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United Way of Lancaster County


Philly Fed again picks local nonprofits for ‘Reinventing Our Communities’ program

(Sources: Provided | OUL)

For the second time, a group of Lancaster County nonprofits is taking part in a Federal Reserve program to promote equity and economic opportunity for marginalized communities.

This time around, they will focus on housing — specifically, on promoting inclusion and affordability in the local rental market.

(Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia)

The program is known as “Reinventing Our Communities,” or ROC. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia announced Lancaster County’s inclusion in the initiative’s current iteration, the fourth so far, earlier this month. It is one of 11 communities nationwide: Lebanon County, just to Lancaster’s north, also was selected.

Key participants in the Lancaster County cohort include:

They and Fed will work with together over the next 14 months, with support from consultants Neighborhood Works America and Race Forward. The goals are to analyze local barriers to housing access and develop strategies to expand opportunity.

Community First Fund is a nonprofit lender (technically, a “community development finance organization”) that promotes economic development in underserved communities. HDC MidAtlantic is a nonprofit developer of a ffordable housing. The Lancaster City Housing Authority owns and manages public housing and manages federal housing choice (Section 8) vouchers; while Tenfold provides a range of housing assistance and financial stability services.

“We look forward to working with our long-time partners to view housing in Lancaster County through the lens of equity and inclusion,” Community First Fund President and CEO Daniel Betancourt said in a statement. “This will guide the actions we can take to help all families find safe and affordable places to live.”

“Lancaster County is not unique in this housing crisis, but Lancaster is unique in our ability to work together,” Tenfold CEO Shelby Nauman said. “Through this process and with the support of many partners, we will recommend solutions which will not only benefit individual households that are struggling, but also our collective future prosperity.”

Like many communities nationwide, Lancaster County faces an acute housing crisis that has worsened since the pandemic. Even before the pandemic, in 2019, a full 48% of county renters were “cost-burdened,” paying more than a third of household income in rent, according to the Lancaster County Racial Equity Profile. For people of color, the number rises to 58%.

Click to enlarge. (Source: Lancaster County Racial Equity Profile)

About Reinventing Our Communities

The Philadelphia Fed launched Reinventing Our Communities in 2020. A group of Lancaster County nonprofits, businesses and individuals took part in the second cohort, launched in 2021, which focused on small business.

The group developed a strategic plan to connect BIPOC entrepreneurs to resources and promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the local business community. Now known as Reimagining Our Communities, the group has established a giving circle at Lancaster County Community Foundation and continues to pursue the plan’s objectives.

The fact that Lancaster County had participated before did not factor into its being chosen again, Philadelphia Fed spokeswoman Kelly Antonacci said.

“Lancaster was selected … because the new group of organizations submitted a strong application,” she said.