Policy

The rules of the game—and the attitudes of the players—have an enormous effect on community development work at all levels. Here we look at some of the conversations about how to shift that policy for the better.

Conrad Egan

What do Saul Alinsky, Students for a Democratic Society, HUD, and the Housing and Community Development Department of Fairfax County, Virginia, have in common? Conrad...

HAMP Is Not Enough

The federal government's Home Affordable Modification Program has a lot of mass appeal. But banks have been slow to act and HAMP was never intended to be the sole solution to the foreclosure crisis. HAMP needs backup.

CHA Back in Charge

After 23 years, the Chicago housing authority is no longer in receivership. The court-ordered receivership had placed administrative duties in the hands of a...

Does Public Housing Have a Future?

Everybody hates public housing, except the low-income people who live there and the people on the long waiting lists to get in. After years of neglect, the Obama administration wants to save public housing for future generations. Let's let them.

What’s in Store for PETRA?

At the time it was unveiled last year, the Obama administration’s Preservation, Enhancement and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act, or PETRA (see SF, Summer...

You Don’t Have to Go Home — You Just Can’t Stay Here

The wags at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — a.k.a the U.S. immigration agency — launched a pilot program last week that would allow...
HUD Secretary Julian Castro poses in a formal headshot in front of an American flag.

Interview with HUD Secretary Julian Castro

Shelterforce got a chance to speak with Secretary Julian Castro about some of the current ways in which he’s working to make HUD a force for good in people’s lives, and what steps there are left to be taken.

Think Globally, Act Regionally

Several other Rooflines bloggers have speculated about the impact of a new emphasis on metropolitan areas coming from the federal level. This past Friday,...

Why the Presidential Race Ignores Urban America

Despite overwhelming media coverage, the 2016 presidential race has ignored the housing and economic crises impacting urban America. Neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton has...

A Good-News Economic Story for the Disabilities Community

Lost in the endless political campaign and Iraq news is an emerging success story. The Real Economic Impact Tour conceived and sponsored by...

Stop the Foreclosures. Save the Economy

It is true that the economic well-being of our nation is in jeopardy and that consumer confidence and liquidity is badly needed in order...

Not Just Inclusionary Spot Zoning: Conference Portrays IZ As Essential to Civil Rights, Sustainable

The 3rd biannual National Inclusionary Housing Conference, which wrapped up Friday in Washington, DC, had plenty of the expected workshops focused on details of...

Obama’s Budget is Good for Public Land

Over the next few weeks we'll be hearing from a range of stakeholders about how they feel President Obama's proposed $3.8 trillion budget will effect...

The Reality of Poverty Deconcentration

A “moral panic” over crime in central cities, combined with a demand for reform of the most troubled public housing developments, led to a profound shift in the late 1980s in how this country housed poor people.
Chairs around a board room table

The Silent Expansion of Fiscal Control Boards in the U.S.

The power and process of boards that take control of a city or territory's finances is becoming more generalized, although they affect local democracy, impose austerity measures without controls, and lack mechanisms to evaluate their efficiency.
jerry brown photo op housing bill signing

In California, a Victorious “Fix” for Inclusionary Housing

It’s time for more states to do what it takes to pass enabling legislation for inclusionary housing, adding this valuable policy tool to the fight for more affordable housing opportunities.
memorial

An Old American Struggle, Always New

Color and Character is an introduction to the seminal and unresolved struggle over integration and racial equality in America.

Help Now, Not Later

A real public-private partnership to assist homeowners in peril of foreclosure is achievable in short order, and there's no time to lose.

Interview with Ron Faris, Ocwen CEO

We speak with Ocwen CEO Ron Faris about why principal reduction makes business sense and some of the myths that get perpetuated about it.

What’s the Take-Away of the Jim Johnson Saga?

So James A. Johnson has resigned from Barack Obama’s vice president search committee in the aftermath of the Wall Street Journal’s revelations that Johnson,...

