Equity

What is equity? Can it be measured? How and when does the issue come up in housing, education, employment, public utilities, and more? How are community organizations, grant-making institutions, and policymakers working to advance equity?

A New Way to Do Affirmative Action?

I was prepared to dislike Sheryll Cashin’s Place, Not Race, just based on the title. However, the author largely won me over.

A Voyeur’s View

The author's treatment of race is, at best, contradictory and, at worst, hypocritical and probably the book’s great failing.

How the Community Reinvestment Act Can Help Flint

The audacious and callous decisions leading to the tragedy in Flint, Michigan are cruel and beyond comprehension. What is needed is an all-out effort...
Ai-jen Poo speaking.

Interview with Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance

Ai-Jen Poo has been organizing with domestic workers for over 15 years, helping in New York to win some of the first statewide labor protections for occupations often exempt from labor laws, and expanding this campaign to a nationwide vision for a strong caregiving workforce and infrastructure for elder care. In 2014 she became a MacArthur Fellow, but this was hardly her first award.

The Urban, Dystopian Blame Game

Like any number of small- and big-screen thrillers, the film’s engagement with 9/11 is diffuse, more a matter of inference and ideas (chaos, fear,...
Dripping faucet.

Attitudes Toward Exploited Cities Helped Poison Flint

Flint’s water crisis started long before corrosive river water starting running through its pipes. Though there’s no question that those who signed off on...

Let’s Transform the Zip Codes

The counties and parishes in the Mid South characterized by persistent poverty have the highest unemployment rates, the lowest performing schools, and the worst health.

A Nation—and Neighborhoods—of Immigrants

The story of neighborhood populations changing with waves of migrants is a classic part of the history of American cities. We are, as most...
The cover for the book, "I Got Schooled" by M. Night Shyamalan.

Filmmaker Needs to Look at the Whole Picture

I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Moviemaker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Achievement Gap, by M. Night Shyamalan. Simon & Schuster. 306 pp. $25.00 (hardcover). Purchase here.

Doubling Down on Community Resilience

Last month here in Rooflines, I argued that place-based community development can make low-income neighborhoods more resilient to climate...
Cars on downtown New York City street.

Rich Neighborhood in NYC Actually Gets a “Noxious” Use

A core environmental justice fight has long been the fair distribution of necessary nuisance uses throughout a city. Poor neighborhoods tend to be over-burdened...

Building Multiculturally

One culture’s idea of the ideal house is different from another. Luckily, floor plans are adaptable.

The Justice Gap

The post-Katrina work of legal services lawyers shows that if you care about equity, legal aid belongs high on the list of crucial disaster recovery programs.

What Have We Learned a Decade after the Gulf Coast Hurricanes?

As the housing community reflects in August on the tenth anniversary of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, what are the...

Learning to Stretch

Community development corporations find ways to embrace new immigrant communities and new challenges.

Detours on the Road Home

Serious flaws in the Road Home program have kept many hard-working homeowners from coming back to the Lower 9th Ward. Let’s not repeat them after the next disaster.
cover this book changes everything

This Book Changes Everything

Book Review: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

CDFIs Speed Up Sandy Recovery

  When disasters strike, our first responders ensure that emergency resources get to those in need.  But...

Is It Time to Think About Post-Post-Katrina New Orleans?

Nine years on, New Orleans is a very different place from what it was like in the wake of...
A black and white photograph from 1942 of a sign that read "We want white tenants in our white community."

Just as I Suspected, Paying Rent Is Racist

Every month millions of Black Americans hand over half of our livelihood to the descendants of those who forcefully brought our ancestors here to work for free. Essentially, America is in the business of charging its captives rent.

English Required for a Mortgage?

Language barriers pose an obstacle to fair access to credit, but this population is overlooked in fair credit discussions.

Blog-Heavy, Link-Heavy, (and Some) Breaking News

It’s now a regular exercise where we report the demise of another respected, long-standing, print media outfit and while news that the Hearst Corporation-owned...

The Increase in Suburban Poverty Could Be a Good Thing

Family poverty has spread beyond its traditional geographic boundaries, and our institutions and policies need to adapt to this...

Immigration Is a Community Development Issue

The story of neighborhood populations changing with waves of migrants is a classic part of the history of American cities. We are, as most...

