Housing

Housing matters. A stable, quality, affordable home is a foundation for so many other parts of life. How do we bring it in reach for everyone?

multifamily buildings

Hey YIMBYs, Thanks for Listening

The path to winning a pro-equity, pro-growth majority involves more (not less) investment in fighting displacement.
chain link fence skyline

Decommodifying Housing Without Reproducing American Apartheid

Though the idea of social housing is gaining traction among advocates and policy experts, the path of least resistance for its production in the U.S. is also the path of the perpetuation of residential racial segregation.
housing justice for all rally

What the Fight for Universal Rent Control in New York Can Learn from Prop...

Voters have set up an unprecedented fight between progressive housing groups and real estate interests. It will be a brutal fight. For proof of this, housing advocates in New York need only to look at California.
Pine Point Apartments in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, is a 67-unit unrestricted property that is improving access to opportunity for low-income families.

Getting Affordable Housing Near Good Schools

A new housing acquisition model is focusing on a specific criteria to increase access to opportunity for very low-income families.

The Two Vacancy Crises in America’s Cities

Vacant properties are a serious problem in two kinds of neighborhoods. To address them, we need to know which kind we’re looking at.

Making a Pipeline for Vacant Building Rehab

Baltimore’s Vacants to Value program sparked revitalization block by block with a few key legal powers and partnerships.
Avalon Trace was renamed Cottage Gardens after the 176-unit complex was sold to a new owner in 2018.

Condemning Asthma, Not Homes in North Carolina

An apartment complex in North Carolina generated 120 times as many hospital visits as would have been expected for its population, until a creative coalition forced its sale and worked with the new owner to change things.

Public Land Should be Used for Public Good

When a vacant lot in Oakland was close to becoming the home of a 24-story, market-rate development, local activists worked together to prevent it from happening.

Five Ways to Strengthen Local Housing Strategies

Local policies play a role in addressing the growing problem of high housing costs. This guide can help simplify the complex landscape of housing policy.
ballot drop

Affordable Housing Was On the Ballot, Here Are Some Election Results

A majority of voters nationwide supported funding for affordable housing as state and local governments try to address the problem in the absence of an adequate federal response.
books stack

Here’s What We Actually Know About Market-Rate Housing Development and Displacement

For-profit housing cannot meet most renters’ needs, and that’s by design. So when you talk about market-rate construction and displacement, use the following literature review as reference.
house drawing

How L.A.’s Housing Crisis Makes Family Reunification Much Harder

The increased risk of family separation is a lesser-known consequence of the affordable housing crisis.
voters in booths

Dear Presidential Hopefuls: The People Want to Talk to You About Housing

Before we celebrate its resurgence as a national political issue, and certainly before we set out to solve for housing injustice, we should understand why America has overlooked housing.
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.
California homes aerial

Tackling Exclusionary Housing Policy in California

Diving into the issue of exclusionary practices that have exacerbated the housing crisis and offering some policy solutions.
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.
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.
Residents of four historically African-American neighborhoods hold up a sign that reads "This Land is Our Land! #TentCityATL"

The Right to Stay Put

There is much work to be done around housing and equitable development, but the solution is not simply to move people around. A key challenge is creating real choice.
Close-up of the back of a t-shirt that says "Because the rent won't wait."

The Warren Housing Bill: Ready to Take On The Affordability Crisis?

Sen. Warren's proposed bill represents the kind of holistic housing strategy we need from the federal government in facilitating affordable housing for all Americans in all cities and towns who have been left out, locked out, or exploited over decades by the national housing market. 
A child rides her bike outside of Ocean Bay (Bayside) Apartments in Far Rockaway, the first housing project in New York City to take part in the RAD program, as well as the largest RAD-funded project in the country.

NYCHA’s Embrace of RAD Program Brings a Mix of Praise and Worry

Rehabbing this Far Rockaway housing complex is a huge undertaking. NYCHA is betting that the RAD program can make it happen, and it seems to be paying off.

Same Challenges, Bigger Numbers: 30 Years of Reporting on The State of the Nation’s...

While each annual State of the Nation’s Housing report has documented housing changes incrementally, looking back 30 years provides a unique frame of reference for just exactly how much worse housing affordability challenges have become.
senator elizabeth warren

Can Housers Unite Around the Warren Proposal?

Every once in a while someone says: "What would it look like if we came together and were united on a federal policy for housing?" It seems like the answer to "who would actually do it?" might currently be Senator Elizabeth Warren.
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.
vote sign on boarded window

Bold Political Leadership on Housing Policy? In 2018? You Heard Right

Local elected officials are having to re-examine the risks and rewards of making housing and housing affordability a political priority. Could one mayor's bold steps on housing policy be a national bellwether?
rosewood courts

The Most Important Housing Law Passed in 1968 Wasn’t the Fair Housing Act

At the Aug. 1, 1968 signing ceremony, President Johnson proclaimed “Today, we are going to put on the books of American law what I genuinely believe is the most farsighted, the most comprehensive, the most massive housing program in all American history.” He was right. 

A Review of The Fight for Fair Housing

The collection of 17 essays captures and explains the dynamism of the fair housing movement with its remarkable contributors.
A map that shows public housing and poverty levels in Houston, Texas.

HUD Continues to Retreat From Fair Housing Duties

In the name of “local control,” the federal agency has abandoned enforcement of civil rights law because it believes it's too troublesome.
westlake mural

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—Aug. 24

Philly's Fight for Affordable Housing | HUD Targets Facebook In Complaint| An Eviction App | A "Massive" Multifamily Housing Fraud
peeling paint windowsill

Is a Home with Lead Hazards Really “Affordable”?

The cost of housing is not simply the mortgage, rent, and utilities, but the individual and community health, education, and social costs associated with low-quality, unstable, and unhealthy housing.
anti-eviction mural

Eviction Lab Misses the Mark

As housing activists and academics who conduct research on issues of housing and displacement, we have encountered major problems with Eviction Lab’s practices.
police talking to homeless

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—Aug. 17

HUD's Latest Assault on Fair Housing | Decriminalizing Homelessness | "Buying the Block" | FEMA's Roadblocks In Puerto Rico | Public Transport And Health

Homeless Vets Given Keys to a New Home and Life

The Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Community in Agawam, Massachusetts, offers housing for homeless veterans, along with access to various other supportive services.
housing sign

Housing Advocates—Seize This Moment!

I’ve been working to address housing affordability since the late 1970s. There has never been this much media and public focus on the issue.
Shelterforce cover for issue 191 focusing on renters rising. Articles focus on rent regulations, discrimination against voucher holders, rent control, and more.

Renters Rise Again

Rent regulation is no longer being discussed as a vestigial holdover from a previous age, but actively debated and organized for by renters and activists.
Kennetha Patterson of Homes for All in Nashville speaks on a megaphone during Renter’s Week of Action.

Tenant Power: Organizing for Rent Strikes and Landlord Negotiations

In the face of high rent increases and substandard housing, many tenants are realizing they are not alone in their landlord troubles and are joining together to push for building-level wins, and policy change.
A single-family home in San Jose, California.

The Dark Side of Single-Family Rental

After the foreclosure crisis, global equity firms snapped up thousands of single-family homes to rent out. This massive shift in the market has not been good for aspiring homeowners, tenants, or neighborhoods.
A San Francisco, California, building that was privatized through the RAD program.

The Promise and Peril of HUD’s RAD Program

After a public housing property in Hopewell, Virginia, was privatized through the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, some families were threatened with eviction and...
The Daley Center in downtown Chicago. It’s estimated that each year, more than 15,000 people in Cook County will get a public eviction record despite having no eviction order or judgment against them.

Eviction Filings Hurt Tenants, Even If They Win

From Monday through Friday, 52 weeks a year, thousands of tenants, landlords, and attorneys make their way to the Daley Center in downtown Chicago....
Alicia Spradlin and her daughter Faith live in apartments that have been set-aside for UnitedHealthcare Community Plan members.

Setting Aside Housing for Frequent Health Care Users

Housing specifically for those who frequently use health care services makes sense on many levels, but it also raises questions about privacy and lining up who pays and who benefits.
Mesa 5 cooperative members explain how the housing complex’s services and maintenance work.

Solutions to an Unjust Housing System

Four scalable land and housing models can provide justice, and homes, for our communities. But we need support to protect them from market pressure.
Landlords commonly refuse to rent to voucher holders, a practice known as “source of income discrimination.”

Section 8 Voucher Holder Denied Housing

Despite having a housing voucher—a legal source of income—a Buffalo, New York, woman could not find a landlord who would rent out their property to her.
“I was trying to fix my life. And this put a halt on it,” says Khristen Sellers. Khristen faced sexual harassment for housing.

A Cruel Choice—Sexual Favors for Housing

Across the U.S., sexual harassment at the hands of landlords, property managers, and others in the housing industry can drive poor women and their children into homelessness. It is a problem badly understood and virtually unstudied.
This woman says Four-County employees assaulted her. She did not want her face shown.

