Investment Spells Growth in Low-income Neighborhoods, Says LISC - Generocity Philly

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Jan. 9, 2015 12:30 pm

Investment Spells Growth in Low-income Neighborhoods, Says LISC

A new report cites income, employment gains for communities touched by the national organization

Investment Spells Growth in Low-income Neighborhoods, Says LISC

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Playground at 8th and Diamond which was renovated with the help of LISC


Sustained financial investment and collaboration in low-income neighborhoods served by Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC), a national community development organization, has led to income and employment growth, according to a new report issued by organization. LISC is active in over 100 communities nationwide.

Overall, employment and income levels in 63 of LISC’s high-investment communities — determined primarily by dollars — grew by nine percent, compared with similar neighborhoods with little or no investment.

While the fact that financial investments improve communities may seem obvious, the report is the first to evaluate outcomes from LISC’s Building Sustainable Communities strategy, inclusive of five goals — housing, increasing family income, economic development, access to quality education, and healthy environments  — but flexible enough for communities to add subsequent initiatives based on their particular needs.

The eight-year-old model has been adopted across the country, including in Philadelphia.

The local branch of LISC is currently working in West Philadelphia, with a particular focus in Mantua and the area known as Lower Lancaster, where it has partnered with stakeholders such as Drexel University, The Enterprise Center, People’s Emergency Center and the University City District.

LISC’s footprint also stretches to Eastern North Philadelphia, and investments there have totaled more than $50 million over the last 25 years, said Andrew Frishkoff, the executive director of Philadelphia LISC.

In a city defined by its neighborhoods, the area located east of Temple University “doesn’t have a name,” said Frishkoff, and it previously lacked basic community institutions, such as a bank and supermarket.

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The scarcity of civic institutions, Frishkoff said, is related to the post-industrial decline of the neighborhood. The area was once largely dominated by the Stetson Company, a manufacturing powerhouse and maker of the famous ten-gallon hat.

To support Eastern North Philadelphia’s revitalization, LISC has worked closely with Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), a Latino-focused human services and community development organization that has long been a presence in the neighborhood.

In December 2013, APM opened Paseo Verde, a mixed-use, mixed-income housing and commercial development project in close proximity to regional transit. LISC invested $11.3 million in Paseo Verde and has supported the development of 14 percent of the neighborhood’s housing stock.

LISC will also be instrumental in implementing aspects of the Choice Neighborhoods Grant, a $30 million federal initiative awarded to the city to transform North Central Philadelphia.

Frishkoff said the ultimate goal is to continue the neighborhood’s development, including job training and health access, without displacing current residents.

“It’s great to know that the work has been successful, but it continues,” he said. “We want to see increased capacity, shared equitably.”

Photo via Philadelphia LISC Facebook page 

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