Community Development:

Challenges Face Comprehensive Approaches to Address Needs of Distressed Neighborhoods

T-RCED-95-262: Published: Aug 3, 1995. Publicly Released: Aug 3, 1995.

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GAO discussed the proposed Local Empowerment and Flexibility Act. GAO noted that: (1) community development experts advocate comprehensive approaches to address the problems of distressed neighborhoods, since the problems are complex, interrelated, and take considerable time to reverse; (2) community development organizations face problems in organizing residents, gaining their trust, and maintaining their involvement; (3) community development organizations have to seek funding from multiple sources to cover their expenses while trying to manage a diverse set of concurrent housing, economic development, and social service programs; (4) although at least 12 federal departments and agencies assist distressed communities through hundreds of programs, these agencies are not coordinated and community organizations are often left to deal with the burden of managing multiple programs to serve their communities; and (5) the proposed act includes provisions for a board to review and approve local plans and to grant waivers from regulatory requirements in order to provide community organizations with the flexibility needed to implement their programs.

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