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.

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...

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.

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.

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.

Learning to Stretch

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

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...
Two women, one on the right stares off camera as the other bends to speak to her.

Serving the Community, In Their Language

From hiring priorities to translation headsets to special requests of the phone company—the exciting and important work of serving multicultural, multilingual populations.

Too Young to Vote, But Not Too Young to Engage

The Obama campaign headquarters were bustling five days before the election and two high school journalism students I brought there to report for their...

3 Initiatives to Drive the New Secretary of Transportation

President Obama on April 29 nominated Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx for Secretary of Transportation. Transit advocates are hoping that Foxx's...

Regions Can’t Live By Oxygen Alone

Jack Jensen, an affordable housing and green builder in Ithaca, N.Y., is grumpy about Smart Growth.Specifically, he's pissed off...

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.

The Bicycle Mandate

New York City Council approved a measure, the Bicycle Access Bill, that requires buildings with freight elevators to allow for bicycle access. The measure,...

Section 3: It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

Section 3 was a truly creative idea when it was inaugerated in 1968: Let's give low-income residents the first crack...

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.

Not Your Father’s Electorate (Instead, His Father’s)

The Republican vote was as high as ever. But the Democratic candidate still won — because more Democrats turned out to the polls than...

Don’t Just Investigate, Apply the ACORN Rule

When ACORN, a community organizing anti-poverty group, was stripped of federal funds after (false) accusations of voter fraud were pushed...

You May Not Realize How Poverty Works

We've been having a ongoing conversation here on Rooflines marking the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty about...

The Best Thing I Didn’t Hear All Week

I'm in Lexington, Ky., this week for the National Community Land Trust Network conference, hosted by the Lexington Community Land Trust. The Lexington CLT had...

Ferguson and Reparations

Shortly after the signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, the bill enacting redress and reparations for the internment of Japanese Americans, there was an editorial cartoon in my local newspaper. There were two Native Americans.  One was reading a newspaper. The newspaper had a headline that read “Japanese Americans to get $20,000 each.” […]
home with for sale sign in foreground

Is the Housing Market the Answer to the Racial Wealth Gap?

In discussions around closing the racial wealth gap, we should be reminded that a very large portion of wealth gained by white Americans should be seen as ill-gotten.

Get Your Bike On

Last night, on Halloween, I saw a hundred bicyclists take command of the street. Wearing all manner of clever costume, they rode confidently in...

The Invisible Poverty of the Suburbs

Our anti-poverty policies have failed the suburban poor, say Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube. Their new book, “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America,” highlights our country’s...

Ferguson, Sanford and the Persistence of Violent Racism

“Wonder when I’ll find paradise // Somewhere there’s a home sweet and nice” –WAR, The World is a...
Multicolored collage of houses with photos of ceramic birds

Be It Ever So Humble

In the American idiom of good things, the importance of “home” and “community” cannot be challenged. The associated images – mom, apple pie and...
People line up next to donation items after Hurricane Katrina.

Civil Rights Organizations on Hurricane Relief Efforts

Throughout what we know will be a long recovery over the coming weeks, months, and years, Shelterforce hopes to share the stories of the...

The Smarter Cities Project Wants Your Input on Sustainability Criteria

As some of you may know, Smarter Cities is an initiative that ranks US cities on a number of key sustainability criteria as well...

Urban Planning Needs More Women

As a feminist who loves labeling herself with the word feminist, I get stuck in a lot of frustrating conversations with those who...

Serving the Community, In Their Language

   From hiring priorities to translation headsets to making special requests of the phone company—the exciting and important work of...

4 Reasons to Retire the Phrase “Inner City”

On a recent trip to Seattle, I picked up a copy of the weekly paper The Stranger. As I...
girl and boy symbols painted on a wall.

Could Gentrification Be Changing D.C. Schools for the Better?

While gentrification's benefits and drawbacks have been discussed at length, one aspect has been largely overlooked: its effect on neighborhood schools.

Better Living by Urban Restoration

It is the larger social and cultural environment of a home that creates health, not the housing unit considered on its own, concluded a...

A Big Easy Comparison, But How Similar?

“Katrina” is a loaded word, less associated with an actual hurricane than it is with catastrophic destruction from natural disaster, breathtaking flaws in effective...

Disaster and Recovery – Part II

Shortly after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Coast, I was dispatched to New Orleans by the corporate foundation...

How Will We Care For This Overlooked Population?

As I’ve discussed in a previous blog post, rural America is aging faster than the rest of the country....

Common Sense Is Community Development’s Most Powerful Ally

The title of this post proved itself to be true for us in Duluth, when local organizations got together to address the growing need...

