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...

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...

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...

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.
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.

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.

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...

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. 

Houses Passes Wall Street Reform Bill; $1 Billion for NSP 3

Thanks to the National Housing Conference’s Sharon Price for passing this info on only moments after the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 4173,...

Congress Needs to Listen to Latinos

The 2012 presidential election debate centered on how best to jumpstart our economy and spur job creation.  The candidates campaigned on their opposing plans,...

Unfriend Your Neighbor to Get a Loan?

Want to be that one person who bootstraps themselves out of poverty and makes it, against all odds? Not...

The Costs of “Moving On”

In his recent New York Times op-ed, American Enterprise Institute president Arthur C. Brooks says declining mobility is a...

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.

HUD Was Wrong To Suspend This Important Tool For Racial Equity

On May 8, 2018, three fair housing groups took action to preserve an important tool for community empowerment and equity.

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.

Kinda Not There Yet

Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy that Senator Obama will be the Democratic nominee. It says a hell of a lot about how far...

Rationale for Obama’s Tax Policy

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama was asked a question about his increasing taxes for those making more than a quarter million a year....

Mitigating the Impacts of the Current Foreclosure Crisis

NHI/_Shelterforce_ Associate Director and Editor Miriam Axel-Lute appeared at an event last Tuesday, co-sponsored by the New America Foundation and National Council of La...

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...

Tune into NHI & PDI Web cast—How To Get Out of the Mortgage...

For those of you unable to tune into our June 3 Learning Lab Web cast held in collaboration with The Professional Development Institute, ...
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.
girl and boy symbols painted on a wall.

Could Gentrification Be Changing D.C. Schools for the Better?

While gentrification's benefits and drawbacks have been discussed at length, one aspect has been largely overlooked: its effect on neighborhood schools.
mallach book cover

Can Cities Fix Their Polarization Problem? A Review of The Divided City

How different would cities look and how different would people’s lives be if those with the power to set policy and invest resources prioritized the most vulnerable residents and the neighborhoods they live in?

Mock the Vote

Since the Justice Department axed nine U.S. attorneys, all eyes have been on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, but the scandal began with a GOP strategy to stifle grass-roots registration of poor minority voters.
Two children, one wearing a blue shirt and other a pink shirt, play in the sand on a beach.

California’s New Environmental Movement

How communities of color, using health and jobs as rallying cries, took on Big Oil -- and won!

Sounding the Death Knell for Public Financing, Or a New Era of Grass-roots Fund-Raising?

Sen. Barack Obama’s decision to forgo public financing for the 2008 general election appears to be steeped more in pragmatism than it is in...

The Inauguration: View from a Chicago Diner

At the risk of sounding cliché, hope was in the air as thick as the smell of grilling bacon and the steam from oatmeal...

Let’s Consider “Anticipatory Design”

Despite constant pressure to define and showcase our cities to celebrate their history and to showcase the “new,” cities...

Can We Demolish Our Way to Revitalization?

While the answer to that question in the title of this piece is obvious, there’s a strong case to...

No, Housing Policy Really Could Get Done Next Year

Housing didn’t feature prominently in the 2016 presidential campaigns, and while we might wish it had gotten more attention,...
Word bubbles made of paper materials.

10 Ways to Talk About Inclusionary Housing, Differently

We need to talk about inclusionary housing in a different way that circumvents common misperceptions and creates a new narrative for policymakers in moderate markets and more conservative political climates. Here are 10 messages to help frame your conversations.
migrant farm workers

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 27

Climate Gentrification | A Marijuana Tax for Housing? | Homeownership Alone Can't Close the Wealth Gap | Illegal ICE Raids on Farms | Keeping An Eye on Opportunity Zones | More...
bus

Taking the Bus: Nonprofit Conferences and Integrity of Purpose

Nonprofits advocate for local transit spending, but annual conference logistics don't typically include bus route information for attendees.

R Street Apartments: Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Goes Green

Once marked by underinvestment and criminal activity, few neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. have undergone as significant a redevelopment over the last decade as the historic Logan Circle neighborhood.

As Housing Program Moves Poor to the Suburbs, Do Tensions Follow?

Friday’s New York Times article on Section 8 households in Antioch, Calif., has attracted a great deal of attention. I couldn’t wait to read...

The Risk In The System Starts to Come Home

Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law professor who chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel that watches over the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has never been...

Election 2012: All Over But The Governing

The signs are off the lawns, checkbooks have closed (for now anyway), the president and Congress are back to full-time...

Government on the Ropes—Nonprofits Step In

The loss of community development staff working at the City of Flint, Michigan, threatened the existence and continuity of...

All the Fury Over CFPB Ignores Its Modest Mission

Ever since its creation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been the focus of heated controversy, with banks...
sign at 2014 brown v. board rally

Integration—We’ve Been Doing It All Wrong

I recently had a revelation about the American approach to racial integration: We've been doing it all wrong, and it's had disastrous effects on African Americans.
flow chart describing land value

How to Kill Land Speculation

  People live in communities because natural and human-made resources make them productive places to live, work, and play. Because geographically based resources are gifts...

