Blog

The Shelterforce blog (formerly known as Rooflines) is a forum for voices in the community development, affordable housing, community organizing, neighborhood revitalization, and related fields to challenge each other and other stakeholders; share ideas, successes, and failures; and pose questions to one another. Learn how you or your organization can submit a post.

asset based deficit based

The Opposite of Deficit-Based Language Isn’t Asset-Based Language. It’s Truth-Telling.

How do you describe the people you work for and with, or the neighborhoods you work in? Do you use primarily “deficit-based” language like...
Little Tokyo neighborhood

“Welcome to Little Tokyo, Please Take Off Your Shoes:” Remembering Dean Matsubayashi

Sustained resistance to gentrification and displacement requires more than antagonism. It requires a community organized around an open, positive alternative vision that has both big ambitions and achievable, intermediary steps.

Move to the Front of the Line

Community preference policies, which give current residents preference for new affordable housing in their neighborhood, have become increasingly controversial. Supporters say these types of policies are a crucial way to fight displacement, but fair housing advocates argue that the policies are exclusionary. Different cities are balancing these two concerns in different ways.

A Home After Prison: There’s No Place Like Homecoming

Formerly incarcerated people are nearly 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public. The Homecoming Project imatches those returning home with a community host for six months.
An aerial shot of St. Joseph's Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey.

NJ Pays Hospitals to Build Affordable Housing

New Jersey’s Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency offers significant subsidies to encourage local hospitals to build housing for low-income residents and frequent users of hospital services.
segregation of Atlantic City

In Atlantic City, the Legacy of Segregation and Redlining Endures

The legacy of racist housing policy shapes—and disempowers—Black, largely urban, neighborhoods to this day, and can be seen in places like the Northside neighborhood of Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Talking revitalization graphic

Talking About Revitalization When All Anyone Wants to Talk About Is Gentrification

Strategies for turning the conversation back to places where gentrification is not only *not* present, but not impending.
Habitat for Humanity volunteers work together framing a doorway.

Habitat for Humanity Steps into Housing Politics

The primary image evoked by the Habitat for Humanity name remains that of President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter working with volunteers to build or...
land trust new communities

The Community Land Trust Movement Imagines Its Future

The 50th anniversary of New Communities was an opportunity for celebration and reflection—some of it critical—about the CLT movement.
storytelling

Storytelling Makes the Case for Affordable Housing

To increase public support for investment in affordable housing, we must build a broader coalition by amplifying new voices and creating channels to build awareness of affordable housing needs.

Small Numbers, Great Expectations: A Case for Rural Investment

“Drop dead” wasn’t an acceptable answer to urban decay in the 1970s. And it isn’t the right answer for struggling rural areas today.
tractor with sign

New Communities Inc. at 50: Thoughts on Identity and A Different Way Forward

The story of the nation's very first land trust shows that sometimes it takes people who have been repeatedly left out of systems to shake us into remembering to aim big, consider new strategies, and leave no one behind.
Members of Picture the Homeless protest outside councilwoman's office with signs that read "Organizing for Justice and Respect" and "We Need Housing, not Warehousing."

When the Homeless Took Over

As the homeless and affordable housing crises become a focus on local and national campaigns, we must remember the rich history and critical contributions of homeless organizers.
Two men sitting on steps of real estate office protesting discrimination in housing

Trump Administration Takes Giant Step Backward on Racial Equality

A HUD proposal virtually eliminates the long-standing disparate impact doctrine and would leave more families vulnerable to housing discrimination.
renter rights rally

How California’s “Sleeping Giant” Woke Up and Won Statewide Rent Caps

California's momentous statewide win for statewide rent caps is owed to organizers and the power of organizing. Now that the giant is awake, what's next?
moving boxes in empty apartment

Creating Moves to Opportunity in Seattle-King County

Starting in 2017, researchers at Opportunity Insights and several other universities partnered with the Seattle and King County housing authorities, J-PAL North America, and...
displacement protest

To Address Displacement in Your Community, Start by Asking, “Who’s Financing It?”

While developers, tech companies, and greedy landlords are often cited as the usual suspects driving the housing crisis, one group is often overlooked: the banks that finance the deals.

Using Multiple Community-Based Land Trusts to Save Farmland

Agrarian Commons closely resemble community land trusts, but they are unique in that they work collectively to provide long-term affordable and equitable access of small and mid-sized farms.
night out kids potato sack race

Celebrating a Different Definition of “Safety”

Night Out for Safety and Liberation provides an alternative to annual police-sponsored community events, and is growing in popularity around the nation.

Why Opportunity Neighborhoods Aren’t Really for Everyone

Families living in opportunity neighborhoods are seen as actively translating opportunity into real benefits through their actions. But, of course, this is not what really happens.