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2003 July - August

About This Issue

This special issue of Clearinghouse Review focuses on economic development strategies for low-income communities and individuals.

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Financial Education and Asset-Building Opportunities for Low-Income Communities

By Steve Wrone

Financial education and asset-building programs offer economic growth benefits to low-income communities. The programs have so taken hold nationwide in recent years that attorneys engaged in this work now can build on burgeoning policy developments and opportunities.

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Legal Aid's Role in the Fight for Telecommunications and Computer Access in Low-Income Communities

By Ellis Jacobs

Low-income communities have inadequate telecommunications access, but they are not without remedies. "Universal access" to telecommunications services is required by the Communications Act of 1934, and representing legal aid clients in proceedings before state public utility commissions and the Federal Communications Commission can help address this digital divide. A community organization in Dayton, Ohio, has helped families get and keep telephone service, created community computer centers, and begun to address inequitable telecommunications investment.

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Skills Training as a Community Economic Development Strategy

By Whitney Smith

A skilled workforce is important to a community's economic health; hence, skills training is a key economic development strategy. Nonetheless, federal investment in skills training is declining. This year Congress will address reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Several changes in the Act could support improved skills development for workers and meet employers' needs more effectively.

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Counseling Community Organizations

By The National Economic Development and Law Center & Law Center

To be most effective, community-based development organizations need quality legal counsel. A basic knowledge of incorporation, tax exemption, organizational development, venture assessment, and corporate structuring is the starting point when including community economic development work in a lawyer's antipoverty strategies.

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How to Fund Your Community Economic Development Work

By Francisca Gonzalez Baxa

An outline of questions and resources in planning a community economic development project in various areas of legal services shows that such work can be funded.

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Setting Up a Community Economic Development Practice at a Legal Aid Program

By Jeffrey Segal

Although there is no single model for setting up a community economic development (CED) practice at a legal aid program, such programs may find following certain key steps helpful in setting up their practice. These include making a work plan, identifying community needs, defining the work, obtaining resources, training staff, identifying pro bono attorneys and law school clinics, locating community partners, getting the word out about its CED services, and finding clients.

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The Child Care Economic Impact Report

A Tool for Economic Development

By Jennifer Wohl

While child care is generally recognized as a potential benefit to children and an important work support for low-income parents, its economic importance in local communities is often overlooked. A child care economic impact report can quantify the industry's economic impact and make clear to business, financial, and government leaders child care's role in economic development. Such a tool can give legal aid and other advocates persuasive authority in convincing officials to invest in and support child care.

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Steering Transportation Policy and Planning Toward Community Development

By Rich Stolz

Transportation is a critical component of community development, but it is often overlooked as an area of social policy. A general overview of transportation planning and policy describes funding available for community-development purposes in the federal law, highlights some examples of local successes, and cites legal protections for low-income and minority communities in transportation planning.

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The Affordable Housing Complex That Could

How Community Economic Development Advocacy Secured 100 Units of Permanent Housing for Formerly Homeless Persons on Former Military Base

By Mona Tawatao

When the government closes a military base, federal law requires that redevelopment of the former base take into account the economic needs of homeless persons in the affected communities. In Sacramento, California, a team of housing providers, homeless activists, and legal services and private attorneys and their supporters persevered for years against the county to establish permanent housing to formerly homeless families on a former military base that has been transformed into a thriving business park.

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Accountable Development

Maximizing Community Benefits from Publicly Supported Development

By Nona Liegeois & Malcolm Carson

By intervening in publicly supported development projects, communities can direct millions of public dollars to support good jobs, affordable housing, and more livable neighborhoods. Certain types of agreements and legislation can impose obligations on developers, and communities can avail of leverage points and a range of benefits.

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Community Economic Development Programs—an Opportunity for Lawyers to Reclaim Their Own Independence

By David E. Robbins

Nonlitigator volunteer lawyers can meaningfully participate in community economic development strategies; they need not be marginalized from doing pro bono legal work. By performing a valuable service gratis, the lawyer cultivates respect for the profession and insures its independence.

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Toward a New Theory of Community Economic Development

By Scott L. Cummings & Gregory Volz

Antipoverty lawyers should embrace a new direction in community economic development—one that promotes both economic equity and community empowerment. A critical reflection on the introductory essays leads to a more "equitable" community economic development model. This model suggests that the conventional community- based lawyering approach be integrated into the broader economic and racial justice movement to promote equitable growth strategies at the regional level.

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Minority Poverty and the Faith Community

By Tim Suenram

Should the faith community lead a public dialogue about disproportionate and persistent minority poverty? The faith community does not seem inclined to do so. Public interest lawyers in partnerships with faith community groups, among others, should address poverty nationally.

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Colleges, Universities, and Communities Advancing Social and Economic Justice

By James T. Harris III & Ira Harkavy

Colleges and universities, influential institutions in advanced societies, should help reduce poverty and create a democratic society. As valuable partners in local coalitions, they can improve the quality of community life. Defiance College and Widener university join public school and other community partners to advance social and economic justice.

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Community Justice Lawyering and Community Economic Development Practice

By Penda D. Hair

Lawyers and community groups working in creative partnerships to advance racial justice should collaborate with community economic development activists to achieve economic justice for marginalized communities. This unified approach solves problems of exclusionary practices, discrimination, and economic injustice.

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The Role of Foundations in Integrating Antipoverty Work into a Broader Systemic Change Agenda

By Raquiba LaBrie

The interconnected forms of racial, economic, and other inequality plaguing communities of color and low-income communities cannot be analyzed in isolation. Dismantling the web of inequality requires an equally intricate and multifaceted approach. Foundations can bring much more than cash payments to the table to promote multisector collaboration in advancing systemic change.

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Community Lawyering—Why Now?

By Ross Dolloff & Marc Potvin

Lawyers' ability to exercise unilateral power on behalf of low income clients through judicial enforcement of rights is diminishing. Examples of community lawyering in northeastern Massachusetts demonstrate that an alternative approach can create substantial and lasting benefits in low-income communities.

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Legal Advocacy for Community Building in South Florida

By John M. Little

Representing community development corporations for more than twenty years, Legal Services of Greater Miami is familiar with the barriers to private-sector investment in declining neighborhoods and the struggles of community development corporations to implement effective strategies. With legal assistance, a coalition of Miami area organizations is working to implement a "neighborhood development zone" approach to unlock hidden assets and opportunities in low-income neighborhoods.

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The Relationship Between Lawyers and Low-Income Communities

Introduction to Essays on Community Economic Development and Economic Justice

By Brad Caftel

Community economic development is not the result of isolated projects, but rather a series of goals and related projects. With their legal skills, access to information, and contacts outside low-income communities, lawyers have performed and can continue to perform a variety of critical services in the community economic development movement.

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