When Will Attitudes Change Toward Solar?

It was a bright, sunny day in Chicago on September 24. Celebrants were singing, “You Are My Sunshine,” as the solar panels had already saved $64 since the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) in the US had started them up just a few hours earlier. With 483 panels, each producing 310 watts, ICA’s 166,000 square […]
fast food signs

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—Oct. 12

News from—and affecting—the community development world. This week: fast food swamps, Seattle has too many apartments, criminal justice, basic income pilot, more.

Hope…of Curbing Climate Change

When the Environmental Law and Policy Center was founded in Chicago 15 years ago, cell phones that could get clear reception or send images...

Transit Initiatives Boosted by Employers

It’s been clear for several years that more people than ever support public transit. In vote after vote, people...

Ditch Smart Growth; Try Oxygen-Based Development

At the Farm Pond Circle Reforestation Community in South Lansing, N.Y., a small community outside of the small city of...

Seattle Neighborhood Planning

At first glance, the Neighborhood Planning Program in Seattle, Washington, sounds like a remarkably progressive idea. Begun in 1995, the program is one of...
Snow-covered Downtown Chinatown in Philadelphia.

In Spite of HUD, Fair Housing Process Can Help Communities

Last year, Philadelphia was one of the first cohorts to go through the AFFH process, a fair housing assessment mandated by HUD to discover...

5 Tips for Increasing Contractor Diversity

RATE YOUR CONTRACTORS Consider creating “contractor report cards.” Chances are contractors bidding on a project have worked in your city before. Check to see how...

…At Your Own Risk

Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey’s piece in The Wall Street Journal, “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare,” touted his own company’s health insurance...

Illinois Housing Groups Band Together to Survive New HUD Regs

Community development leaders took a grim view on some impending changes to HUD HOME regulations, telling Shelterforce in 2012 that the new rules would...
A woman holds a cardboard sign that reads "Our Lives > Their Property"

Housing Policy Key to Freddie Gray’s Baltimore–and the City’s Future

“What happens to a dream deferred?” asked Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. “Maybe it just sags like a heavy load,” he opined. “Or does...

Plans for Housing in the Age of Climate Change Should Include This Tool

As extreme weather patterns in our country become less of an anomaly, the plight of people living in storm-prone...
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.

Get Out of the Way

To create a great third place, one of the most important principles is to let users make it their own.

Drops in the Bucket on Racial Inequality

Check out Greg Squires’ challenge in yesterday’s article on The Nation’s Web site to talk about race in a way that matters during...

“Doing What They Do Best”: Lessons of Occupy Sandy

Many people have passed around the article “Occupy Sandy Emerges as Relief Organization of the 21st Century,” in the weeks...

This Is How We Should Measure Our Work (And Achieve Economic Justice)

This is Part 6 in a series about the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Click here for...

Conflict and Placemaking: Tactical Urbanism on Nicollet Mall

Earlier this year, the City of Minneapolis broke ground on a $50 million overhaul of Nicollet Mall, a 12-block centerpiece of its downtown. Like...

Our Window of Opportunity Is Open–Let’s Tackle Poverty Now

Every few generations, the stars align to create the potential for monumental, transformative social change. Turns out we’re in just such a moment right now when it comes to tackling poverty in the United States. I don’t blame you for being skeptical. Economic inequality is growing, big corporations are consolidating their political power, and our […]
swimming pool

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—Oct. 19

News from—and affecting—the community development world. This week: rent really is racist, new tales of voter suppression, swimming pool access, a response to a pro-gentrification argument, more.

Immigrant Integration Services Must Aim to Build Assets

Financial coaching and small business development services should be right up there next to learning English.

New President, “New Deal”: New Plan?

With the scramble for Pennsylvania’s natural gas reserves growing in its news coverage, we are reminded that one reason the Rust Belt was industrialized...

More Suburban Poor? Think Again

What do Lynn, Brockton, Lincoln, Westwood, Watertown and Revere have in common?According to a new report by the Brookings...

English Required for a Mortgage?

   Language barriers pose an obstacle to fair access to credit, but this population is overlooked in fair credit discussions.Non-English...
Black-and-white photo of DACA information table.

Defending DACA Is a Moral and Economic Imperative

President Donald Trump has decided to end the Obama-era program that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants. Over the course of its five-year history,...

Sustainability’s Bottom Line

Are our presidential candidates (yes, including vice presidential candidate Clinton) thinking about sustainable initiatives for environmental improvement, city vitality, and sound fiscal order? Or...