Shelterforce Interview: Ron Sims

HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims doesn't just want the 8,500 employees he oversees at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to do their jobs: he wants them to challenge themselves, even if there's a risk of failure.

New York’s Property-Tax Cap: Pitting Homeowners against Children

A New York State commission established by Governor Eliot Spitzer recently recommended ways to lower property taxes, which are putting a world of hurt...

Remaking HUD

Shaun Donovan, President-elect Barack Obama’s pick to head HUD, appears to be an indication that this could be the urban policy president we’ve been...

Want to Help Homeowners? Replace the Mansion Subsidy

I don’t think for a second that The New York Times is in bed with the real estate industry. It has done some excellent...

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...

Job Quality & The Stimulus Package

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — the Stimulus Package — passed by Congress in a painful process in February, proposes to create or...
View of a worker's hard hat as they climb on a ladder in a tunnel.

Administration’s Assault on Workers Continues in Congress

A proposed 20 percent reduction to the Department of Labor's overall budget would make working people less safe, and will discourage them from speaking up when abuses happen.
dilapidated Detroit building 2009

The Important Deadline Coming Up for All Governors

States have a deadline to submit their Opportunity Zones nominations. What factors will be weighed in the decision process, and what will federal designation mean to distressed neighborhoods?
Close-up of the back of a t-shirt that says "Because the rent won't wait."

The Warren Housing Bill: Ready to Take On The Affordability Crisis?

Sen. Warren's proposed bill represents the kind of holistic housing strategy we need from the federal government in facilitating affordable housing for all Americans in all cities and towns who have been left out, locked out, or exploited over decades by the national housing market. 

The Supreme Denial of Integration

Despite the high court's recent blow to achieving classroom diversity, fair-housing practices can go a long way toward moving the country beyond racism.

Rep. Keith Ellison

In the spring of 2008, as the country plunged into the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, Keith Ellison, a freshman Democrat...

Obama Talks Up Metropolitanism

Metropolitanism, or regionalism, was back in the news this morning as Barack Obama trumpeted the concept at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference...

My Berlin Wall Moment

It took me a couple of days after the extraordinary evening of President-elect Obama’s victory on November 4 for the impact to really sink...

Homeownership: Dream or Nightmare?

Politicians have told us for decades that homeownership is the American Dream. They do this because they get lots of...

If Banks Aren’t Serving the Poor, Who Is?

Over the past few months I’ve written short pieces on my work as a teller at a check cashing...

The Foreclosure King Ascends to Treasury

There is considerable unease in the housing and community development world about the future of federal policy, including support for vouchers, fair housing,...
Multicolored collage of houses with photos of ceramic birds

California Takes Historic Step Toward Affordable Housing for All

Amid a housing crisis in California, legislators last week approved a historic package of bills that will shape the future of housing policy in...
A lightbulb is on in a dark room. The utility company has kept the lights on.

When Domestic Violence and Utility Bill Debt Intersect

In Pennsylvania, domestic violence survivors are often not afforded the protections they are entitled to because many people are often unaware of the Responsible Utility Customer Protection Act and its provisions. A three-year pilot program aimed to change that.
graduation

Small Investments Can Yield Big Returns. Review of A Few Thousand Dollars

Over a dozen stories of how Americans from all different backgrounds have managed to leverage a few thousand dollars to lead lives that have helped thousands of other people, and strategies to reinvigorate a movement to influence asset building policy nationally.

The End of Public Housing

In written testimony submitted to the House Committee on Financial Services in May, excerpted here, a group of urban affairs academics argue that PETRA is nothing less than a formal divestment from public housing, worse than anything previous administrations have proposed.

Signs of the End Times

The end of attack politics, that is. Could it be? Ask Mark McKinnon, who resigned from the McCain campaign Tuesday, fulfilling a vow he’d made...

House Votes Down NSP3

The Republican-controlled House voted to eliminate the $1 million allocated by the third round of Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds this week, and while the...

Showdown on Wall Street and K Street

The shake-out of the American economy has left a handful of large banks at the pinnacle of the corporate power structure. Next week, a...

An Opportunity Century?  Election 2012, Social Justice, and America

As the election results sink in, partisans are busy debating what 2012 voting patterns mean for Republican and Democratic prospects...

Public Benefits and Bank Mergers

Community organizations are generally aware that when a bank wants to acquire another bank, it must submit a merger...

The Real Social Engineering Ben Carson Needs to Address

HUD is the nation’s primary enforcer of the Fair Housing Act. This is one obligation Ben Carson will assume...

Proposed Changes to the Mortgage Interest Deduction: Some Simple Facts

The discourse around proposed changes to the federal tax system, especially between talk show pundits and economists and politicians—each with their own allegiances—is devoid...
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.

