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Community Revitalization Is Hard to Get Right. Here’s How It Can Succeed

January 4, 2024

animation of cityscape

by William Towns, POAH Board Member and Adjunct Professor in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University 

Whether it goes by “urban renewal,” “neighborhood transformation,” or “community reinvestment,” the effort to make American cities prosperous and equitable is among the central challenges of the post-pandemic recovery.

The goals of these initiatives are usually clear enough: affordable housing, good education, public safety, commercial growth, and sustainable development. The challenge is how to achieve these goals without displacing residents or compromising a neighborhood’s traditional identity—a challenge shared by city officials, real estate developers, and community organizers.

“It’s always a balance,” says William Towns, an adjunct professor of social impact at Kellogg and the National Market President for Community Revitalization and Public Housing for Gorman & Company, a national development firm that focuses on community revitalization.

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