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.

No, Minimum Rents Do Not “Encourage Financial Responsibility”

President Obama's 2015 Budget seeks to impose a $50 per month minimum rent on tenants living in USDA Rural...

Starting All Over Again: Your New Dance Partners in Congress

A lot is going on at the federal level right now. The sequester that we...

An Organizer’s Work Is Never Done

An unprecedented local hiring win is a stepping stone in a trajectory to turn workforce development on its head.

Here’s How HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program Could Be Better

We know that where families live can seriously effect their quality of life. Many predictors of health, education, and financial...

Everyone Saves with Short Sales

Short sale—in which a home is sold for less than the balance due on the mortgage but the lender accepts...

Short-Term Stimulus and Planning for the Long Term

Everyone’s excited about the money pouring, or rather trickling, out of the federal government in the form of economic stimulus. As is the case...

Nonprofit Chamber of Commerce?

When you see a conference plenary session described as “positioning your organization for growth,” you probably expect some descriptions of grant writing strategies or...

The War on ACORN

The political and media war against ACORN continues. In an article published today on the Web site of Editor & Publisher, the well-known magazine...
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 Renter’s Dilemma

“The old formula of buying and dying in your house is no longer the formula for many…The stigma of renting is no longer the...

ACORN Facing Significant Problems

With state and local chapters of ACORN all over the country considering forming their own groups as the national organizing feels the effects of...

Out Front and In Sync

What kind of leadership does the community development field demand in the 21st century?

Breaking Up the Pipeline to Prison

 President Obama is doing more than speaking out for criminal justice reform, he is taking action.Earlier this week, President...

In Maryland, Holding Anti-ACORN Activists Accountable

A group of activists are fighting back against the Glenn Becks, Andrew Breitbarts, and the rest of the Fox News propaganda machine who have...

Bring the Green to Rental Buildings

Given all the emphasis on green jobs and energy efficiency in the Obama administration, it’s not surprising that these uses are targeted by a...

North to Alaska—Where Organizers Roam

Very enlightening : I came across an article today on the Minnesota Independent, an online news source, titled Palin’s Maligning Aside, Alaska’s Rife with Community...

After the Politicking, Let’s Remember ACORN’s Vital Work

ACORN has been falsely charged in the news media, by politicians, and even by some supporters. This was the point driven home by Wade...

Julian Castro “Outstanding Pick” to Lead HUD

President Obama's nomination of Julián Castro, Mayor of San Antonio, to serve as the secretary of the U.S. Department...

Are You An Advocate?

“Isn’t it true, Dr. Squires, that you are an advocate?” As an occasional expert for plaintiffs in fair housing lawsuits this is a question I...

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...

U.S. Catholic Funders: Resist Calls to Abandon Social Justice

In the last few years community organizers have learned it's in their self-interest to become astute Vatican watchers. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD)...

Industry and Advocates: To Truly Help Homeowners, Work Together

In recent months, the once very under-the-radar debate about manufactured home financing has gotten much more attention than is...

Alinsky’s Organizing Writ Large

I came across a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe written by L. David Alinsky, son of community-organizing pioneer Saul Alinsky. It’s...

CRA Should be Becoming Less Partisan. Instead, It’s More.

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is a law that requires banks to serve the credit needs, consistent with safety and soundness, of all...

Immigration Leaders Take a Stand…In Handcuffs

Immigrants are increasingly putting their bodies on the line, hoping to move immigration reform. On Oct. 8, a Chicago activist...

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.

Mel Watt, Get to Work!

Monday marked a big victory for housing advocates as Rep. Mel Watt was sworn in to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency. He replaces...

NJ’s Hurricane Sandy Recovery Plan Needs ‘Significant Improvement’

The aftermath of October's Hurricane Sandy brought attention from the nation to New York and New Jersey where the superstorm caused devastation to homes...

NAACP’s Journey for Justice And Voting Rights

We live in interesting times.Two years ago, immigrant leaders from across the country camped out on the National Mall...

Defending the Union

At this point, we’re all versed in what’s turning out to be a pretty heroic stand held by public workers and advocates for sanity...

Taking the Measure of Community

Contesting Community: The Limits and Potential of Local Organizing, by James DeFilippis, Robert Fisher, and Eric Shragge. Rutgers University Press, 2010, 208 pp. $25.95 (paper).

Winning a Land Bank We Can Trust

Lessons from Philadelphia's Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land

“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...

