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.

Community Groups’ Role Vanishes Under New Federal Workforce Legislation

On July 22, 2014, after it passed by wide bipartisan margins earlier in the year, the Workforce Innovation and...

Hubs Help Move the Local Food Movement to the Next Level

It’s not unusual to read a press release from a governor’s or mayor’s office celebrating a deal to bring a new company to a neighborhood or city. Typically we’d be talking about a new manufacturing or tech firm, and the press release would speak glowingly of the prospects for economic development. Which makes a bit […]

The Benefits of Having Everyone at the Table

How might we better engage the families we work with and provide them access to larger opportunities? Last month, CFED held their bi-annual Assets Learning Conference. It featured a range of topics that touched on an array of asset-building issues and included networking opportunities, mobilized conversations with policymakers, and celebrations of the progress of the […]

With ACORN, Transparency Is Just as Important as Good Values

The last few months has seen a number of articles, editorials, and interviews about the lack of financial responsiveness and accountability in the private...

CFPB: Government for the People

Those of us who work in regulated industries, such as banking institutions and credit unions, often succumb to the...

Massive NYC Real Estate Deal Collapses

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the purchaser of two colossal apartment complexes on Manhattan’s east side, Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant...

Co-ops Gain Ground in Communities of Color

Since 2010, 60 percent of new cooperative worker-owners are people of color and more than two thirds of total worker-owners are women. Worker co-ops are ...

HUD & DOT Team Up To Promote Sustainable Communities

This is awesome. Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s joint press release from HUD and DOT: “WASHINGTON — U.S. Department of Housing and Urban...

Got Something to Say? We’re Listening

In my experience with both the nonprofit and corporate worlds, I have seen how the most effective leaders pay...
rent control

Here’s Why Costa-Hawkins Repeal Would Be Revolutionary for Housing in California

Rent control is one of the foremost demands of grassroots movements organizing around housing justice today. To activists across the country, from Los Angeles...

Community-Based Organizing Must Change. But How?

I grew up in rural Iowa. During my childhood, my community was shaken by the collapse of family farms, the...

Tips for Getting Your “Innovative” Project Funded

In her July Rooflines post on the idea of “disruptive innovation,” Miriam Axel-Lute addressed how innovation has been over promoted in...

The Mysterious Art of Collaboration

Five housing organizations' effort to merge reveals both pitfalls and practical possibilities for bringing community development groups together.

Homeownership Is Still Very Much an Asset-Building Strategy

Homeownership is, of course, still American’s greatest source of wealth and asset appreciation, and a key component of CFED’s work....

A Farm-to-Fork Movement, Starting with the Corner Store

One of the more intriguing aspects of the local food movement in the United States is the effort to...

Lions and Lambs or Vultures: Who’ll Prevail?

The House Financial Services Committee met this morning to begin, ever so tentatively, to redraw the regulatory landscape for the financial services industry in...
A yellow house on a corner.

The Power of Proximity: Making the Case for Living Where You Work

Twenty years later, it’s hard to overstate how wise I think that group of board members was in imposing its residency requirement on me. While initially skeptical, over the years I’ve learned some powerful lessons about the benefits of proximity.

HUD Downsizes Multifamily Housing Programs

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Wednesday that it will be restructuring its Multifamily Housing Programs and the Office of Field...

Housing Advocacy Group Gets $5M Anonymous Donation

From the National Low Income Housing Coalition The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) announced today that it had received an anonymous $5 million donation...

Enviros Lacking In Indianapolis Redevelopment Push

Last week I had the honor of being one of seven smart growth types recruited by the American Institute of Architects to work with...

Read All About It…While You Can

Another major daily faces major cutbacks. This time it’s the Atlanta Journal-Constitution cutting its full-time news staff by about 90 people, or roughly 30...

Connecticut’s Affordable Housing Commitment

Earlier this month, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy announced a proposal that would increase the state's commitment to affordable housing by...
burlap with screenprinted words

The $9 Jar of Artisanal Pickles: Equity and Local Food

Sustainability is about thriving, not just surviving. We will not thrive if we are poorly paid martyrs to a good cause, and thus, in a healthy, diverse and vital food system, some of our efforts might need to be directed to those who can pay nine dollars for a jar of pickles.

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...

Don’t Rewrite Andrew Breitbart’s Legacy

I extend condolences to Andrew Breitbart’s family. He died last week at the young age of 43. Because my brother...

