About Us

Our Strategy

What is Building Sustainable Communities?

Sustainable communities are places that offer the resources and environment all residents need in order to participate in their neighborhoods, live safely and in health, learn, build assets and take part in the mainstream economy. It's our strategy, a comprehensive approach that takes in the needs of the whole community. Together with our partners we invest in affordable housing, economic development, education, health, safety and financial stability in select neighborhoods across the country. That is Building Sustainable Communities.

“LISC understands that if you want to make a difference at the local level, whether it’s housing, schools or anything else, you have to look at the broader community and the other needs in that community.”
— Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management & Budget and former HUD Secretary

How does it play out in practice? People walk safely down once crumbling streets. Children attend effective schools and play in refurbished neighborhood parks. Families live in quality housing, where reasonable rents leave them with more disposable income. They can shop for healthy foods at local markets and buy goods at renewed retail corridors. And they have access to range of health care, child care, financial counseling and employment services to help them stabilize the household budget and build assets for the future.

How we got here

When LISC started out more than 35 years ago, our main focus was the development and preservation of affordable housing. But we began to understand that underserved places need investment on multiple fronts. In the last two decades, LISC has been supporting programs that reach beyond housing into other facets of community life--improving retail areas, making neighborhoods safer, helping people get jobs. Then, in 2007, we expanded and sharpened this work with the Building Sustainable Communities (BSC) initiative. By bringing together our many types of programs and carrying them out, simultaneously, in targeted neighborhoods with significant, ongoing investment, we have seen how historically disinvested places can change in profound ways.

Ribbon cutting for a new health care center in Chicago
Ribbon cutting for a new health care center in Chicago

How we do it

We bring key local stakeholders together to find common ground and create a vision for their communities. We then help marshall the resources necessary to make that vision a reality. 

BSC invests in these elements:

Finding a home and creating community in the EcoVillage, North Minneapolis.
Finding a home and creating community in the EcoVillage, North Minneapolis.

The upshot

Since we launched Building Sustainable Communities, we have:

  • implemented the initiative in 123 neighborhoods nationwide
  • invested a total of $832 million, leveraging $3.4 billion in total development
  • in 56 (of 123) neighborhoods, invested $15 million in each

Building Sustainable Communities offers neighborhoods a way forward, a means to developing stability and promoting growth. It helps transform streets blighted by chronic poverty and stagnation into good places to live, work, do business and raise families.


An evaluation of our Building Sustainable Communities work

Read the Report