Community Organizers Help Turn the Tide

Peter Dreier’s most recent Rooflines post cited a story titled “Community Organizing Changed Fishery,” in which John Corrigan, the fishing writer for the Concord...

What Matters to a City? Thoughts from Detroit

In the last few months, Neil Peirce's Citiwire.net has hosted several pieces highlighting positive things happening in Detroit along...
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.

Déjà Vu All Over Again?

Amidst the recent plans of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Bank of America to offload substantial portfolios of foreclosed properties to well-capitalized investors,...

Jon Kest’s Activism, New York’s Future

Thousands of Bill de Blasio’s grassroots supporters—as well as the small inner circle of advisers who helped catapult him...

GOP: Organize This!

I kind of knew it before, but watching John McCain’s speech as I write, it’s easy to see how the GOP VP pick Sarah...

Nonprofits–Yes You Can Advocate. And Now’s The Time

Amidst the chaos of the past couple weeks there has been at least one positive change—a lot more people...

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...

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...

Better Loans, Better Laws: Showing Communities What “Home” Looks Like

For generations, Americans from across the nation, the demographic spectrum and the income strata have strived for homeownership, working...

Needed: A Fair Way to Fund Infrastructure

As most people's opinion of Congress as a do-nothing body continues to grow, some members, like Senators Orrin Hatch...

Lesson from Sandy: Better Disaster Planning Needed for Housing

The terrible impacts of Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath demonstrate the need for more robust disaster planning, not to mention...

Beyond the Box

A movement for second chances takes root.

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,...

A First Look at Real CFPB Authority

Now that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is properly equipped with Richard Cordray as its director, news that it will...
Members of Boston Liberation Health hold a banner that reads, "Capitalism, racism, and heteropatriachy are making us sick. Join Liberation Health."

How Organizing for Justice Helps Your Mental Health

How do social justice, organizing, and mental health interact? Shelterforce chats with clinical social worker Dawn Belkin Martinez to find out.

Scale-up? Not So Fast

I think about Dunbar’s number when I hear people talk about community development needing to “scale-up.”  In...

I’m a Tenant and I Vote!

New York's Republican legislators learned a lesson in June: Hell hath no fury like a New York City tenant scorned. Just when it seemed...

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...

Working in Partnership

[Editorial note: In commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Rooflines has chosen to share an essay from the Shelterforce archives. Co-written by Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and John Taylor in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the decade-old essay shows us that the reality for millions of Americans in poverty has not changed very […]

Organizing a Counterattack

As John Atlas has pointed out, the GOP strategy on Wednesday night was to have vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and former New York...

Out of Homelessness, A Mom Turns Advocate

Jenean F. and her husband worked hard to achieve the increasingly elusive American Dream. She was a stay at...

Organizing Will Win

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

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...

Flint: Tainted Choices, Tainted Water

Like the water itself, the situation in Flint, Mich., should be crystal clear: elected and appointed officials, at the state and federal levels, have done...
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.
Illustration of muscular hand lifting scales of justice.

Trump Era a Time to Build Power, Not Buildings

This is a time that calls for us to start thinking a little less like an “industry” and more like a movement.

Punctuated Equilibrium and Racial Justice

“Ordinary people exercise power in American politics mainly at those extraordinary moments when they rise up in anger and hope, defy the rules that ordinarily govern their daily lives, and, by doing so, disrupt the workings of the institutions in which they are enmeshed. The drama of such events, combined with the disorder that results, […]

Community Organizing Creates Jobs

The value of community organizing was perhaps never questioned as much as when Barack Obama became a candidate for president...

Twin Cities HUD Office Spared in Scheduled Closings

Here's some good news to start your Monday: A HUD office serving Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota will stay open and continue providing services...

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,...

Accountability for Countrywide is Good for the Market

The annoucement of the Justice Department's settlement with Countrywide over violations of fair lending laws is a landmark victory that...

President Obama Could Be Doing More for Unemployment

In January, U.S. Rep. John Conyers and seven other Congress members created the Full Employment Caucus, with the goal...
Ralliers gather in Washington, D.C., with a sign that reads "Stop, Don't close public schools."

Don’t Call It a Comeback for Neighborhood Schools

In the face of widespread school choice, some D.C. residents are advocating for an equitable system of neighborhood schools. But what's the chance that will become a reality?

Fed Report: No Wrongful Foreclosures By Banks?

A report issued by the Federal Reserve has found no wrongful foreclosures following an investigation into abusive mortgage practices. Though we must quickly note...

