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.

Looking for Solid Returns? Invest in Criminal Justice Reform

In my last life, I worked at a large public housing authority, where one of my tasks was to...
grand rapids skyline

Smaller Cities Are Laboratories for Change

In smaller cities it is typically much easier to engage high levels of leadership, get traction for strategies that are more visible, engage the wider community, build trust, and scale solutions more quickly than in larger areas. Here are a few examples.

Housing Counseling in Danger: They Say Cut Backs, We Say ??

Housing counseling works. Counselors form a critical bridge between servicers and homeowners in distress, advocating for them in the face of perverse servicer incentives,...

10-5-11 Poll: Should nonprofits manage scattered site rentals?

Selected feedback. You said: “Yes. It’s been my experience that nonprofits often do and should manage scattered site rental units. This is an especially good idea...

Obama’s the One: Are You Really Surprised?

I’m not. Call me smug, but I’ve been saying since Barack Obama’s 2007 announcement of his candidacy in Springfield, Ill., that he would take the...

A Few Slightly Radical Ideas to Ponder

Here’s a handful of somewhat radical planning ideas to ponder as we enter the Great Mini-Depression: I am wondering what sort of innovations will go...

Tweaks to CRA Q&A Document Miss the Larger Picture

During the dog days of summer this July, the federal bank agencies decided to quietly bunt instead of swing...
A black and white map of a zoning plan for the city of San Diego.

Making It Easier to Build Won’t Generate Affordable Units

It is often convenient to blame city planners for the affordable housing crisis. Sadly, this blame is often misguided because planners do not produce housing.

Why the Presidential Race Ignores Urban America

Despite overwhelming media coverage, the 2016 presidential race has ignored the housing and economic crises impacting urban America. Neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton has...

The Politics of Dis-Belonging

The field of creative placemaking has been challenged for its aversion to addressing the politics of social space as...

How Much Outside Help Do Worker Co-ops Need to Get to Scale?

Though they end up as owners and decision-makers, workers in low-income communities often don't start off doing all the work...

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...

Report: Spending Half of Income on Housing

According to the new Housing Landscape 2012 report from the Center for Housing Policy, nearly one in four working...

Election 2012: All Over But The Governing

The signs are off the lawns, checkbooks have closed (for now anyway), the president and Congress are back to full-time...

So Why Are Those Rural Housing Programs at USDA Anyway?

Housing folks often wonder why the U.S. Department of Agriculture has rural housing programs. The answer goes back to the...

What Is Gentrification, Anyway?

Say the word “gentrification” in a room of community development practicioners and you're likely to get a cacophony of responses. Alan Mallach sparked a debate...

What If We Don’t Knock It Down? Re-Imagining Public Housing

The New York City Housing Authority’s  (NYCHA) plan to build mixed income housing on some of its properties has prompted...

Who Is Still Unbanked, And What Can We Do About it?

Seven percent of U.S. households, a group roughly the size of the population of Australia, were “unbanked” in 2015, meaning they have neither a checking nor savings account. This is the lowest unbanked rate recorded since the survey first launched in 2009

Uber-noxious

At the PolicyLink Equity Summit the last week of October, Orson Aguilar of the Greenlining Institute was taking a...

I’m a Recovering Funder

I spent 10 years as a corporate foundation program officer in New York City.  I managed our $5 million community...