Miriam Axel-Lute

Miriam Axel-Lute
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Miriam Axel-Lute is editor of Shelterforce and associate director of the National Housing Institute. She lives in Albany, New York, where she serves on the Community Development Alliance board.

No More Crumbs

When I attended a housing-focused conference right after Election Day last year, there was an understandable pall cast over any...

Can We Stay, Can We Go? A Discussion on Displacement, Mobility, and Concentration of...

As part of a research project funded by the Open Society Institute, one of the sessions Monday at the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s...

Homeownership Is a Bad Investment?

This chart from Visualizing Economics calls into question the bedrock assertion that housing is a good investment, showing that its real value doesn’t actually...

What Is the Emergency in Michigan?

From one perspective, the recent expansion of the Michigan’s 1990 Emergency Financial Management Act is just the latest salvo in a right-wing-led war against...

Can’t Sue ‘Em? You Can Move Your Money

Local governents, frustrated (there’s an understatement for you) with the devastating effects of massive foreclosures have tried suing lenders for essentially offering defective products,...

Can Lease-Purchase Save Us?

As developers struggle to find buyers for rehabbed affordable homes, many are looking to a lease-purchase model to expand the pool of potential owners. But lease-purchase is far more complicated than just an end-run around the credit crunch.

Making Connections

How often have you heard the phrase “affordable transportation” as a companion to “affordable housing”? My first time was at the National Inclusionary Housing...

The Self-Help Model

In 2008, Self-Help Federal Credit Union began working on a way to help lease-purchase programs come to scale. Although it originally thought it would...

CLTs and Lease Purchase

A community land trust like Albany’s or City of Lakes CLT, retains ownership of the land under a house, which gives it an interest...

Shelterforce Interview: Mercedes Márquez

HUD Assistant Secretary of Community Planning and Development Mercedes Márquez spoke with Shelterforce about NSP, technical assistance, and the importance of leveraging resources.

Rules Matter

Marge Piercy’s poem “To Be of Use” praises people who jump right in to whatever work needs to be done, passing buckets of water...
The cover of Investing in Community Land Trusts: A Conversation with Funders of CLTs

Investing In Community Land Trusts

Why have funders embraced CLTs? To answer that question, NHI interviewed 15 funders from 13 foundations whose scope ranges from local, to state, to regional and national.

Not Just Inclusionary Spot Zoning: Conference Portrays IZ As Essential to Civil Rights, Sustainable

The 3rd biannual National Inclusionary Housing Conference, which wrapped up Friday in Washington, DC, had plenty of the expected workshops focused on details of...
A worker at Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, which recently secured new contracts for 3 million pounds of health care linens.

Green Jobs with Roots

For the founders of Cleveland's Evergreen Coops, putting a handful of people to work at minimum wage isn't worth it. They are aiming at nothing less than a ground-up economic transformation -- one owned by the very people it's intended to help.

Hello, Again

When I last wrote an editor’s note for Shelterforce (#117, May/June 2001), we were all adjusting to the beginning of the G.W. Bush administration,...

Disappearing Act

Facing financial difficulties as new technology takes customers away, the United States Postal Service reviewed 3,300 branches to find those that could be deemed disposable. In low-income communities, just how disposable are the final 162?

Banks Cleaning up Their Mess to Count as CRA Credit?

Financial regulators proposed yesterday to allow all activities carried out under the auspices of NSP to count toward a lender’s CRA compliance. This would...

Housing Markets that Will Never Recover?

Residents of Detroit, Cleveland, Memphis, Buffalo are probably surprised to know that they didn’t make 24/7 Wall Street’s list of 13 Housing Markets that...

Slipping Away

As a wave of HUD mortgages expires in the next four years, an already dwindling supply of affordable units may nosedive with owners making windfall profits -- unless the right mix of federal legislation and local organizing can save the day.

The “Minnesota Nice”:  A Culture of Collaboration

In and around the Twin Cities, there is a tolerance for process and building relationships to handle the pressing challenges facing neighborhoods. 

Habitat Gets Into Marin

Just three years ago, Marin county residents were busy raising money for a legal fight to stop Habitat for Humanity from building four homes...

It’s Bankers Versus Realtors in Arizona: What About Communities?

In Arizona, the ever-shifting attempt to assign or avoid the pain of the foreclosure crisis has gone to court.Arizona’s laws had previously said that...

What Makes People Love a City?

The Knight Foundation, sponsor of Soul of the Community, a three-year study that asks people in 26 communities about their perceptions of their city...

Bring Back Rent Control?

