May 23, 2010; Santa Maria Times

The complexity of nonprofit community development is portrayed in this article about the Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corporation (LHCDC) in Lompox, California.  The CDC owns 150 affordable rental units and runs two homeless shelters, but the economy has meant that it has had to delay or drop some development plans.

Delayed is the planned renovation of the historic Lompoc Theater. Abandoned is the plan to create an affordable housing complex for men and women released from Casa de Dasarrollo, the foster child system in the county.  The CDC may be behind on some loan repayments and is out of compliance on some paperwork with other loans from the City.

Some ascribe the CDC’s problems to bad management, including some staff and board turnover, but other problems include reductions in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, banks increasingly reluctant to provide financing, and a downturn in the housing market reducing the potential collateral value of the CDC’s properties.

Maybe there’s more to the LHCDC story in terms of managerial problems, implied in part by the executive director’s referring all questions to the organization’s real estate development consultant and the failure to keep up with the City’s reporting requirements on various loans.  But we would bet that, given the time required for predevelopment work, some of the CDC’s slow or stopped projects were conceived long before the recession hit full force and undermined by changing market, financing, and grant dynamics.—Rick Cohen