Doctor Evil Lives!

Remember in the first Austin Powers movie, when Doctor Evil, recently thawed out from a couple of decades of suspended animation in orbit, gets...

Interview with Gordon Chin, Founding Executive Director of the Chinatown Community Development Center

Gordon Chin started San Francisco Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), a longstanding CDC well-known in the field, in the mid-1970s. In June 2015, he released Building Community, Chinatown Style, a book about his professional life, the founding and evolution of CCDC, and the future of community development. Josh Ishimatsu, director of Research and Capacity Building at the National Coalition for Asian-Pacific American Community Development, and a regular Shelterforce contributor, spoke with Chin about where community development is going, and where it should go.

A Small Victory for ACORN?

There was some good news yesterday for ACORN, the 40-year-old, and largest grass-roots community organization in the country, as a federal judge ruled that...

In Wisconsin: On the Ground In Solidarity

This past Saturday 80,000 of my closest friends and I rallied at the capitol in Madison. This time I volunteered to be a marshall....

Moving Toward Solutions in Ferguson

Over the past few weeks, many news accounts have laid bare questionable—and perhaps criminal—police behavior and the subsequent and continuing protests by concerned citizens in and around Ferguson, Mo. On a single day, September 10th, at least three protests happened—one at the state capitol, one outside St. Louis City Hall, and one near Ferguson (a thwarted highway sit-in […]

The Roots of #Ferguson

The situation in Ferguson, MO continues to be volatile, news cycle after news cycle. A second young person, a Howard...

Bank Protests and Making Wall Street Pay

This is some great film of National People’s Action holding a protest in DC to raise awareness of the possible deal brokered between 50...

Conrad Egan

I suspect I came to the same conclusion when titling this post as Harold Simon did when thinking of a title for our summer...

Disappearing Ink: Why No Coverage of the Demonstrations?

CNN this morning reported that grass-roots groups are organizing demonstrations across the country against what they’re calling the Bush administration’s “cash for trash” bailout...

A Nation in Trouble

Most of us feel today that this country and its communities are in serious trouble. We don't, however, see anyone doing anything ambitious enough...

Planned Shrinkage by Thirst?

Even the much beleagured CEO of Nestle, who has been accused of trying to privatize the water resources of poor communities...

Changing the Game

London CITIZENS fights for permanently affordable housing in the shadow of the Olympics.

How Are We Responsible for Baltimore?

Over the last few years, slowly but surely, the reality of the lived experience of black American women has continued to come to light....

Place, Poverty, and Politics: A Growing Divide

Relocation or reinvestment? This longstanding debate has been reignited by recent events in Baltimore, Ferguson and many other cities, and the release of a...

Can Nonprofit Leaders Also Be Tech Innovators?

You may have seen my prior post on why the nonprofit sector is so tech averse. If you haven't...

Failing The Equitable Development Test

I wondered whether the Americans who suffered the injustice of our most recent Great Recession haven’t already been not only forgotten but abandoned by the White House and Congress, despite their votes. 

Indivisible: How We Fight This–Together

For the most part, progressive organizations have been on the offensive for the past eight years, but now it is time to switch to playing defense. And, like any sport, that means pulling some players off the field and changing tactics.

Collective Action for Stronger Communities

Shortly after President Obama’s second inaugural address calling for collective action on our greatest national challenges, I happened to speak...

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...

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...

EPA Should Make Environmental Justice Job One

The EPA is making news lately.  Unfortunately, it’s not for protecting the environment or victims of pollution. Activist groups,...

Will the Occupy Wall Street Crackdowns Energize or Deflate the Movement?

Last week we asked you how the widespread crackdowns on the Occupy Wall Street protests would affect the movement. More...

A Squatter’s Discourse

Spurred by the Bullet Space squat in Manhattan’s East Village making the transition to being a co-op, we find an interesting conversation on WNYC’s...
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.
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

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...

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...

At Last, Apprenticeships Will Be for All People

Not surprisingly, last Friday's headlines focused on the announcement that the Obama administration had rejected the proposal to build...

Roles for Academics in Research for Social Change

While it's possible for academics to be members of the communities where their research projects happen, they are more often outsiders.

Ease Guidelines=Market Rally

It’s amazing what accounts for a market rally. Are we starting to see a pattern here? While the MSM still insists on using the...

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...

McCain Hearts ACORN

Just picked this up from the Jed Report: