Sender: H-Net/H-Urban Seminar on History of Community Organizing &


Subject: COMMENT: Stoecker, "The Political Economy of the CDC Model"


Date: Mon, 11 Mar 1996 05:13:32 CST

Posted by Pedro Huesa <>

My name is Pedro Huesa, from Spain. I am a PhD candidate at the University of Grenoble in France. My PhD focuses on community economic development in the US, with a special emphasis on CDCs, and latino communities.

I would like to discuss some of the premises, evidence, and conceptual positions in Randy Stoecker's paper THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION MODEL OF URBAN REDEVELOPMENT. [Information on how to obtain a copy of the paper is at the end of this posting. -- W. Plotkin, COMM-ORG]

I will discuss five of Stoecker's points: the CDC approach, the inefficiency of CDCs, CDCs vs. "real development", CDCs and democratic control, and CDCs and organizing.

1. CDCs, "a cheap approach to the urban poverty problem" From the beginning, Stoecker takes a clear stance against CDCs. The paper tries to demonstrate the validity of this assumption. Paraphrasing Boothroyd and Davis (1993), Stoecker apparently exceeds their own intentions when he says that "Bankrupt or debt-weary governments at all levels looked to a cheap approach to solving, or at least appearing to solve, the pressing problem of urban poverty, and CDCs appeared to offer an answer". In my opinion, the author forces a great deal Boothroyd & Davis' actual observation that the "..CED movement reflects continuing disenchantment with the welfare state and its ability to maintain full employment and rising standards of living, provide adequate social and municipal services, and reduce regional disparity" (Boothroyd and Davis, 1993). Where Stoecker points apparently to a conscious choice of CDCs by governments to escape their responsibilities, Boothroyd and Davies suggest a local reaction to government inefficiency. As a matter of fact, the inability of welfare states doesn't come only from the fiscal problems they endure, but also from the limits of government organization, operation, and culture to cope with problems that are increasingly complex. In this sense, new agencies, new programs and increased spending don't necessarily result in much improvement of the targeted situations. It is not an American problem, but also the problem of welfare states having much more extended safety nets. According to Stoecker, the CDC model is inadequate because of its ambition to solve every problem (Stoecker. p 4). I haven't seen, among several authors that Stoecker cites, any reference to the fact that CDCs should solve everything. I have seen some reference to the comprehensiveness of CDCs' vision in their broad role as community builders (Vidal, 1992) .

Vidal's observation is quite congruent with, for example, Boothroyd and Davis' explanation of the assumptions of community economic development (CED): the local economy is based on market and non-market principles such as "common ownership, sharing, mutual aid, and improving productive life even at the expense of efficiency" (Boothroyd and Davis, 1993). Social and economic relationships are intertwined, and that is how "community building" finds its sense. Eventually, also, the base of CED is the intertwined nature of the factors of poverty, that have to be addressed in a comprehensive strategy. No CDC has to solve everything, neither do they have to do everything (economic, social, political development), but they can work within a complex strategy, and play a catalytic role facilitating or mobilizing energies and resources of others in a manner that fosters overall community development.

The direct involvement of CDCs is not advisable in either business development or political development, for example, due to the lack of the necessary resources and the need to preserve political independence in order to carry their programs to an end (Perry, 1987). Some of the most fervent advocates of CDCs have made clear often times that they are not a panacea, but a promising {means of promoting} economic opportunity in the urban and rural poor areas (Peirce and Steinbach, 1987; Perry, 1987; Rubin, 1993; Vidal, 1992; Vidal, 1995; Faux, 1971) .

What comprehensiveness is all about is the limitation of sector based development: i.e., housing, infrastructure, business, social or political development separately may not produce any change in the overall situation of a community, and the progress in any sector can rapidly be frustrated by the deepening of the crisis in the other sectors. At the same time, development will be partial if one of these sectors remains underdeveloped.

