Contents | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | References & Notes
3. Black Church-Associated CDCs in New York City
Like all institutions, black church-associated CDCs exist to do certain things. There are four possible purposes or utilities of black church-associated CDCs: Manifest the Christian social gospel (spiritual); protect congregations from liabilities (financial); develop and administer programs (production); and represent communities to public and private institutions of power (political) (Owens 1999). Those that can do all these things well have acquired fame beyond the limits of their cities. National political and financial elites celebrate them as among the country's best community development organizations. Examples are Los Angeles' Renaissance Development Corporation (an affiliate of First African Methodist Episcopal Church) and Detroit's REACH, Inc. (an affiliate of Twelfth Street Missionary Baptist Church). Most black church-associated CDCs, however, have modest reputations and receive little publicity. Today, black church-associated CDCs are located in all of the largest American cities. In some cities, the black church-associated CDC is the preeminent means by which black residents have reformed the conditions in their neighborhoods. Nowhere is this truer than in New York City, where nine black church-associated CDCs toil to make areas of black settlement decent and stable.
The earliest black church-associated CDCs in New York City, which continue to operate today, generally emerged from formal and informal interdenominational associations of black churches. In time, some of the associations opened their membership to other religious institutions, namely, churches affiliated with white-led denominations and mosques. In the beginning, the coalitions supporting the CDCs were small. It was rare for their membership to consist of more than fifteen congregations. Most began with memberships of ten churches or less. The number of churches and other religious institutions that sponsored the CDCs grew as the reputation and project portfolios of the organizations grew. Another factor in membership growth was the conscious actions of the CDCs to seek new allies and collaborators. One purpose was to increase the legitimacy of the organization in the eyes of residents and the city's elites, especially the banks. Another purpose was to build capacity collectively by sharing costs and reducing free riders. Furthermore, in line with the view of Mark Weinheimer (1996, 14), more members supporting the coalition-based CDCs could provide "strength in numbers, enabling member units to contribute skills and assets and to leverage the interests of other institutions." Often these other institutions were governmental. In seeking to leverage public resources, the CDCs did, and continue to, rely on their member-churches' moral, financial, and symbolic resources, as well as political capital gained from past electoral involvement, to provide a fulcrum. As the pastor of a Missionary Baptist Church in Queens, notes,
When "doing development," having an association of black pastors and their churches supporting it often helped the coalition-based black church-associated CDCs get the resources they needed. Whether the collective action of coalition-based black church-associated CDCs had an advantage over independent black church-associated CDCs is an empirical question.
the coalition works best [because of] numbers. Politicians look at numbers. To get elected they need numbers. So, the coalition is the best way to go. As I pointed out, there are churches that are large enough in magnitude to go their own way. I take nothing away from that model. That model is fine. But I think the coalition is the best way to do it.
Not all of New York City's black churches that were interested in using
the CDC joined with other churches. Those black churches with the largest,
most affluent, and often most professionally skilled congregations chartered
their own CDCs as nonprofit subsidiaries. Initially, these independent
black church-associated CDCs relied on the resources of their chartering
churches, particularly congregants' tithes and church office space and
equipment. Eventually, by acquiring resources beyond the congregation,
they became freestanding, separate legal entities. Although the CDCs no
longer rely on the material resources of the churches, they continue to
depend on the nonmaterial resources of the churches. These resources are
as important as material resources. The Abyssinian Development Corporation
(ADC) is instructive. Chartered in 1989 as an independent CDC, ADC has
found it necessary to retain a close affiliation with the Abyssinian Baptist
Church. The necessity is due to ADC's respect for the role of the church
in the formation and nurturing of the organization. However, other factors
that encourage the closeness of the CDC to the church. In New York City,
the prominence of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Afro New York history,
and its politically connected pastor, are well known, respected, and received
by the city's economic elites and institutions in the private and public
sectors. The mystique of "Abyssinian" creates resource opportunities for
its CDC. Often its staff can convert their opportunities into short-term
projects and long-term programs. An officer of the CDC clarifies the point:
In the ten years, we would not have been able to accomplish the things we have if we were not associated with the Abyssinian Baptist Church, its legacy, its institutional resources, which were not dollars. Volunteers and the political might. The legacy that people walking in . . . would give us project money because the church is gonna be there, they've been their 190 years already so you can pretty much take a risk, even though we are distinctly separate, with separate board of directors.
Few black churches with CDCs rival the notoriety of Abyssinian, or match its history. Many of the independent black church-associated CDCs, however, have the necessary nonmaterial resources for their CDCs to follow the path of ADC (Owens forthcoming).
Table 1 identifies four prominent coalition-based black church-associated CDCs and Table 2 identifies five independent CDCs affiliated with notable black churches in New York City.