History of the World (Part II)

Deja vu: the sensation that you are doing something that you have done before. In an eerily familiar Web-only piece, Laura Brunts and Theodore Kahn...

Where Do the Candidates Stand on The Foreclosure Crisis?

One issue that has been conspicuously missing from all this talk about our economy is the ongoing home opportunity crisis.

Losses and Wins in Supreme Court: How Does It Affect You?

All eyes have been on the Supreme Court  this week, as it handed down decisions on the Voting Rights Act,...

How to Make Housing Affordable for All the Working Poor

The headlines tell the story: “Half of all renters can’t afford the rent.” “Renters, get ready to take it...
A blue and white Louisiana road sign.

After a Far Fall, Is Louisiana Becoming a Better Place for its Lower Income...

When the 2017 Prosperity Now Scorecard was published last month, it was no surprise that Louisiana ranked second-to-last among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as it typically falls somewhere near the bottom. In many ways, the Scorecard confirmed what we already knew: that most Louisiana families, especially low-income families and families of color, are not faring well financially. What was surprising, however, was how far Louisiana had fallen.
The spires and statue atop an old bank building.

CRA “Reform” Under Trump Threatens Communities of Color and the 99 Percent

Banks enjoy consumer and taxpayer-funded privileges, such as deposit insurance, and not too long ago, subsidized trillion-dollar bailouts. It’s not too much to insist that they invest a fair share of those dollars back into all of our communities.
The spires and statue atop an old bank building.

Warren Housing Bill Presents a Clear Choice on CRA

Senator Elizabeth Warren and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have offered contrasting visions for the future of CRA. How do they differ, and what would the implications for historically disinvested communities be?

The Barney Frank Challenge

Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the house Financial Services Committee, sits down with Shelterforce to discuss consumer protection, the future of Fannie and Freddie, the role of FHA, and rental housing and offers a challenge to advocates looking to effect change on the federal level.

Interview with Mayor Ivy Taylor, San Antonio, Texas

When Julian Castro, then-mayor of San Antonio, Texas, was picked to be the new Secretary of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development last year, the city council voted in Ivy Taylor from among their ranks to replace him. The first African-American mayor of the largely Latino and Anglo city, and strongly identified as an urban planner, Taylor casts herself as someone interested more in getting work done than leaving a political legacy. However, she has not shied away from controversial positions, and her initial position that she would not be running for re-election fell by the wayside as she announced her candidacy on February 16, less than two weeks after this interview. We spoke with Mayor Taylor, who has a background in affordable housing, about what it’s like to move between the community development sphere and city government, some of her difficult decisions, and her vision for stable, mixed-income neighborhoods in the city she is serving.

Housing Bill: Look Past the “Bailout” Blather

Invisible amid all of the media talk of a congressional “bailout” for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is a triumph for affordable housing advocates...

Jack Kemp: Stalwart of the Party of Lincoln

Jack Kemp will be remembered for his many roles in public life — as the quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, as U.S. Congressman (from...

Philanthropy Needs to Step Up and Fund Democracy

Ascertaining how much foundation money supports civic engagement, voter registration and mobilization, and related community organizing activities is damn near...

Deep-seated, Anti-Government Mood Remains

The stunning upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary election on Tuesday by a Tea...

GOP Tax Plan Takes Mortgage Interest Deduction Unfairness Off the Charts

Let's raise the standard deduction and lower tax rates to give everyone a tax cut! It should not surprise you that since this is a...
Row of trailer homes with mountains in the background.