2. CDCs are inefficient:

Stoecker's early criticism of the CDC concept is followed by evidence intended to show that CDCs are also inefficient, and that they have exaggerated the estimates of their production. Stoecker contests Vidal's estimate of the housing production of CDCs as 21 units per year. Stoecker contends that another survey by Edward Goetz showed that CDCs produced only 1-10 units a year. I checked Goetz's work and, if I'm not wrong, it is not Goetz's actual figure, nor does the Goetz paper seem to contradict Vidal's finding.

Vidal's and Goetz's work is not, in fact, easily comparable: Goetz's data were obtained from answers provided by housing officials of 173 cities, while Vidal's data come from information directly provided by interview subjects, from many interviews (615) of relevant people in each of the 29 cities selected, from questionnaires answered by executive directors of 130 CDCs, and from on-site observations by research team members. Vidal's work on CDCs is more comprehensive, and I don't mean to underestimate Goetz's work.

Vidal's sample of CDCs, it is advertised repeatedly, isn't representative of the average CDC. Instead, it is a selection of more or less "experienced" CDCs with a track record of demonstrated results. With respect to housing, the number of 21 units per CDC per year (new construction and rehabilitation), is the median production in the sample, the average production being 31 units. Vidal notes that the 21 units are comparable to the output of the small for-profit developers, the substantial majority of the private developers nationally. Vidal advises to take that median value as more representative of her sample, since a few old CDCs are very big housing producers and raise the average. Vidal applied the median value of her sample to NCCED's estimate of the number of CDCs - between 1500 and 2000 - after their survey of more than 800 CDCs in 1989. Vidal's estimated production of 27,500 units for all CDCs falls within the interval of 23,000 to 32,000 units per year calculated from NCCED's results (Vidal, 1992). In 1991 NCCED estimated at 60,000 units the housing output of the three years prior to their second survey of the CDC population (NCCED, 1991). If NCCED's figures mean 20,000 units per year, this would imply that Vidal's numbers measure the potential of the CDC community if it reaches the same output level as that of her sample. Vidal stresses this growth potential and the need for reinforcing a support network for CDCs (Vidal, 1992; Vidal, 1995) .

Stoecker finds that CDCs' output has been exaggerated. His argument relies heavily on Harry Berndt's account, from his own experience, of exaggerations in studies made on CDCs. One has to remember also that, apparently, the case Berndt was referring to turned out to be a very successful CDC some time after the staff and the strategy were changed. Berndt was a member of the staff that was replaced (Perry, 1987).

3. CDCs miss the essence of real community development:

Stoecker makes reference to Taub's observation that little importance is given by CDCs to "the essence of real community development": quality of life, community stability, residents' health and happiness, personal empowerment. In any case, Taub calls our attention to the fact that many members of CDCs consider *important* community organization and empowerment but, in practice, resources invested in these activities are limited with respect to the resources used in physical development. Taub notes that part of the reason for this different emphasis is that there are more dollars available for buildings than for human development (Taub, 1990) .

Taub's point is that economic development must not limit itself to structures, e.g. buildings, but start a process, a "ripple effect", by introducing new resources, inspiring emulation, or changing the perception that residents have of the resources that are available to them. So, it seems that Taub advocates for an economic development that goes further than housing, to business, commercial, and institutional development, of a type that should spark change in the local human resources and the local organization practices with which the community builds its common life. The importance of organizing is noted, but not in opposition to the CDC model.

This wouldn't be so different from what many CDCs are, supposedly, trying to do: according to NCCED's survey of 1160 CDCs, in addition to their economic development activities, 70% of them engage in advocacy and organizing activities, and 60% in human and social services (NCCED, 1991) . According to Vidal, more than half engage in activities other than economic development: advocacy, planning, job training, and promotion of community pride (Vidal, 1992) . A different issue is the impact that these activities may have, something that is difficult to measure and, often, vague (Taub, 1990), either for CDCs or for other kind of organizations.

It is also a fact that CDCs are attempting to stay attached to the social and economic goals of self-determination when, as government resources shrink and public support of social programs dwindles, they are forced to behave more as private corporations rather than as instruments of social change (Blakely and Aparicio, 1990; Marquez, 1993) .

