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Community Development

Announcements and Recommended Reading

Free Webinars for CDFIs on Financing Healthy Foods
Community development financial institution (CDFI) staff are invited to attend technical assistance webinars on financing healthy foods. Topics range from strengthening rural grocery stores to analyzing a farm loan. This CDFI Fund initiative seeks to boost the ability of CDFIs to deliver financial products and services to underserved communities. The first webinar occurs Tuesday, August 28; please register for each webinar separately.

Deadline Extended for Independent Foreclosure Review
Eligible borrowers can request a free independent foreclosure review through December 31, 2012. The Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Office of the Comptroller of Currency announced the extension, which gives borrowers several more months to request a review. More information about the review process is available on this website. Videos explaining the independent foreclosure review process in English and Spanish are also available on the site.

Call for Session Proposals for 2013 National Brownfields Conference
This conference—scheduled for May 15–17, 2013, in Atlanta—focuses on economic redevelopment and environmental revitalization. Ideas for session proposals must be submitted electronically by August 24, 2012. Topic areas include technical assistance, financing redevelopment opportunities, real estate and development, planning for a better environment, community, and others. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International City/County Management Association will cohost the conference.

Remaking America for the 21st Century: Reclaiming Vacant Properties
Problem or asset? Blight or benefit? The Center for Community Progress explored these real estate questions at its fourth annual "Reclaiming Vacant Properties" conference. Practitioners, researchers, and other key stakeholders participated in the June 2012 event in New Orleans that focused on strategies and solutions for transforming vacant and abandoned properties. Conference sessions highlighted innovative strategies for rebuilding properties and showcased a variety of renewal efforts in cities and communities. View conference presentations and additional information on the Center for Community Progress's website.

Call for Research Papers to Household Financial Stability Symposium
The St. Louis Fed and Washington University seek research papers for "Restoring Household Financial Stability after the Great Recession: Why Balance Sheets Matter." Focused on the critical role of household balance sheets in achieving sustained economic growth, the symposium is scheduled for February 5–7, 2013, in St. Louis. Abstracts must be submitted by September 24, 2012.

New Report Examines Private Student Loan Debt
Private student loan debt grew from less than $5 billion in 2001 to more than $20 billion in 2008, then declined to less than $6 billion in 2011, according to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and U.S. Department of Education. The report suggests that students in many cases borrowed more than they needed, sometimes without understanding important loan terms. The report also suggests that lenders increasingly marketed and disbursed loans directly to students without involving college financial aid offices that could help determine true financial need.

Tax Credit Program Helps Support Low-income Communities
The U.S. Department of Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund has announced its 2012 round of the New Markets Tax Credit program. Up to $5 billion in tax credits is available for 2012, pending congressional authorization. Learn more about requirements and deadlines by visiting the fund's website. The tax credit program was established by Congress in 2000 to spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects located in low-income communities.

What Are People Doing Who Aren't Looking for a Job?
What are people who recently have left the labor force doing, and does their current status shed some light on which of them are most likely to return to the market in the near future? Research economist Julie Hotchkiss explores this issue in a macroblog post titled "Labor Force Nonparticipants: So What Are They Doing?" and determines that since the beginning of the recession, those who have left the labor force within the previous year have been citing more frequently the reasons of "School" and "Other." Hotchkiss concludes that the high number of those leaving for educational pursuits suggests that these individuals should reenter the labor force with better aligned, and in some cases, enhanced skills, but she is unable to draw any conclusions from the rise in the number of "Other."

Will More People Enter the Labor Force?
In the macroblog post "Will Labor Force Participation Continue to Rise?" Atlanta Fed research economist Melinda Pitts examines data on transitions into the labor force, primarily for those individuals who indicated "Other" as a reason for their nonparticipation in the labor force and are aged 25 to 54. Delving into this data, Pitts looks at whether the individuals in the group are classified as marginally attached to the labor market, one indicator of whether they plan to reenter the labor force. Pitts concludes that we may see higher rates of return to the labor force going forward.

The Skills Gap: Still Trying to Separate Myth from Fact
Skills mismatch problems are no greater in this period postrecession than they were prior to the recession, posit Dave Altig, research director, and John Robertson, senior economist in the Atlanta Fed research department. Their macroblog post presents some of the results of a recent survey of about 100 businesses in the Sixth District represented by the Atlanta Fed. From these survey results and ongoing research on the topic, Altig and Robertson conclude that skill gaps are not the major source of our current labor market weaknesses.