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.

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...

Foreclosure Crisis: How Much Blame Falls On The Media?

If you still have not watched The Daily Show, stop what you are doing and go on the Internet and watch last week’s clips...

Community Developers, Don’t Ignore This Housing Finance Reform Bill

As the U.S. emerges from the housing crisis, the fundamental architecture of mortgage markets is being decided. Although it...

If It Can Happen in Virginia…

I've been reading Ruth Berta and Amanda Leonard Pohl's book, Building Power, Changing Lives, about Virginia Organizing. It's a...
Chicago resident Tom Gordon speaks to a crowd. He, as well as other organizers, are fighting for a citywide community benefits campaign.

Chicago Activist Convention Shifts Focus to Community Benefits Campaign

Standing on a truck in front of a group of several hundred protesters, Tom Gordon expressed a feeling shared often at the ONE Northside...

Boston Landlord Wants Market Rate? Not So Fast, Tenants Say

Facing the loss of 173 subsidized apartments — nearly 10 percent of the affordable housing in the Fenway neighborhood in Boston — tenants and...

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...

HUD’s New AFFH Rule Could Hurt Low-Income Communities of Color

I believe in promoting opportunity and social/economic equity. And I believe that all of us should have the opportunity...

Obama Could Take a Cue From This LA Dust-Up

Now it’s on! — woohoo! — between Barack Obama and John McCain, who has already morphed into McNasty. A CBS poll on June 6...

Advocates: Let’s Get These Details Right From the Beginning

It’s rare when a major new national housing program comes along. The National Housing...

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...

Join Shelterforce, NHI, and Rooflines on Facebook!

Do you dabble around on Facebook? Of course you do! So why not become a fan of the National Housing Institute for a streamlined,...

The Next Move is Always Ours

Gale Force: Gale Cincotta: The Battles for Disclosure and Community Reinvestment, by Michael Westgate with Ann Vick-Westgate, Education and Resources Group, 2011, 416 pp. $20.00 (paper). Available on Amazon.

Seizing the Moment to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing

Housing and community development issues do not get the attention they deserve in the national media, but our field is having a moment. Last...

After Nov. 4: Bringing It All Back Home

Interviewed on “The Takeaway” this morning, Emory University psychology professor Drew Westen, author of The Political Brain, had this to say about how President-elect...

Preserving and Improving Affordable 2- to 4-unit Properties

In a Shelterforce–hosted roundtable discussion of leading research and policy experts to looking at what makes housing affordable and how the nationwide housing crisis...

NCRC: Why Were You There?

We had a great opportunity to interview several attendees of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s 2011 annual conference on what they hoped to achieve,...

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...

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.

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...

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...
group lobby day photo

The Collaboration Behind California’s Successful Statewide Ballot Campaign for Housing

As housing becomes ever more urgent an issue, California's model for running a statewide ballot campaign offers insights to organizations around the nation.

It’s Time to Talk about Cops

I don't need to revisit the hundreds of police killings around this country over the past few years (not...

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...

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...

How Cambridge Lost Rent Control

25 years ago tenants organized, formed coalitions, took to the streets, and won rent control in Massachusetts. But, after two and half decades of...

Is Homelessness an Occupy Wall Street Issue?

In her recent Mother Jones column, Barbara Ehrenreich writes “What the Occupy Wall Streeters are beginning to discover, and homeless people have known all...

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...

Criminalizing Homelessness

Last week, when we asked if homelessness should be a more prominent Occupy Wall Street issue, we pointed to an article by author Barbara...

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....

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...

Happy Birthday Occupy!

Occupy Wall Street launched one year ago Monday, September 17, 2011. This past Monday, people converged on Manhattan's financial district...

Stops For Us

In the winter 2010 issue of Shelterforce, we published an article, Organizing for Inclusive TOD that looked at various transit and transit oriented development...

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...

Fundraising Practices in Community Organizing

How do we grow or even stabilize when we’ve topped out our dues income and have to do more and more to keep the level of foundation support we have?

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...
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.”...

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...

Smart Choices Result in Balanced, Innovative Budget Proposal

The President’s FY14 budget represents a balanced approach to investment and deficit reduction. It recognizes the unique role that...
participatory budgeting fliers

Participatory Budgeting: Why Not Fix Everyone’s Sink?

Participatory budgeting offers a glimpse of how a more civically engaged society might work, but it’s also a distraction.

ACORN Turns Up The Volume

In September, when Congress voted to ban federal funds for ACORN, it was clear, if it hadn’t been already, that the organization had emerged...

Obama’s Nomination: Just in Time For Labor Day

Bill Clinton stepped up the other night and did what he needed to do if the Dems want to win this election: he threw...

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...

