On Tuesday, November 7th, LISC was pleased to host FDIC chairman, Martin Gruenberg, for an address on creating an inclusive economy through community development and insights gained from more than a decade at the FDIC. The address was followed by a conversation with Robert Rubin, former treasury secretary and LISC board chair, and Maurice Jones, LISC president and CEO.
Good morning. I would like to begin by thanking Maurice Jones and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) for the invitation to be here today. It is a great privilege to take part in this program with Maurice and Bob Rubin.
I have long been an admirer of LISC and the extraordinary contribution it has made to community development in the United States. LISC takes a broad view of what constitutes community development. In addition to supporting the development of hundreds of thousands of units of affordable housing and billions of dollars of investment, LISC's vision of community development is a holistic one that includes jobs, education, health care, and access to affordable banking services. It is an inclusive vision based on the belief that the strength and competitiveness of our economy ultimately depend on giving everyone an opportunity to participate and contribute.
Over time, LISC and other community development practitioners have shown that their work can make a great difference. To illustrate this, I would like to share a personal anecdote, if I may.
I grew up in the Bronx, and my first job out of school was as an aide to my local Congressman. This was in 1980—the same year LISC was established. While I lived and worked in Washington at the time, one week each month I went up to the Bronx to work on housing and community development projects. I came to know well the leading community group in the district, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, and the leaders of two community organizations: Jim Buckley of the University Neighborhood Housing Program and John Reilly of the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation.
As you know, the rebuilding of the Bronx over the past 35 years is one of the great urban success stories. A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Bronx and see the progress that has been made. When I got on the bus that was going to take us around, who was there leading the tour—Jim Buckley and John Reilly. Block by block and building by building, Jim and John pointed out the rehabilitation and construction work that had been done. They could show the enormous progress that had been made over the course of 30+ years.
The tour was perhaps the greatest object lesson I have had regarding community development. What I saw was how community organizations, over time, had developed great expertise in development and finance. Just as important, they established strong working relationships with local financial institutions and with local and state officials, and developed a process to ensure these groups work together and pool resources to make progress on a sustained basis.
I share this story with you because, as I noted, LISC was established in 1980. What the University Neighborhood and Fordham Bedford groups have done in the Bronx, LISC has done in localities across the country. When all is said and done, I've come to the conclusion that the single most important aspect of this business is staying with it and sustaining the work at a high level over time to really make a difference.
Jim Buckley and John Reilly, who by the way are here this morning, certainly have that commitment, and I think I can say LISC does as well. Continued [+]...