So Far, Development is Divisive, and Driven By Race

Many of us live in cities that are undergoing a renaissance, but the longstanding populations are no better off...
Photo courtesy of Right to the City Alliance.

Block by Block, the Renters Movement is Growing

“The string of victories in 2017 are a direct product of renters building power on the ground. Renters, faced with a historic housing crisis, are getting organized to change immediate conditions on the ground and build a movement to transform the way land and housing are treated in the country.”

Making Food Deserts Bloom

Finding fresh produce in low-income neighborhoods can be a struggle, but community efforts are striving to fill the void.

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...

Bostic on Green Finance: Investing in Sustainable Outcomes

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has posted a brief, informative interview with Raphael Bostic, HUD Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research, on...

Poverty Today Looks Completely Different and That’s Important

This is Part 1 in a series about the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Click here for ...
A woman in a red Cause Justa/Just Cause T-shirt holds a hand-lettered sign reading "Black and Brown for Tenant Protections Now"

Black and Brown Tenant Solidarity in Oakland

Last October, Oakland, Calif., passed a Tenant Protection Ordinance. This strong measure defending tenants against the kinds of landlord harassment that often take place...

“Inequality Happens?” Hopefully Not

In a recent Rooflines post, Sarah Treuhaft holds up new, reputable data that finds that inequality is not a circumstance of economic success, after all, but that it actually has a dampening effect. Specifically, the widening gap between the poor and lower middle class (households in the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution) and […]
courtroom

Absence of Eviction Court Recordings Leaves Tenants Vulnerable

In a court division where a family can lose their home after a two-minute trial and only 12 percent of tenants have lawyers, Cook County's lack of eviction court transcripts—with no court reporters or digital recording equipment since 2004—has serious repercussions for tenants.
Female construction worker and her son.

Protecting Immigrant Workers

The Texas construction industry is a good example of what happens when immigrant workers rights are not respected. But this organization is fighting back.

Dirty Coal Takes Communities’ Breath Away

The brick smokestack towers above Chicago’s mostly Latino Pilsen neighborhood burns coal to provide electricity for much of the city while puffing out plumes...

Bending the Arc Toward Justice

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. often said that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards...

Toward a Politics of Love: Thoughts for Pride Month

During the closing plenary of our recent National Convention, Alex Tom from the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), when talking about...
Black computer enter key

SoFi, Not So Good: Is This Virtual Redlining?

SoFi is practicing product segregation. It wants to serve affluent people with its best products and shunt low- and moderate-income borrowers into inferior products that do not meaningfully serve credit needs.

Rising Tides, Rising Costs

In the face of climate change, flood insurance rates are rising. But program rules, and the history of who has been shunted into the floodplains, means the brunt is being bore by those least able to absorb it.

Big City Papers: Do We Even Need Them?

There’s been a number of news items on Rooflines in recent months about how the recession has finally led to the demise of many...

Rural Transit: A Matter of Life or Death, and in Danger

In the city, many working people and senior citizens rely on public transit to get to the office, doctor appointments,...

Staying Current and Healthy with Efficient Building Practices

Holistic, green building certifications are an increasingly integral part of affordable housing development. These certifications are often pursued by...

Is a Meritocracy Really What We Want?

“Together we can break down all the barriers holding our families … back. We can build ladders of opportunity...
sign at 2014 brown v. board rally

Integration—We’ve Been Doing It All Wrong

I recently had a revelation about the American approach to racial integration: We've been doing it all wrong, and it's had disastrous effects on African Americans.

The Green New Deal

Majora Carter saw natural beauty and economic empowerment in her South Bronx neighborhood where others saw only a dumping ground. She's changing the urban landscape in a way that's been an eye-opener to people around the globe.

You’ve Seen One Hussein, You’ve Seen ‘Em All

I’ve been thinking about democracy a lot lately. It happens every time there’s an election. Every time I start getting bombarded by mailers for...

The Choo-Choo and the Bus

My son, who is approaching 2 years of age, is obsessed with trains. And it's no wonder: every day as...

There is No “Culture of Poverty”

This is Part 2 in a series about the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Click here for ...

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...

Attitude Reflects Leadership

Recently I was honored to receive the Ned Gramlich Award for Responsible Finance during the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) Conference in Denver. To be recognized by the national association of investors dedicated to aligning capital with justice was a humbling experience—one made more so by the courageous legacy of the late Federal Reserve Bank Governor […]
memorial

An Old American Struggle, Always New

Color and Character is an introduction to the seminal and unresolved struggle over integration and racial equality in America.

