Community Development

Community Development is a local empowerment process that involves leaders who build organizations and alliances that partner businesses with other areas in a city, town, township or local unit of government for the betterment of the community, especially to assure quality, affordable housing. It is a process that involves a comprehensive approach that factors economic and social goals, a base of operating principles, a strategic planning and analysis process, sound financial management, and an organizational format. Regional councils and metropolitan planning organizations support local leaders in their community efforts and provide a regional framework for achieving community objectives.

Community Development Policy Brief

Community Development is a central issue for regions around the country, which NARC recognizes, and supports the sufficient and sustained funding for programs within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that support housing and sustainable community development for urban, suburban and rural areas. Community Development has important roots in the Housing and Community Development (HCD) Act of 1974, which changed prevailing practice, wherein under separate categorical programs, the Federal Government made the decisions about every community development project undertaken by cities.  The HCD Act created the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) provides annual grants on a formula basis to entitled cities, urban counties and states to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.

Another important federal legislative effort in the Community Development arena occurred in 2009 when U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities with the goal to coordinate federal housing, transportation, water, and other infrastructure investments to promote livability and smart growth principles and goals into federal funding programs, policies, and future legislative proposals.

However, numerous federal, state and local policy initiatives aim to promote local Community Development. For more information on this topic contact Joanna Turner at

NARC Member Case Studies

  • Sustainability Planning – Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), Colorado Springs, CO: PPACG spearheaded the effort to complete Pikes Peak region’s first sustainability plan. “Looking to our Future: Pikes Peak Region 2030” was completed in March 2012, and a new organization, Peak Alliance for a Sustainable Future, was formed to implement the plan and promote sustainability in this region of Colorado. The Pikes Peak Regional Sustainability Business Plan and Action Plan (2012-2015) are being developed to guide this effort over the next year.
  • Housing Rehabilitation – High Country Council of Governments (HCCOG), Boone, NC: HCCOG’s Scattered Site Housing Rehabilitation Program works to make homes decent, safe, and sanitary. All homes that receive help are brought up to North Carolina Housing Rehabilitation Standards. Common repairs to homes on the program include replacement of broken and dilapidated windows, repairs to poor foundations, installation of septic systems, and new wells for homes with contaminated water or an exhausted water supply.
  • Livable Communities – Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, Boston, MA: The MPO conducts free Livable Community Workshops to support the region’s communities. These workshops are designed to provide communities with strategies for enhancing livability and to facilitate local discussions on topics such as walking, bicycling, transit, parking, land use, urban design, housing, public health, economic development, energy, and climate change. Each workshop is tailored to the selected community’s needs or livability goals and consists of a presentation by MPO and Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) staff on the principles of livability and a walking tour/discussion of a specific area within the community.
  • Recreation and Economic Development Opportunities - Northeast Michigan Council of Governments (NEMCOG), Gaylord, MI: The Up North Trails Collaborative has been awarded $40,000 from the MEDC (Northeast Michigan) and $27,500 from USDA (Northeast and Northwest Michigan) to complete trail data aggregation, asset mapping, mobile website, and a trail town initiative in Northeast Michigan. Their goal is to collectively market all northern Michigan recreational assets from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron with an Up North identity so that the rest of the country knows what it really means to go “Up North.”

Community Development Resources

NARC Resources

  • NARC Livability Portal: NARC online livability tool is a comprehensive livability portal that offers a variety of resources and tools for local governments and their regional planning organizations. This online resource is the result of a two-year partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
  • NARC Livability Guidebook: The Livability Guidebook details locally implementable solutions to meet the six federal principles for sustainable communities established under the 2009 federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC) initiative. 

Federal Resources

Interagency partnership between HUD, DOT and EPA

  • Partnership for Sustainable Communities: On June 16, 2009, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined together to help communities nationwide improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment. The Partnership for Sustainable Communities works to coordinate federal housing, transportation, water, and other infrastructure investments to make neighborhoods more prosperous, allow people to live closer to jobs, save households time and money, and reduce pollution. The partnership agencies incorporate six principles of livability into federal funding programs, policies, and future legislative proposals.

U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

U. S. Department of Commerce (DOC)

  • Economic Development Administration: The EDA’s investment policy is designed to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies throughout the United States. This foundation builds upon innovation and regional collaboration
  • Minority Business Development Agency: MBDA promotes growth and competitiveness of the United States’ minority-owned businesses by providing access to capital, access to contracts and access to market opportunities- both domestic and global. The main feature of the organization is to provide business consulting services to minority business owners.

U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • Community Planning and Development: CPD seeks to develop viable communities by promoting integrated approaches that provide decent housing, a suitable living environment, and expand economic opportunities for low and moderate income persons. The primary means towards this end is the development of partnerships among all levels of government and the private sector, including for-profit and non-profit organizations. CPD administers the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), the Housing Opportunities for Persons with Aids (HOPWA) Program, and the  Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).
  • Sustainable Housing and CommunitiesThe mission of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities is to create strong, sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and helping to build a clean energy economy. This effort includes the  Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI, which aims to stimulate more integrated and sophisticated regional planning to guide state, metropolitan, and local investments in land use, transportation and housing, as well as to challenge localities to undertake zoning and land use reforms. The SCI is working to better coordinate federal housing and transportation investments with local land use decisions in order to reduce transportation costs for families, improve housing affordability, save energy, and increase access to housing and employment opportunities. 

U. S. Department of the Transportation (DOT)

  • Livability: As part of the Sustainable Communities Initiative, DOT developed its livable communities initiative to achieve the goal to provide coordinated, place-based policies and investments that increase transportation choices and access to public transportation services for all Americans.

U. S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury)

  • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund: The goal of the CDFI Fund is to increase economic opportunity and promote community development investments for underserved populations and in distressed communities in the United States. Since its creation, the CDFI Fund has awarded over $1.7 billion to community development organizations and financial institutions.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • Smart Growth Program: EPA’s Smart Growth Program is a partner in the Sustainable Communities Initiative with the mission helping communities grow in ways that expand economic opportunity, protect public health and the environment, and create and enhance the places that people love. EPA is a partner in this initiative through efforts to expand research, tools, partnerships, case studies, grants, and technical assistance.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

  • Small Business Administration: SBA provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses. Its goal is to maintain and strengthen the nation’s economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters.

Non-Profit Resources

  • Enterprise Community Partners: This is a national, nonprofit housing and community development organization dedicated to bringing lasting improvements to distressed communities. Through a network of more than 1,100 nonprofit, community-based organizations in more than 400 locations, Enterprise is helping build a national movement to promote housing and community development in low-income neighborhoods.
  • is a project of the Democracy Collaborative. The aims to bring together information about the broad range of community wealth strategies, policies, models, and innovations. The site is built upon the idea that practitioners,policy makers, academics and the media need solid, cross-cutting information and tools that can help them to understand and support the expansion of these community and economic development strategies and institutions.
Contact: Joanna Turner, or 202.986.1032 x216

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