"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"

Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)

"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"

Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster


Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.

I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Land and Water Conservation Fund

Location: Nationwide

Website: lcwfcoalition

Created by Congress in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and our cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. National parks like Rocky Mountain, the Grand Canyon, and the Great Smoky Mountains, as well as national wildlife refuges, national forests, rivers and lakes, community parks, trails, and ball fields in every one of our 50 states were set aside for Americans to enjoy thanks to federal funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

It was a simple idea: use revenues from the depletion of one natural resource - offshore oil and gas - to support the conservation of another precious resource - our land and water. Every year, $900 million in royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) are put into this fund. The money is intended to create and protect national parks, areas around rivers and lakes, national forests, and national wildlife refuges from development, and to provide matching grants for state and local parks and recreation projects. Yet, nearly every year, Congress breaks its own promise to the American people and diverts much of this funding to uses other than conserving our most important lands and waters.

As a result, there is a substantial backlog of federal land acquisition needs estimated at more than $30 billion—including places vulnerable to development such as the Florida Everglades, Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, Civil War battlefields in Virginia and other precious places around the country. State governments also report needing $27 billion in LWCF funds for eligible local parks and recreation projects.

The LWCF program has permanently protected nearly five million acres of public lands including some of America’s most treasured assets such as Grand Canyon National Park, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the White Mountain National Forest, and Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s first federal refuge.

Over the duration of the program, funding for LWCF has varied yearly, falling drastically in the last few years to total less than $100 million in 2007. Today, the four federal land management agencies (National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management) estimate the accumulated backlog of deferred federal acquisition needs to be around $30 billion. Opportunities to protect fish and wildlife habitat, provide public access for recreation, preserve our nation’s most notable historic and cultural sites, and protect scenic vistas are being lost every day to development.

The LWCF state assistance program provides matching grants to help states and local communities protect parks and recreation resources. Running the gamut from wilderness to trails and neighborhood playgrounds, LWCF funding has benefited nearly every county in America, supporting over 41,000 projects. This 50:50 matching program is the primary federal investment tool to ensure that families have easy access to parks and open space, hiking and riding trails, and neighborhood recreation facilities. Over the life of the program, more than $3 billion in LWCF grants to states has leveraged more than $7 billion in nonfederal matching funds. But funding levels have been unpredictable and the average annual appropriation since fiscal year 1987 is a mere $40 million—despite the need for millions more. Today, the National Park Service reports that the unmet need for outdoor recreation facilities and parkland acquisition at the state level is $27 billion. While the LWCF alone cannot address all state park needs, it is a critical federal partnership with our nation’s state and local parks and communities.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development

Location: New York, NY

Website: anhd.org

The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) works to build the strength of the community development movement in New York City. ANHD was founded in 1974 with the mission to help low-income communities thrive and to ensure that all New Yorkers can live in decent, affordable housing and neighborhoods.

Today ANHD leads a membership of 99 of the City’s leading community development and neighborhood-based not-for-profit affordable housing organizations. Our member groups use grassroots advocacy strength, bricks-and-mortar development skills, and focused neighborhood-level services to work for more decent, just and equitable communities. ANHD supports our member groups with a mix of training, capacity-building resources, strategic research, and high-impact public policy advocacy campaigns.

ANHD members groups have built over 100,000 affordable units in NYC in the past 25 years. ANHD’s policy activism has directly leveraged over $1.3 billion in new resources for affordable housing in the past 10 years alone, and our policy victories have resulted in the preservation of thousands of affordable units.


Over the past decade alone, ANHD’s training, policy research, advocacy, strategic communications, and leadership development for 100 grassroots groups and residents has resulted in leveraging over $1.3 billion for affordable housing, rescuing over 30,000 apartments and 160 buildings for low-income residents, and creating break-through policies for community development:

2012 – City Council passes Responsible Banking Act, developed with ANHD members.

Following ANHD’s reports on dramatic decreases in banks’ local reinvestments in the 2009 and 2011 “The State of Bank Reinvestment in NYC”, New York City Council passed the nation’s strongest RBA bill in May 2012, providing communities with lending data and a voice to ensure local reinvestments as requested by ANHD members.

Community Development Fellowship Program, matching Masters’ Degree students with community non-profits.

2009-present: 90% success in training and placing unemployed adults: ANHD’s Center for Neighborhood Leadership training and internships for unemployed adults has resulted in 90% of trainees graduating into full-time jobs and / or college.

2008-present – 1000s of units rescued from rent increases: ANHD’s activism achieved an important state regulatory reform, reducing a key rent increase pass-along by 1/3 for thousands of tenants.

2007-present – $750 million to save housing from the crisis of over-leveraging: ANHD won a commitment of $750 million in city funds to incentivize banks to sell to affordable housing developers rather than predatory speculators.

2007-present – 3,100 units for 60-year affordability, $145 million annual tax credits: a result of ANHD research and advocacy, NYC Council Speaker Quinn agreed to doubling affordability from 30 to 60 years on 3,100 housing units per year, leveraging $15 million in annual benefits from the tax credits.

2003-present – 6,900 new units via Inclusionary Zoning: ANHD’s member-group led advocacy established New York’s first inclusionary zoning, gaining 6,900 affordable units.

2002-present – $32 million savings on building costs: ANHD’s Affordable Housing Institute trains residents, developers and building managers in affordable housing maintenance, financing and green retro-fitting for a combined economic savings of over $32 million

1992 to present – Affordable Housing Institute helps housing developments save $32 million: the Affordable Housing Institutes on-going trainings – including green building management training – to affordable housing developers, managers, maintenance workers and low-income residents saves $32 million per year in operational costs.

2010 – Gains in permanently affordable housing: ANHD publishes, “A Permanent Problem Requires a Permanent Solution” to promote permanently affordable housing. In response, the city required permanent affordability in many key 2010 land-use decisions.

2007 – $7,250,000 Housing Preservation Initiative: ANHD secured $1.5 million in annual support for critical housing preservation advocacy in the city’s most disadvantaged areas of which $7.25 million has been realized to date.

2006-2008 – 9,736 fewer harassment cases: ANHD gained breakthrough legislation – the Tenant Protection Act – giving harassed tenants strong new legal rights, reducing the quantifiable instances of harassment in Housing Court by 9,736 documented cases.

2004-2007 – 1,100 Section 8 units rescued: ANHD outreach rescued eleven buildings containing over 1,100 units of housing from leaving the Section 8 affordability program.

2004-2005 – $530 million: ANHD held the City to a promise unfulfilled for 30 years to forge a new Battery Park City agreement that leveraged $130 millionfor 4,500 affordable units, and again in 2010, an additional $400 million for affordable housing.

2003-2005 – 7,200 apartments repaired per year: ANHD led the City to adopt the Targeted Cyclical Enforcement Program to enforce repairs.