Community Development Advisory Council

October 2, 2017
By Jeremy Hegle , Senior Community Development Advisor and Daniel Perez


The fall 2017 Community Development Advisory Council (CDAC) meeting was held Sept. 6-7 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Omaha Branch. The Kansas City Fed established the CDAC in 2001 to provide Bank leaders a deeper understanding of the community and economic development issues that affect low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. CDAC members also receive updates on the national and regional economies and provide feedback on the Bank's community development research, programs and resources.

Three primary topics discussed at the September meeting were affordable housing, digital inclusion and LMI workforce challenges.

  • Affordable Housing: The lack of good-quality and affordable housing continues to be the largest issue throughout the Tenth District. One CDAC member said this issue affects low-income residents and has begun to affect middle-income and upper middle-income residents. While there are some initiatives to address the problem, such as Nebraska allocating $7,000,000 for rural affordable housing and Chipotle’s employer-sponsored housing program in Colorado, these initiatives are insufficient to meet demand.
  • Digital Inclusion: A lack of adequate broadband access in many rural and urban areas is a growing concern because of its impact on businesses and consumers. CDAC members discussed how internet service is often unavailable or speeds are too slow. If internet service is available, it is often too costly for rural and LMI consumers.  
  • LMI Workforce: A lack of qualified workers is causing employers to “poach” employees by offering higher wages. For workers receiving government assistance, the benefits cliff—or immediate loss of benefits from increased income—keeps workers from advocating for pay raises or finding better-paying jobs. One member described both scenarios in their region. For example, a local restaurant is offering servers $10/hour plus tips, and a local ice-cream shop now starts workers at $9/hour. Even with the comparably higher wages, both companies report difficulty finding workers due to both the tight labor market and because the higher wages may not be enough to offset a complete loss of food or housing assistance. Adjusting safety-net policy to provide a more gradual reduction in benefits as income increases likely would reduce this friction.

Members also discussed the need to better inform employers of issues that may impact employee productivity (i.e., stress related to the high cost of good-quality housing, child care and transportation). The group noted that employers of LMI workers especially need a better understanding of what goods and services cost in their geographic area compared to the wages they are paying.

Current CDAC Members Include:

  • Ruben Alonso, president, AltCap, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Marie Longserre, president and chief executive officer, Santa Fe Business Incubator, Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Judy Petersen, executive director, Central Nebraska Economic Development District, Chambers, Neb.
  • Steve Radley, president and chief executive officer, NetWork Kansas, Wichita, Kan.
  • Rebecca Reynolds, executive director, Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Hugo, Okla.
  • Cecilia Robinson-Woods, superintendent, Millwood Public Schools, Oklahoma City
  • Liddy Romero, executive director, WorkLife Partnership, Denver
  • John Santner, regional vice president, NeighborWorks America, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Craig Showalter, president and chief executive officer, Wyoming Community Foundation, Laramie, Wyo.
  • Reginald Thomas, president and business manager, Laborers’ International Union of North America Local Union No. 264, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Cris White, executive director and chief executive officer, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Denver