Had Enough of the Spill? Stop Sprawl and Support Revitalization

Enraged at the spill in the Gulf and the American appetite for oil that ultimately caused it? Stop land development on farmland, forests...

Explore Post-Crisis Rebuilding Beyond the Linear Narrative

Luisa Dantas and Micheal Boedigheimer When I first came to New Orleans with my video camera in the months after Hurricane Katrina, it was already...

Rich Train Station Neighborhoods Need More Apartments

New Jersey’s extensive public transportation system is a source of envy for most other states, many of whose larger...
Albany, New York

Funding the City

Property taxes were set up at a time when cities were regional centers of wealth. Times have changed. We need to another look at how we're funding cities.
young men playing horn instruments

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 13

Really, YIMBYs? | TOD Without Displacement | Tracking 80 Million Evictions | MLK's Campaign, Revitalized | Airbnb Hastening Demise of NOLA Culture? | Bike "Borrowing" for Equity | More

Immigration and Community Development Corporations

How do CDCs transform—or not—along with the communities they serve?

Race and Class: Katrina vs. Iowa

Concentrated poverty and hypersegregation generate wide-ranging costs in almost every major U.S. city, particularly for less favored populations. New Orleans clearly fits this description....

Hawaii’s Train to the Future

The path to a walkable, livable urban future is filled with hurdles.  Take, for instance, the public transit battle being...

A Tale of Two Infrastructure Projects

Living in Central New Jersey, I’ve had a ringside seat for the last few years to one of the...

Ferguson on My Mind

Outside my house, two young African-American boys, maybe 9 or 10, scoot by on skateboards. One is carrying something on a leaf and stops to show me a giant slug. We chat about it a bit; I tell him that I looked up what kind of slug that was recently but now don’t remember. He […]
bus

Taking the Bus: Nonprofit Conferences and Integrity of Purpose

Nonprofits advocate for local transit spending, but annual conference logistics don't typically include bus route information for attendees.

Profile of the Immigrant Population

Knowing who is immigrating here, and where they are settling, has implications for policy.

The Mystery of a Mere Idea

Compelling ideas are all you need to start a revolution. That could be one lesson to take from the experience of Van Jones, the...

“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...

Citizenship Is an Economic Asset for Communities

If New York’s legal permanent residents all became U.S. citizens, the city’s economy could grow by up to $4.1...
3 men mixing concrete

A Partner, Not an Expert

Over the course of three decades in the development finance industry, I have learned that engaging and empowering those who have the greatest stake in their communities is the best way to achieve meaningful and lasting change.

The Big Blue Bin

Remember back in the ’70s, when people used to ask if you believed in ecology? Meaning, of course, do you support saving the...

Tassafaronga Village: Affordable Green, Gold and Platinum in East Oakland

Oakland, California’s Tassafaronga Village is a new mixed-income, green neighborhood development that is bringing a high degree of environmental excellence to a traditionally underserved...

3 Good (and 3 Not-So-Good) Uses for HUD’s New Data on Location Affordability

HUD and the Department of Transportation recently released the Location Affordability Portal, a new website designed to share information...

Affordable Housing Advocates Need to be Strong TOD Advocates

The Red Line Transit Project is a proposed 14.1-mile light rail line designed to connect approximately 55,000 daily riders...

Keeping an Optimistic, Yet Watchful Eye on the Ball

It looks like President Obama and his administration kept most of the great ideas explored with the Grow America Act, last year's transportation initiative. The total investment is increased to $478 billion and expanded to six years in the latest iteration of the budget released yesterday. A few of the best pieces for low-income communities […]
migrant farm workers

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 27

Climate Gentrification | A Marijuana Tax for Housing? | Homeownership Alone Can't Close the Wealth Gap | Illegal ICE Raids on Farms | Keeping An Eye on Opportunity Zones | More...

Hungry for Housing

New Deal Ruins: Race, Economic Justice and Public Housing Policy, by Edward G. Goetz. Cornell University Press, 2013, 256 pp. $23.95 (paperback).

Purging the Poorest: Public Housing and the Design Politics of Twice-Cleared Communities, by Lawrence J. Vale. The University of Chicago Press, 2013, 448 pp. $27.50 (paperback).

Going Green

The last week of June turned out to be Sustainable Development Week unofficially in Chicago as a convergence of events spread the word on...

An Important Piece of the Puzzle: A Response to “Some of Us Shall Not...

In her recent Shelterforce online review of We Shall Not Be Moved, my book about post-Katrina recovery efforts in five New Orleans neighborhoods, Lydia Pelot-Hobbs...