Conference Explores Community Development Topics

Washington D.C., April 11–12, 2013

Resilience & Rebuilding for Low-Income Communities conference logo

A diverse set of issues is shaping community development policy and practice. Nearly 350 participants gathered in Washington, D.C., to explore some of those topics at the Federal Reserve's eighth biennial Community Development Research Conference. With the theme Resilience and Rebuilding for Low-Income Communities, the event was a catalyst for new ideas, approaches, and strategies for the community development industry and academic field. In addition to keynotes by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Columbia University Professor Sudhir Venkatesh, eight sessions generated discussions on an array of topics including:

  • People: Why did young households lose so much wealth during the housing crisis? Research presented at the conference suggests that a high concentration of housing assets and extremely high debt burdens played a role. Participants also explored the relationship between homeownership and health and examined whether a multipronged approach to financial counseling can enhance financial stability. video icon View session highlights video.
  • Places: Researchers examined linkages between the national poverty rate and the number of people living in concentrated poverty. Efforts to reduce concentrated poverty are often complicated by structural factors. Other presentations focused on housing turnover in low-income neighborhoods and what the movement of low-cost chain stores into urban areas could mean for consumers, small business owners, and local labor markets. video icon View session highlights video.
  • Using Data to Test and Tell: The challenges facing low-income communities are diverse and multifaceted, and many of them are not amenable to traditional analysis, said discussant Dave Altig, Atlanta Fed executive vice president and research director. However, efforts to combine disparate data sets to form a more complete picture are helping community developers build community resilience, measure the impact of programs, and more. video icon View session highlights video.
  • Collaborating for the Future Roundtable: Effective collaboration is crucial to achieving effective outcomes, largely due to the interconnections between such varied sectors as education, public health, financial stability, and employment. video icon View session highlights video.
  • Human Capital and Jobs: Understanding the labor market is essential to understanding recent developments in low-income communities. Panelists examined the impact of increasing bachelor's degree attainment on regional labor markets, analyzed state and local government efforts to boost job creation, and studied the relationship between fixed-route bus systems and employee turnover. Read more.
  • Housing: Conference participants examined the impact of several initiatives aimed at distressed housing markets in low-income communities, including the influence of housing vouchers on rental prices, the effect of pre-purchase homeownership counseling on mortgage delinquency, and the neighborhood social impacts of home rehabilitation. Read more.
  • Rural Issues: Rural communities face several critical community and economic development issues, including homeownership challenges, school location strategies, capital for entrepreneurship, and broadband infrastructures. For instance, many rural, persistent poverty areas must deal with land-related impediments—contracts for deeds and mineral rights, for example—which can complicate homeownership and other steps toward economic improvement. Read more.
  • Small Business: New research examined the factors that lead to small business resilience, the trends and costs of peer-to-peer lending, tightening credit standards among minority and nonminority urban communities, and the impact of community-owned businesses. Read more.

About the 2013 Community Development Research Conference

The eighth biennial conference attracted participants from diverse backgrounds, including community developers and practitioners, policymakers, members of the philanthropic community, researchers, the financial services sector, state and local economic development agencies, and students. This cross-sectoral event presented a unique forum for discussing key research, program, and policy strategies aimed at improving resiliency and rebuilding in low-income households and neighborhoods. For more information about the conference, including keynote videos, research papers, speaker presentations, and other materials, please visit the presentations and papers page.