In my opinion, combining the economic activities and the provision of services with social and economic empowerment is the ideal of CDC work. It doesn't mean that it is easily feasible, and other kind of CDCs, more constrained to housing, business, capital or commercial development, shouldn't be despised just because they limit themselves to the activities where they consider themselves more efficient and serving better the interest of the community.

4. CDCs lack democratic control

Lack or of democratic control is another deficiency Stoecker finds in CDCs. For example, to make their projects affordable, CDCs must act quickly to take advantage of the arising opportunities, putting aside cumbersome democratic practices (Stoecker, p. 12). Precisely, CDCs' advantage over public agencies resides in the flexibility, adaptability and rapid reactions more characteristic of the private sector. Democratic control shouldn't be so cumbersome as to prevent actions crucial for the advancement of the CDC or the community. Ideally, a posteriori control could be more advantageous than long consultation processes before any action is taken.

In fact, democratic control is one of the "existential problems" of community economic development, and there isn't a single model suitable for every place. As Perry said, "..such conventional control devices do not necessarily tag the actual level of community responsibility and accountability", and every democratic process can be perverted by interest groups. Local circumstances, history and culture will condition what kind of democratic control is best suited (Perry, 1987) .

Stoecker indicates as well the price that CDCs pay for having corporate representatives on their boards, or in ceding to funders' pressures: their social change goals {are or will be} perverted. The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation is cited as an example of corporate control. According to the literature, with all the problems and partial failures, Restoration can't be shown as an example of corporate benefits at the expense of the poor, but instead as an example of the reverse in a redlining and disinvestment trend. Similarly, it's difficult to see no benefit for neighborhood development in the skills, relations or credibility that some corporate people may bring to the CDC boards. As well, capitalistic ventures such as Community Development Banks (e.g. SouthShore Bank), Bank CDCs, Community Development Credit Unions, Community Development Funds or Micro Enterprise Loan Funds are, in my view, far from harming community development in poor areas. Be it socially responsible investment, compliance with the regulations or simple marketing, corporate investment and input has to be welcomed as far as it helps in the community development strategy, coping with the most striking defaults of the market (e.g. spatial, social, and ethno-racial discrimination). To date, I haven't had access to data showing any CDCs, even corporate or funder-controlled ones, which are promoting speculation, disinvestment in "unpromising neighborhoods" or redlining of communities based upon market and other considerations.

Attracting private investors to CDC activities seems quite an interesting exploit, since they are not "naturally" oriented towards these communities.

And, if the trend of disinvestment or abandonment is even slightly, rectified, it will certainly not be a major change in society, but there can be some social change if institutions, organizations and individuals change somewhat their practices unsuitable for community economic development.

These charges of CDCs surrendering to businesses and capitalistic ideology seem to me based on a conflict/pragmatism division that some have considered as already out-of-date or in need of being transcended (Perry, 1987; Taub, 1990; Taub, 1988).

I did my master's degree in France, where, IMHO, [in my honest opinion], public and private disinvestment hasn't reached, by far, the levels it has in the US, and where a non-negligible national policy on neighborhoods has been carried out since the late 70s. The goal and the problem in France still remains in obtaining considerable involvement in neighborhood development on the part of the private sector. Taking into account that some observers have qualified French ghettos, with respect to the ones in the US, as a kind of social-democratic paradises for summer holidays.

Control of CDCs by their staff is another fact that Stoecker presents as evidence of their disempowering nature. In addition to recent evidence of CDCs whose existence is based on strong community control and involvement (Medoff and Sklar, 1994) , or to the still chimeric nature of community empowerment according to Taub (Taub, 1990), one has to say that, with Community Economic Development being a long term process (20-50 years), institution building is also a long learning process, and there is no universal model of community control. Neither does community organization have to be an end in itself, but the tool to reach local goals with local human resources (Perry, 1987)

..5. CDCs are disorganizing forces:

Stoecker considers CDCs as disorganizing forces since they are market-oriented organizations -- but also, I would say, market palliatives. The competition for funds among CDCs, and their occasional investments in businesses outside their community, would reflect the disorganizing nature of CDCs.

