post provides an overview of PACE programs and their history in [more…]

  • Our Shared Fate

    Our Shared Fate was the title of an Aspen Institute report from 2008, which argued that bridging the rural-urban divide created new opportunities for prosperity and equity.  A Brookings Institution report published in the previous year, made the case that rural and urban areas are interdependent and that national prosperity [more…]

  • Conveyance of property in a public-private partnership for a “downtown development project”

    Downtowns across America are experiencing a renaissance. Population growth in downtowns has outpaced growth in the broader regions in which those downtowns are located. North Carolina downtowns are likewise experiencing record growth. To capitalize on this renewed interest in downtowns, private developers and local governments are increasingly seeking to [more…]

  • Raleigh’s Moore Square Redevelopment

    When you think of highest and best use for real estate, public parks are often overlooked.  Even if a park is functioning as intended, it still might have potential to serve the community in a greater capacity while adding benefit to the surrounding area. If the purpose of a [more…]

  • Community Resilience: Some Practical Questions

    The research project on community resilience at the School of Government aims to help communities think differently about how they prepare for disasters and how they can become more resilient. This is the fourth blog in a series that looks at what enhancing resilience means for North Carolina’s communities [more…].

  • The Value of Greenways

    In an increasingly digital world, the economic fortunes of a community can be dependent on a quality of life it provides to residents. Investments in greenway systems — trails lined with trees, vegetation, or other natural features — are a way that some local governments choose to enhance quality of [more…]

  • A Closer Look at Multifamily Construction Types

    A recent blog post examined the benefits of wood-framed construction. However, in the few months that have lapsed between that article and this post, The Metropolitan, a 241-unit apartment building under development in Raleigh inexplicably caught fire and subsequently burned to the ground, causing severe damage to several adjacent buildings in the [more…]

  • Fighting Blight with Property Tax Bills

    How can a city more effectively fight blight—vacant, abandoned, and dilapidated housing? The city of High Point tried to find some answers last year with help from the Center for Community Progress and the UNC School of Government. My economic development expert-colleague Tyler Mulligan and I were honored to [more…]

  • Boosting LIHTC: Difficult Development Areas & Qualified Census Tracts

    The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program was designed to encourage the private development of affordable rental housing in the United States. (If you are new to LIHTC, check out the CED blog’s primer on low-income housing tax credits before proceeding.)   But even with the dollar-for-dollar reduction in tax liability, [more…]

  • The Challenges of Movie Theater Redevelopment

    In the age of video-on-demand and digital projection, many movie theaters across the world have found themselves stuck in the past, struggling to adapt to the advancements in technology and consumer reference. With the costs associated with transitioning theaters into fully functioning digital cinemas often surpassing the $100,000 mark, [more…]

  • Utility Customer Assistance Partnerships

    Reports such as the recently released American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Report Card shine light on the critical infrastructure investment needs facing communities throughout the country. Given recent funding trends and future state and federal fiscal challenges, local utility customers will likely carry most of the responsibility for [more…]

  • Fitwel, a Health Promoting Building Certification – Part 1 of 2

    Rating systems have helped make buildings more energy efficient over the last two decades, but they overlooked something important: the well-being of the people inside those buildings. ‘Health and wellness’ is an emerging concept that strives to change that, by redirecting the focus to building occupants.

  • Making the Case for Affordable Housing: Using BLS Statistics to ask Hard Questions About Salaries vs. Local Housing Costs

    Last year, nursing assistants in Goldsboro earned $11.83 an hour (median wage) for a mean annual salary of $24,610.  Is this a sufficient wage to sustain a person who wants to live and work there? Affordable housing for different demographic groups in North Carolina communities has been discussed in [more…]

  • Healthy Corner Store Initiatives

    There are a variety of policy tools being deployed to deal with so-called food deserts—neighborhoods that lack full-service grocery stores and have higher incidence of diet-related diseases like obesity and diabetes. From offering financial incentives to encourage the construction of new grocery stores to promoting and incentivizing visits to [more…]

  • May a City Mow an Overgrown Lot without a Court Order?

    The Town of Manicure has been working hard to revitalize the historic neighborhood adjacent to downtown. As part of the effort to improve conditions in this and other neighborhoods, the town has been more vigilant in enforcing its overgrown lot ordinance, which prohibits property owners from allowing grass and [more…]

  • What @sog_ced is reading online: March 2017

    The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates. Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina: Overview of workforce development [more…]

  • Community Development through EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program

    Many of the local governments we assist at the Environmental Finance Center struggle to raise enough money to support their environmental services. Often, we work with these communities to improve the finance and management of their systems through better rate setting, cost controls, and long-term planning. But another solution [more…]

  • Periodic Inspections, Permits, and Registration of Residential Rental Property: Changes in 2017

    Local governments establish residential rental property inspection, permit, and registration (IPR) programs to ensure that residential rental properties within their jurisdictions are maintained in a safe and decent condition. In recent years, the General Assembly has sought to protect code-compliant landlords from what legislators perceived as overly zealous IPR [more…]

  • Policy, Sports, and Economic Impact

    With the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend now behind us, it seems relevant to reflect on the impact state policy can have on economic and real estate development in cities and towns. NBA All-Star Weekend, an event held annually to highlight the skills and abilities of the best and most [more…]

  • What is the “special character” of the historic district?

    After a city or county establishes a historic district or historic landmark, the local historic preservation commission is authorized to prevent certain changes that “would be incongruous with the special character of the landmark or district.”  But, what is the special character? And what is incongruous with it?  This [more…]

  • Community Resilience Has Many Faces…Part 2

    The research project on community and regional resilience at the School of Government aims to help communities think differently about how they prepare for disasters and how they can become more resilient, providing data and information that can spark realistic conversations about a community’s future.  This blog looks at [more…]

  • What’s Old is New Again: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

    The granny cottage, in-law suite, or guest apartment, among its various names, might seem like a quaint relic of the past. But proponents are touting the Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) as the new frontier of housing development in an era of rising demand for diverse housing stock. Ranging in [more…]

  • Solar Power Heating Up in Commercial Real Estate

    The cost of installing solar panels has been in steady decline since 2010, and the residential market for solar panel installations on home roofs is experiencing rapid growth. With growing demand and several policy incentives for solar installations, incorporating solar power into real estate development projects can be an [more…]

  • Local Governments and Non-Profits: Building Community Through Partnership

    NBC News recently aired a short feel-good story during its Nightly News broadcast about a code enforcement officer working for the City of Petaluma, California. Joe Garcia had received multiple complaints about a dilapidated home surrounded by overgrown weeds. Clearly the home was out of compliance, and so the natural [more…]