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?

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
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.

CDFIs Speed Up Sandy Recovery

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

Instantly See Average Transportation Costs, Emissions for Any Location

The latest in the snazzy series of useful tools and research on housing and transportation costs published by the Center for Neighborhood Technology is...

Integrating Schools Is a Matter of Housing Policy

Inclusionary zoning and economic integration in suburban neighborhoods not only reduces concentration of poverty, it directly improves low-income children’s academic achievement. 

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...

I Want to Ride My Bicyle. I Want to Ride It Where I Like

It’s Bike to Work Day 2009 and I did not ride my bike to work. Why? I can’t. I can ride a bike, and...

When the Market Recovers, Smart Growth Will Claim a Larger Share

Even before the recession began, the market for residential and commercial property in the US was changing away from a model of unmitigated suburban...

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...
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.

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...

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.” […]

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 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...

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,...

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...

Businessweek Cover Points to Us All

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

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...

Commuter Rail�s Promise

The battle over what sort of transportation projects to include in the economic stimulus package centered around whether to emphasize...

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...
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...

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...

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...

Where We Live Affects How Much We Drive and What We Can Afford

The Urban Land Institute has produced a remarkable report that examines in depth how where we live affects how much we drive, and consequently...

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...

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 ...
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.

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,...

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...

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...
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.

One Less Truth-Teller

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Democrat of Ohio, died yesterday after suffering a burst brain aneurysm. Tubbs Jones, 58, was the first black woman to...

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...

The Geography of Carbon Emissions from Driving, with Maps

The Center for Neighborhood Technology is releasing today a new series of GIS-based maps showing where carbon emissions from driving are the highest in...

“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 […]

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...

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...

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...
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.
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...

So About that Deconcentrating Poverty Thing…

Land of Opportunity Interactive has a marvelous interactive video (click here for description of what that means) called “Bricks and Sticks: Public...
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...

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 […]

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...

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.

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. […]
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.

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...

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...

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...

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...
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,...

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...

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...

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.

Taking the LEED in Your Community

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

National Train Day (Trainiacs Unite!)

I thought this was an interesting tidbit: in an effort to highlight trains as convenient, energy efficient, environmentally sound ways to travel, Amtrak will...

Making Food Deserts Bloom

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

The Connection Between Water, Justice, and Health

Our talk with Radhika Fox, the CEO of the US Water Alliance, about water justice and ways to build stronger communities.

Immigrant Integration Services Must Aim to Build Assets

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

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...

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...
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.

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...

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 […]

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 […]

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,...

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...

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,...

Immigration and Community Development Corporations

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

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 a Meritocracy Really What We Want?

“Together we can break down all the barriers holding our families … back. We can build ladders of opportunity...

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...

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,...
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?

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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.

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...
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.

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.
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.

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...

Profile of the Immigrant Population

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

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...

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...

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...
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.

Transforming Communities Through Residential Energy Efficiency

Many of us have been shocked by a particularly high utility bill following a bitterly cold month or a...

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...

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...

Watching This Movie is an Act of Patriotism

Since I concluded my book review of Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our...

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...

Is it: “Faster, Stimulus! Spend! Spend!” or “Think Before You Buy”?

James Oberstar, the Democrat from Minnesota who chairs the House Transportation Committee, has been sending out cranky letters to governors around the country who...

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.

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...