Organizing

Community development relies on policies, resources, and recognition that were won by decades of organizing—and organizing remains essential to face new threats, preserve existing wins, and continue to fight back against the big lie that the way things are is inevitable.

Time to Seize the Moment on Immigration?

Immigration is finally Topic A.  For many of us who have been working with low income people and disadvantaged communities,...
Mural on wall with faces of girls looking into the distance.

Art in the Face of Gentrification

Four representatives of New York City organizations discuss their employment of art and artists to empower residents in the face of gentrification.

Budget Reaction Roundup: Social Security Cuts Dominate

Reaction to Obama's proposed FY 2014 is coming in fast and, in some cases, furious. We're seeing mixed feedback...
A car and truck submerged on a flooded road.

Rules for Radicals to Demand a Fair and Transformative Disaster Recovery

At Texas Housers, we've confronted a series of natural disasters over the past decade that forced us to develop new approaches for our housing advocacy. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we find ourselves back at it. Here are seven lessons we have learned.

The Spring Issue of Shelterforce Is Here!

Fair Housing: The Work Continues and the Vision Expands is the theme of our cover package in our Spring 2011 issue as we explore...

Sick of the Sequester? Learn from Michigan Organizers

The answer for Congress and the stalled action on the sequester? Michigan has some winning ideas. Detroit,...

Housing Recovery, But Not For All

Our annual report, The State of the Nation’s Housing 2013, issued last June, documented the growing evidence of a...

More Progress, and Peril, on the Home Opportunity Front

Earlier this month, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs released a discussion draft of legislation to...
Photo by charlene mcbride via flickr, CC BY 2.0

Industry versus Movement – Redux

Three years ago, I posted a blog in which I wrestled with the question of whether community development is an “industry” or a “movement.”...

Poetry Slams Conditions of Richmond’s Public Housing

When poetry and investigative reporting combine, the results are fantastic. PBS recently featured a collaboration between the...

Karl Rove v. ACORN

Now we know that Karl Rove spearheaded the firing of David Iglesias, the U.S. Attorney in New Mexico who refused to follow the Bush...

Three Ways Not to Transform Parks — And One That Can Work

Back when I was a local reporter, I witnessed the unfortunate demise of a beloved neighborhood park in Malden, Massachusetts. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr....

Recognizing the History of Fear in Public Housing

Rosanne Haggerty’s recent post, “What if We Don’t Knock it Down? Re-Imagining Public Housing,” pushes us to think broadly about the ways in which...

National Work Among Community Organizing Groups Is Growing

Editor’s Note: This is in response to Randy Stoecker’s earlier post on community organizing on the national level. ACORN, PICO, and US Action are...

Project Rebuild in the 2014 Budget: Beating An All-But-Dead Horse

I must admit I was surprised to see Project Rebuild resurface in the Obama administration’s 2014 budget proposal. If there...

McCain Hearts ACORN

Just picked this up from the Jed Report:

Jane Jacobs: Defender of Cities and their People

On April 10, 1968, New York state officials scheduled a public hearing to discuss their plans for an expressway...

Organizing for Hospital Community Benefits

Community development corporations need to become more educated about hospital community benefits. This is what can be done to get the process started.

To Reduce Recidivism Rates, Turn to Housing Policy

A couple months ago here on Rooflines, I wrote about the value of addressing housing challenges that many former...

A Hero on the Bench: WI Judge Takes on Real Impacts of Highway Expansion

When we go looking for the heroes and heroines who defend our freedoms, we tend to look backward: George Washington,...
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.

Homeownership Equity Depends on Racially Equitable Policy

Once again, we hear rumblings that housing finance reform, the wind-down of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the...

Picking Up The Pieces

Hurricane Katrina forced organizing groups to stretch to their limits, but it also showcased their strengths as never before

Can’t Be in the Gulf for the Katrina Anniversary? Watch These Films Instead

Tomorrow is the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, leading to all sorts of reflections on how far the city has...

