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.
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...
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 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,...
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...

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...

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.

Katrina: A Political Disaster

The handling of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath underscores the human disaster resulting from the ascendancy of right-wing ideas and corporate domination of the federal government, which extols market forces, individualism and private charity over public responsibility and the common good.

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...

“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...

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.
cover this book changes everything

This Book Changes Everything

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

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...

As Cities Prosper, Poor People Relocate to Suburbs

The number of low-income people living in suburbs increased 67 percent between 2000 and 2011, altering longstanding perceptions of...

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...

English Required for a Mortgage?

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

…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...

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...

Asian-American Poverty Higher than You Think, And Growing

The US Census recently released American Community Survey (ACS) numbers for 2013. My narrow, first and foremost task with these new numbers is to look at poverty numbers. The growth in numbers of people in poverty is slowing—possibly a sign that the economic recovery is finally trickling (albeit a tiny trickle) down to poor people. […]
yellow arrows painted on sidewalk

Where Banks and the Public Agree on CRA . . . and Disagree

Despite a CRA exam pass rate of 98 percent, the major thrust of bank comments is that they want easier exams with fewer moving parts and less uncertainty.

Home Again

With the help of its local community development corporation, a Boston neighborhood comes to terms with its transformation as a beloved church, long a treasured part of the community is reborn as housing.

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...

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...

Solar for the People

So this story started off sounding so promising.An affordable housing complex put solar panels on its roof!Also, it's affordable...

Keeping Everyone Afloat: Is Universal Basic Income the Answer?

Advocates and organizers who deal with the needs of the poor often say it's not really a housing/food/training issue, it's an income issue. So what would happen if we just addressed income?
Three women sitting on chairs on a sidewalk.

Hurricane Evacuees are Forcibly Evicted in Miami

More than 60 Miami families, many undocumented, have been homeless since last week’s hurricane and were forcibly removed last night by local officials.
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.

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...

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...

Vulnerable Workers

Anti-immigrant laws and the lack of a solid path to citizenship leave immigrant workers vulnerable to exploitation—and harm the whole community.

Income Is How You Get Out of Poverty, Assets are How You Stay Out

In Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a vision for rebuilding the middle class with pathways to the middle class for lower-income families. But to manifest this vision, we need a much stronger focus on addressing the root causes of concentrated, generational poverty: financial insecurity and lack of ownership. In […]
old and new buildings in Harlem

New York City Needs to Stop Negotiating Rezonings From an Uneven Playing Field

What is the underlying dynamic that leads so many council members in low-income communities of color to approve neighborhood rezonings, despite community opposition and the likelihood of increased displacement pressure on existing residents?

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.

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...

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....

Policy Victory Means Millions for Lower 9th Ward

Tonya Boyd-Cannon, a singer/ songwriter, has performed at Jazz Fest and Essence Festival, and recently reached the final 20 performers on NBC’s talent show,...
Yellow sign reading 'Aloha.'

Reflecting and Planning Using a Community Wealth Building Lens

Over an organization’s 25 years in existence, how do staff and volunteers measure impact and build off of lessons learned to guide their next steps forward?

Making Food Deserts Bloom

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

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...

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...

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...

Lots of Maps, Little Insight in Richard Florida’s Latest

The New Urban Crisis treats a complicated and demanding subject with depressing inadequacy, offering little or nothing in the way of constructive, creative insights or strategies for advocates or practitioners seeking to combat these trends.
Football players kneel during national anthem.

#ThisIsNotUs. Except, It Is.

We are constantly faced with the decision of whether to #TakeAKnee in our work, and whether we meet this challenge or not either reinforces our racialized landscape or disrupts it. What is clear is that we cannot sit on the sidelines with a universalist perspective, claiming to do good work.

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...

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,...

The State of Transit in New Orleans

As many visitors and locals know well, New Orleans boasts the oldest continuously operating street railway in the world....

Homegrown Solutions To Inequity in Ferguson and Beyond

The debate about Ferguson continues: The grand jury decision is unfair to many; policing practices seem discriminatory and dangerous; and local court systems have been shown to prey upon low-income people. The sheer scope of the problems can be overwhelming. But let’s take a step back. Richard Rothstein’s “The Making of Ferguson“ links some modern […]
A man and a woman stand in front of a chalkboard sign that reads "This House Could Be ..."The man is writing on the board, as many others have done. Some of the suggestions for what the house could be include a community gathering space and a senior center.

Rebellion Spurs Opportunity and a New Housing Movement

How a Baltimore collaborative plans to make shared-equity housing a significant sector in the local housing market.

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...

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...
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.

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.

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...

CDFIs Speed Up Sandy Recovery

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

The Immigrant Population In Profile

Implications for Policy with a Focus on Housing and Urban and Workforce Development        The U.S. immigrant population is growing, and...

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.”

Who’s Going to Report the News?

Rooflines has been watching a disturbing decline in the newspaper industry as print media is falling victim to fewer subscribers, falling numbers in advertising,...

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...
A woman in a red Cause Justa/Just Cause T-shirt holds a hand-lettered sign reading "Black and Brown for Tenant Protections Now"

Tenant Solidarity in Oakland

   Q&A with Kitzia Esteva-Martinez, Causa Justa/Just CauseLast October, Oakland, Calif., passed a Tenant Protection Ordinance. This strong measure defending...

“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.

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.

Are Big-Box Stores a Good Measure of Equity?

It’s been cause for celebration here in the DC region, and rightfully so, that suburban Prince George’s County, Maryland, has a new, high-end Wegmans...

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...
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.

Taking the LEED in Your Community

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

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...

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...

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.

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?

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...

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...

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.

Taking Action Against Wage Theft

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

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...

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...
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.

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...

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....

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...

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.