Adobe Stock/Andy Dean

The HIVE conference, scheduled November 28-29 in Austin, brings together leadership from all aspects of housing, including capital, building technology, design, intel and strategy, to solve for one of housing's biggest challenges - affordability. This conference aligns with the development and initiatives of this group challenged with the issue of connecting capital and community.

In studying the ability of places to attract and deploy capital in support of low and moderate income communities, the Initiative for Responsible Investment and our colleagues in the recently formed Center for Community Investment have found practitioners describe the most exemplary efforts as hard journeys, strewn with obstacles. These trips take place deal by deal, with institutions struggling against formidable obstacles to completion. (Odysseus’ trip home from Troy is the analogue that comes to mind).

In describing what we call “the capital absorption capacity of places,” practitioners have regularly told us that they are working against or around existing systems. In doing so, they also recognize that it is hard to find space and time for the vital work of system building. Nevertheless, that work still happens – through associations, at conferences, in workshops, on multi-party deals, and so on. However, it happens in ways that are adjacent to, or in addition to, the daily grind of deal-making. It’s extra work, and it doesn’t always get the attention that it could.

We’ve had this in mind as we heard the same felt experiences emerge in conversations from our work with the Joint Center for Housing Studies examining the Partnerships for Raising Opportunity in Neighborhoods (or PRO Neighborhoods) initiative launched several years ago by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Recognizing the need for impact at a larger scale, the PRO Neighborhoods competition asks Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to propose collaborative projects that include pooling resources with other CDFIs—across size, sectors or geographies—and, in its newest iteration, with community groups and local governments in an effort to support and encourage developing or advancing an equitable development plan in neighborhoods.

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