Local Contracting–Cost Cutting, Economic Development, Or Both?

We recently published both an article and an Answer column that shows how one group in Philadelphia, WPRE/NR, is...

With ACORN, Transparency Is Just as Important as Good Values

The last few months has seen a number of articles, editorials, and interviews about the lack of financial responsiveness and accountability in the private...
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.

We Know Whose Fault Poverty Is–So Why Do Our Terms Blame the Poor?

Shelterforce began, 40 years ago, as a newspaper for tenant organizers. They were legal aid lawyers and similar rabble...
several mural images

Generating Civic Power in North Philadelphia

An organization embarks on a community-driven design process to transform two vacant row homes into a site for residents, artists, and law enforcement to collaborate on new public safety strategies rooted in care rather than control.

The Puzzle of Turning Vision into Action

Articulating a vision from the hopes and dreams of diverse community members is like piecing together a 250 piece...

The Quest to Create Standards for Affordable Homeownership

Stakeholder engagement is the heart of any successful community development effort. If you’ve ever worked for a community organization...

Rent Regulation in the Great Recession

Over at the Gotham Gazette, David King walks us through the latest round of politics over New York City’s rent regulation laws, which have...
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.

Making Community Benefits Agreements Count

CBAs can be extremely difficult to implement and enforce, which is why a detailed agreement in the early stages of the community-developer relationship is so important.

Roasting a Fire Under ACORN

It’s September here in the Northeast and the acorns falling from the oak trees, including those from the Northern Red Oak, New Jersey’s state...

A Boost to Vouchers Would Be a Boost for Kids

More than 5 million people in 2.1 million low-income families use the Housing Choice Voucher program to help pay...

CFPB Witch Hunt Could Lose Latino Voters

The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking voted on March 19 along party lines (12 Democrats and ten Republicans) to advance Richard Cordray’s bid to...

When Disaster Hits, Your First Responder Probably will Not Be a First Responder

Social scientists reviewed all the recent research on disaster recovery and tell us that before the coordinated help arrives, before the Red Cross and all the other recovery groups descend with legions of volunteers, there are neighbors.

Remembering Rick Cohen

Rick Cohen, a Shelterforce contributor, passed away suddenly on November 17. Known for his prolific writing focused on nonprofits and...

Community-Labor: A Coalition Whose Time Has Come

Ed Gorman of the NCRC board introduced Mark Ayers, president of the building trades department of the AFL-CIO, as “the man who is opening...

In Wisconsin: Do You Hear the People Sing?

We just had our second amazing Saturday in a row, with estimates ranging from 70,000 to 120,000. The problem with the estimates was that...

After a Long Impasse, A Win for Dudley Street?

In the film Gaining Ground, about the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a powerful community planning and organizing group in Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, one of the major story lines involves the Kroc Community Center. In a nutshell, the Salvation Army got a huge amount of money to build community centers around the country, and wanted […]

In Detroit, the Fight for Community Benefits Begins Anew

For equitable development activists, Detroit’s Community Benefits Ordinance may seem like major progress. And it is—just not how they may imagine it to be.

Occupy Wall Street: A New Wave of Fair Housing Activism?

Is there a new community reinvestment movement afoot?

Community Stabilization: Are CDCs Up To The Task?

Imagine that it’s hurricane season, and 150 Katrinas are pounding poor neighborhoods — and the federal government response is totally inadequate. The community development...

This Land Is Your Land

What was the best event at the inaugural celebration? Watching Barack Obama take the oath of office, of course, but the next best moment...

In Chicago, a Partial Solution to the Foreclosure Crisis?

This week Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell, at the request of Action Now, the former Illinois chapter of Acorn, which broke away in 2008, and...

Renters Are Not The Problem

Alan Mallach concludes his recent commentary on the problem of declining homeownership (Do Urban Neighborhoods Need Homeowners?) with the important reminder that cities and policymakes should not neglect renters. Yet, his argument leading up to this point is a prescription for continuing a century-old approach to housing that structurally advantages homeowners and disadvantages moderate- and […]

Rossana Torres: Taking on the FHFA

The following is a first-hand account from Rossana Torres on the need for the government to contribute to the...