Interview: Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John Trasviña

The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is dealing with an evolving set of discrimination challenges facing families, changes in the very definition of "family," and the political realities of the 112th Congress. Trasviña is no stranger to this balancing act.

Tune into NHI & PDI Web cast—How To Get Out of the Mortgage...

For those of you unable to tune into our June 3 Learning Lab Web cast held in collaboration with The Professional Development Institute, ...

Obama’s Chicago: A New Start

It was as if all of Chicago had one big ear-splitting grin Tuesday night. Even hours before polls had closed, people went about their...

House Subcommittee Votes to Eliminate Housing Trust Fund

A House subcommittee voted to stamp out the National Housing Trust Fund this week, signaling a very difficult road ahead for fund advocates. Of...

Invest in Consumers, Bolster Your Bottom Line

The more financial coaching people receive, the more financially resilient they’ll become.That’s what a recent study conducted by NeighborWorks®...
Man places strikeout symbols on baseball stadium wall.

The “Greeding Out” of Affordable Housing

There have been a number of stories in the papers over the last two months that, from my perspective, are connected. Unfortunately, their common denominator is the demise of affordable housing caused by the malignant neglect of government at all levels.
police car

What—and Who—Is a “Nuisance”?

Why are nuisance ordinances proliferating nationwide, and who is disproportionately affected?
Residents of four historically African-American neighborhoods hold up a sign that reads "This Land is Our Land! #TentCityATL"

The Right to Stay Put

There is much work to be done around housing and equitable development, but the solution is not simply to move people around. A key challenge is creating real choice.

Housing the Working Poor

What big ideas should housing activists put forward to the next president and Congress? Assuming that a Democrat wins the White House and that the Democrats hold onto or even expand their majority in Congress, housing advocates have an opening to promote a progressive agenda. Are we ready?

Defending Progressive State Housing and Land Use Policies

The fates of three venerable policies on fair share housing and sustainable land use can point the way for how to support similar efforts in other states.

Latest Simulus Bill Draft

Find the latest version of the Senate bill here

Romney’s Tax Plan Could Spell Doom for the Nonprofit Housing Sector

This presidential race continues to be a disaster when it comes to issues we care about.  No mention of affordable...

Watch These Panelists Explain What’s Missing in the GSE Reform Debate

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition last week brought together a panel of experts to discuss the future of housing...

How CRA Can Promote Integration in Gentrifying Neighborhoods

Gentrification—the process of neighborhood demographic and economic change in which middle- and upper-income people move into lower-income neighborhoods, increasing...
A key in focus

Despite Progress, States Have Work to do to Ensure Access to Affordable Rental Housing...

If expanding access to homeownership can reverse the trends of growing racial wealth inequality, why are we seeing so many states roll back the supports that make homeownership possible?
old and new buildings in Harlem

New York City Needs to Stop Negotiating Rezonings From an Uneven Playing Field

What is the underlying dynamic that leads so many council members in low-income communities of color to approve neighborhood rezonings, despite community opposition and the likelihood of increased displacement pressure on existing residents?
multifamily buildings

Hey YIMBYs, Thanks for Listening

The path to winning a pro-equity, pro-growth majority involves more (not less) investment in fighting displacement.

Tainted Loans: Fighting Toxic Mortgages in the Courts

It's not too late to treat toxic loans as the defective product they are.

Master of Low Expectations

<a href="http://www.robertreich.org>Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich offers faint praise for the foreclosure fixes working their way through Congress, calling them <a href=">better than...

Shiller’s “Continuous-Workout Mortgages” Won’t Address the Crux of the Problem

Robert Shiller in an article in The New York Times proposed a more flexible home mortgage that he argues would help prevent crises...

What You Need To Know About Financial Reform

Is the public in favor of regulating Wall Street? A national survey conducted in March by the nonpartisan Pew Economic Policy Group found that 68...

HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Launches

It took a few iterations, but HUD last week officially rolled out a demonstration project designed to showcase its plan...
crowd at outdoor event

Building Children Out of Our Cities

It’s been said that children are the indicator species of urban health and great neighborhoods, and by this measure, Oakland is in trouble.
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.

Sleaze Gramm for Sen. McCain

Now that the Democratic primary race is over, will the mainstream media start to scrutinize John McCain? Let’s hope they begin looking beyond the “maverick”...

Prescription for Progressive Change: Inspire and Mobilize

Barack Obama is going to need all his organizing skills to be an effective leader. As I write in an article in the...

Study: NJ Land-Use Patterns Increase Exclusionary Zoning and Sprawl

All too often, we hear how sprawl development continues to eat up the last remaining open spaces across New Jersey,...

Rural Housing Budget Disappointing, But Not Surprising

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the Obama administration’s rural housing budget continues trends that were evident in the last several...