Friday, February 20, 2009

What is an OCDCA?
Not an obsessive compulsive disordered Californian. Here's the definition:
    "an organization of community development agencies from through out the state [of Ohio] focused on building economically and socially stronger neighborhoods and communities. Through mutual assistance, training and advocacy, they influence public policy to improve the statewide community development environment and support community-based development."
This is one of those definitions you can choose words from several columns but nothing makes sense. So I went to OCDCA's web site and looked at its history. It has been in the "affordable housing" business for over 25 years and guess what? They've never found a reason to shrink (as they would if they were successful) only to expand. Imagine!

It began in 1983-84 with a foundation grant staffed entirely by volunteers to be an Ohio trade association for Community Development Corporations, hiring a director, Patrician Barnes in 1985. Her first initiative was to see that it stayed in business by creating a grant program funded by the state. It got $1 million from the Ohio Department of Development in 1985. Then it created the OCD Finance Fund building on the linked deposit model of AmeriTrust Bank, making it a product. From 1987-89 OCDCA organized a statewide Task Force to guide the Finance Fund, partnering with other development programs and an Episcopal Diocese. Then it got the governor and legislature in 1989 to provide matching public funds through an expansion of its CDC grant and Finance Fund continues to this day in a set-aside in the Ohio Housing Trust Fund. (Call me crazy but it looks like the state was matching state funding.)

Is it clear to you so far? Me either.

During the 1990s OCDC got involved in "educating the public" about ballot initiatives to expand the state's powers to finance affordable housing, helped draft legislation advocated for reduced state prevailing wages for housing targeted to low-income households and got exemptions from state prevailing wage for nonprofit sponsored housing development. (I think that means they didn't have to pay union wages.) Then it got into the training and assistance business making it possible for welfare recipients to start businesses and hold assets (called micro-enterprise programs).

As the CRA was gearing up to bring pressure on banks, the OCDCA began training Community Development Corporations staff.

No comments: