Tiny Homes for the Homeless: A Return to Politically Engaged Community Economic Development Law?
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The evolution of community economic development (CED) over the past several decades has witnessed dramatic growth in scale and complexity. New approaches to development and related lawyering, and to philosophies underlying these approaches, challenge us to reimagine the framework of CED. From the early days of community development corporations to today’s sophisticated tools of finance and organization, this evolution reflects “why law matters” in pursuit of economic justice and opportunity. Change is visible in new approaches to enterprise development and novel grassroots initiatives that comprise a virtual “sharing economy,” as well as intensified advocacy around low-wage work and efforts to contain runaway housing markets against a backdrop of stressed municipal budgets. There has also been a parallel evolution in the legal academy—the maturing of CED programs and expanded attention in scholarship and teaching.At the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) annual meeting in San Francisco in January 2017, legal scholars gathered to discuss this evolution as part of the discussion group, “Community Development Law and Economic Justice—Why Law Matters.” The goal of the discussion group was to give further definition to CED at a fluid moment in its history and to assess an array of new strategies in the field. Are we in a new post-CED era? What are its primary features? Why, how, and to what extent do law and law schools matter in CED?
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