Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—June 29

mothers of police shooting victims, who are mostly unarmed Black men.
‘DC Vigil for Delegation of Grieving Mothers, 2014.’ Photo by Stephen Melkisethian via flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This study’s findings told us something we already knew was likely, but it doesn’t make the research any less important. When police kill unarmed Black people, it has an adverse health effect on Black people living in that state, says a new report published in a leading medical journal. “It’s really about all the kinds of insidious ways that structural racism can make people sick,” says one of the study’s authors. Read the full report here.

Queens Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stunned the Democratic party machine in New York City, and the country, when she beat longtime District 14 congressman Joseph Crowley in this week’s primary election and added energy to a movement of the party to the left by a wave of first-time candidates. This is Ocasio-Cortez’s first campaign for public office, and her platform includes Medicare for all, housing as a human right, and abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Services (ICE). If she wins in November, 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez would become the youngest woman elected to Congress.

Housing finance reform is under discussion again with an administration proposal that would, not surprisingly, privatize Fannie and Freddie while providing a “limited, explicit” federal backstop. S&P Global Ratings is so sure it won’t happen any time soon they haven’t changed the GSEs’ ratings. Here’s what Shelterforce writers had to say about the last round of housing finance reform proposals.

An investigation by ProPublica found that over 1,200 civil rights violation cases filed against school districts during the Obama administration have been dismissed for insufficient evidence under Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The investigatory news agency’s analysis also found that under this administration, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is less likely to find wrongdoing on the part of school districts than the previous administration. Critics contend that the administration’s focus on expediency in resolving individual cases is ignoring potential systemic issues of discrimination within schools and school districts.

Twenty-one health systems in Minnesota are testing out a Medicaid payment system that rewards medical facilities that lower costs and keep patients healthy by addressing the social determinants of health—including substandard housing, homelessness, and poor nutrition. “But the jury is still out as to whether they are really moving the needle in addressing . . . the things we know affect people’s ability to be healthy,” says Ann Hwang, the director of the Center for Consumer Engagement and Health Innovation at Community Catalyst, a Boston-based consumer advocacy group, to Kaiser Health News. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it 100 times: we don’t think the focus should be on cost savings. Keeping patients healthy should be the primary goal for now; the savings will come later.

Mapping Small Arts and Culture Organizations of Color in Oakland is a benchmark project by two regional foundations to learn as much as possible about the local organizations they describe as “advancing understanding and spurring collective action on urgent issues—from racial justice, economic development and displacement to oppressive policing and gun violence.” The foundations want the resulting report and map to inform other potential funders about their work and funding challenges, and encourage stronger investment in Oakland’s grassroots arts and culture sector. The interactive map portion of the project is inviting Oakland-based arts and culture organizations with budgets of $250,000 and under to add themselves until the end of 2018.

A home is more than a physical place. And so getting a permanent place to live is only part of exiting the state of homelessness, at least for people who have been homeless for a long time. A place to belong also matters. That’s the premise of a program in New Haven that aims to help the formerly homeless participate as citizens in their community. They’ve had some great success and the premise reminds us of the effects of grassroots organizing on mental health. We wonder if it’s necessary to frame it as a training program, though. Some folks could probably make use of a place to belong without so much formal programming as well.

Are you part of The Majority Coalition, a group trying to elevate the majority in this country that stands against hate and division? The Right to the City Alliance explains why they, as a housing justice organization, have signed on by saying “We love all our people, and we will not succumb to the divide-and-conquer tactics that would have us see Central and South American immigrants as a threat to our collective well-being. We know that if we want to change the world, the majority of us must come together to take action and protect one another.”

Republicans left a big surprise for nonprofits in the recently rewritten tax code, and it’s not a good one. Historically tax-exempt organizations will need to start paying tax on fringe benefits that are provided to employees—like parking and meals. This change will force thousands of groups—churches, hospitals, colleges, and others—to file returns and pay taxes for the first time, reports Politico. Will this change affect your organization? Let us know.

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