Taking Sexual Harassment Seriously: Tips for Nonprofits

Sexual harassment is a topic that’s not often addressed in the community development field, but it should be.
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.
Children play on an Irish Traveller site on Dale Farm in 2011. A young boy with glasses rubs his eyes outside in Dale Farm, which was once the site of the largest Irish Traveller concentration until families were evicted in 2011. A health impact assessment helped house this indigenous group.

How a Health Impact Assessment Helped House Irish Travellers

An HIA that focused on Irish Traveller housing programs proves successful because it empowered the population.
building rendering

Shared-Equity Homeownership With No Public Subsidy

What if the future of shared equity homeownership was not dependent on government subsidies? Vivacité - Société immobilière solidaire, a Quebec-based non-profit organization, designed a shared equity program based on a social economy model that leverages impact investors to ensure perpetual affordability and scales its impact.
North Minneapolis tenants pose together with their fists in the air during a barbecue

Despite Win Against Landlord, Minneapolis Tenants Still Face Eviction

North Minneapolis residents fight to take control of their buildings after city administrator finds homes to be uninhabitable.
construction

We Can Totally Build Our Way Out of This Problem

Here's a list of possible translations to the statement, "We can't build our way out of the housing crisis," and a handy response to each.
women sitting in chairs on grass

Practical Ideas for Addressing Micro-Segregation in Mixed Income Communities

Practical lessons from long time community builders on promoting integration and interaction among residents of mixed income communities.
supporters of ban income bias bill

Section 8 Allowed

Early research shows that laws prohibiting discrimination based on source of income may improve outcomes for Housing Choice Voucher holders.
beige house

The CLT Solution: In Suburbia and Beyond

After 30 years and the development of thousands of units of affordable housing, the Long Island Housing Partnership Inc. and its affiliates are now concentrating on the Community Land Trust model.
modular home Y:Cube

CDCs and Nonprofits are Indeed Leading Affordable Housing Innovation

Blaming community development corporations (CDCs) for the high cost of affordable housing construction is not only misguided, but it ignores the work of CDCs and nonprofits that are leading efforts to reduce costs in the key areas of financing, construction, and land costs.

HUD Was Wrong To Suspend This Important Tool For Racial Equity

On May 8, 2018, three fair housing groups took action to preserve an important tool for community empowerment and equity.

A Year Later, Can the Grenfell Tower Fire Be a Catalyst for Reimagining Housing...

Glyn Robbins talks about what led him to view U.K. and U.S. housing policy as intertwined, how public protest stifled the Conservative Party’s 2016 Housing Act, and what’s changed in the wake of Grenfell Tower fire.
rent control

Here’s Why Costa-Hawkins Repeal Would Be Revolutionary for Housing in California

Rent control is one of the foremost demands of grassroots movements organizing around housing justice today. To activists across the country, from Los Angeles...
A San Francisco neighborhood with the Oakland Bay Bridge in the center.

Why San Francisco Outdoes New York City on Tenant Rights

New York City has been outpaced by San Francisco in protecting tenants since the latter adopted rent control in 1979. While protections for the city's tenants have steadily weakened and even disappeared since the 1990s, San Francisco’s rent control and eviction protection laws have expanded and strengthened.
richard rothstein

The Not-So Hidden Truths About the Segregation of America’s Housing

Our conversation with The Color of Law author Richard Rothstein on uncovering truths about our not-so distant history of federally mandated racial segregation in housing.
2093 mission street

Preserving Affordability in San Francisco—A Look at the Housing Accelerator Fund’s First Year

An interview with Bob Annibale of Citi Community Development and Rebecca Foster of the San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund, which aims to to preserve or develop 1,500 affordable housing units in its first five years. 
storefront

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—May 11

Democrat’s Housing Proposal | Tracking SNAP Recipients Is a Bad Idea | Including Antiracism Practices Into The Housing First Model | An Asylum-Seeker Game? | Mick, Can We Rate You?

Democrats Propose Actually Meaningful Public Housing Funding

Whether it’s the need to recapture some momentum in the 2018 election season, or the growing effect of the housing crisis on a wider range of people, the Democratic Party has proposed investing $70 billion in public housing.
california construction site

California’s Endless Housing “Crisis”

In many ways, the recognition of the current “crisis” stems from middle- and upper-income Californians finally being impacted, and using their power to push for solutions that would address their situation. But their solutions ignore another population.
A building in East Oakland with colorful murals painted on the wall. A graffitied fence is to the right of the building.

Why Tenants Should Be Given the Opportunity to Purchase Their Buildings

Unlike so many owners who are quickly selling their properties to the highest bidder amidst rising real estate values, an East Oakland landlord was intent on giving the existing tenants a fair shot to purchase the property.

