Ask a Community Development Question

fanciful wall mural and pocket park downtown Belleville IllinoisQuestions Might Include the Who, What, Where, and Why of Such a Vacant Lot Project

Last Updated: May 28, 2024

This page offers you a good place to ask a community development question.  You can be anonymous if you want to be, but I suspect no one would make fun of you for asking a question. The form and specific directions for this easy process are further down on this page. We define the scope of possible inquiries very broadly.  If we accept your question, you receive an answer right here online from one of our editors.  Possibly another visitor will chime in with a helpful addition.

This provides a service not only to an individual site visitor, but also to future readers, who can see the question and our answer, plus any  further discussion that people want to add.

Many of you have told us that this question and answer feature is helping with your community work. In fact, some of these have become among the most popular pages on our website.

We have received so many great questions that we separated them into categories, creating a hub page for each group.  These groupings are shown below, after which this article resumes.  But of course, community development topics are enormously varied, so many miscellaneous questions  don't fall into any category we have created. Those random but important questions and answers remain reachable from the links below the photo directory and text on this page; you can click the title to see the entire question and answer.

Categories of Questions in This Section: Zoning -- Civic Engagement -- Planning Terms -- Neighborhood Quality of Life --  How Cities Work -- Housing -- Deed Restrictions -- Environmental Planning -- Rural Development -- Economic Development.  Miscellaneous questions are shown separately below.


Finding Other Resources for Information and Advice

Perhaps you really do not want to ask your community development question where it might be seen on this website, even though you can ask anonymously.  There are some excellent reliable resources on the web, although there is plenty of bad advice and jargon-laden pretentious stuff too. We recommend one of two University-based resources, either The Community Tool Box from the University of Kansas or the resources from the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs.  The American Planning Association site contains more advanced material that may be helpful to planning commissioners and members of boards of zoning adjustment or appeals.

Another possibility is to find some unbiased local experts. You might think your location is too remote to attract experts, but if you're in a developing nation, your national government will have more answers than you think. Provinces and states usually have some experts who can advise you, and there are semi-public agencies and non-profits that can help too. In the U.S., university extension services, community action agencies, regional planning agencies or councils of governments, and any community development corporation or umbrella housing development agency or corporation will be likely to know how to point you in the right direction.

Also remember that you can use the search box to find relevant details on this site. Another particularly useful resource on this site is the yellow box on our sitemap page, where we show links to pdf files of all the pages that might be of interest to particular audiences.

There is no reason to be embarrassed about your need for information, context, or terminology. Just the other day I had to ask a colleague how he understood a term that has popped up in foundation and think tank newsletters that we subscribe to. 


Use This Form to Ask Your Community Development Question

Returning to our main purpose here, we want to inspire you to ask your question now on this site, using the form just below. We want to help you in your community work. Don't worry about whether you are in the right category or not; we can fix that. Certainly feel free to give us a pseudonym rather than your real name if you wish, but being somewhat specific about your location will probably help you receive a more appropriate answer. You will see that you also can leave the name and location blank.


Each question accepted creates a new web page.  Answers are placed on the same page after the question.  A few questions are not accepted because they are too unclear, vague, specific, or redundant with content already on the website. Or once in a while you ask a question that our editors don't feel competent to answer or comment on.

Rest assured that both questions and answers are moderated and edited for clarity, civility, spelling, punctuation, and such.

Have A Question?

Would you like to ask the other visitors and/or the editors a question? Here's your place to ask and then watch for the answers to pop up.

Other Questions and Answers

Click below to see contributions from other visitors, and answers.

How can we reduce minor traffic accidents in the neighborhood? 
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Code officer ignores my written complaints 
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What are some transportation strategies for the disabled 
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Should only residents of the Village sign petition 
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Being harassed by the city  
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Resident told to hire a lawyer to get codes enforced 
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City shuts off water for code violations 
Reviewed: May 31, 2024 Visitor Question: Our City Council has adopted a policy of shutting off city-provided water to residences to enforce code violations. …

Name of town should be changed 
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Stormwater code enforcement 
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Closed Business Now an Eyesore 
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How to establish a historical designation of your neighborhood 
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CDC's Geographical Footprint 
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Is code enforcement required to provide translation 
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Truck parking at residence 
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How Long a New CDC Will Need Grants for Operations 
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Can code officer decide what is trash? 
Visitor Question: Who decides what is trash (inside of a 30 gallon plastic container)? Is that the homeowner or the city code officer? Is there a code …

