#155 Fall 2008 — From Grassroots to Oval Office

Memos on How To Make Change From the Grass Roots to the Oval Office

From the grass roots to the Oval Office: Shelterforce contributors offer policy suggestions for the next president on how to make change.

image is silhouettes in red and blue of people waving arms and holding up banners and flags, to accompany article on grassroots recommendations for the next occupant of the Oval Office.
Some memos on how to make change, from the grass roots to the Oval Office:
$4 a Gallon Gas Changed (Nearly) Everything!

This contribution arrived via time capsule from Aug. 28, 2020: Looking back, the signs should have been obvious: After decades of decline, city populations stabilized during the 1990s and even started to increase in many locations during the 1990s and…  · 

Urban Policy Next

Fiscal expert Roy Bahl once told Congress, “There has always been a federal urban policy. Unfortunately, no one has ever known what it was.” That’s in part because of confusion over what “urban” policy means and in part because of…  · 

Time to Address the Rural Housing Crisis

The next administration will face significant housing issues well beyond those related to foreclosures and mortgage markets. The housing needs of low-income people in both urban and rural places predated the housing crash and will undoubtedly outlast it. One of…  · 

Breaking Asset Poverty: Better Homeownership—and More

In standard U.S. policy-speak, “poverty” is an income concept. The “poverty line” is an income measure, access to social programs is largely related to income, and when policymakers examine distributional effects of a policy, they turn to income quintiles. Income,…  · 

A Fair Housing Agenda for 2008 and Beyond

With more than 3.7 million instances of housing discrimination occurring annually and segregation remaining a central feature of the nation’s housing markets, fair housing remains the critical unfinished agenda of the civil-rights movement. Your administration has the opportunity to craft…  · 

Environmental Justice: Heck of a Job Ahead

The new president has a lot of catching up to do on the unmet imperatives of environmental justice. Originally anchored in the urgency of redressing the impact of environmental poisons and discriminatory pollution on workers and low-income people in communities…  · 

A Two-Year Skills Guarantee: More Than Just the “Dream”

Senators Obama and McCain have each proposed helping more Americans achieve the “American Dream.” But few voters may realize that the candidates’ vision of that dream may itself exclude millions of Americans from a better life. Housing advocates recognize this…  · 

The Other Health Agenda

While health-care reform has once again grabbed the headlines and the attention of health advocates in the 2008 presidential election, the next occupant of the White House will need to make many other critical health policy decisions. Important as it…  · 

In Praise of Faith-Based Community Organizing

Before you panic at the notion of government support for religion, let me explain. First, faith-based community organizing means a specific type of progressive organizing through religious institutions, for poor and working people’s issues. Second, it has no connection with…  · 

Needed: National Leadership for Sustainable Development

As the United States enters a period of rapid growth that will have a profound effect on our national wellbeing, the next president will face an unprecedented challenge. He will also have an unprecedented opportunity to help states, cities, and…  · 

Early Childhood Education: A Teachable Moment

The start of a new administration will be an opportunity to focus on educational beginnings for schoolchildren across the United States. One of the greatest contributions that the new president could make to education would be to put the federal…  · 


  • A Two-Year Skills Guarantee: More Than Just the “Dream”

    September 17, 2008

    The new president could guarantee every U.S. worker access to the skills necessary for a good-paying middle-skill job, or the first two years of college.

  • What the Mermaid Taught Me

    September 16, 2008

    Wrestling With Starbucks, by Kim Fellner. Rutgers University
    Press, 2008, 283 pp. $24.95 (hardcover).

  • What’s the Matter With Newark?

    September 16, 2008

    For the community economic development organizations that have spent decades trying to keep Newark's neighborhoods afloat, the promise of a new mayor has only managed to throw the city's paradoxes into sharper relief.