Panel: The Evaluation and Scale-up of Comprehensive Community Initiatives
(Housing and Community Development)

Saturday, November 8, 2014: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Tesuque (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  David M. Greenberg, MDRC
Panel Chairs:  Alaina Harkness, MacArthur Foundation
Discussants:  Robert Chaskin, University of Chicago

Early Successes in and Challenges for Comprehensive Neighborhood Transformation in Choice Neighborhoods
Leah Hendey1, Rolf Pendall2, Diane Levy1, Megan Gallagher1, Kathryn Pettit1 and David M. Greenberg3, (1)The Urban Institute, (2)Urban Institute, (3)MDRC

Neighborhood Networks and Implementation Outcomes in Chicago's New Communities Program
Stephen Nuńez, M. Victoria Quiroz-Becerra, Sonya Williams, Aurelia Aceves and David M. Greenberg, MDRC

This panel brings together evaluation and management perspectives on some of the most significant attempts to scale up comprehensive community initiatives (CCIs) in the United States, drawing on the experiences of twenty-five sites in six different cities. In a policy trend represented by the emphasis of the White House’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI), CCIs rely on partnerships among neighborhood and city organizations, and emphasize coordinated and comprehensive action to improve targeted areas. This fundamental strategy of comprehensiveness and coordination raises questions about 1) the structure of local networks that might best support collective implementation, 2) the conditions under which comprehensiveness can be achieved, and 3) ways that program funders and managers can best support scale-up, given the complexity of coordination. This panel encounters these three questions for policy and practice. The first paper presents focuses on networks, presenting results from an evaluation of one of the largest single-city comprehensive initiatives in the United States. From 2002-2012, The MacArthur Foundation provided $50 million to LISC Chicago to implement the New Communities Program (NCP). NCP supported 14 community areas to plan and implement strategies to improve neighborhood quality of life. To examine NCP’s goal of promoting local partnerships, MDRC’s Chicago Community Networks Survey (CCNS) achieved high response rates (over 80%) with 300 organizations in nine neighborhoods of varied demographic composition. The paper presents 1) the structural characteristics of organizational networks and how they varied across neighborhoods, 2) the relationship between organizational characteristics and the network position of individual groups, and 3) the relationship between selected “whole network” characteristics and implementation outcomes. The second focuses on the role of comprehensiveness, in presenting evaluation findings from HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI). CNI targets low-income housing developments for housing redevelopment, but its ambition is to promote comprehensive revitalization in the broader neighborhood, by asking grantees to focus on community-wide issues related to social services, amenities, workforce development, safety, and educational improvement. Drawing on mixed-methods implementation research among the first five implementation grantees in Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Seattle, it examines the extent to which comprehensiveness was achieved in early implementation, focusing especially on factors of 1) grantee capacity, 2) Mayoral and Council engagement, 3) the existence of parallel local improvement efforts, and 4) the size of targeted areas, relative to Choice investments. Paper three presents a management perspective about scaling up community initiatives, examining especially the role of data collection as a mechanism for accountability, transparency, and problem-solving. In the 1990s, the Jobs-Plus initiative was the only place-based initiative to demonstrate employments impacts through an RCT. A multi-site replication in New York City is currently underway, involving partnerships between the Center for Economic Opportunity, the New York City Housing Authority, the City’s Human Resources Administration, and local community organizations. While Jobs-Plus is concerned with employment outcomes, its comprehensiveness of strategy requires monitoring among diverse aspects of operation, and to balance accountability with the need to for creative, locally-driven solutions.
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