CDC and 501(c)3 
Visitor Question: We are interested and looking into starting a CDC in our town. Do you need to register as a 501(c)3 with the IRS before starting a …

Can Code Enforcement make me live in a home that is a health hazard? 
Visitor Question: Hello. I live in an unincorporated city in Riverside County. I live on a property that is in probate. I took care of my landlord until …

Opposition to Code Violation Reporting 
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Empty parking lot at a big strip center 
Visitor Question: When you stop and look at it, a huge strip center near my house is really ugly. Mostly my husband and I don't pay attention, but one …

Can code enforcement officers take furniture from backyard  
Visitor Question: Okay so I came home to find multiple things missing from my backyard such as our kids' basketball hoop and pole with a fiberglass backboard, …

Role of planning in built subdivisions 
Visitor Question: I am finding it to be very confusing why the city planning department has anything to do with our neighborhood organization. They seem …

How to renew interest in a neighborhood association 
Visitor Question: Our neighborhood used to have a very active neighborhood association, and I think we need to have one again. The incorporation papers …

Code Enforcement says too much stuff  
Visitor Question: My husband has ADD. He lost his job and as a result, he buys and sells things. He got cited from Code Enforcement for having too much …

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Developer's Plan not filed 
Visitor Question: I purchased a new home in a new seven-phase development, and in hindsight, I never received a Developer's Plan. And, to my dismay, …

Rural code enforcement inconsistent 
Visitor Question: I live in rural Iowa and city codes are just coming into service. While I sometimes wonder who thought some up, basically I agree …

Unlicensed Short Term Rentals 
Visitor Question: I operate an Airbnb in Colorado. My town recently enacted an ordinance for STR to require a license and a 10% ratio of short term rentals …

Town codes not enforced 
Visitor Question: The town I live in is not enforcing the written codes such as parking lot requirements and snow removal. Does the written code have …

Design Standards versus Performance Standards 
Visitor Question: If design standards and performance standards appear in the same division of a development code, can both be used to bring a code violation …

Condo Complex in a PUD Zone 
Visitor Question: Good Morning, I am an Appraiser working on an assignment within a condominium complex that is located in a zoned PUD district. The …

Transit Expansion or Better Transit Operation 
Visitor Question: Some people in our metro area are grappling with the question of whether it is better to expand our light rail system's length or spend …

How registering empty properties helps curb appeal 
Visitor Question: Our community has a number of abandoned and dilapidated buildings that need to be taken down or repaired. Please tell me about the …

Changing the Name of a Town 
Visitor Question: What are the steps in the process of changing the name of a town? Our town and its attending unincorporated areas sharing the same …

Apartment Dumpster Area Problem 
Visitor Question: Should apartment dumpster areas be enclosed for safety and health reasons? If you rent and requested an enclosure be done and still …

What qualifies a church as a Faith Based Community Development Center? 
Visitor Question: What qualifies a church as a Faith Based Community Development Center? Outside of the entities listed below, is there anything else? …

CDC acting in bad faith 
Visitor Question: Who can we turn to when our community development corporation, a 501c nonprofit, acts in bad faith, counter to the interests of our …

Building just a garage on a lot in a subdivision with an HOA 
Visitor Question: Our HOA has CC&Rs stating one single family use. A lot owner built his house and just bought the lot next door but wants to build a …

Can code enforcement move my car from the back yard  
Visitor Question: Can a code enforcement officer move my car from my back yard of my property? Editors Reply: The answer depends completely on what …

How is community development a process 
Visitor Question: Someone recently commented to me that community development is a process and that I need to be patient. I find that frustrating …

Why do community development projects fail 
Visitor Question: I was just wondering why community development projects funded by our taxpayer dollars sometimes seem to fail miserably. What are the …

How can a city create a CDC? 
Visitor Question: I'm interested in having our city create a community development corporation for a part of our community that doesn't get a lot of …

Who Regulates CDCs? 
Visitor Question: Who has the authority to regulate what a CDC does? The one that is active in my neighborhood is now proposing a development that seems …

Steps in a community diagnosis project 
Visitor Question: What are the steps in starting a community diagnosis project? Our neighborhood group wants to start an assessment and diagnosis of …

Is a church parking lot a common area 
Visitor Question: Our condo association wanted to have an event on a large church parking lot that is really central to our residents. The church refused. …

Becoming Certified as a CDC 
Visitor Question: Who can I apply to for my company to become a Community Development Corporation? When is application taken? Editors Reply: Sharon, …

Property Upkeep Code to Protect Neighborhood Quality 
Visitor Question: We live in a neighborhood of single family homes. Because we are in the county and not the city, the International Property Maintenance …