Yesterday NY1 tried to set up New York City’s mayoral race as an affordable housing vs. education spat, based on the candidates’ negative soundbites...

Community Developer Wins Contentious Primary for NYC Council Seat

Brad Lander, a not-for-profit director, affordable housing builder, city planner, and community organizer told the Brownstoner about why he chose to run for New...

Don’t Like 40B? Plan for Affordable Housing

It seems that opponents of Massachusetts’s “40B” affordable housing law, which lets developers build higher density housing in unaffordable communities if they set aside...

Subprime and the Myth of Increasing Homeownership

Alyssa Katz notes that a couple analyses show that the increase in foreclosures caused by subprime mortgages more than outweighed the new first-time homeowners...

Prove You Own My Loan

When I first heard of the case of Mamie Ruth Palmer, which hit the news about a year ago, it sounded like quintessential poetic...

Because we needed more fraud and foreclosure…

This may be small in the grand scheme of the economic collapse, but I think it’s worth highlighting anyway: While there are dozens of...

Renting From the Bank?

Alyssa Katz, author of Our Lot: How Our Real Estate Came to Own Us, is skeptical of the proposal to have foreclosed homeowners stay...

Journey to Work: What About Bikes?

In a fascinating post over at Next American City, Dave Steele observes a big divide among bike commuters: the affluent, geared-up, environmentalist, health-conscious cyclists...

Keeping Houses Occupied

Most of the problems foreclosed properties cause come because they tend to become vacant and stay vacant for a while. Often a homeowner flees...

Buffaloonly Problems

I was a little premature in celebrating New York’s modest land bank bill, it seems, as it has not yet been signed by the...

Small Cities: Stepchildren No Longer

What do you know about New Bedford, Altoona, or Terre Haute? Should we figure that big-city revitalization work will just trickle down to these...

“No Pain,” But Lots of Spin

Columbia Deal Avoids Eminent Domain Pain trumpeted yesterday’s New York Post headline. After all the struggle over Columbia University’s plan for a new campus...

Memphis’s Unwelcome News

Hanna Rosin has caused quite a stir with her dramatically titled Atlantic Monthly article American Murder Mystery. (For the record, we writers rarely get...

Good News—New York State Style

New York state has been described as having the most dysfunctional legislature in the country. Gerrymandering that keeps the houses continually in the hands...

Injury to Injury

I don’t have any links to post on this, because I haven’t found it being covered anywhere, but in some conversations I’ve been having...

The Limits of Federalism

Responding to Andrew Macurak’s post on Pennsylvania interfering with its counties’ right to pass strict smoking bans and but allowing them opt out of...

Massachusetts is watching

Given the interesting but not widely known fact that foreclosure rates in the current crisis are lower in neighborhoods with a larger percentage of...

Free Transit?

New York City’s attempt to pass a congestion pricing plan like those that have been so successful in London and elsewhere was killed a...

Diverse Workplaces Work, Why Not Neighborhoods?

To continue the collective efficacy discussion, I want to throw the work of Professor Scott Page, author of The Difference: How the Power of...

Collective Efficacy: Who’s in the Collective?

Kari Lydersen’s post on the challenges of mixed-income communities yesterday reminded me of some things I’d wanted to bring up...

Divided We Subsidize Agribusiness

Does anyone else feel a little like we’ve entered the Twilight Zone? Today we have Bush — yes, that same Bush whose gall in...

Preparing for Peak Oil: Nutty Survivalism or Crucial Equity Issue?

Should community developers and other low-income community advocates be concerned about preparing for life after peak oil?We all know that the greed of...

Don’t Assume

If you work in any field for a substantial amount of time, you will hear certain story lines and beliefs repeated over and over....

Will Columbia Take Manhattanville?

Balancing an Ivy League university's expansion plan with a Harlem neighborhood's needs is a tricky business, especially when eminent domain is in the mix.

Small is Beautiful – Again

The shrinking cities movement imagines revitalization without growth - and housing advocates take a hard look at what that means for the poor.

A Community Whodunit

The Long Stair: An Albany Mystery, by Kirby White. Fox Creek Press, 2005, 220 pp. $15 (paperback). The Long Stair is available for $15...

Picking Up The Pieces

Hurricane Katrina forced organizing groups to stretch to their limits, but it also showcased their strengths as never before

Creating Community Realty

When Sandy LeVan met with her broker at the beginning of her house search two years ago, he asked her two questions: Where she...

Predatory Bender

Predatory Bender: A Story of Subprime Finance, by Matthew Lee. Inner City Press. 2004. 360 pp. $19.95 (paperback).www.atlasbooks.com or www.innercitypress.org/books.html. I have to...