A Policy Agenda for Manufactured Home Owners

In Minnesota, ten mobile home communities have closed in the past twenty-five years, and no new ones have opened. This uncertainty affects nearly 3 million Americans who are residents in the nation’s 50,000 manufactured housing communities. While most of these homeowners own their own homes, they rent the land, leaving them vulnerable to dramatic rent increases, arbitrary rules, and even eviction.
homeless camp under bridge

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, May 4

A Trauma-Centered Approach to Youth Violence in Cleveland | We May Know Who Benefits From Port Covington | What Housing Crisis? | Clearing Homeless Encampments in Philadelphia | Restaurant Tax for Affordable Housing
Sol2Sol banner at the climate march

It Takes Strong Roots to Achieve Climate Justice

Throughout 2018's six day Sol-2-Sol climate justice convening, indigenous people from the occupied U.S. territories and lands from around the world led many of the actions and activities, especially those directly impacted.

Shelterforce Interview: Raphael Bostic, HUD Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research

Bostic, now in his second turn at HUD, is known for his extensive work analyzing the roles that credit markets, financing, and policy play in furthering economic access for all.

N.Y. Legislators: Don’t Sleep on Foreclosure Prevention

It seems surreal, or like a nasty joke. How can Americans be so far into the foreclosure crisis and still not see any significant...

What Is the Emergency in Michigan?

From one perspective, the recent expansion of the Michigan’s 1990 Emergency Financial Management Act is just the latest salvo in a right-wing-led war against...

Losing CDBG Funds

The House Appropriations Committee this week introduced HR 1 that funds all federal programs in the current fiscal year. Included in this bill is...

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...
Headshot of Thomas Menino, former Mayor of Boston

The Housing Policy We Need: An Interview with Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston

Thomas M. Menino, now serving his third term as mayor of Boston, became president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in May and quickly...
Up-close pieces of the unprinted sides of a puzzle.

A Jobs-Housing Fit

The Bay Area can benefit from a clearer framework for understanding what the housing needs of our region actually are and evaluating how housing production is meeting those needs. A Jobs-Housing Fit is that framework.
The spires and statue atop an old bank building.

Would Trump’s CRA Reform Really “Do No Harm?”

NCRC examined every single Community Reinvestment Act evaluation for mid-size banks conducted during 2016.
running on hamster wheel

The Jobs-Housing Hamster Wheel

A deeper dive into the cause of high housing prices reveals that it is not the price of lumber, bricks, or labor that accounts for high or low housing prices—the controlling factor most often is the price of land.

Katrina: A Political Disaster

The handling of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath underscores the human disaster resulting from the ascendancy of right-wing ideas and corporate domination of the federal government, which extols market forces, individualism and private charity over public responsibility and the common good.

Interview with Senator Robert Menendez

In February, on the heels of $25 billion attorneys general mortgage settlement, Sen. Robert Menendez unleashed the Preserving American Homeownership Act, a bill that would help eligible underwater homeowners by creating a program where banks reduce mortgage principal in exchange for a portion of the increased value of the home over time -- shared appreciation mortgage. The bill was timely because it mirrored Ocwen Financial's loan modification program, Shared Appreciation Modification, that creates equity by writing down an underwater borrower’s principal balance to 95 percent LTV. In this interview, Shelterforce talks to Menendez, (D-NJ), who serves as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee's subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, about this initiative, the ongoing federal response to the housing crisis, the Sustainable Communities Initiative, the Occupy movement, and more.

The Russert Factor

How important was Tim Russert to presidential politics? Certainly he was a central figure in the news coverage in the 2008 cycle, and let’s...

Reading the Tea Leaves: How Obama’s HUD Transition Team Might Reshape Housing Policy

Through Change.gov, the public is being offered a first-ever opportunity to peek inside and offer opinion on nearly the entire transition process. A large...

Housing the Political Agenda

It's official, at least it is to you. In order to get housing on the agenda this election cycle,...

Got Something to Say? We’re Listening

In my experience with both the nonprofit and corporate worlds, I have seen how the most effective leaders pay...
water trickle

The Real Reasons Affordable Housing Isn’t Being Built in California

The meager supply of affordable housing is a major contributor to housing's high cost, yet the policy tools to address the shortfall often seem to worsen the problem. But this is because they ignore the underlying infrastructure and financing to support growth.
Patrons looking at gallery wall.

