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What Is the Role of Community Development?

B. Miller
B. Miller

The role of community development is to improve communities and make them more economically viable and better places to live. This is a very simple definition of a complex practice that happens in communities around the world; in fact, there are many scholars, activists and politicians who focus on the role of community development and what can be done to improve certain regions. In general, there are certain goals of community development. These can include improving the availability of jobs, developing small businesses in the community and developing more affordable housing. Getting community members engaged in decisions regarding the community is another important aspect and can help reduce crime.

Housing is often one of the largest aspects of community development. In this regard, the role of community development is to provide affordable, safe housing for community residents, particularly in low-income areas where it can be difficult to find. This can be accomplished in various ways, often through government grants or or private grant funding. It also is a very personal project for many communities, whose residents might work together on improvement projects or to assist low-income families in finding affordable housing. This aspect of community development often goes hand-in-hand with jobs.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

If jobs are available in a community, it benefits everything else, from housing to crime rates. For this reason, another role of community development is often to support small businesses in various ways. This encourages people to shop in and support their local communities and to get to know their neighbors, and it increases the number of jobs that are available in an area. One of the most common community projects are farmer's markets. They are not only environmentally friendly, they also allow people to purchase healthy food from local farmers and to spend time getting to know their neighbors.

Some programs even allow people who are receiving supplemental nutrition assistance, such as food stamps, to purchase food at the farmer's market. Another role of community development is to empower individuals in the communities through various educational programs and informational meetings. These are designed to teach people how to get involved and to work to bring about real change in their communities for the benefit of all. Often, community development projects start small, with just one or two people working toward a common goal, and will spread to benefit the entire community.

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