Walking the Walk

In a city full of problems and promise, I'm taking the first steps toward learning up close what community organizing can accomplish.

To Close the Gender Wage Gap, Start Here

It's exciting that President Obama wants to narrow the gender wage gap, as was widely reported. Here's a good...

Suitcases and Shopping Carts: Lessons from Recent Labor Victories

This week, the Hyatt Hotels Corporation agreed to pay $1 million to the 98 housekeepers who were fired and replaced by lower-paid workers five years ago.  A few weeks earlier, employees of the Market Basket family-owned grocery store chain returned to work after over a month of protests helped to reinstate the ousted, worker-friendly CEO. […]

The Role of Municipalities in Supporting Family Wealth-Building

How might a municipality leverage its resources and influence to better support its families?Hawai'i County, specifically the Office of...

Solutions After Sandy: Rebuilding the Right Way

All around America, we've watched the devastation of Hurricane Sandy with a sense of shock and heartbreak. For millions of...

Cross-Community Collaboration on NYC’s Municipal ID Program

Lack of identification hurts many different groups in different ways—from the homeless to immigrants, and they all need to be considered in the fight for an alternative.

Putting Housing Back at the Forefront of the National Conversation

Eric’s family purchased a Habitat for Humanity home in the Florida farming community of Immokalee, Florida, which among many...

6 × 6: Call for Nominations!

Shelterforce will turn 36 next year and we’d like you to help us celebrate! Community Developers 36 and Under: Call for Nominees Are you, or someone...

Finding Allies in the Sequester

There are two good things to say about the sequester, the federal government’s obligation to cut 8 percent from...

Are You Hindering Your Organization’s Potential?

Last month I had the pleasure of hearing activist, teacher, and author Angela Davis as she addressed an audience...
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.

Occupy Our Homes Alive and Kicking

If you didn't get a chance to yet, check out the roundup of Occupy Our Homes' 2nd day of action...

Because we needed more fraud and foreclosure…

This may be small in the grand scheme of the economic collapse, but I think it’s worth highlighting anyway: While there are dozens of...

Growing The Community Development Vision

Burgeoning Asian-American communities in places like Colorado and Georgia are not necessarily served by Asian-American-based community development corporations — though they should be,...

Future CDCs Should Be Organizers, Not Developers

October is Filipino History Month. It won’t have its official grand opening before the end of the month, but Larry Itliong Village in Los Angeles’s...

Why Has Palin Cooled Toward ARDOR?

Let’s take a closer look at GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s record on community organizing. It seems, as I said in my previous...

McCain’s Service Problems

I hope the moderators press McCain on his campaign’s assault on community organizing and how it jibes with the convention’s theme of “service.”
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 Cause

Despite Promises of Relief, Foreclosure Crisis Still Escalating

In the Chicago metro area as across the nation, even with various public, private and nonprofit relief efforts underway, the foreclosure crisis continues to...

Organizing Will Win

For anyone who organizes and advocates for worker justice, the last months of...

2014 Budget is Weak on Help for Americans’ Financial Strength

President Obama’s budget lays out a strong starting point for rebuilding American opportunity. He preserves our historic commitment to...

Our Denial and Inaction On the Issue of Lead

How far does the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) denial about leaded drinking water go? This week, I was having...

REO to Rental: Wall Street’s Latest Idea Hurts California Communities

Over the last few years, communities have witnessed the latest iteration of Wall Street predation—the purchase in bulk of distressed single-family mortgages and foreclosed homes (REOs) with the intent to rent them—so called REO to Rental.

Who Counts as a “Homeless” Child? It Matters

Are children in foster care homeless? It might sound like semantics, but it really makes a big difference. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is the...