Community Foundations Move to Adopt a New Anchor Mission

According to the Foundation Center’s 2014 Key Facts report, community foundations today have nearly $65 billion in assets, more than 9 percent of all foundation assets ($715 billion). As noted at a recent White House conference, over 700 community foundations operate nationwide. Yet while the first community foundation in Cleveland was founded in 1914, their […]

Local Leaders Just Gained a New Tool to Address Inequality

A new Brookings Institution analysis confirms what we are feeling: inequality continues to climb in cities, and large income...

Sleaze Gramm for Sen. McCain

Now that the Democratic primary race is over, will the mainstream media start to scrutinize John McCain? Let’s hope they begin looking beyond the “maverick”...

Seattle Eyes Zoning’s Third Rail–Single Family Neighborhoods

My city of Albany, N.Y., is currently going through a rezoning process. Mostly this entails cleaning up a fragmented,...

Under One Roof?

In a recent article, the Charlotte Observer highlighted a “new” trend in homebuilding: the multi-generational home. Home builder Lennar Corporation and others are rolling...

Rural Housing Budget Disappointing, But Not Surprising

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the Obama administration’s rural housing budget continues trends that were evident in the last several...

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Vetoes Low-Income Housing and Tenant Rights Bills

Last Friday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry vetoed several low-income housing bills recently passed by the Texas Legislature. How do those vetoes impact low-income housing...

A Boost to Vouchers Would Be a Boost for Kids

More than 5 million people in 2.1 million low-income families use the Housing Choice Voucher program to help pay...

Golf Course Wars in Benton Harbor

Golf courses have been lightning rods and symbols for class struggle around the world, as in Morelos, Mexico, where a golf course sucking up...

Understanding Rural Homelessness

Rural homelessness differs from urban and suburban homelessness. The image of an individual sleeping on the street, clearly visible...

Crossing Neighborhood Boundaries

Equitable regions are stronger, healthier regions for everyone. This is becoming more and more of a bedrock understanding within our...

Manufactured Home Mortgages Perform As Well As Other Mortgages

The foreclosure crisis. Homeowners “underwater.” Neighborhoods blighted with vacated homes. Tougher credit standards and new regulations making it harder for...

Homeowner, Meet Your Lender

The reconciliation that takes place Thursday mornings at Philadelphia City Hall is not some attempt to further prove that Philadelphia is the City of...

Congress Agrees: Collaborative, Comprehensive Care Needed For Rural Vets

Rural America has a strong history of protecting our country. In fact, as highlighted in a recent report on...

CRA Survives Its Toughest Challenge

There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result. –Winston Churchill The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has survived the most serious attack in...

Poetry Is Not a Luxury to Achieving Racial, Social, and Economic Equity

In her essay, Poetry Is Not a Luxury, Audre Lorde, the Caribbean-American writer, poet, radical feminist, lesbian, and civil...
Close-up image of links in a chain.

Look Outside the Box with Health and Housing Partnerships

Though it seems the connection between health and community development is on everyone’s lips these days, the two sectors are really still at the beginning stages of learning how to work together.

Walking Away Becoming Less Taboo

We’ve been talking about the pragmatic component of strategically walking away from your mortgage for some time now. For a while, there was a...

NIMBY, or Not? What’s Going on in New York City?

Housing policy practitioners outside of New York City are often surprised that our local struggles are, compared to other...

In Wisconsin: Do You Hear the People Sing?

We just had our second amazing Saturday in a row, with estimates ranging from 70,000 to 120,000. The problem with the estimates was that...

“Move.” Governor Jerry Brown’s Troubling View of Affordable Housing

California Governor Jerry Brown is known for expressing ideas outside the standard political box. But in the case of California’s...
"Coming Soon, Very Sad" painted on border wall outside of new development.

We Are All NIMBYs…Sometimes

If we built enough housing, we would still need subsidized housing for many people, but market prices would be low enough that most people could afford them. But we’ve chosen not to. And the reason we give for that choice, more than any other, is that we are trying to preserve or improve the character of our communities.

NYC Proposes Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, The “Times” Doesn’t Get It

Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released Housing New York, a ten-year plan to create...

Resilience, Community Development, and the Problem with Charging Interest

“'Resilience' made #6 on The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Top 10 list of buzzwords for 2012 because it is...

Let’s Take Advantage of The Bad Times

With city budgets shrinking rapidly, municipal governments are desperate to collect property tax revenue wherever they can find it. So they are moving to...

Webinar: Are Our Neighborhoods Making Us Sick?

Inadequate housing conditions—the presence of lead, radon, water leaks, poor ventilation, pollution or mold—are linked to poor health. But research also shows that even...

HAFA Changes Could Expand Short Sales that Keep Borrowers in Their Homes

Short sales are gaining traction as homeowners, real estate agents, servicers, and the GSEs have become more comfortable with the...

The Felt Factor

With all this talk of sustainable communities, how come we tend to exclude, at least in conversation, the very thing that can educate community...

City Halls Help Plant Seeds for Community Co-ops

What do Austin, New York City and Denver have in common? All three cities voted to support the development of cooperatives for the first time this year. The amounts are modest, but the trend is clear—mayors and economic development leaders are beginning to add cooperatives and community wealth building to the economic development toolbox. In […]

Politics the Wellstone Way

A few years ago, Dave Beckwith, executive director of the Needmor Fund, wrote in Shelterforce about The ABCs of Organizing that offered an overview...

2 Easy Ways HUD Could Bring More NOLA Homeowners Home—With Money It Already Has

Donna Bartholomew’s mother moved to New Orleans as a young woman and bought a home in the Ninth Ward. Over the years, raising...

Advocate, Activist, or Affected, Join the “Can’t Wait List”

Here at Shelterforce we love telling stories. So today we're sharing the latest from the Homes for...

Awardees Honored at NLIHC 2012

The National Low Income Housing Coalition gave out a number of  its annual awards this morning at its annual...

Fannie and Freddie Violate New York’s Public Trust

Under ordinary circumstances, Sept. 1 — Labor Day — would be a day of celebration and pride. Not only does it commemorate the sacrifice...

Deep-seated, Anti-Government Mood Remains

The stunning upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary election on Tuesday by a Tea...

Beyond the Cover Lines: Affordable Housing & TOD

Transit-oriented development has long been a buzz-worthy concept in planning and community development circles, and while there have been real successes in creating affordable...

New Regulations for Loan Modification and Refinance

According to the Treasury, as many as six million families are expected to face foreclosure in the next several years, with millions more struggling...

Entrenched Poverty, Juxtaposed Against Occasional Pockets of Progress

Recently, more than 150 people from across the nation rolled along the backroads of the iconic Mississippi Delta, peering through bus windows at scene after scene of entrenched poverty juxtaposed against occasional pockets of progress that had been achieved against seemingly insurmountable odds. While there were signs of advancement, they were set against the backdrop of conditions that disproportionately plague these places—substandard housing, underperforming schools, inadequate access to quality health care, and limited private and philanthropic investment. 

Fan & Fred Bill: The Catalyst For a Better Housing Market?

The American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008: approved by the Senate on Saturday should appropriately be called the “Fannie Mae and...

At the Table…and Being Heard

In the fall of 2015, members of the 11th Street Bridge Park project and Washington Performing Arts invited me to participate in an Arts Task...

Time for Worker Cooperatives to Go Mainstream

Cities are at the crosswalk of talent and density, and they have a lot to lose by not thinking...

A New Way to Diffuse NIMBYism?

Proposals for affordable housing developments elicit predictable opposition, summed up in the familiar acronym,  NIMBY—Not In My Back Yard—is...

Get Big or Get Out!

Earl Lauer Butz, as the U.S. secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, used this slogan to...

Failing The Equitable Development Test

I wondered whether the Americans who suffered the injustice of our most recent Great Recession haven’t already been not only forgotten but abandoned by the White House and Congress, despite their votes. 

Public Benefits and Bank Mergers

Community organizations are generally aware that when a bank wants to acquire another bank, it must submit a merger...
vote sign on boarded window

Bold Political Leadership on Housing Policy? In 2018? You Heard Right

Local elected officials are having to re-examine the risks and rewards of making housing and housing affordability a political priority. Could one mayor's bold steps on housing policy be a national bellwether?

Veterans By the Numbers

Some statistics about the state of veterans in America.

The Garden State Has a Tell, and Towns Are Calling the Bluff

New Jersey is set to go all 12 rounds in its battle to achieve a plan for an affordable-housing mandate, but at this point,...

Defending the Union

At this point, we’re all versed in what’s turning out to be a pretty heroic stand held by public workers and advocates for sanity...

Health and the Spaces Inbetween

Last year, we published a focus issue on health and community development. We called the package “Are Our Neighborhoods...

Protestor Who Disrupted DeMarco Hearing, In His Own Words

You've probably heard that several underwater homeowners were arrested for disrupting Tuesday's House Financial Services Committee hearing at which acting...

Persistent Poverty in Rural America

Poverty rates are on the rise and more Americans are living in poverty than at any other time since the...

The First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit Helped Sink the FHA

The NYT had an article on a new study by Edward Pinto at the American Enterprise Institute which found that...

Donovan Touts Administration’s Housing Policies, Though Acknowledges “Daunting Set of Challenges”

WASHINGTON — Addressing a crowd of low income housing advocates, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan promoted the Obama administration’s housing policy here, but acknowledged that...

So About that Deconcentrating Poverty Thing…

Land of Opportunity Interactive has a marvelous interactive video (click here for description of what that means) called “Bricks and Sticks: Public...

Happy Holidays From All of Us to All of You

                    As we wind down 2014 and prepare for the new year, the folks at Shelterforce would like to express our thanks to you—our readers and supporters. We’ve enjoyed connecting with you through Shelterforce in print and on the web, Rooflines, and our Shelterforce Weekly newsletter, […]

National Work Among Community Organizing Groups Is Growing

Editor’s Note: This is in response to Randy Stoecker’s earlier post on community organizing on the national level. ACORN, PICO, and US Action are...

Housing Equity’s Future: Moving from Debate to Productive Dialogue

A robust debate erupted on Shelterforce in response to Miriam Axel-Lute’s article, “The Dangerous Rhetoric of Escaping to Opportunity,” with strongly worded opinions flowing from both sides of the mobility and place based debate. As practitioners who were involved in this vigorous conversation and referenced in the article, we had a series of private discussions […]

A Victory for American Democracy

Americans all over the nation, political pundits, Wall Street workers, and, I venture to guess, even the president, were stunned Monday afternoon to hear...

Shared Equity for the Rich?

One of the common arguments from those who are skeptical of shared-equity homeownership is that it's unfair to ask low-income...

What is a Housing “Crisis”?

Do we face a housing crisis when home prices are spiraling upward or when they are tumbling downward? Or both? Between 2000 and 2006, the...

Is There Room for Real Change in the Democratic Party?

Thirty-one years before Cory Booker, Junius Williams, another dynamic African-American Yale Law School graduate, moved to Newark with ambitions...

Awesome Choice: Shelley Poticha to Take Sustainability Post at HUD

Wow. Only a week after I wrote a post celebrating how well the Obama administration seems to be getting its...

Viewing Housing Within a Context

Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry were honored this week with the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Edward W. Brooke III...

A Continued Pattern of Abuse

This post is part of an ongoing series based on the National Fair Housing Alliance report, “The Banks Are Back,...

Detroit Future City’s Plan for Revitalization Pushes Job Creation

For supporters and enthusiasts of Detroit’s revitalization, the city is poised to be a “model for the future;” but...
Row of trailer homes with mountains in the background.

A Policy Agenda for Manufactured Home Owners

In Minnesota, ten mobile home communities have closed in the past twenty-five years, and no new ones have opened. This uncertainty affects nearly 3 million Americans who are residents in the nation’s 50,000 manufactured housing communities. While most of these homeowners own their own homes, they rent the land, leaving them vulnerable to dramatic rent increases, arbitrary rules, and even eviction.

Hung Up on Gentrification? Don’t Be

In my last Rooflines post I described an approach—centering on a tax credit for families to buy substandard houses in targeted neighborhoods, fix them...

What Creating a ‘Stable Neighborhood’ Really Means

Last month I wrote about why Project Rebuild is basically a bad idea, and why the Obama administration is making...

Address Merger Concerns Before the Merger

The Virginia Housing Coalition (VHC) and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH) both began in the early 1980’s as grassroots statewide advocacy organizations....

#OMG: Is the #NPO Sector Tech Averse?

I was speaking with a friend of mine who works at a very large nonprofit organization (very large as in over $100 million in annual revenues). They serve thousands of clients every year with job development, alcohol and other drug abuse treatment, affordable housing, psychological counseling and a variety of other supports. As a result […]

“Confronting Suburban Poverty” Authors Respond to Critique

The release a few weeks ago of our book Confronting Suburban Poverty in America is provoking lots of discussion in the...

The Fair Housing Act at 45: A Time for Celebration and Action

April is fair housing month and, this year, it’s also the 45th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing...

CDCs and Creative Placemaking: Who Should Learn from Whom?

Feb 2013: I'm attending a small conference in Miami. With me are over 150 participants—all folks deeply committed to their communities,...

Fukuyama’s Wisdom on Rent Control and Unions Is Anything But Conventional

The ideas of Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992) are making a comeback, in large part due to Glenn Beck, who has touted the libertarian economist and...