Agreement Reached on Housing Finance Reform Bill

Yesterday, the senate announced an agreement on a housing finance reform proposal that would likely wind down Fannie Mae and...
A woman in a red Cause Justa/Just Cause T-shirt holds a hand-lettered sign reading "Black and Brown for Tenant Protections Now"

Black and Brown Tenant Solidarity in Oakland

Last October, Oakland, Calif., passed a Tenant Protection Ordinance. This strong measure defending tenants against the kinds of landlord harassment that often take place...

On Beyond Income: Asset Building and Union Organizing Go Together

I wrote earlier this week about how the current increase in labor organizing among service workers calls for a conscious choice by other nonprofits who work with low-income households to offer our solidarity to those campaigns. Beyond the fact of supporting workers in their struggle for self-determination, there are some other opportunities for cross-pollination there. […]

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,...

Hard-Earned Victories Recognized by NLIHC

Its gratifying when you’re recognized by your colleagues for hard work, and that happened this past weekend when The...

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...

CDFIs: A New Force in Homeownership?

It has been a big year for community development financial institutions (CDFIs), the innovative, mission-driven organizations that provide much-needed...
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...

Making Lemonade

Here’s a great example of the law of unintended consequences: The McCain campaign’s sour, distortive targeting of community organizing in an attempt to marginalize Barack...

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...

The Unlikely Activists

Wall Street’s criminal recklessness and its impact on millions of people across the country is making activists out of an unlikely selection of people.

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...

There’s Really No Argument Against Disparate Impact

Open, inclusive communities free of discrimination are critical to our national success. But despite the progress we’ve made as a nation, significant obstacles to fair housing persist. There are still some real estate agents, landlords, and others who practice intentional discrimination against people of color, families with children, people with disabilities, and other Americans. But […]

Going the Other Way: Adding Organizing to Development

Some groups move in the opposite direction from Nobel Neighbors, starting out with a development focus and adding in organizing for the same reasons...

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...

People First, Profits Second

The most important part of The Atlantic Cities' piece, “Has Germany Figured Out the Way To Keep Rents Affordable?“ isn't whether Germany has...

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.

A Year of Progress….Let’s Not Screw it Up!

There was major action on the home opportunity front this past year, the result of persistent activism by advocates,...

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)...

CRA Exams Aren’t Cutting It For Communities in Need

In 1977, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and required the federal banking agencies to assess a bank’s record of helping to meet...

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...

Fukuyama’s Wisdom on Rent Control and Unions Is Anything But Conventional

The ideas of Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992) are making a comeback, in large part due to Glenn Beck, who has touted the libertarian economist and...
An orange tinted bridge over water in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

A Battle for Wards in New Jersey’s Hub City

How an organization of residents crossing age, race, and socioeconomic lines took on an unyielding City Hall known for quelling grass-roots efforts and (almost) overtook the political party machinery.

Can’t Offer Housing Counseling Without the Funding

One of the highlights of this year’s National Community Reinvestment Coalition conference was the luncheon on Day 2, which took place in the Hart...

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...

Financial Implosion: 2nd Chance for Progressive Banking Reform?

When present and former public officials ranging from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary under President Clinton, started...

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....

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...

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....

How Did We Manage Stress, Media, and Technology in 2015?

As we near the end of the year, I find myself in reflective mode—is the work I'm doing having...

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...

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...

Writing Truth for Power

When Union United, a recently formed coalition of residents, local business owners, labor unions, and community and faith-based organizations in Somerville,...

Plugging the Leaky Bucket: It’s About Time

“A society grows great when old people plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” If that Greek proverb is true, what does it say about a society where most of our policies for affordable housing and community development look more like the mono-cropping of field corn than the patient cultivation 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...

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...
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.

The Day The Fed Stood Still

With the Federal Reserve Board’s first meeting of 2015 last month and the upcoming 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, I had Mr. Peabody crank up the “Wayback Machine” and set it for April 14, 1980. (If Millennials think they can’t afford to buy their first home now, mortgage interest rates then were heading to […]

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...

Picking Up The Pieces

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

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...

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...
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.

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.

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...

Dismantling the Model Minority Myth Should be Everybody’s Project

The National Coalition For Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD) recently released a report that gives a demographic profile...

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...

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...

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.

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...

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...

Why Conservatives Can’t Afford a Real Government Shutdown

It’s conventional wisdom that voters will mostly blame House Republicans if the federal government shuts down over their effort...

My Holiday Wish List

The holiday season is a time when we express our lofty wishes and set new resolutions for personal improvement, but there is nothing lofty...

Measuring the Millennials’ Ups and Downs

It’s still the most popular show on television, but “American Idol” has seen its ratings plummet this season. While a record number of Idolators texted...

Task Force Calls for $4 Billion in NSP Funding

Editor’s Note: The following is from the National Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force. See the bottom of the page for a list...

McCain Hearts ACORN

Just picked this up from the Jed Report:

Have We Forgotten How to Fight?

I write from Wisconsin, now in its fifth year of rule by an entrenched right-wing government that the voters...