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Financing Community Development in the US: A Comparison of “War on Poverty” and 1990s-Era Policy Approaches


This paper first analyzes the role of finance in community development, and then contrasts 1990s development-financing policies with those undertaken decades earlier in the context of the federal “War on Poverty.” It is shown that the Clinton-Bush era programs in support of community development were less extensive than War on Poverty programs. Further, they were weighted toward large banks and large commercial real-estate projects, and did not take into account the implications of the changing strategies and activities of private-sector banking firms. Consequently, programs implemented in the 1990s and afterward by the Clinton and Bush Administrations had relatively little impact. This paper then suggests some lessons for the new Administration.

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