Zoning for Housing Justice

Alvivon Hurd remembers when no one with means lived in downtown Los Angeles. Especially not white people. “For 30 years you only saw ...

Listen To Me

When Dolores Shaw first got involved with the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizing Project (EPOP) eight years ago, she had two children entering school and a...

Housing Set-Asides: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

In August 2002, Kevin Jackson, director of the Chicago Rehab Network, sent a letter out to network members and supporters to introduce a campaign...

Helping the Mayor Get Your Way

“We need more buses!” That’s what organizers with Miami’s congregation-based organizing group PACT (People Acting for Community Together) heard loud and clear as they...

Winning a War, But Losing the Battle

Victory in a tenant organizing campaign is usually defined by improving conditions for the tenants involved – an egregious repair problem is fixed, landlord...

Direct Action for Housing

Last November, a group of students at the University of Maryland gave Senator Barbara Mikulski a call. They wanted to know if she would...

Building Blocks (Block Group Organizing)

Ralph Quinn was ticked off. Things in his Utica, New York neighborhood were getting intolerable. His high school step-daughter was propositioned seven times by...

Tales of Three Cities

The poster child for gentrification in the eastern U.S. is Hoboken, NJ. A 15-minute subway ride from midtown Manhattan, for decades it was a...

Politics and Markets

On May 29, The Washington Post reported that in England, even the most conservative major party supports national healthcare, subsidized higher education and income...

Don’t Start Small

It’s often said that organizers should begin with easily attainable goals to bolster their group’s confidence. But Caroline Murray, executive director of the Anti-Displacement...

Not Afraid To Speak Up

As the World Trade Organization (WTO) prepared for its meetings in Seattle in November 1999, homeless advocates were worried that street sweeps to clean...

Everything Old is New Again

It’s déjà vu at every turn these days. Colin Powell is visiting the Middle East. Airline workers are not allowed to strike. The economy...

We Can’t Be Pegged, (Catholic Campaign for Human Development)

The right of workers to organize. Institutional social change. The right of the poor to have a say in issues affecting them. These concepts...

Faith-Based Management

Faith-Based Management: Leading Organizations that are Based on More than Just Mission. By Peter C. Brinckerhoff. John Wiley & Sons Inc. 1999, 250pp.Peter Brinckerhoff,...

Back to the Streets

April 15th was a busy day in Washington, DC this year. A week of rallies, protests, teach-ins, nonviolence trainings, and preemptive police action was...

Creating Your Employee Handbook

Creating Your Employee Handbook, by Leyna Bernstein and the Management Center, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2000. 256 pp. Need an employee manual, but don't know...

Knowledge is (Still) Power

It's getting harder and harder to call our time a period of record prosperity when the income disparity is as great as it is...

New Codes for Old Buildings

Rehabilitating old buildings in New Jersey used to be uncertain business. Depending on how much you spent compared to the building's value, you had...

On Leadership

If you stop learning today, you stop leading tomorrow.              - Dr. Howard Hendricks, theologian. What makes a leader? We all have an image...

Town & Gown

When a group of ministers from the poorest neighborhoods in East St. Louis, with the help of State Representative Wyvetter H. Younge, approached the...

Cardell Cooper

On August 11, 1999, HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development and former mayor of East Orange, New Jersey, Cardell Cooper returned home...

Business Consultants for Everyone

Ripples from the Zambezi: Passion, Entrepreneurship, and the Rebirth of Local Economies, Ernesto Sirolli. New Society Publishers, 1999. 151 pp. Cloth: $14.95.   ...

Grantmaking Power to the People

Foundations that fund grassroots organizing are a rare breed, perhaps because organizing challenges a power structure that includes foundations themselves. A new foundation in...

A Meeting of Movements

In New York City the mayor tries to cast destruction of community gardens as a gain for housing advocates. Along the west coast, on-going...

Livable Communities: A Shared Goal

On the face of it, the intersections between the sustainability movement and the community development movement are not too hard to identify. We know...

Divide and Conquer

In its one and a half years, the New York City Coalition for the Preservation of Gardens (known as the Garden Coalition) has worked...

In Their Own Hands: Colonias Organize

"Complex but doable," as one organizer put it, is an apt description of the job facing activists in the colonias, poverty-ridden communities along the...

Battle Over 13th Street: Squatter Evictions on the Lower East Side

New York City squatters caught between their need for decent homes and a city bent on privatization.When New York City police arrived around 9:30...