Competition for funds, aside from being a market-oriented practice, is also in the very nature of the civic organizations: not only competition for funds, but also for "clients", for their turf, and for their own existence. The more similar their goals, the more difficult can be collaboration and mutual respect (Banfield and Wilson, 1970) .

On the other hand, investment outside doesn't seem a disorganizing force if it serves as a means for the CDCs to stay in business and continue providing services and promoting economic opportunity in their own communities. It's the same pragmatic attitude as having for-profit spin-offs in order to cover the costs of the non-profit activities. It's a difficult question, that carries a built-in conflict within itself, but it has also big advantages with respect to, say, dependence on a single -- mostly public-- source of financing.

Stoecker's argument is based on the opposition between "real organizing" and "limited organizing" (CDCs). It seems excessive to say that CDCs can't take risks to "..accomplish truly empowering community organizing" (Stoecker, p. 17). I would tend to think that, even if CDCs are less conflict-oriented than other community based organizations, it doesn't seem that they are docile actors: NCC in Newark, for example, has a reputation of being a tough player that hasn't hesitated to sue the city and to oppose HUD or other agencies often times (Lewis, 1993) . It seems also that CDCs have been involved in challenges to banks, and their relations with public agencies aren't always easy . With respect to the risks taken in CRA challenges, Stoecker goes quite far interpreting Vidal's words as warning CDCs to think twice before making any CRA challenge. Vidal documents just how reluctant banks are to lend to CDCs. It is evident in any conditions, probably for most of non-profits, not just CDCs, and with more reason if it happens in the context of a CRA challenge, as Vidal says (Vidal, 1992) (p. 159).

The opposition "real"/"limited" organizing is, in my opinion, not very clear: Community Organizing and CDCs aren't (shouldn't be) incompatible, but complementary. The movement for Community Reinvestment and the CRA (Squires, 1992) has been, I believe, an example of that. As I already said, not everybody has to do everything, nor does "organizing", by itself, happen to carry out economic development. There is more, but also "organizing", involved in economic development, and different approaches to development wouldn't prevent the collaboration or, at least, mutual respect among CDCs and other community groups. Instead, everywhere, sometimes it seems that more energy is devoted to turf battles, to ruin the operations of the "enemy", or trying to conquest his "castle", than helping any promising initiative in community economic development, no matter how far from one's ideal of development it is.


Banfield, E. C. and Wilson, J. Q. (1970): "Power Structure and Civic Leadership". In <Strategies of comunity organization: a book of readings>. (ed. F. M. Cox, Erlich, J. L., Rothman, J. and Tropman, J. E.), pp. 112-122. Itasca, Illinois: F.E. Peacock Publishers, Inc..

Blakely, E. J. and Aparicio, A. (1990): Balancing social and economic objectives: the case of California's community development corporations. Journal of the Community Development Society, 21, 115-128.

Boothroyd, P. and Davis, H. C. (1993) Community Economic Development: Three Approaches. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 230-240.

Faux, Geoffrey P. (1971): CDCs: new hope for the inner city. New York,The Twentieth Century Fund.

Lewis, S. (1993) America's Cities: What Works. Tough Love Works inNewark.Planning, 24-29.

Marquez, B. (1993) Mexican-American Community Development Corporationsand the Limits of Directed Capitalism. Economic Development Quarterly,7, 287-295.

Medoff, P. and Sklar, H. (1994). Streets of hope. The fall and rise ofan urban neighborhood. Boston, MA, South End Press

NCCED (1991): "Changing the Odds: The Achievements of Community-basedDevelopment Corporations". Washington, D.C., National Congress forCommunity Economic Development

Peirce, N. R. and Steinbach, C. F. (1987). Corrective Capitalism: TheRise of America's Community Development Corporations. New York, Ford Foundation

Perry, S. E. (1987). Communities on the way: rebuilding local economies in the United States and Canada. Albany, State University of New York Press

Rubin, H. J. (1993) Understanding the ethos of community-based development: ethnographic description for public administrators. Public Administration Review, 53, 428-437.

