Housing & Community Development

Promoting Early Childhood Development through Comprehensive Community Initiatives

Promoting Early Childhood Development through Comprehensive Community Initiatives
Children's Services: Social Policy, Research, and Practice, 1(4), pp. 1-24.

Aber, J.L., L. Berlin & J. Brooks-Gunn.
01/01/2004

Recent advances in developmental psychology, social services, and social policy have converged to highlight 3 issues: (a) the importance of early development; (b) the importance of the contexts, or "ecology," of early development, especially with respect to the ill effects of early childhood poverty; and (c) the promise of intervention programs for low-income children, families, and communities, including comprehensive community initiatives (CCIs). CCIs, however, generally have not focused on young children. In this article, we synthesize developmental science and current understanding of CCIs to suggest a number of ways for CCIs to increase their emphasis on early development. We begin with a review of developmental research that illustrates the effects of community characteristics on children's development. We then review the goals, strategies, and principles of CCIs. These reviews illustrate that despite overlapping emphases, developmental science and CCIs could be linked more generatively. We propose ways in which CCIs can be geared more specifically toward promoting early child development. Finally, we suggest strategies for evaluating these types of initiatives.

Social Networks and Homelessness Among Women Heads of Household

Social Networks and Homelessness Among Women Heads of Household
American Journal of Community Psychology , 33:1-2, pp. 7-20.

Toohey, Siobhan, M., Shinn, M. & Weitzman, B.C.
01/01/2004

To examine possible bidirectional relationships between homelessness and deficient social networks, we compared the networks of 251 mothers before, and approximately 5 years after, their families entered shelters with networks of 291 consistently housed poor mothers. At Time 1, more women on the verge of homelessness than housed women reported that they had mothers, grandmothers, friends, and relatives but fewer believed these network members were housing resources. At Time 2, after homeless women were rehoused, these network differences between consistently housed and formerly homeless women had largely disappeared. Contrary to prior research findings, formerly homeless mothers did not report smaller networks, more children or fewer partners. However, formerly homeless women did report fewer positive functions. Because of city policies, homeless mothers were frequently rehoused far from network members.

Teen Pregnancy and Urban Youth: Competing Truths, Complacency, and Perceptions of the Problem

Teen Pregnancy and Urban Youth: Competing Truths, Complacency, and Perceptions of the Problem
Journal of Adolescent Health , 34:5, pp.366-375.

Gallup-Black, A. & Weitzman, B.C.
01/01/2004

Purpose: To compare and contrast perceptions of community leaders, adults, and youth about the extent of the teen pregnancy problem in five American cities: Baltimore, Detroit, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Richmond.

Conclusions: Although few leaders see teen pregnancy as a pressing problem, adults remain deeply concerned, and youth indicate that the problem is prevalent and accepted.

The Role of Cities in Providing Housing Assistance: A New York Perspective

The Role of Cities in Providing Housing Assistance: A New York Perspective
In Amy Ellen Schwartz, ed., City Taxes, City Spending: Essays in Honor of Dick Netzer. Northampton, Mass: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.,

Ellen, I.G., Schill, M.H., Schwartz, A.E. & Voicu, I.
01/01/2004

In a festschrift to Netzer-a public finance economist well known for his research on state and local taxation, urban public services, and nonprofit organizations-eight chapters apply microeconomics to problems facing urban areas and use statistical analysis to gain insight into practical solutions. The essays look at alternative methods of financing urban government, such as a land value tax and the impact of sales and income taxes on property taxation; at government expenditures, including housing subsidies; and at subsidies to nonprofit arts groups as well as the role of the nonprofit sector in providing K-12 education. Of interest to the fields of public finance, urban economics, and public administration.

Housing Production Subsidies and Neighborhood Revitalization: New York City’s Ten Year Capital Plan for Housing

Housing Production Subsidies and Neighborhood Revitalization: New York City’s Ten Year Capital Plan for Housing
Economic Policy Review, June 2003, pages 71-85.

Ellen, I.G., Schill, M.H., Schwartz, A.E. & Voicu, I.
06/01/2003

A perennial question in housing policy concerns the form that housing assistance should take. Although some argue that housing assistance should be thought of as a form of income support and advocate direct cash grants to needy households, others favor earmarked assistance—but they differ over whether subsidies should be given to the recipients as vouchers or to developers as production subsidies. The appropriate composition of housing assistance has recently taken on particular import. In 2000, Congress created the Millennial Housing Commission and gave it the task of evaluating the “effectiveness and efficiency” of methods to promote housing through the private sector. As part of its mandate, the commission is examining changes to existing programs as well as the creation of new production programs to increase affordable housing. This paper reexamines the debate over the appropriate form of housing assistance.

