Community economic development in Winnipeg's North End : social, cultural, economic, and policy aspects

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Deane, Lawrence
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The work of the North End Housing Project (NEHP) was an attempt to apply a number of theoretical orientations to the problem of decline in an inner city neighborhood of Winnipeg. Although the focus of the program was housing, NEHP moved well beyond this focus to address problems of neighbourhood distress in an integrated and multidimensional way. It used a cluster strategy in housing development to create a critical mass of new residences that could have an impact on neighbourhood housing markets. It took a convergence approach to community economic development that directed local production to meet local basic needs. The project used the concept of social capital to build social ties among neighborhood residents, to provide mutual support among families, and to enable the community to address its needs more effectively. Finally, the project engaged with Aboriginal residents to explore a cultural basis for community building and to acquire the means to influence neighbourhood affairs. NEHP's work was set in a context of citywide policies that contribute to the process of core area underdevelopment. These policies intrinsically subsidize suburban sprawl, accelerate core area population loss, and discourage inner city housing investment. While analysis of such policies was critical to understanding the dynamics of decline, advocacy for their change was beyond the scope of this small nonprofit housing initiative... The study assesses the community economic development dimensions of NEHP's work. It traces patterns of community income retention, community asset accumulation, and equity buildup for individual families. A social cost benefit analysis shows that creating work for previously long-term unemployed residents generated savings for government in welfare payments and other transfers, and it created new tax revenue through the payment of income taxes and sales taxes. Nearly half the costs of the subsidies for renovated housing were returned to the public treasury through the creation of employment for previously unemployed neighborhood residents. The study undertakes a qualitative assessment of community building efforts in the William Whyte neighborhood. Interviews with residents of NEHP housing show that neighbours were beginning to recognize the effects of neighbourhood stability on their sense of control over neighbourhood affairs, and on their sense of social support from others in the locality. Interview data show that homeowners outside the NEHP program were beginning to make investments in their properties because of perceived improvements to the resale values of their homes...