In a letter to the editor of the New York Times responding to a David Brooks column on reparations to African Americans, LISC's CEO describes how CDFIs and community-led development projects are a ready-made strategy for building equitable prosperity across the country. What's needed now is intensive public and private investment to make it work.
The below letter to the editor was originally published on the New York Times:
Thoughts for Juneteenth: Making Reparations for Slavery
David Brooks is right that a commitment to community-led investments would catalyze new opportunities and reduce racial disparities throughout the country. In fact, that work is already underway, and this moment presents an opportunity to take it to the scale necessary for sustained community transformation.
Nationally, a robust network of community development financial organizations is fueling affordable housing, economic development and quality health, education and jobs in urban and rural communities, especially those where historical racial discrimination has left lasting scars. Over the years, these investments have proved to be life-changing and have contributed to stronger regional economies as well.
Let’s leverage that system to do more, right now. We can push tens of billions of dollars through seasoned community development organizations if the country is willing to scale up investments to meet this national challenge.
In that way, we can build a more just, more broadly shared prosperity, one in which anyone, no matter what race or class or ZIP code, has the chance to succeed.
Maurice A. Jones
The writer is president and chief executive of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.