As cliché as it may sound this time of year, It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite all-time movie as it reflects what I love about CCC and our work. It’s certainly a movie about financial capital, which we study. Like Bailey Savings and Loan, there are ways to lend money and provide financial services that help people get ahead and for communities to thrive, as we’ve documented with our research with partners like Self-Help and Neighborhood Trust. In the movie, protagonist George Bailey tells the cynical and villainous Mr. Potter, who refuses to lend to people like taxi driver Ernie Bishop, “Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about…they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community.” Our Community Advantage Program (CAP) study showed how Self-Help’s mortgages for low- and moderate-income borrowers – who had little money to put down and not-so-great credit – resulted in sustainable homeownership.
But It’s a Wonderful Life is also about social capital, which Mark Lindblad, Kim Manturuk, and Roberto Quercia, our Director, write about in A Place Called Home, which documents the social benefits of homeownership from the CAP study. We learn about the many lives touched by the protagonist, George Bailey and (spoiler alert!) how George’s social network rallies around him at the end when the Savings and Loan is about to go under due to Potter’s misdeeds. And it’s a story about human capital – how the utopian community of Bedford Falls supports the capabilities and fortunes of characters like Ernie, Bert, Mr. Gower, and George’s war hero brother Harry. Maybe many of our communities don’t quite live up to the benevolent standards of Bedford Falls and Bailey Savings and Loan. Yet, with our partners, CCC is committed, project by project, to discovering how to unlock financial, social, and human capital in communities to enable more families to achieve their goals. This is important work and I’m thrilled to be a part of it here at CCC. Happy holidays!