Watch Your Mouth!  Ten Phrases that Progressives Should Retire in 2013

Along with the usual New Year’s resolutions about exercising, getting more sleep, and being more patient with the kids, progressives...

“The Fight Continues.”

Michael De Los Santos, community organizer and outreach and project coordinator with the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina talks about working within communities...

The Chicago Sit-in: Has Obama’s Election Spurred a New Mood of Union Activism?

Editor’s Note: This article by Peter Dreier, NHI board member and professor of politics at Occidental College, first appeared in Dissent Magazine Two recent union...

The President as Developer-in-Chief

People have been asking me what I think about Ben Carson as the nominee to be Secretary of the...

Getting to 99%

I find the occupation of Wall Street terribly exciting. But of course, this is not the first protest of this sort in response to the...

Too Little, Too Little: Obama’s MID Reform Proposal

Obama’s mortgage interest deduction (MID) reform falls short of the mark. Housing advocates have been holding their breath for...

Organizing as a Culture

Organizing is a culture. It’s not a tactic, a speech by a charismatic leader, or a department. “It’s a culture, and it’s what we...

Remembering Sen. Wellstone

We’ve seen some coverage commemorating former Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died eight years ago this week in a tragic plane crash. This is...

Will New Rules Be Enough to Protect Homeowners?

For those who watch affordable housing, it’s tough viewing these days: from stagnant wages and an uncertain regulatory environment...

America’s Affordable Housing Lottery Explained in 3 Minutes

Housing policy has the ability to exacerbate or mitigate extreme income inequality in American cities. Where incomes are growing and...

Franken, the Fourth of July, and Worker’s Rights

Finally: Al Franken has been seated in the US Senate. After a grueling recount process, former Sen. Norm Coleman finally conceded defeat and congratulated...

Building a 40-Year Vision for Community Development

With this month marking the 50th anniversary of the “War on Poverty,” we have seen a number of retrospectives....

The Government Should Use Private Funds to Invest in Organizing

Many applauded when President Obama announced his new initiative, My Brother's Keeper, to support opportunities for young men of color....

Three Ways the President’s Budget Benefits HUD

For low-income families that need affordable rental housing, the news from Washington in recent years has been bleak. Yet, while...

Decision 2012: What About Housing?

I just took a stroll through the Obama and Romney campaign Web sites, and neither candidate's list of “issues” includes...

All Hands on Deck: Bringing Universities More into the Fold

(with Sheryl Verlaine Whitney)  If there was one phrase heard more than any other during our work at HUD, it was “All hands on deck.” (Actually, it was second only to “Are you kidding me?”). In virtually every situation, whether it was implementing programs in response to the housing crisis, getting Recovery Act funds allocated […]

4 Organizing Trends You’ll See in 2014

Community organizing is changing. It's more social media driven and younger.Immigration advocacy alone has brought a new sector of...

Inside the Affordable Housing “Big Tent”

I had an interesting chat over lunch on the train home from National Housing Conference's Solutions 2013 in Atlanta last...

Affordable, But for Whom?

How a box of felt pieces helps organizers help New York communities advocate for their real affordable housing needs 

OCC Moving Steadily Forward on Fintechs–Is This a Good Thing?

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) appears to be plowing ahead with its proposal to allow...

CDCs: You Don’t Have to Develop Real Estate to Be a Success

This is part two of my post on community development and community organizing. In my first post, I argued...

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Organizers Grow Up To Be Developers

When a community-based developer of affordable housing incorporates community organizing into its programmatic repertoire, there is almost always added value—for...
Book cover show a black and white photo of people gathered in front of a high rise building

Public Housing Residents as Activists

In the 1990s, a group I co-founded, the Eviction Defense Network, was asked by public housing residents to organize alongside them during the HOPE...

In Memoriam: Jon Kest

Jon Kest, director of New York Communities for Change, a founder of the Working Families Party, and former head organizer...

The Next Stage of the Occupy Movement

Criticized for focusing more on what it is against than what it is for, the Occupy Wall Street movement has now found an organizing...

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.