Coalition-Based Black Church-Associated Community Development Corporations in New York City
|Year Founded||Budget (1999)||Staff Size||Proportion of Staff Residing in Service Area||Program Areas and Activities|
|Association of Brooklyn Clergy for Community Development||1987||$250,000||4||50% >||
|Bronx Shepherds Restoration Corporation||1980||$3,500,000||20||50% >||
|Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement||1986||$4,500,000||90||50% >||
|Southeast Queens Clergy for Community Empowerment||1986||$500,000||11||50% >||
Independent Black Church-Associated Community Development Corporations in New York City
|Year Founded||Budget (1998)||Staff Size||Proportion of Staff Residing in the Service Area||Program Areas and Activities|
|Abyssinian Development Corporation||1989||$3,500,000||55||< 50%||
|Allen Neighborhood Preservation and Development Corporation||1986||$550,000||16||50% >||
|Bridge Street Development Corporation||1995||$350,000||6||50% >||
|Canaan Housing Development Corporation||1980||$5,000,000||35||50% >||
|Concord Community Development Corporation||1994||$150,000||3||< 50%||
Collectively, the nine black church-associated CDCs tend to be mature. The charter/sponsor churches of seven of the nine black church-associated CDCs incorporated their CDCs before 1990. The mean age of the black church-associated CDCs is 1987. As for their governance, all have boards of directors responsible mainly for advice and fundraising. The average board size is sixteen members. Board membership is composed of mostly individuals who own homes, work, or operate businesses in the organizations' target or service areas. No black church-associated CDC includes clients on their boards of directors. Almost all board members are black, male, and professional. Directors are not necessarily congregants at the churches affiliated with the CDCs. No board is comprised solely of church congregants. A few church members, one to three, serve on the boards of the CDCs. In the case of coalition-based black church-associated CDCs, pastors tend to govern the boards. A few, however, have boards that include prominent lay representation. With the exception of the coalition-based CDC, pastors are not members of the boards of directors of their church-associated CDCs. This is not to say that they do not provide leadership for or influence the actions of the CDCs. In fact, every CDC director acknowledges the important roles that their pastors play in the work of their organizations, with pastoral roles ranging from fund-raiser to lobbyist and negotiator to deal maker. Consider the views of two CDC directors.
Reverend ________, as pastor of the church, is an advocate. He is the founder. He is an advocate. He is a fundraiser. He is an advisor. Those roles are very big.
When it was time to do the project, "Rev" called a meeting with the Borough President, the Department of Highways, the developer, someone from the bank [Chemical/Chase Community Development Corporation], and us. We all met together. It was really good because it helped the project move a lot quicker. We didn't have to get caught up in bureaucratic red tape. It was really good for the community.
As for staff, most live in their organizations' service areas, but their directors (56 percent) tend to not. The number of paid employees, as well as volunteers, of the black church-associated CDCs is modest. The average staff size of the black church-associated CDC ranges between eleven and twenty employees. The median number of staff is sixteen. The majority work full-time schedules. Furthermore, most of the leadership and core staff of the nine CDCs is skilled and trained to do what they do. All of the CDCs' directors possess graduate or professional degrees. In terms of funding, the median annual budget of the black church-associated CDCs in 1999 was $550,000. As for their records of accomplishment, the CDCs generally have extensive ones. It is the older CDCs, however, who have sponsored the most housing, created the most jobs, lured the greatest amounts of private investment, and deliver services to the largest clientele. Still, a few of the younger ones seem more creative in the types of services they deliver. For example, the Bridge Street Development Corporation, which operates a free neighborhood computer lab, is the only black church-associated CDC among the nine to have computer literacy as a primary program area.
Programs and Activities
Black churches intend for associated CDCs to produce goods and services that better the conditions of blacks, individually and collectively. Some black church-associated CDCs sponsor the development of owner-occupied housing, while others favor renter-occupied housing, both its development and management. A few operate businesses, while others may own commercial property and lease the space for profit. One black church-associated CDC may provide social services delivery. Another may place its emphasis on and resources in community organizing. Most try to address the range of physical, commercial, and human capital needs of the people residing in their service areas. No two black church-associated CDCs, however, offer the same mix of services and programs.
The nine black church-associated CDCs in New York City maintain growing program portfolios. Their portfolios range from the single purpose (e.g., housing) to the multipurpose (e.g., housing, social services, employment, community organizing). It is uncommon for black church-associated CDCs to involve themselves solely in one area or activity. The majority has multiple and overlapping program areas and activities. The Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement and the Abyssinian Development Corporation, for instance, cater to nearly all of the possible needs of their clients. Directly or indirectly, they provide service area residents with shelter, jobs, counseling, daycare, and groceries.
In targeting areas like housing, social services, and education, the city's black church-associated CDCs hope to affect positively the physical and commercial infrastructures of their clients. They also hope that their activities will foster upward mobility among the areas' individuals and families. The effects of black church-associated CDCs' activities include increased numbers and quality of housing and jobs in black neighborhoods. The CDCs have also delivered a host of social services and promoted public order and safety. Housing, however, is the primary program area for the black church-associated CDCs in New York City. Together, they have developed approximately 5,000 units of affordable housing. This number includes the production of low- and moderate-income rental housing, as well as moderate- and middle-income owner-occupied units. Table 3 shows most of the black church-associated CDCs are engaged in the same types of housing activities.