Unit above me caused water leak in my bathroom 
Visitor Question: The unit above me has caused a fifth water leak in my master bathroom. I reported it to code enforcement. They gave her three days to …

Code Enforcement and Standing Water 
Website Visitor's Original Question: A family purchased a small inflatable swimming pool during the summer, and placed the pool in the backyard. Children …

Neighbor harassment  
Visitor Question: Our daughter lives in a house we own. She received a violation complaint about items on her porch. These items were buckets and so …

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Feel harassed by code enforcement officer 
Visitor Question: I was given a code violation for graffiti on my fence. Every year I have had to correct this. This year in around April I had to paint …

Planning Commissioners' Decisions and Conditional Use Permits 
Visitor Question: Can Planning Commissioners legally reference the General Plan as a basis for their decisions on a conditional use permit? Editors …

Is a gate a fence 
Visitor Question: We purchased a one acre home lot. In our deed it states "no fence" across the 20' pipeline easement on the back of my property. If …

Code Enforcement in Rural Areas 
Visitor Question: Is there any code enforcement in rural areas? I'm tired of living around junked cars, rusting machinery, old couches on the front porch, …

Management company hired by HOA did not respond 
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Fewer homeowners and tenants are keeping up homes 
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Nuisance rental property 
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Business in a subdivision 
Visitor Question I live in a Texas rural area, three miles from Pleasanton. I have called every county department for answers, and no one knows the answer. …

Membership superstore to benefit the community 
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Building whatever I want 
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Subdivision sells small park to create revenue to improve large park 
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Rezoning happens during construction 
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Grandfather Clause Permitting Outdoor Storage of Fertilizers 
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Code enforcement entered home 
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Homeowners rights with code enforcement 
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Best way to identify community needs quickly 
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Is business community development consultant a good option 
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Pool Violation Allowed to Continue 
Visitor Question: My neighbor had his pool cage destroyed by Hurricane Irma and has not rebuilt it. He has received a violation and a notice to appear. …

Threatening behavior by code officers  
Visitor Question: Three code officers came to my place, carrying weapons on the first visit. All of my permits are up to date. For zoning and planning, …

Business model for a Community Development Center with ICT and entrepreneurial courses 
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Code enforcement singling me out 
Visitor Question: What if anything can I do if code enforcement is sending me letters for violations and not to anybody else I know? They come because …

Punishment for not correcting serious code violations 
Visitor Question: A legitimate complaint was made against a neighbor's property for serious and dangerous code violations, which they can't rectify due …

Innovative Ideas to Unite a Community 
Visitor Question: Our community has become really divided. We had a political scandal involving very bad behavior by our mayor. He was forced to resign, …

Notice to property owner when building posted unsafe 
Visitor Question: Can the city say a building is unsafe without going inside, and can it put a sign on your building without notifying you the homeowner? …

What a Community Development Program Actually Does 
Visitor Question: What is the main function of the community development? And what does community development program actually do to further develop …

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Most influential factors in neighborhood attachment 
Visitor Question: An article about beatification said that beauty is one of the three most influential factors in neighborhood attachment. What are …

How to deal with a business that is never open 
Visitor Question: We are a little township still with 3,000 people in Crockett, Ca.94525 (bay area). There is a business name removed in the center …

Noise from mosque in residential area 
Visitor Question: Hello. I have been a resident of a six-story building for 20 years. A month ago the private two-story house in between our three …

Closed CDC meetings and transparency 
Visitor Question: Can a community development corporation hold meetings which are closed to the community at large? Editors Reply: A community …

Reciprocal easements 
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Can codes help with condo sewage problem 
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Code enforcement officer in backyard without consent 
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Persuading city to care about vacant multi family building 
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How to Get City to Enforce Ordinance 
Visitor Question: The City where I live has a definite zoning ordinance (Code 82.15) that states commercial vehicles are not to be parked in residential …

Where to Find Easement Information 
Last Updated: August 29, 2020 In this article we explain how to find a description and probably a diagram of a driveway easement. Your county courthouse …

Role of Community Development Organizations in Conflict Resolution 
Visitor Question: What are the causes of conflict and what is the role of community development organisations in their resolution? Editors Reply: …

Code Enforcement Letters Not Received 
Visitor Question: So I had a rather large problem arise involving a code enforcement and wanted some info before dealing with it. A complaint was …

Minor Grandchild Inherits Abandoned House 
Visitor Question: My son has been deceased for two years. His daughter is a minor. The minor's mom is my deceased son's ex-wife. She (the ex-wife) first …

