The high cost of housing has become a permanent financial hardship for people who earn low wages. The other chapters in this book rightfully stress the importance of increasing employment opportunities and improving human capital to increase earned income. Unfortunately, the gains are often marginal, and the small economic advancements can be eroded by escalating housing cost. Unless they receive subsidies, poor and working poor are paying 30 to more than 50 percent of their income on rent. They are primarily people of color, women, single parents, and immigrants who fill the increasing need for low-wage labor in restaurants and retail stores, as garment workers, janitors and day laborers. Many earn below the national minimum wage of $5.15 nationwide and fall below the federal poverty level, which is $18,884 for a family of four. Since 1994, activists' struggle to raise the minimum wage has also led to a higher visibility of the housing crisis. A full-time minimum-wage job does not pay for housing in any state in the United States. For a few who happen to reside in the right jurisdiction and work for local government or their contractors, living wage ordinances improve the minimum to an average of about $9.00 (Fairris and Reich 2005).1 Despite this higher wage, the living wage can still be two to three times below the housing wage that "a household must earn in order to afford a rental unit of a range of sizes at the area's Fair Market Rent (fmr), based on the generally accepted affordability standard of paying no more than 30 percent of income for housing costs" (nlihc 2003).2 Fewer Section 8 housing subsidies are available to low-income families, elderly, and disabled persons. Section 8 vouchers allow recipients to rent from any property owner participating in the program at a rate consistent with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (hud) af-fordability guidelines. Tenants using Section 8 paid 30 percent of their income for housing in 2004, but in 2005 the program raised this to 40 percent. The situation becomes even grimmer when an economically disad-vantaged community faces developers with deep pockets who can acquire property, bulldoze affordable housing stock, and implement big plans. More tenants will compete for fewer units. Across the nation, grassroots "Davids" are using community benefits agreements (cbas) in order to negotiate with the developer "Goliaths" and gain a community voice at the negotiating table. In return for community support, developers are signing cbas that include a variety of provisions such as affordable housing, living wage jobs, card check neutrality permitting organizing in new developments (e.g., at hotels, airports, and sports and entertainment districts), local hiring or first-source hiring programs, on-site job training, parks, child care, youth centers, parking, environmental mitigation, neighborhood improvement funds, and revolving loan funds. The Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice (ficcej)-which includes unions, religious groups, community-based organizations, citywide organizations, environmentalists, students, health groups, block groups, and worker centers-negotiated the 2001 "Staples Agreement" with the developers of a large sports arena in the City of Los Angeles.3 This cba is considered to be the first full-fledged comprehensive agreement (lax Coalition for Economic, Environmental, and Educational Justice n.d.) and is an excellent example of combining housing and economic development.4 Impressive as it is, the cba is only one tool in an overall ficcej strategy that combines changing policies, negotiating agreements, and developing alternative institutions. The ficcej vision includes planning inclusively, over time, and with a long-term commitment to the neighborhood. By using a variety of popular education tools, the coalition aims for full disclosure of information and to build leadership capacity among people in the commu-nity.5 The result is that people who would otherwise have become victims of an unchallenged makeover of the community are more likely to remain in the neighborhood. Second, community involvement is more likely to be ongoing when residents feel empowered and able to question other development decisions affecting them. This chapter evaluates the ficcej's use of the cba as part of a comprehensive strategy, using multiple research methods and drawing from historical information, census data, and other public documents. Background information includes material from community development corporations, government agencies, and citywide and local technical assistance organizations. A review of the secondary literature cast a wide net and drew from histories of Los Angeles, labor studies, community development, and community organizing (e.g., Alinsky 1946; Chambers and Cowan 2003; Ferguson and Dickens 1999; Keil 1998; Pastor Jr., Dreier, Grigsby, and Lopez-Garza 2000; Gittel and Vidal 1998; Shaw 2001; and Stoecker 2003). The 2004 ucla Community Scholars class produced a report that provided background information (Aparicio et al. 2004).6 The nonprofit Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (saje), the convener and home to the ficcej, provided research reports and staff offered insight from their organizing activities over the course of several years. In-depth interviews were held with saje founder and Executive Director Gilda Haas. I begin by describing the urgent reasons for linking housing to economic development in situations where poor tenants are concentrated. The second section of this chapter briefly summarizes ways in which grassroots groups have typically entered the housing and economic development field. In Los Angeles, nonprofit community development corporations (CDCS) stepped in to fill the vacuum left when the public sector reduced funding and withdrew from subsidizing housing and the private sector walked away from many poor communities. The third section reviews the history of organizing that led to the formation of the FCCEJ coalition. The fourth section defines the CBA and reviews its components. Finally, I present the Staples Agreement and analyze the reasons why it is important that the CBA be only one tool among many.