What Does “Community Control of Land” Mean?

When we put out a call for essays about the meaning of community control of land, we expected we might get a handful of responses. Instead we got dozens and dozens, coming from all different parts of the country, from residents and researchers, activists and advocates. We clearly touched a nerve.
A view of a community in Oregon, with an American flag framing the left hand side. Lots of trees in the area.

The State of Permanent Affordability

In the face of accelerating gentrification, along with ongoing speculation and eviction, the idea of putting a substantial number of homes outside of the reach of the speculative market has been gaining momentum across the country.
An apartment complex in Minnesota that was under threat of being sold to a luxury developer.

Beating Luxury Developers at Their Own Game

The tide is starting to change as a number of organizations have partnered with nonprofits to make deals to acquire naturally occurring affordable housing.
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.
A home at the Dos Pinos Housing Cooperative, the only limited-equity housing co-op in Davis, California.

A Low-Cost Ownership Oasis in a Desert of Apartment Unaffordability

When this limited-equity cooperative in California began more than 30 years ago, it wasn’t the most affordable place to live. But now the co-op’s monthly costs are 50 percent lower than the average market-rate apartment.
An African-American man and woman stand happily outside on their front porch. The woman is wearing a red coat and a black and white hate, while the man is reader a read Oakland A's hat and a black jacket.

Getting Ahead of Gentrification in the South Side of Columbus

More than a decade after several groups came together to improve substandard housing in the South Side of Columbus, signs of gentrification and forced displacement are beginning to emerge. Can something be done so current residents can afford to stay in their neighborhoods for years to come? The short answer is yes.
A group of residents stand outside of the Oak Hill Meeting House holding a sign that reads "We Own It." They are clapping and cheering.

The State of Shared-Equity Homeownership

Though the need is greater than ever for resale-restricted, affordable homes, the growth of this model of homeownership appears to be limited.
A vacant building in New York City that has boarded up windows and a "Get Rich" signs for a kid cut.

Housing, Not Warehousing—A Victory 10 Years in the Making

Warehousing is one of real estate’s best-kept secrets, and a crucial piece of how the housing market can keep supply low and demand high. One New York City organization rallied to prove warehousing still posed a problem, and pushed the boundaries of what was politically possible.
Several residents, as well as some children, enjoy outside exercise equipment.

Getting Health on Board

It’s becoming increasingly common for community development corporations and grassroots housing organizations to have board members from the health care sector. Here's why.
Eastern Market food advertisement banners on old buildings in downtown Detriot.

Inclusionary Housing in Soft or Mixed Markets

The time to strike isn’t when the iron is hot. Cities in soft or mixed markets should adopt inclusionary housing policies before the housing market heats up and the process becomes even more challenging.

“More Than the Sum of Our Property Values”

How can power over land be used in such a way that people who are at a political disadvantage—who are poor, members of racial, ethnic or religious minorities, very young or very old, or have a disability—benefit? How about those who cannot speak for themselves, like trees or rivers?

Community Rights and Urban Land

The contemporary American understanding of community control over urban land is rooted in post-war organizing against government-driven redevelopment and bank-driven financial disinvestment. Broader movement...

Co-ops: Resistance to Living in the Land of the Lord

For Section 8 recipients, a step toward economic mobility (and community control) can be limited-equity cooperatives. A Section 8 voucher can be used to pay some of the monthly carrying costs of a co-op unit.
Carin McKay and Chris Carlsson at City Hall during a Mission No Eviction protest in 2015. Charlsson holds a sign that reads "We support the Pigeon Palace becomming a SF Community Land Trust."

The Fight Is Unfinished in San Francisco

Stabilizing their home came at a steep price. These residents no longer face the threat of possible eviction, but they now confront the well-disguised iron hand of the market wrapped in the velvet gloves of “affordability” and “fairness,” pitting them against efforts by their public financiers to force them into higher rents over time.

Interrupting Inequality Through Community Control of Land

Our belief is that community in CLTs emerges not from the simple fact of membership, but from the relationships, cooperative efforts—and disputes–of those occupying and making decisions over the land.

Settling Homeless Families in Vacant Homes

Take Back the Land broke into foreclosed, vacant homes, performed repairs, and housed homeless families in them. The most hopeful lesson to draw from the land occupation and the squatting activities is that pressure can be applied anywhere.
A family of four sit under an umbrella in front of the land trust home.

Community Ownership Redefines ‘Highest and Best Use’

The “highest and best use” of real estate should be the maximum fulfillment of social, environmental, and economic benefit for the greatest number of stakeholders including future generations.