If We Want the Arts in Baltimore, We Need Its Artists

Artists have left their mark on Station North and paved the way for an arts district, but the organically-developed communal live/work spaces that play such a vital role in helping make Baltimore an arts mecca are an endangered species.
rent control

Dear Business School Professors: You’re Wrong, Rent Control Works

A university study on rent control makes three crucial mistakes in its assessment of the policy's effect on San Francisco's housing market. Housing advocacy organization Tenants Together sets the record straight on rent control's role, and who is actually to blame for the city's unaffordability.
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.

The Road to PETRA

From the early days of the public housing program in the 1930s to the present, vociferous opposition has resulted in a host of problems. Understanding the history can help put President Obama's PETRA program in context.
The book cover for "Preventing the Next Mortgage Crises" by Dan Immergluck.

How to Prevent the Next Mortgage Crisis

Yes, we need to finally achieve certainty in our housing finance system. But not the way most people are suggesting.

Abolish HUD?

When faced with a serious and persistent problem, it is often tempting to propose dramatic ideas, like blowing up existing programs and starting from...

Urban Policy: Just Getting Started

Xavier de Souza Briggs, the Associate Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, and the subject of an upcoming Shelterforce interview,...

Protecting Domestic Violence Victims from Eviction and Homelessness

Imagine calling the police because you were in danger of your life. Now imagine getting evicted for doing so.

Newark, NJ, Mayor Tries Eminent Domain for Underwater Homes

Newark’s newly-elected mayor Ras Baraka has taken a bold step to address one of the city’s and state’s most serious...

Time for a Job Guarantee

In various economic pundit conversations on Twitter, the new target of scorn is Universal Basic Income (UBI). Supporters of...
Four hands holding money up in the air.

Which Agencies Should Pay to End Family Homelessness?

When families have stable housing, the benefits are widespread. And perhaps that has been the problem.
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.
saint paul minnesota street

Speaking Up On Race, Housing, and Opportunity in Minnesota

In the housing world, narrative plays an important role in defining whose voice gets heard, how issues are framed, and what solutions are developed. This is especially true in Minnesota.

HMDA at 35

The improved Home Mortgage Disclosure Act can be a tool for fighting predatory lending, but it could and should go further.

Time for Righteous Indignation

Have you heard of Stan Brock? If not, watch the video below — it will help you to work up a good ration of righteous...

Does HUD’s “Hope” Float?

Today’s New York Times editorial titled “Show Us the Hope” slams the inadequacies of both the Bush administration’s and Congress’s attention to the plight...

Private Sector Funding in Public Housing Would Compromise Quality

Peter Marcuse, a professor emeritus at Columbia’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and Shelterforce contributor, says that the infusion...

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...

1,000,000 Homes at Risk

Sweeping changes in national housing policy have put hundreds of thousands of public and federally assisted (Section 8) housing units at risk. These drastic...

Amidst Congressional Missteps, Housing Opportunities Remain

Here in Washington, Congress has finally done its primary job: that of funding the government. The process of last-minute scrambling and late-night bargaining is clearly no way to run a government—as members of Congress and their staff become harried, priorities don’t get properly vetted. This style of governance also offers an opportunity for special interests […]
sign defining "gentrification"

Say It Loud: Renters’ Rights are Civil Rights!

Private developers and public agencies are finally investing in neighborhoods near transit and jobs—where many low-income communities of color have lived for generations—and as a result, are being pushed out just as resources in their neighborhoods are increasing.
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.

Building a Better Housing Policy

Shelterforce editor Alice Chasan talks to Jonathan F. Fanton, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, about an ambitious new project aimed at reframing the national conversation about why housing matters.

The Housing Crisis and the Landscape of Affordable Housing

As home prices continue to fall, the notion that the real estate market will allow for lower-income families to secure affordable housing increases. But it's not so cut and dried. How much a home costs is only one of many factors when determining affordability. In March 2012, Shelterforce hosted a roundtable discussion featuring leading research and policy experts to explore those various components of affordability looking at just how the housing crisis changed the affordable housing landscape in the United States.