Advantages and disadvantages of felt need approach 
Visitor Question: What are five advantages and five disadvantages of the felt need approach? Editors' Reply: We don't know whether we can give you …

Career Paths for Addressing Urban Sprawl 
Visitor Question: I was wondering if you might be able to advise. After spending a number of years in retail, I'm looking into changing careers to …

Community Development Corporation Approval by United Nations  
Visitor Question: I have had a CDC since 2014. Are Community Development Corporations registered and/or approved by the United Nations? If yes, how …

Violent Extremism and Terrorism as Hindrance to Community Development  
Visitor Question: What are the impacts of violent extremism and terrorism from a community development perspective? Editors' Reflection: Thank …

Promise to Planning Board Not Kept 
Visitor Question: What recourse do I have if a developer agreed in a planning board public meeting to make a deed restriction on clearing of buffer in …

Is There a List of Current CDCs 
Reviewed: May 31, 2024 Visitor Question: Is there a list of current CDCs? A central registry? How do I find out whether the need I want to address …

Project Management Cycle in Community Development  
Visitor Question: How should local communities manage projects using a results based approach? Editors Reply: For the benefit of other visitors, …

Start a Community Based Non Profit Organization 
Visitor Question: Is an organization limited to one scope? I want our community to have a day care for single and working parents, a land bank (not …

Vines on home: code violation or landscaping enhancement? 
Visitor Question: A single-family home in my neighborhood has vines covering much of the exterior. The growth appears uncultivated and uncontrolled. …

Monitoring Community Development  
Visitor Question: How do you monitor and evaluate a strategy for community development? Editors Reply: Thank you for a great question. We think …

Significance of Strong Institutions in Governance  
Visitor Question: What is the significance of institutions and institutional checks in local governance processes? Editors Reply: Institutions …

Locked Out of Home in Probate 
Visitor Question: My house is in probate, and the electric and water were turned off. I live in an old historic home. They won't allow me to live there …

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Who Is a Community Developer 
Site Visitor Asks These Questions: 1. what is community 2. development means what in community 3. what is community planning 4. U.N definition for …

Kennel Preventing Occupancy Permit Issuance 
Visitor Question: I purchased an old house with two kennels built, ONE DIRECTLY BEHIND THE HOUSE AND ONE ADJACENT TO THAT BUILDING. It is zoned light …

Retention Pond Ownership and Maintenance 
I live in a subdivision in Cobb County Georgia. The subdivision contains 2 lakes. The HOA and Covenants were established in 1989. Up to 2007 the lakes …

Community Clean Up Projects Helping Individuals  
I would love to start a community based program where we help other residents with their yard work or other projects. The people I would like to benefit …

Taking Possession of Abandoned House 
My mother had got married to this guy and she passed away. He has abandoned the house. How do I go about getting back into my home? Editors Reply: …

Indigenous Culture and Community Development 
How would you apply the concepts of indigenous culture to community development? Editors Reply: Thanks for that question. First, let's define indigenous …

Non-functioning HOA 
Visitor Question: In the State of Ohio, the developer has deeded the common properties to the HOA. Included in the common properties is a vacant lot …

Code Enforcement Right to Enter Property  
Visitor Question: Can a Non-Certified, non-law enforcement Code Enforcer in Colorado enter your property without permission or a warrant? Editors …

Developer Extending Our Neighborhood 
Note: When a developer proposes to extend a neighborhood and submits a plan that is quite different from the original subdivision proposal, all sorts …

Neighbor Tree Trimming Issue 
Visitor Question: I am trying to purchase my home. Branches from a tree behind my house have grown over the roof of my house. Please tell me how …

Multiple CDC's 
Visitor Question: Is it possible to have 2 CDC's? If one just patronizes senior citizens and home owners. And the new one wants to patronize the whole …

Can Bed and Breakfast Become Group Home? 
Visitor Question: In a non-zoned area, can a property with multiple buildings being used as a bed and breakfast be sold as a residential property for …

City Sign Regulations Too Tough on New Business  
Visitor Question: Our city has refused to allow us to even apply for a permit for a flag to advertise our business. They have railroaded us into 8 months …

Code enforcement targeting an individual 
Visitor Question: Could I be targeted for code violations? Editors Respond: We assume that you mean that you feel that the city or a city employee …

Elected officials and a CDC  
Visitor Question: We have a CDC (community development corporation) in our city that has created a roadmap for the development of key areas in the city. …

