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...

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...

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.
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.

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.

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...

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,...
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan

Interview with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan

Plucked from New York City's Department of Housing Preservation & Development, Shaun Donovan is leading the effort to make the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development into a relevant, powerful agency.

Manufacturing Affordable Homeownership Solutions

It’s time to take factory-built homes seriously as affordable housing.

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...

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...

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...

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,...
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.

Shelterforce Interview: Mercedes Márquez

HUD Assistant Secretary of Community Planning and Development Mercedes Márquez spoke with Shelterforce about NSP, technical assistance, and the importance of leveraging resources.

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 Challenge: Encourage Social Movements and Other Lessons From FDR and the Great Depression

As Obama prepared his economic recovery plan, he read Jonathan Alter’s The Defining Moment, (Simon and Shuster, 2006) about FDR’s rise to the presidency...

Homeownership: Dream or Nightmare?

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

Harnessing Immigrant Entrepreneurship for Economic Growth

Last week’s release of Bread for the World’s new paper on immigrant small businesses was marked by racial tension...

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...
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.

Stemming the Red Tide

Greedy bankers, brokers, and investors abused their political power and forced millions of Americans to lose their homes. Now what can we do to solve the crisis?

Interview with Shelley Poticha, Director of Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities

Shelterforce speaks with Shelley Poticha, director of HUD's Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, about implementing sustainable policy at the federal level while encouraging local innovation, keeping down the cost of green housing, and effecting change while dealing with federal government bureaucracy.

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...

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...

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, ...
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?

CRA Modernization:  A Critical Moment for Underserved Neighborhoods

The Community Reinvestment Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act hold great promise for the creation of a more financially inclusive nation, but both depend on critical "moments in time" in Congress that will determine whether they become good laws or are weakened beyond recognition
Shelterforce spoke with (from left) former HUD secretaries Henry Cisneros, who worked under President Clinton, and Mel Martinez, who worked under President Bush.

Interview with Former HUD Secretaries Senator Mel Martinez and Mayor Henry Cisneros

At the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Summit on Sept. 15 and 16, five former HUD secretaries joined a panel discussing their time at the...

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....

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...

Achieving Reinvestment: NCRC’s 2013 Award Winners

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition presented its 2013 National Achievement Awards to leaders in expanding fair access to financial...

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,...
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.

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”...

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...

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...

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 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...
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.

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.

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...

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...

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...
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 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.

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...

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...

Shelterforce Asks: Should Rep. Watt Take the Helm of the FHFA?

As Senate Democrats and Republicans gear up to battle over President Obama's nomination of Rep. Mel Watts (D-N.C.) to...

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...
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.

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.

ACORN Rates State Attorneys General on Foreclosure Prevention Leadership

While America has been waiting for Congress and state legislatures to get their act together on the foreclosure crisis, some state attorneys general have...

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...

“Political Lift”: An Interview with Rep. Keith Ellison

As we head into the election home stretch, pieces of Rep. Keith Ellison's interview with Shelterforce in our latest issue keep coming to mind. Ellison...

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...
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.
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.

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.

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...

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...

We Should Be Running This Place: Electing More Community Developers

I hosted a meet-and-greet recently for first-time candidate Lynette McElhaney (pictured), who was newly elected to the City of Oakland...

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...
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.

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.

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...

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,...

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...

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...
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?

HMDA at 35

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

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...

Latest Simulus Bill Draft

Find the latest version of the Senate bill here

Out of the Limelight, But Still Hanging in the Balance

Housing and community development have been glaringly absent from both of the presidential campaigns and all of the debates this...

Public Benefits and Bank Mergers

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

Endangering Community Investment with Tax “Reform”

There wasn’t one Republican senator who was willing say tax reform aimed at growing our economy should augment, not diminish, community investment.
A map that shows public housing and poverty levels in Houston, Texas.

HUD Continues to Retreat From Fair Housing Duties

In the name of “local control,” the federal agency has abandoned enforcement of civil rights law because it believes it's too troublesome.

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.