Local Government Finance and the Economics of Property Tax Exemption

Local Government Finance and the Economics of Property Tax Exemption
State Tax Notes, June 23, pp. 1053-1069.

Netzer, D.
06/01/2003

Looks at the role of the property tax exemption for charities in local government finance. If services produced by nonprofits are largely exported from a jurisdiction, then requiring full property taxes or payments in lieu of taxes is a way of exporting local tax burdens.

Decentralization in Africa: Goals, Dimensions, Myths and Challenges

Decentralization in Africa: Goals, Dimensions, Myths and Challenges
Public Administration and Development, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Guest editor of this issue of the journal on "Decentralization and Local Governance in Africa.")

Smoke, P.
01/01/2003

Decentralisation is a complex and often somewhat elusive phenomenon. Many countries around the world have been attempting- for several reasons and with varying degrees of intention and success-to create or strengthen sub-national governments in recent years. Africa is no exception to either the decentralisation trend or the reality of its complexity and diversity. Drawing selectively on the large academic and practitioner literature on decentralisation and the articles in this volume, this article briefly outlines a number of typical prominent goals of decentralisation. It then reviews some key dimensions of decentralisation-fiscal, institutional and political. These are too frequently treated separately by policy analysts and policy makers although they are inherently linked. Next, a few popular myths and misconceptions about decentralisation are explored. Finally, a number of common outstanding challenges for improving decentralisation and local government reform efforts in Africa are considered.

Distinguishing Good Schools from Bad in Principle and Practice: A Comparison of Four Methods

Distinguishing Good Schools from Bad in Principle and Practice: A Comparison of Four Methods
in Developments in School Finance 2003, National Center for Education Statistics.

Schwartz, A.E., Rubenstein, R., Stiefel, L. & Bel Hadj Amor, H.
01/01/2003

For over a decade, perhaps no other issue in education has generated the same level of debate and policy activity as school accountability. At their most basic, accountability policies tie school rewards and sanctions to measures of school performance, typically specified as either performance levels (for example, aggregate percentile ranks or the percentage of students meeting specified benchmarks) or changes in performance (for example, increases in aggregate test scores or in the percentage of students meeting benchmarks). While most accountability efforts have been enacted at the state and local level, the peak of this movement may be the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, which requires states to demonstrate adequate yearly progress in reading and mathematics performance by school and by subgroups within schools. Common to these reform efforts is the underlying notion that incentives based upon measures of school performance will spur improvements in student performance.

Erosion and Reform from the Center in Kenya

Erosion and Reform from the Center in Kenya
in James Wunsch and Dele Olowu, eds., Local Governance in Africa: The Challenges of Democratic Decentralization. Boulder, CO: Lynne Reinner Publishers,

Smoke, P.
01/01/2003

Kenya has a rich history of local governance, both from ethnic-group traditions and the system set up during the British colonial era, when local governments were fairly independence (1963), when Kenya's economy and population growth accelerated, demands were so heavy that some local governments could not deliver key services adequately. This situation, combined with the central government's desire for political consolidation to minimize ethnic power conflicts that increased in the postcolonial era, prompted the government to weaken local authorities. Key services (health, education, major roads) were recentralized, and the local graduated personal tax (GPT) was taken over by the center. Grants were established to compensate local governments for their revenue losses, but they were gradually phased out. Control over local governments expanded, with few spending, revenue, or employment decisions permitted without scrutiny by the Ministry of Local Government (MLG).

Facing the Challenge of Evaluating a Complex, Multi-Site Initiative

Facing the Challenge of Evaluating a Complex, Multi-Site Initiative
The Evaluation Exchange, a quarterly publication of the Harvard Family Research Project, Fall, V IX: 3.

Weitzman, B.C. & Silver, D.S.
01/01/2003

To overcome some of the limitations of experimental and quasi-experimental designs, evaluators have employed a
"theory of change" (TOC) approach to evaluate comprehensive community initiatives (CCIs). This approach helps identify underlying assumptions, focuses on processes and systems within communities, clarifies desired outcomes, and embraces the complexity of comprehensive interventions. Yet some researchers question the adequacy of TOC to address rival hypotheses to explain findings.

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