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?

Can Mentoring End Poverty?

This year we mark the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty, and yet, 46.5 million people were living in...

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...
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 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.

Transforming the market for development location

One of the most popular tags on the blogging site of my organization, NRDC, is “market transformation.” I’m a believer. Not everything...
sidewalk

Where Were All the Sidewalks Built?

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

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...

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...

It’s The Great Election, Charlie Brown

Halloween approaches and, as always, we’re found waiting for the Great Pumpkin, er, Election. Immediately following the...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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....

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,...

Habitat Retrofits Oakland Brownfield for LEED-ND Pilot

Habitat for Humanity’s East Bay affiliate is retrofitting a brownfield into 54 affordable homes on two acres of land in Oakland, Calif. With excellent...

Income for Everyone?

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

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.

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...

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...

Taking Action Against Wage Theft

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

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...
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.
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.

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....

Sec. Foxx’s New Transportation Proposal Is Great

Looks like the Obama administration hasn't given up yet on tackling the big issues that plague our country.Secretary Anthony...

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....
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...

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.

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...

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...
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,...

Airbnb, Test Your Hosts for Bias

Airbnb, as with some other of its fellow peer-to-peer “disruptive” tech solutions, has come under fire from a few...

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...

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....

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...

What We Talk About When We Talk About Voting Machines

I suppose post-election time is as good a time as any to talk about voting machine flaws, particularly following a...

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...
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.

A Third Strand of Sustainable Housing

There’s quite a jumble of tools out there for people who want to make their houses into models of energy efficiency. As far as...

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...

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...
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...

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 […]

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,...

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...

Sometimes Vacant Land is Just Fine

I’ve been thinking a bit recently about the possibilities in vacant or underused property in the heart of the city. Kaid Benfield brought this...

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...
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.

The “What If” Scenario

At the third and final presidential debate, when John McCain proclaimed that, Acorn, the darling target of conservative advocacy groups like FOXNews, could have...

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...
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.
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.

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...

Sprawl’s share of US housing starts has declined dramatically, says EPA

A new report from the US Environmental Protection Agency documents a dramatic shift in the pattern of new development in the nation over the...
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.

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.

The Mess In Texas (Houston: We Have a Recycling Problem)

The New York Times reports that of the nation’s 30 largest cities, Houston, the fourth largest city behind New York City, Los Angeles, and...

The Vote Rocked Me

I arrived at my polling place this morning, not knowing what kind of scene to expect. After days of TV images of snaking lines,...

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.
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.

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...

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...

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 ...

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...
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.”

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,...

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 […]

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.

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...
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.

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...

Got a House? Cast Your Vote.

Sounds scary, right? With the foreclosure crisis ushering over a million people into homelessness in the last two years, we’re seeing, again, political machinery...

All Aboard, America

The weekend before Barack Obama and Joe Biden take the oath of office, I can’t help but remark on the seeming missed opportunity for...

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?

Katrina Documentary Gets Distribution in Wake of Gustav

Fortunately, Hurricane Gustav did not turn out to be another Katrina. But as major storms go, it appears mild only by comparison. After Gustav,...

A Rail Line Toward Community Development

Amid the growing acknowledgment that strong centers make healthier regions, it’s increasingly clear that the argument for providing opportunities for transit oriented development, or...
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.

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.

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...

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.

Soil for the Grassroots

There has been a steady rising interest in urban agriculture over the past several years—from urban farms to community gardens...
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.
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...
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.

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,...

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...

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...

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 […]

Conversation Starter

How do we take care of our own? It’s a deceptively simple question that’s so fraught with contention in the American public discourse that...

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).

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.
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?

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...

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...

DOJ Keeps An Eye On Michigan

Following reports out of Michigan earlier this month as outlined on this Rooflines post that state Republicans there were planning to use a list...
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.

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...

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...