Native Alaskans See Walrus Harvest Disappear with Sea Ice

Hunting walrus is an age-old tradition, part of the rhythm of life, for the native people of King Island, a tiny rugged island in...

Do Denser, Poorer Areas Need More Third Places?

"In Kibera, the streets are truly the public spaces, and people are out all day, every day: selling, socializing, trading. People make their living—they...

5 Ways to Create Equitable Communities Near Transit

Across the country, regions are working to improve and integrate processes to create livable communities where all residents can affordably access housing, jobs, healthcare,...
Two employees of Grace Federal Solutions in North Carolina, an African-American man and woman, chat in the hallway of their offices. The company secured a loan from a CDFI.

CDFIs Led By People of Color Face Financial Disparities Too

A lack of access to capital, capacity-building resources, and technical assistance significantly constrains the ability of CDFIs led by people of color to achieve greater impact.

Considering the Role of Density in Sustainable Development

Later this week, I am going to be participating with my friend David Dixon and marketing whiz Laurie Volk in a seminar on development...

Losses and Wins in Supreme Court: How Does It Affect You?

All eyes have been on the Supreme Court  this week, as it handed down decisions on the Voting Rights Act,...

Community Development and #BlackLivesMatter: What’s Our Role?

There is a lot to be processed and mourned, celebrated and condemned about what has happened in Baltimore recently,...

Cleveland–East Cleveland Merger Plan Overlooks Main Issue

East Cleveland, a struggling suburb of Cleveland, has ended up in so much fiscal distress that it is considering allowing...
people gathered under and around an information tent

Persistently Poor Regions Would Welcome a Little Gentrification

It is often said that you get what you pay for. Clearly, too little is being paid to create positive change in America’s most vulnerable places.

Taking the LEED in Your Community

Through local and regional initiatives, communities are tailoring the eco-revolution for their backyards.

Asking the Big, Fat Question

The huge news this past week, of course, was Scott McClellan, who, a few years too late, called his former White House boss a...

Review: Born on Third Base

Woody Widrow reviews the United for a Fair Economy (UFE) report Born on Third Base: What the Forbes 400 Really Says...

When We Debate Poverty, What Are We Really Arguing About?

This is Part 3 in a series about the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Click here for ...

Two Years Later, Much More Work Remains

  Today marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. To commemorate, the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey joined Sandy survivors, community leaders, and elected officials at several events along the Jersey Shore.   In a statement, HCDNNJ President and CEO Staci Berger said: “Coming back from a disaster of the magnitude of […]
rent strike

Los Angeles Should Expropriate This Land and Give It to Tenants

Though slumlords are not directly to blame for our nation's wealth disparities, they profit from them. Seizing their property and giving it to tenants would produce a more just and equitable outcome than what has been practiced in the past.

Uncage the Voters!

Here at Rooflines, we’ve been tracking recent reports from key swing states uncovering a coordinated GOP election strategy for suppressing votes of foreclosure victims....

Businessweek Cover Points to Us All

All the criticism that the recent BusinessWeek cover is getting is well deserved. It deserves even more. ...

Japan’s Unintentional Social Experiment

Having just come back from two weeks in Japan, my brain is still overflowing with sensations and images from that fascinating, exciting, and intermittently...

Born to Score

Born on Third Base: What the Forbes 400 Really Says About Economic Equality and Opportunity in America, United for a Fair Economy. 2012,...
A street is covered with flowers and photos of Heather Heyer, as people look on the background

Terrorism in Charlottesville — And Possibly Your Town Next

The Trump-era increase widespread racial terror, as was on display in Charlottesville, is going to affect community developers' work at least as much as as his legislative and funding agenda.

A Stubborn Gap

The difference in aggregate home value between blacks and whites in the American South has remained startlingly steady through periods of dramatic social change.

NatGeo Surveys Countries’ Transit Use: Guess Who Comes In Last

Americans are far less likely to use public transportation than residents of other countries, according to the National Geographic Society’s 2009 Greendex report. Only...

Where’s the Map for Social Inequity?

I spent the day at a workshop on July 9 called, “Post-Sandy: The Effect on the Urban,” held at New Jersey Institute of Technology...

