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.

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...
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.

Don’t Evaluate Community Development on Poverty Rates

Right now, in community development and in the nonprofit/charitable/public service sector more broadly, there is a push to incorporate...

Who’s Afraid of ACORN, and Why

Yesterday I posted here on Rooflines to explain the back-story behind the latest round of accusations about ACORN and voter fraud. Today, the McCain-Palin campaign...
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.

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...

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...

You Can’t Build What People Want: Building Codes vs Affordability

Do you want to share housing expenses with more than two of your friends? Create a separate apartment within your...

“Housing Gets People’s Interest Today”: State of the Nation’s Housing Press Conference

Yesterday, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard released its 2011 State of the Nation’s Housing report in an event at the Ford...

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...

ACORN’s Legacy Is Anything But “In Brief”

Tom Robbins, writing for The Village Voice, characterizes ACORN as the kneecapped star outfielder on the World Series opposition to (assumedly) the right wing’s...

Reframing Government’s–And Our Own–Role in Affordable Housing

Last Tuesday Scott Brown and Henry Cisneros, who serve on the executive committee of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation...

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.

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 […]
A man, who is surrounded by people holding signs, speaks at a podium in in New York.

Moving Beyond Place-Based Community Organizing

How to train organizers to work across various communities, not just neighborhoods.

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...

Equity 2.0: The Missing Pieces

Under President Obama, data transparency, private-sector innovation, and a renewed commitment to expanding opportunity could revolutionize housing and urban planning. But just as proponents of equity, open government data, and social entrepreneurship are being appointed to key positions, and while the administration is still young, the new HUD/DOT sustainable communities initiative illustrates why the devil is in the details.

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...

Chicago Factory Occupation Victory Is Only The Beginning

In the past few days we’ve seen news of 3,500 jobs to be lost by the closing of U.S. Steel facilities in Illinois, Michigan...
Members of Picture the Homeless protest outside councilwoman's office with signs that read "Organizing for Justice and Respect" and "We Need Housing, not Warehousing."

When the Homeless Took Over

As the homeless and affordable housing crises become a focus on local and national campaigns, we must remember the rich history and critical contributions of homeless organizers.