Squires, G. D. (1992). From redlining to reinvestment: community responses to urban disinvestment. Philadelphia, Temple University Press

Taub, R. P. (1990).Nuance and Meaning in Community Development: Finding Community and Development, New York, New School of Social Research, April, 23 p.

Taub, R. P. (1988). Community capitalism. Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard University Business School Press

Vidal, A. C. (1992). Rebuilding Communities: A National Study of Urban Community Development Corporations. New York, Community Development Research Center, Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, New School for Social Research

Vidal, A. C. (1995) Reintegrating Disadvantaged Communities into the Fabric of Urban Life: The Role of Community Development. Housing Policy Debate, 6, 169-230.

[To obtain a copy of Randy Stoecker's paper, send e-mail to with the message: GET CDC MODEL


gopher to and select: H-Net E-Mail Discussion Groups H-Urban Seminar on History of Community OrganizingPapers Political Economy of CDC Model


aim your WWW browser at gopher://

-- W. Plotkin, COMM-ORG]

======================================================================== 72

Date: Tue, 12 Mar 1996 11:24:28 CST

Posted by Wendy Plotkin <>

I enjoyed Pedro Huesa's comments on Randy Stoecker's paper, although I would disagree that Randy is "against" CDCs -- I think that in his paper, Randy is attempting to offer a realistic perspective on what CDCs can and cannot expect to accomplish in improving communities -- and the impediments that stand in the way. [To obtain Pedro's comments, send e-mail to with the message: GET CDC COMMENTS]

One of the areas on which I agree with Pedrois his observation that CDC involvement with funding agencies or other parts of the capitalist culture does not automatically imply co-optation. My own experience of the Fenway CDC in Boston was that throughout its first ten years, from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s (the period when I was associated with it), it took highly antagonistic stands against developers (including its own for-profit partner in a partnership "forced" on it by the city), city agencies such as the Public Facilities Department or the Boston Redevelopment Authority when it perceived these were too tough on their terms to CDCs or too friendly to institutions such as the Boston Red Sox or Boston University, and these institutions themselves, when they attempted to intrude on the neighborhood in a detrimental manner.

This was a result, as far as I could see, of a staff and board that for the most part shared a radical "1960s" perspective, and that seemed to think that it could carry enough weight in a liberal Boston administration to have its views taken seriously. In spite of this "gadfly" stance, the CDC was fairly successful in obtaining resources for its development. Having moved from Boston in 1989, I am not aware of whether it assumed a more conservative stance in the years since.

My observation of the Boston Housing Partnership, a coalition of 10 CDCs brought together in 1983 to undertake massive rehabilitation in Boston (the topic of my M.A. thesis), was of a tough fighter and negotiator, which spent much time in Washington, D.C. arguing down Reagan's HUD appointees who raised obstacles to those provisions of the complex deal that would have made the housing affordable, such as the level of the Section 8 rents. They forced GNMA into investing in inner-city apartment buildings, not an inconsiderable accomplishment considering the conservative approach of the federal secondary mortgage agencies.

The consulting partner to the Boston Housing Partnership, the Greater Boston Community Development Corporation, also expended great effort in shaping the 1986 tax reform legislation to ensure that the damage to affordable housing would be minimized, as compared to the original proposals.

As a historian, it is my hope that this entire project will eventually be thoroughly documented and described, if it is not already the topic of a dissertation.

I am interested in both anecdotal and documented evidence of the effect of the interplay of CDCs and establishment organizations in government and in the profit and non-profit sectors.

Wendy Plotkin

COMM-ORG Convener

University of Illinois at Chicago

History Department


Date: Wed, 13 Mar 1996 10:39:42 CST

Posted by Randy Stoecker <rstoeck@pop3.UTOLEDO.EDU>

Pedro Huesa has provided a thorough and detailed reading of my paper THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION MODEL OF URBAN REDEVELOPMENT. He makes a number of important points in response to the paper and corrects one error. There are also some difficulties with his critique to which I want to respond. I don't want to split hairs over how to interpret specific authors (though if authors out there think they have been misinterpreted, please let me know) or defend the paper. My purpose in presenting the paper was to provoke discussion over how urban redevelopment should be conducted. Thus, I want to briefly clarify some of the dispute between Huesa and myself in a way that I hope facilitates more and wider discussion. First, I want to correct the error he points out. The statement in the first section of the paper that 104 of 131 CDCs produced only 1-10 units per year is indeed wrong, and I thank Mr. Huesa for finding that. I apologize to the readers and to Ed Goetz for the misreading of his results. Huesa's overall reading of the paper is similar to that of a couple other readers, which interprets the paper as opposing CDCs. That's not the case. As I have been revising the paper, I have been trying to reduce the possibility that the paper can be interpreted as trashing CDCs. I am not opposed to CDCs, some of my best friends staff CDCs, and I wish I lived next door to a CDC. Seriously , I don't want to offend those people working so hard in the trenches, even if I am very critical of the model they are pressured to follow. What I oppose is an urban redevelopment model that starts and stops with CDCs, absolving corporations of blame and government of responsibility, and delegitimating community organizing.

It is interesting to me that the paper provokes such polarized reactions, and it has been fascinating to get reactions from such a wide Internet audience. While a number of CDC staff members and directors, past and present, agree with the paper, others react very negatively. Analysts also react in a very polarized fashion. This polarization leads to reading the same authors in very different ways (both Huesa and myself, in my revised version of this paper, use Marquez, Taub, and others to support our positions), and over-interpreting minor points (such as whether CDCs come from governments looking for a cheap alternative or from the grass roots frustrated with government -- I actually cite evidence supporting both sources in the paper). In the most extreme case, Huesa, and another anonymous journal referee where the paper is under review, read me as charging that CDCs "are promoting speculation, disinvestment in 'unpromising neighborhoods' or redlining of communities based upon market and other considerations." (Huesa's comments). This is not what I am trying to say.

One of the important challenges Huesa makes of the paper is to question my assertion that the CDC model emphasizes comprehensive redevelopment. There are a couple of things at issue here. One is what policy makers have historically thought CDCs are supposed to do. Two is what CDC practitioners think they are supposed to do. Third is what CDC communities think CDCs are supposed to do. My discussion emphasized the historical policy and community perspectives -- the general interpretation out there. Huesa reflects this cultural interpretation by his own statement that "In my opinion, combining the economic activities and the provision of services with social and economic empowerment is the ideal of CDC work." Many CDC professionals understand their limitations, but it is unclear that anyone else does.

Again, it is important to distinguish between CDCs and the CDC model. I am intrigued that Huesa provides such detailed response to my critique of the existing model, but barely touches on the alternative I propose which emphasizes even bigger CDCs. Why is it so important to defend the status quo and not critique the alternative? I would be interested in his, and others', thoughts on the alternative.

The main difference between me and Huesa seems to rest on our different theoretical perspectives. Understanding this difference is crucial. Huesa states, accurately, that "These charges of CDCs surrendering to businesses and capitalistic ideology seem to me based on a conflict/pragmatism division that some have considered as already out-of-date or in need of being transcended." Do community and capital have common interests? Examples like Poletown (Wylie, 1989) and Cedar-Riverside (Stoecker, 1994) show very clearly that they do not. "Transcending" a conflict perspective, from my vantage point, has been used to justify a return to what we call, in sociology, a "functionalist" paradigm where society is portrayed as fully functioning except for a few malcontents that are trying to disrupt things. That was the theory of the 1950s in the United States--in sociology, family studies, and urban studies. And it was used as an ideological bludgeon against all those who dared challenge the system outside of its own rules. Here I would even disagree with Wendy's argument about how much CDCs actually challenge the system -- what we define as militant or confrontational is historically relative. The first time African American college students sat on the whites-only side of the Woolworth's lunch counter, people labeled them revolutionaries. That looked mild when factions of the student movement later started burning down ROTC buildings. CDCs filing lawsuits and advocating in front of legislators seems comparatively mild when contrasted to the mass occupations and disruptions of National People's Action to win CRA legislation.

Is conflict still necessary? Community organizers say yes. And conflict is especially necessary if capital and community do not have common interests. But Huesa argues that capital and community do get along, and how do we account for such examples of cooperation with CDCs if capital and community really have antagonistic interests? Probably the most developed arguments along these lines come from Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward's (1993) work. They argue that antipoverty programs generally (and I would argue CDCs) are used to provide just enough to placate the masses and keep the lid on society. When protest erupts, the spigot is opened a bit further, and when things quiet down, it is turned down. It is intriguing, for example, that so much CDC housing is done in the form of rentals, rather than other empowering forms of co-op or individual home ownership. And what would all those corporate CDC board members do if CDCs started arguing that all of their residents with money in the board member's bank should be able to vote on bank policy? All those elites are involved to keep things from getting too radical. How far down the path we have come of accepting what crumbs are thrown us is illustrated by Huesa's defense of Bed-Stuy Restoration Corp. I don't dispute the work Bed-Stuy has done, or that any CDC has done, but I am deeply concerned that we seem to be content to settle for what they are able to do, and can't even imagine doing the things they are unable to do.

Additionally, much of the disagreement between Huesa and I seems to hinge on whether one accepts capitalism as a fair and viable economic model. Huesa does. I do not, and I am consequently less willing to declare success for redevelopment that does not restructure economic power and therefore does not produce real democracy. The issue is not just whether a CDC can build a new affordable house or fill a storefront. The issue is whether we can return power to people, away from corporations and elites.

My main concern with Huesa's reading of the paper, however, is in his lack of distinction between advocacy, community organizing, and community development. I am worried that he, like too many CDC supporters, do not have nearly the sophisticated understanding of community organizing that they have of community development. I am most troubled by his citing the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (Medoff and Sklar, 1994) as a CDC, when in fact DSNI consciously resisted doing development work, did development in their first project reluctantly (and under pressure from elites who apparently wanted to be able to pin blame on the neighborhood if the project failed), and then returned to their community organizing roots for the next project, partnering with Nuestra Communidad Development Corporation. Huesa is the second CDC model supporter to respond to my paper by wrongly citing DSNI as an example of a good CDC. DSNI is an organizing group by their own definition. To me, the lack of understanding of the distinction between development, advocacy, and organizing that seems common among CDC model supporters represents trouble, as it contributes to the belief that there is no reason to struggle, and poor communities should accept what the banks, the government, and the foundations trickle down to them, while the most they should legitimately try to do about any lack of resources is sue or call the congressperson. What has happened to our imaginations when this is the best we can envision? Clearly, we can't just pick up Alinsky's Reveille or Rules and assume one size fits all. Again, the part of the paper Huesa does not comment on begins to develop a new organizing model to interface w ith CDCs.

As always, I welcome continuing discussion. If you don't want to tie up the seminar, feel free to comment to me directly. As I mentioned, I am engaging in a major revision of the paper to reduce the inflammatory statements, better develop the alternative community development model, and build more evidence into my argument. I can e-mail the latest version to anyone who can receive formatted MIME-encoded e-mail and read a Word 6.0 file. [Ed: Or you may want to await COMM-ORG's making available the revisedversion, which Randy and I are working on. If it turns out thatCOMM-ORG is NOT able to post the revision, I'll let COMM-ORG know.It appears that there is a good chance I'll be able to post it and/or place it in our archive. -- W. Plotkin, COMM-ORG]

Thank you, Wendy, once again, for creating such an important forum.


Medoff, Peter, and Holly Sklar. STREETS OF HOPE. Boston: South EndPress.

Piven, Frances Fox, and Richard Cloward. REGULATING THE POOR: THE FUNCTIONS OF PUBLIC WELFARE. New York: Vintage Books.

Stoecker, Randy. DEFENDING COMMUNITY. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Wylie, Jeanie. POLETOWN. University of Illinios Press.

Randy Stoecker

Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work

University of Toledo

Toledo, OH 43606

419-530-4975 (office)

419-530-8406 (fax) (e-mail)