Building Sustainable Communities

What are Sustainable Communities? These are places that offer the positive environments needed to ensure that all residents of varied income levels are provided the opportunities and tools to build assets, to participate in their communities, and to become part of the mainstream economy. They are, in effect, the embodiment of both "community" and "development" — places where human opportunity and social and economic vitality combine with a continuous process of growth, adaptation, and improvement.


In 1980, when LISC made its first loan, our goal was to help residents and community-based organizations rebuild blighted neighborhoods so they could improve their quality of life. We knew then that it would be a long-term proposition, one that required nurturing and commitment as well as funding. All of that is still true today, especially in the current economic environment. More people and more neighborhoods find themselves skidding toward the same kind of distress so prevalent at LISC’s founding.

But unlike then, today we have a proven strategy to help them reverse course.

Launched in 2007, LISC’s Building Sustainable Communities strategy has proven to be a promising agent of change, one that is flexible, innovative and responsive to local conditions. It reaches into every corner of a community’s life with a comprehensive approach that can help change the trajectory of disadvantaged neighborhoods.

How does this play out in practice? Children stroll safely down once crumbling streets. They attend effective schools and play in refurbished neighborhood parks with a variety of recreation programs. Families live in quality affordable housing, where reasonable rents leave them with more disposable income. They can shop for healthy foods at urban farmers markets and buy goods at renewed retail corridors. And, parents have access to range of health care, child care, financial counseling and employment services to help them stabilize their family’s outlook and build assets for the future.

Ours is no longer just a vision or hopeful plan. Building Sustainable Communities offers neighborhoods a way forward to developing stability and promoting growth. It helps transform streets marked by chronic poverty and stagnation into good places to live, work, do business and raise families.

We are putting Building Sustainable Communities into action. And it is working.

 

Our strategic plan identifies five program goals that, taken together, define this larger vision of Sustainable Communities:

  • Expanding Investment in Housing and Other Real Estate
  • Increasing Family Income and Wealth
  • Stimulating Economic Development
  • Improving Access to Quality Education
  • Supporting Healthy Environments and Lifestyles