By: The Office of Housing Counseling, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development From: "The Bridge"
Oahu, HI - In January 2011, Native Hawaiian Veteral and Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiary, Larry Kawaauhau Jr. (pictured) enrolled in Hawaiian Community Assets’ (HCA) financial literacy/rental education and credit counseling program. Years prior, Larry had dedicated himself to serving in the U.S. Army only to come back home to Hawaii with family conflicts and limited employment options. Faced with this reality, he soon became homeless as he continued to wait for his lease award on Hawaiian Home Lands.
I am a huge sports fan and I grew up in and currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area. So, of course, I am cheering for the Golden State Warriors in their playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers. I wish I could enjoy the excitement of NBA Playoff Basketball without the ugly reality of racism intruding into my fandom.
This year is the 50-year Anniversary of the War on Poverty and depending upon when you start the clock on community development, this year is something pretty close to the 50-year anniversary of community development, too.
In a piece on my personal blog, I referenced a bigger politics of social and economic justice vs. a more narrow politics of identity/representation. Those of us who work in communities of color know this tension well. And while I guess it should be expected, it always surprises me the extent to which people will trade selfish representational gains to the detriment of a bigger picture justice.
Normally, I don’t respond directly to comments to my blog posts. I don’t like to argue with individual people, particularly when the arguments are based in hardened ideological stances that aren’t going to change with any one exchange.
Part of the reason why CDCs have not been able to sustain a consistent, long term set of community organizing programs—why most CDCs have not been able to do community organizing at the depth and scale and for the duration that Chinatown CDC has been able to—is that many CDCs’ relationship to community organizing has become corrupted. As CDCs became more focused on real estate development, organizing became more about gaining approval and funding for real estate development projects. The relationship with community residents became more of a means to an end rather than an end in and of itself.