#GoodReads from our staff reflect on the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s finalized and updated Fair Housing rule and whether current efforts and updates aimed at housing fairness adequately incorporate lessons from the past. And, we consider the same question around this week's reflections on the first social impact bond in the United States.

With the announcement of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s finalized and updated Fair Housing rule (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing – AFFH), we are seeing yet another instance of this Administration’s doubling down on addressing the consequences of geographically concentrated poverty and historical housing segregation. Location, zip code, and neighborhoods are hugely consequential for an individual’s life outcomes. The Obama Administration’s Promise Zone initiative takes on an even broader set of goals aimed not at affordable housing, but at crime reduction, educational opportunities, and health outcomes. The articles recommended below assert that these two programs are updated versions of things HUD has been trying to address for decades. The question is whether we agree that current efforts and updates are intentionally incorporating lessons from the past.

In the spirit of learning from the past and building on what we know, one colleague offers an article suggesting that even today’s newest buzzword ‘impact investing’ is also not new. That we can trace the ethos of investing wealth for social impact back to the Quakers. Another entry submitted is a press release reflecting on the lessons gleaned from a major impact investing initiative, the nation’s first Social Impact Bond. The admission here is best summarized as we came, we tried, we learned. A risk was taken and after the results proved below expectations, the intervention program will discontinue. Are we turning a corner in the social change sector? Are we becoming more comfortable with failure and learning in real-time? Will we continue to build on what we know about location-based entrenched poverty and also work to alter the funding systems and bureaucracies that perpetuate disparate outcomes across populations? Only time will tell. What do you think? Is the social sector doing enough to learn from the past? Add your thoughts 

Obama Unveils Stricter Rules Against Segregation in Housing – Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Binyamin Appelbaum, New York Times

Recommended by Tiffany Ferguson, Associate, Public Sector Innovation

Obama Tries to End the Cycle of Broken Poverty Promises – J.B. Wogan, Governing

Does the Obama Administration’s Promise Zones Initiative represent a new twist on neighborhood revitalization? “Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, now the U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), argues it’s not just about job creation or affordable housing or preschool, but about providing all of those supports at once.” Promise Zones are high poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, enhance public health and address other priorities identified by the community. Read this article for the full story comparing the Promise Zone Initiative to federal initiatives past and a look at how the program is landing in a neighborhood in San Antonio, TX.

Recommended by Tonya Banks, Senior Administrative Associate, Capital Innovation

Why Policy Change is the Only Way to Open Impact Investing Floodgates - Beth Sirull and Brenna McCallick, Triple Pundit

While “impact investing” is a new buzzword, the idea of aligning investing practices with impact goals is not a new one; it can actually be traced back to the Quakers, who aligned their purchase and investment decisions with their values. Throughout history, you can see iterations of the idea that owners of wealth are responsible for the welfare of their broader community. Now, we’re seeing businesses get behind the idea with a lot of intention, but the amount of money going into impact investing is still a tiny percentage of all invested capital. Why is that? The authors of this article explore the dilemma and explain why making policy changes are necessary to incentivizing impact capital.

Recommended by Sindhu Lakshmanan, 2015 Summer Intern, Capital Innovation

MDRC Statement on the Vera Institute’s Study of the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) Program at Rikers Island - MDRC

The Vera Institute of Justice recently published its evaluation of the nation’s first Social Impact Bond (SIB) effort. A program designed to reduce recidivism among troubled youths at Rikers Island jail was found not to meet expectations and will be discontinued later this summer. Because SIBs are structured in a way that puts the risk on private investors and philanthropy, the City of New York was able to try an innovative experiment aimed at helping reduce recidivism. Because the program failed to make achieve statistically significant improvements, they will not have to pay the cost. This statement by MRDC, who was responsible for the project’s implementation outlines both their experience with the program, as well as the benefit of this innovative financing structure.

Recommended by Owen Stone, Senior Associate, Public Sector Innovation

Investing in More than Just a Supermarket – Angela Glover Blackwell and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, The Hill

In this blog, authors outline why access to supermarkets in low income neighborhoods is an investment imperative that has proven to improve livelihoods, community health, and job opportunities in neighborhoods that need it the most.

Recommended by Tiffany Ferguson, Associate, Public Sector Innovation