Low Income Investment Fund Releases ‘Social Impact Calculator’ to Determine Impact of Building Projects in Low Income Neighborhoods

In September, there was a new tool released by the Low Income Investment Fund to aid communities with putting a dollar value on building projects that are in the works for low income neighborhoods. The Social Impact Calculator is a potentially helpful tool that is based upon some the newest and best social science research available. The new online tool can be used to determine the social impact that may be seen as a new low-cost housing, child-care center and health clinics are built.

Due to a lack of funding, the Low Income Investment Fund was unable to accurately perform some of the long-term studies needed to fully see how much the housing, schools, clinics and day cares have had on those that have been aided the most. Instead, they used the research data of the highest quality to determine the estimated monetary value had, according to Nancy O. Andrews, chief executive of the Low Income Investment Fund.

Andrews says that the research that was performed by Nobel Prize winner and economist, James Heckman, was used to to estimate to put a dollar amount on how valuable the Fund’s work on education centers was.

The calculator that was created by the Fund is available to other organizations to use and is an open source, enabling the tool to be modified by anyone, if improvements are needed. Andrews believes that community finance organizations, investors, foundations and banks may be the ones to find the calculator to be the most helpful.

She says, “We’re not trying to tell anyone that is the right way to do it. We’re really putting it out as a version one. More than anything, we’d love this to spark a conversation.”

The development of affordable housing, schools, health care facilities and child-care centers is expected to have a wide reaching impact on those in the neighborhoods where these buildings are financed. One area in particular that is of interest is the impact had on recent high school graduates as the availability of housing, health care and child-care (when needed), may increase dropping college enrollment rates as a result of the potential financial burdens being lifted off of students and their families.

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