Types of Housing Activities by Black Church-Associated Community Development Corporations in New York City
|Percent of CDCs Engaged In Activity|
|Home Ownership Counseling||80|
|Owner-Occupied Housing Development||80|
|Rental Housing Development||90|
|Supportive Housing Development||56|
|Rental Property Ownership and/or Management||68|
The roles black church-associated CDCs play in affordable housing production tend to be the same. They are, as the literature suggests (Mares 1994), investors, sponsors, developers, service providers, and property managers. As investors, the black church-based CDCs contribute the financial resources needed to develop housing, from site selection, to construction, to marketing. As sponsors, they assist in raising funds for development and secure support for housing projects among residents. As developers, they are responsible for the entire process of housing development. As supportive service providers, they provide services to the tenants of the new housing following completion of the housing project. As property manager, they bear the responsibility for property and building maintenance.
Philanthropy from the black congregants of their sponsor churches underwrites
some of the achievements of black church-associated CDCs in New York City,
but not much. The nine black church-associated CDCs receive almost no administrative
and programmatic resources from their affiliated churches. Black church-associated
CDCs, similar to their sponsoring churches, have "found [and followed]
an avenue of funding beyond Sunday collections" (Richardson 1994, 122).
This route leads the CDCs outside their neighborhoods to the doorsteps
of external sources of funding to develop, support, and expand their capacity.
Their patrons, as Table 4 reports, include national foundations
(e.g., the Ford Foundation), development intermediaries (e.g., Local Initiatives
Support Corporation), and corporations, primarily through the federal Low-Income
Housing Tax Credit program.
Sources of Funding for Black Church-Associated Community Development Corporations in New York City
|Percent of CDCs Relying On Funding Source|
|Contracts or Fees for Services||89|
|Intermediaries (e.g., LISC)||100|
|Chartering Church(es) Operating Budget||22|
|Federal Government (e.g., HOME)||78|
|Corporations (i.e., LIHTCs)||56|
|National Philanthropic Foundations||56|
|Community Philanthropic Foundations||22|
|Returns on Investments||0|
The capital black church-associated CDCs obtain from this funding mix accounts for a large proportion of their programmatic achievements. Nevertheless, the amounts of resources the black church-associated CDCs extract from the private sector are often insufficient to meet their development needs. Moreover, the coffers of corporations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, often remain sealed unless the black church-associated CDCs come to them bearing pre-existing resources, be it their own or another's. Of the nine CDCs, few independently possess the required type and amount of resources requested by private sector financial elites. The rest must first look for and get public money to encourage or supplement private sector financial support for their development projects.
Black church-associated CDCs, like other religious nonprofit organization, as well as nearly all CDCs (Vidal 1992), rely on public interventions. These interventions include infrastructure upgrades, buildings, and land. Other interventions are tax abatements, mortgage insurance, and loan guarantees. Funding is the chief intervention. Government money is not the prime source of funding for black church-associated CDCs. It is, however, elemental to their work. "City and state funds," as the director of a Queens-based black church-associated CDC comments, "go hand in hand in terms of our programs and projects." In the case of another, New York State funds the administrative part of its operation through the state's Neighborhood Preservation Development Companies program.(8) As of 1996, the CDC had received $822,852 in state funds for administrative expenses (New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal 1998, 63). Aside from New York State, the CDC and its counterparts relies on New York City for funding. Little of the CDCs' public funding is in the form of grants. Much of it is contracts and fees for service, particularly with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Human Resources Administration, and other city agencies. The leadership of black church-associated CDCs does not attempt to conceal their organizations' reliance on public support.(9) They want the world to know that public action benefits them, and that the government must sustain its action if the black church-associated CDCs are to remain effective, especially in the area of affordable housing production. Most directors of the black church-associated CDCs agree with the comments of a Harlem colleague: "We are very quick to acknowledge that public support has to continue for our success." Of the government funds most needed by black church-associated CDCs to do their work, two stand out - HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.(10) Increasingly, however, an important source of funding for the black church-associated CDCs and their projects in New York City is the Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) program.(11) The LIHTC is introducing new, and sometimes very large, sums of private, corporate dollars into the majority-black neighborhoods of New York City the black church-associated CDCs serve. This mix of private and public funding gives black church-associated CDCs the financial resources needed in their efforts to, in the words of Robert Clemetson and Roger Coates (1992), "restore broken places and rebuild communities."
Black church-associated CDCs in New York work with government, not against it, to produce and distribute collective goods like housing and jobs. Asked to characterize their organizational style in relating to public agencies, 78 percent of the CDCs' directors describe their style as cooperative. (The remainder claims to be equally adversarial and cooperative.) Black church-associated CDCs are coproducers, funded in part by government money, working cooperatively with institutions of public power to determine the quantity and quality of services provided in black neighborhoods. Among the nine CDCs, all but one participates in government programs that channel public resources for neighborhood redevelopment projects. These programs range from New York City's Neighborhood Redevelopment Program to New York State's Neighborhood Preservation Company program. Federal programs they participate in include the U.S. Federal Housing Administration's Section 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance program and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 202 Elderly Housing program.
Contents | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | References & Notes