Riots and Resilience in Baltimore and Beyond

I remember reciting the Langston Hughes poem Harlem (“What happens to a dream deferred?”) to my students in South...

California Transit Agencies Bring Affordable Housing to Scale

In a recent Shelterforce blog post, we discussed the catalysts for the adoption of equity and sustainability as core principles in a new development...
home with sold sign in front

Equitable Tax Reform Begins at Home(ownership)

Talk of tax reform has reached a fever pitch, but most Americans don't realize just how high the stakes are and what impact the final legislation could have on their own financial security for years to come.

A Fair Housing Agenda for 2008 and Beyond

With more than 3.7 million instances of housing discrimination occurring annually and segregation remaining a central feature of the nation’s housing markets, fair housing...

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...

Crossing Neighborhood Boundaries

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

The Myths About Poverty are Keeping People Poor

This is Part 4 of a series about the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Click here for...

Segregation 101

A year after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, The New York Times published a front-page article about racism in the St. Louis area. What it doesn't address is ...

The Real Problem with the Model Minority Myth

There is a Time article—“The Real Problem When It Comes to Diversity and Asian-Americans“—that has been making the rounds on the Internet. As a card-carrying member of the Model Minority Myth Busters club, I am sympathetic with author Jack Linshi’s piece in that it seeks to discredit model minority mythology. However, there are a couple […]
ICE OUT poster

Signaling A Strong Message of Support For Immigrant Neighbors

In today’s climate, the first and often most important barrier between vulnerable residents and deportation is simply their front door.

Citizenship Is an Asset

Naturalizing is a great way to improve opportunity, but it’s expensive. How can we open that door to more of the immigrants who qualify?

Doesn’t Voter Fraud Require Actual Voting?

John McCain’s peculiar, over-the-top attacks on ACORN were initially a little hard to take seriously. Even when he kept on, it just left us...

Recovery from the Grassroots

An interesting new planning document by the Sandy Regional Assembly was just released by a cross-section of grassroots groups, most based in New York...

Income for Everyone?

If you wanted to come up with a totally cockamamie idea to attribute to someone to smear them as unrealistic...

Getting Beyond Growth at Any Price

The Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy, by Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty. New Society Publishers, 2012, 400 pp., $26.95. I must admit...
A dark-skinned woman in the foreground and two light-skinned men are wearing neon yellow T-shirts reading "City Life Vida Urbana, No Nos Moveran, We Shall Not Be Moved" and marching with a black banner with "City Life Vida Urbana" in red letters.

Housing Justice Organizers March Against White Supremacy

Housing is on the radar of racial justice activists.

Taking Action Against Wage Theft

Wage Theft In America, by Kim Bobo. The New Press, 2009, 336 pp. $17.95 (paperback).

Extra! Major Funding Is Provided By…Congress?

The print media industry, we all know, has been in rapid decline over the past few years, but recently, we’ve truly begun to see...

Let’s Agree to Agree on a Poverty Policy Overhaul

I want to thank Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube for their thoughtful response to my post critiquing their book,...

Transportation More Important than Schools, Crime, in Escaping Poverty

The New York Times recently reported on a finding from the large social mobility study out of Harvard that found that access to good,...

Solar Installation Gives New Power To A Community

Located in the southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C., Parkchester Apartments was not unlike some other affordable housing developments in the city. Property owners had come and gone without making adequate investments in the nine-building complex, and residents had all but given up when its tenant association voted to bring in its current owner, The NHP Foundation (NHPF), in 2015. Within months, residents began to see signs of improvement. Top on the list of changes was the realignment of Parkchester’s environmental footprint.
sidewalk

Where Were All the Sidewalks Built?

A health and community development partnership leads to a revelation for a city transportation department.

Organizing for Inclusive TOD

Large-scale and small-scale transit-oriented development projects are popping up everywhere around the country, and in many places advocates are working to include affordable housing and other community priorities in the mix from the start.

Will Obama Fever Heal Black-Latino Relations?

The day before Obama’s thrilling clinching of the Democratic nomination, I met with a group of high school students at the Rudy Lozano Leadership...

Big News for Pennsylvania Voting Rights

You can add Pennsylvania to the list of states to have a voter ID law shelved, at least for now....

How Exactly Does One Measure Economic Justice?

This is Part 5 in a series about the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Click here for...