Obama’s Urban Policy Team: What We Should Expect

Michael Davis, a Dallas city planner, has been named to Barack Obama’s Urban Policy Committee. Barack Obama, if elected, plans to create a White...

Will 2009 Be the Year of No Credit for College Tuition or a Green...

As forecasters offer their new year’s predictions of a struggling economy, it is past time to be asking how a federal bailout of our...

Defining “Rural” for USDA’s Housing Programs

This part is simple: a property must be in a rural place to be eligible for USDA rural housing...

Bus Tour Fueled by Immigration Reform

One bus, four days, seven states, 11 cities, nine Congressional offices visited and 40 people riding a bus to...

Fairness and The Financial System

Trying to bring fairness to financial transactions for everyday people has long been both an avocation and passion for...
Atlanta's BeltLine bike path bordered by new homes.

Sustainable for Whom? Large-Scale Sustainable Urban Development Projects and “Environmental Gentrification”

Absent a fundamentally new approach to redevelopment planning that places housing affordability at the center of the process, large-scale sustainable development projects are likely to become engines of what has been termed “environmental gentrification.”
Men in topcoats and hats with rent increase protest signs.

Ask Yourself: Who Do Anti-Rent Control Policies Serve?

Whenever you hear (or read) anti-rent control arguments, ask the question: who benefits from banning rent control? And who is hurt?

How to Fund Land Banks

The number of land banks grew dramatically in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. So has our understanding of how to successfully fund them.

Shelterforce Interview: Sandra Henriquez

HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Sandra Henriquez spoke with Shelterforce to discuss the administration’s Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance initiative and address some of the concerns regarding PETRA’s push to allow public housing authorities to leverage private investments. 

Where Do Houses Go When They Die? (Apparently, Pennsylvania)

The late George Carlin once quipped that “Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets...

California Off a Cliff

Hey everybody, have you heard? The California legislature finally passed a budget plan on July 21 (the constitutional deadline is June 15). The state...

Fair Share Advocates Have to Keep Up Their Guard

“Repeal efforts never go away. Advocates need to remain organized and ready to launch a defense or counter-attack.” ...

Actually United States

Americans are a people hopelessly divided by culture wars and fundamental disagreements about the role and appropriate size of government....

Carson Tries to Please Everyone in Confirmation Hearing, Mostly Succeeds

Triage is in effect among those opposed to the incoming administration and the president-elect's cabinet picks. This morning’s Senate...
Brick apartment building

Newly-Suspended HUD Rule Would Have Expanded Access to Neighborhood Opportunity

After years-long notice and comment periods, a final rule on using small area Fair Market Rents to determine housing choice voucher payment levels was supposed to take effect. However, the Trump administration has recently announced a two-year suspension of the rule.
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?
line drawing of a hand

CDFIs Stepped Up During the Shutdown

CDFIs across the country were trying to do what they could to ease the effects of the recent government shutdown. Here is just a partial list.

Next Target: Insurance Redlining

Bank reform offers a chance to address an under-the-radar form of redlining with the same sort of data disclosure HMDA requires about mortgage lending.

It’s Your Moment Sen. Obama (It’s Ours, Too)

Let’s not kid ourselves: we have reason to be skeptical, tentative, wary, and yes, waiting to be inspired and swept away by someone America...

Who’s Pulling for Struggling Americans?

Everyone should be outraged that the proposed economic bailout package passed by the Senate on Wednesday night and being debated in the House...

The Suburban Frontier Won’t Provide the Answers

There’s a clever term that gets thrown around in densely populated and densely developed areas like New Jersey, where all the land’s spoken for....

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...

One Million Families At Risk

The dangers of Mark to Market and the needs for preserving expiring subsidized housing.