Last month, I attended the annual conference of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) in DC. The theme this year was: “Not Just an Economy, a Just Economy.” I have been a NCRC board director now for almost 20 years and have had the opportunity to discuss our local economy with numerous federal officials. I will leave for another time to comment on the flaws and neglect that resulted in our national crisis in order to blog today on how we can and should rebuild our local and national economy.
Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have bills pending to enact the “Project Rebuild Act.” Senator Durbin and Representatives Gutierrez and Rush are among the Congressional leaders who support this initiative proposed by President Obama as part of the American Jobs Act to put people back to work by rehabilitating homes. Project Rebuild could create 200,000 jobs, redevelop at least 150,000 vacant properties, and stabilize home prices in communities throughout the country hit hardest by foreclosures and unemployment.
The Local Economic and Employment Development [LEED] Council here in Chicago has been refining our job training curriculum to teach the skills necessary to rebuild in the most energy efficient way. We are exploring partnerships with both for-profit and non-profit developers to grow our transitional jobs program, Green LEEDers, into an on-going social enterprise.
LEED Council’s Green LEEDers ready to rebuild green
The key to rebuilding communities is linking local residents to the employment created in restoring vacant properties for affordable housing. With jobs, people hardest hit will again be able to afford homes and only then will our local and national economy recover.
Project Rebuild should not be a partisan pawn held hostage in Congress. Communities continue to depreciate while the economic health of families deteriorates. That’s NOT a Just Economy.
Ted Wysocki, President & CEO
Local Economic & Employment Development Council