Few people in the world of community development got their start as early in life as Lahela Williams, a 2019 Rubinger Fellow who serves as the deputy director for Hawaiian Community Assets. Williams was barely a teen when she joined the board of her homestead association, a group that promoted safety, education and other quality-of-life issues for the Native community where she grew up on the island of O’ahu. That first job helped lay the foundation of a career dedicated to nurturing Hawaiian community leadership, as well as financial and personal empowerment for her fellow islanders.
As she steps into her new roll as COO for LISC, Annie Donovan, former head of the CDFI Fund, shares some reflections on the current promise—and challenges—of doing community investment, the origins of her personal commitment to service and creating equitable opportunity, and the reasons she decided to come to LISC.
Ricardo Flores, ED of LISC San Diego, published an emphatic op-ed in the Voice of San Diego about the desperate need for more local and state spending to alleviate homelessness. As in nearly every part of the country, San Diego’s homeless population is growing, and last year suffered a Hepatitis A outbreak. “Today’s homelessness crisis has the potential to worsen into a catastrophic public health disaster,” warned Flores, explaining that preventive strategies, housing and support services demand much greater investment to head off a larger crisis.
In a letter to the New York Times responding to an article about dwindling opportunities for low-skilled workers, Sam Marks, LISC NYC executive director, makes the case for baking equity and inclusion into economic development incentives and policies. By doing so, New York and others cities can support affordable housing and businesses that offer middle-skill jobs, and ensure that all residents benefit, regardless of their background.
In an opinion piece for the Providence Journal, LISC Rhode Island ED Jeanne Cola stresses the need for a dedicated funding stream to alleviate the state’s affordable housing gap—a gap that is widening as fewer resources are funneled to housing solutions. Without such funding, she writes, “money spent on education, workforce training and economic development will not have the impact we hope it all will.”