Community Land Cooperatives Should Oversee Neighborhood Economic Development

This nonprofit is organizing a real estate investment cooperative for the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, with the exclusive purpose of incubating, funding, and assisting “community land cooperatives.”

Slow Building of Community on Lopez Island

Lopez Community Land Trust combined community control of land, permanent affordability, permaculture principles, a net-zero energy goal, green designs, individual empowerment and fun, into one ambitious housing development project.
The first community justice land trust tenants at Grace Townhomes. Photo courtesy of DHCD

Building Power for Community Control

Residents and institutions in a North Philadelphia neighborhood wanted to put the power of the land back into the hands of the community. The way we decided to do this was to create the Community Justice Land Trust and ensure neighborhood residents and tenants of CLT homes had seats on its board.

The Linchpin of a Just Housing System

A vision is rooted in the belief that housing is a human right, not a commodity to maximize profit. Homes For All believes it is possible to create a just housing system in which everyone has affordable and dignified housing.
Two people write down thoughts about what they think Chinatown's future should be.

Collective Ownership Is a Community Control Tool

A campaign pushed city government to begin the disposition process for a public parcel of land that is now proposed for a multi-use project that includes 171 units of 100 percent affordable housing.
A husband and wife stand in front of a fence along with their five children.

Community Control Gives Families Hope for the Future

Because we have our own home we have the liberty to dream, act, and influence our community. We have a unique opportunity as land trust homeowners as we are part of affordable homeownership today, tomorrow, and forever.
Members of a limited-equity housing cooperative in D.C. gather on the front steps in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Creating the Commons

The commons can be understood as a set of resources that have been de-commodified: that is, these are resources that are used to directly support life, rather than to extract a profit through sale on the market.

Controlling Land Collectively: The CLT Ground Lease Reimagined

Community control often gets conflated with affordability for neighborhoods seeing rising prices, and it’s obviously good to make land stay affordable. But affordability is not the same as democratic decision-making.

Community Is a Moving Target in Los Angeles

Empowerment is the ultimate response to displacement: perpetual affordability in a process that gives folks a stake in discussions and in an economy from which they are usually shut out.
A group of people stand outside their home, a housing cooperative in Maine.

The Power of Community to Segregate or Liberate

In order to successfully realize projects that serve the cause of social justice, community control must include strong leadership that actively cultivates the principles of inclusion, solidarity, and equity.
The entrance to The Village of Wilde Lake in Columbia, Maryland.

Resident Democracy by Design in Maryland

Democracy is messy and takes effort and time. Knowing my neighbors and being jointly responsible for our shared spaces make that effort worth our time and help make us better people, with skills in making decisions together and practice caring for each other.

Where the Disenfranchised Can Voice Their Opinions

Community control of land involves the constant process of inviting the most disenfranchised members of our community to voice their opinions and feedback on how the land is being used. The community for us consists of families who have been negatively affected by slumlords in inner-city Miami. 
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?
A lightbulb is on in a dark room. The utility company has kept the lights on.

When Domestic Violence and Utility Bill Debt Intersect

In Pennsylvania, domestic violence survivors are often not afforded the protections they are entitled to because many people are often unaware of the Responsible Utility Customer Protection Act and its provisions. A three-year pilot program aimed to change that.
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...
home with solar panel on roof

New Program Aims to Help Community Land Trusts Get to Scale

A new program invests in the belief that community land trusts can become more than a boutique housing solution.
Black Panther newsletter from 1969

What Black Panther-inspired Gift to Oakland Should Have Looked Like

Disney's Black Panther-inspired gift to Oakland children is great, but there is a way it could be better.
San Francisco homes

Homeowners Reap Profits While Fueling Housing Crisis

The widespread critique of California's SB 827 got me thinking about why nobody talks about those really profiting from land use decisions that inflate their property values: homeowners.
Barcelona apartment buildings

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 20

NIMBYs, YIMBYs, PHIMBYs-Oh My! | Can Algorithms Make Equitable Cities? | Retail Segregation Takes a Toll | E.R. Visits and "Tough" Neighborhoods | Enough Innovation Already | More...
Public Housing building

It’s Time to Build New, Mixed-Income Public Housing

An interview with Ryan Cooper, co-author of the report (with Peter Gowan), Social Housing in the United States, about current approaches to government intervention in the rental market, the politics of home ownership, why public housing needs to be mixed-income, and envisioning a society that provides adequate, affordable housing to all of its citizens.
cleveland streetscape

Remember Slavic Village? It’s Back

A Cleveland neighborhood made famous as an epicenter of the foreclosure crisis works its way back to stability. Here’s how.