Serial Pest in the Neighborhood 
Visitor Question: We have a member of our community who has a slight mental disability, but more behavioral problems, who constantly abuses people. …

Combining subdivided lots 
Visitor Question: I am considering purchasing a 16 acre piece of property. It has already been divided into smaller lots. Can some of the lots be put …

Objection to neighbors variance 
Visitor Question: I live in a small town in New Jersey. The town is only a mile wide and long. New people bought a home next to ours; it is on a …

Restoring an historic "town square" 
Visitor Question: I live in an urban city that annexed an area of the county many years ago that, for a short while, was an independent town. It was …

Definition of Economic Development Corporation 
Visitor Question: What is an economic development corporation? Is that the same thing as a community development corporation? Editors Say : Generally …

Are very large cities better? 
Visitor Question: What are the consequences that we can expect if we continue to allow and encourage larger and larger cities to be built? I think cities …

Elected Officials and Ordinance Enforcement 
Visitor Question: Is it legal for the Mayor or city council member to enforce city ordinances but not obey them on their own properties? Editors …

Auto Repair Business vs. Boat Repair Business 
Visitor Question: Our ordinances limit a boat repair business much more than auto repair. I'm just wondering what the rationale is behind that? I am …

Old building needs love 
Visitor Question: We have a beautification fund in our town that started as a result of junk cars sitting on abandoned lots. Almost the whole town (about …

Recognition as a Community Development Corporation 
Visitor Question: We are in planning to establish a Community Development Corporation in the State of Florida. We have a 501(c)3. Is there an application …

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Is Urban Sprawl a Problem 
Visitor Question: Do you consider this a problem? Why or why not? What are you doing to help solve or prevent this problem? Do you have any suggestions …

Felt needs community development theory 
Visitor Question: What is felt needs theory in community development? Editors Reply: "Felt needs" is an idea about a change that is considered …

How to regulate food trucks 
Visitor Question: I am on the City Council in a nice suburban community with some office parks. Recently food trucks have been parking at lunch time …

Finding a Manufacturer of small community event artifacts? 
I was recently asked to serve as a volunteer on the Recreation Advisory Board (5 board members) in our small rural community of 1900 people. Someone came …

Beautification Projects cost money and North Carolina provides Special Funding or Grants 
Visitor Question: Are grants provided by a State, such as North Carolina, required to be paid back in any way or fashion? How do I find the information …

Aims and Objectives of Community Development 
Last Updated: May 31, 2024 Visitor Question: What are the basic aims and objectives of community development? Editors' Reply: The aims of community …

Community Development tradeoffs 
Visitor Question: What happens when conflicts arise between the policy makers and some of the community members, such as the community thinking jobs …

How to become an urban planning consultant 
Visitor Question: How does one go about becoming an urban planning consultant? Are there any educational or licensing requirements? Editors' Reply: …

City Involvement in a CDC 
Visitor Question: We are a small suburban city and what is the expectation of a Mayor's involvement in a CDC? Do Mayors, Council, Directors get involved …

Essential Steps in Strategic Planning for Communities 
Visitor Question: What are the most important steps in a strategic planning process for a community? Is it necessary to do a SWOT analysis? Editors' …

Searching for Measurement Scales, Questionnaires, and Surveys for a Thesis 
Visitor Question: I am a student in the process of writing my thesis. My topic is Sense of Community and Community Development. I am in search of an …

How can a community improve a neighborhood 
Visitor Question: What are some ways in which a community can get involved in improving a neighborhood? Editors' Reply: Juan, you ask a question …

How community can evaluate their parks  
Visitor Question: We need to know what to look for when evaluating our neighbourhood parks? What should we look for. Editors' Reply: We think neighborhood …

How do you give a neighborhood character? 
Visitor Question: Our neighborhood seems plain. What can we do about it? Editors' Reply: We elaborate on both neighborhood character and small …

How far can the city go in forcing citizens to obey codes? 
Last Updated: August 7, 2020 Visitor Question: Our city is really gonzo about forcing citizens to keep their property "code worthy." Every person …

Saw the New Page about Recycling Buildings 
Visitor Question: I was doing a search and I found the page about recycling buildings. I guess it is new because when I was doing a paper about this …

What is a CDFI 
Reviewed: May 31, 2024 Visitor Question: I heard that a CDFI can be important in neighborhood revitalization. What is that anyway? Must have something …

1960s Suburb Needs Refreshing 
Visitor Question: Our 1960s suburb used to be the envy of the city. Our reputation was of great homogeneous neighborhoods, a wonderful place to raise …

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