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.

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...
A Childlike drawing of a yellow house with a multicolored roof, cactuses in front, and a tree with Christmas lights in front.

7 Policies to End Family Homelessness

Improving the well-being of homeless children and their families led Enterprise Community Partners, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, and New Destiny Housing to convene a Family Homelessness Task Force comprised of over 40 organizations.

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...

Kelo v. Sotomayor

Kelo v. New London remains a sticky subject. (Ongoing debate in Shelterforce and Rooflines is proof of that.) The 2005 Supreme Court case that...

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...

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 Free Market Ain’t Free

On Friday, President Bush suddenly decided it was okay for Government to make contact with the Market’s Invisible Hand, as long as Government does...

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, ...
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?

CFPB: Government for the People

Those of us who work in regulated industries, such as banking institutions and credit unions, often succumb to the...
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.

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.

Manufacturing Affordable Homeownership Solutions

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

Neighborhood Choice: A Way Out for Some

The same factors that created ghettos of race and poverty operated to maintain them, even when subsidy might have provided a way out.

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...

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...

HUD’s New Plan

When we conducted our interview with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, and the soon-to-be-published interviews with Sandra B. Henriquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Public and...

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...

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...

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...

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.” ...

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

Preserving Communities: Live From New Jersey Future

Rooflines is reporting from the annual redevelopment forum held by New Jersey Future, a statewide research and advocacy organization today. The even highlights advancements...

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.

Finally Touching That Third Rail?

Rail travel is romanticized so much in our nation’s culture — be it in song, film, or political theater — that it’s easy to...
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!

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.

Asian Americans Key in Virginia Senate Race?

When I drafted this post, incumbent Virginia Senator Mark Warner held a narrow margin of victory over challenger Ed Gillespie (Warner has since declared victory, and Gillespie officially conceded). The race was bitterly contested, and the results are notable in that Asian Americans–with growing populations in Northern Virginia–were very likely determinative in Warner’s victory. UC […]
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.

Left Behind by the “Rescue”

At week’s end, there’s not much good news, but instead a world of pain to report. As of today, Americans have a “rescue plan” that...

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...

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,...

Interview with Xavier de Souza Briggs, Associate Director for General Government Programs at the...

Xavier de Souza Briggs, Associate Director for General Government Programs at the White House Office of Management and Budget has a portfolio that includes HUD, Treasury, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, and Homeland Security departments, as well as the U.S. Postal Service and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. All of these make a direct and profound impact in the community development world.

A Stimulus Package We Can Believe In

Author and columnist Tom Friedman described the nation’s current predicament as when Roy Scheider’s character from Jaws gets his first glimpse at the...

New Math for a New (We Hope) Era

Long, long ago, children, in 1981, Ronald Reagan became President of the United States and expanded the military budget by 43 percent over what...

Dragged Down by Regs

For an "emergency" measure, NSP came so loaded with ever-shifting regulations and restrictions it was hard to get any money out the door. It's getting better, but more could be done.

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...

Getting the Mortgage Market Back on Track

Of all the things government can and should do about housing, creating a strong, responsive mortgage market may be more...

The Thanks of a Grateful Nation

The Marine base that exerts an outsize gravitational pull on Twentynine Palms, Calif. is the largest in the world, and shimmers several miles outside...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

Service Forum: McCain’s Moment of Truthiness

Just finished watching ServiceNation’s presidential forum on national service, and I’m here to give credit where it’s due: Judy Woodruff asked John McCain to...

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...

Watching the Numbers

When I was a kid, I loved watching presidential election returns. Every four years I’d get to rush home and sit in front of...
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.
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.

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.

Lion of the Senate

We mourn the passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy today not only for his definitive role in a significant slice of Americana, but also for...
Barcelona apartment buildings

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 20

NIMBYs, YIMBYs, PHIMBYs-Oh My! | Can Algorithms Make Equitable Cities? | Retail Segregation Takes a Toll | E.R. Visits and "Tough" Neighborhoods | Enough Innovation Already | More...

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...

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...
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.
The spires and statue atop an old bank building.

The Community Reinvestment Act at 40: A Careful Review of the Reviews

A review of HUD's Cityscape issue, which is devoted to reviews and studies of the Community Reinvestment Act at its 40th anniversary.

Making NSP Work

Despite critiques, NSP is a powerful program that, with a few years under its belt and the help of "first look" programs, can move beyond its slow start and make a major difference.
voters in booths

Dear Presidential Hopefuls: The People Want to Talk to You About Housing

Before we celebrate its resurgence as a national political issue, and certainly before we set out to solve for housing injustice, we should understand why America has overlooked housing.

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...

2014 Elections: The Takeaway for Housing and Community Development Policy

Enterprise Community Partners created this quick yet comprehensive analysis of the implications of the election on housing and community development programs that we here at Shelterforce and Rooflines have found helpful. (Photo credit, Flickr user Carl CC BY-SA 2.0)
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.

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...
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.

News in the Future Tense

What a great attention-grabber. Dated July 4, 2009, the lead story in the edition of The New York Times handed out to commuters in...

NSP Funding Gets “Compromised”

While Senate Democrats and Republicans were looking to compromise on what is now a trimmed-down, $780 billion stimulus package, it looks like some key...
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.

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...

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,...

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.

Nicolas P. Retsinas

Nicolas P. Retsinas, a senior lecturer in real estate at the Harvard Business School and director emeritus of Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, talks with Shelterforce about his long service in the housing field.

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...

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...

Time to Move On: Families Facing Foreclosure Need Better Solutions than HAMP

More than one million Latino families have either lost or will soon lose their homes. In California, Hispanic-owned homes account for nearly half of...
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.
Row of trailer homes with mountains in the background.

Duty to Serve: A Boon for Shared Equity Homeownership

Shared equity homeownership programs just had a big win.

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...

Toxic Assets: The Diagnosis Comes Too Late for Foreclosed Homeowners

From AFP today: The 700-billion dollar Wall Street bailout plan, put together last week by the U.S. administration, would allow the U.S .Treasury to sell...

Instead of Blaming FEMA, We Need a National Safety Net

As the water rose in his Cedar Rapids home, Frank refused to leave, even when a FEMA boat pulled up to his porch. FEMA...

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...

Occupied Owner

For decades, the United States government, pushed by its business partners in the financial and real estate world, "marched the nation into a delusion." The fantasy is that we can create wealth for millions of homeowners by enriching investors, brokerage and mortgage companies and Wall Street bankers "to the fullest extent possible with few boundaries."
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...

State of the Nation’s Housing: 2011

New data from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies show that the Great Recession that has plagued all sectors of the housing market continues...

Actually United States

Americans are a people hopelessly divided by culture wars and fundamental disagreements about the role and appropriate size of government....
Photo courtesy of Right to the City Alliance.

Block by Block, the Renters Movement is Growing

“The string of victories in 2017 are a direct product of renters building power on the ground. Renters, faced with a historic housing crisis, are getting organized to change immediate conditions on the ground and build a movement to transform the way land and housing are treated in the country.”

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....

‘Ohana-Based Approach to Incentivized Youth Savings

How can we measure the impact of incentivized youth savings beyond just financial impacts?Hawai‘i Island ‘ohana participating in the...

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...

Fairness and The Financial System

Trying to bring fairness to financial transactions for everyday people has long been both an avocation and passion for...

Democrats Propose Actually Meaningful Public Housing Funding

Whether it’s the need to recapture some momentum in the 2018 election season, or the growing effect of the housing crisis on a wider range of people, the Democratic Party has proposed investing $70 billion in public housing.

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...

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...
Cover of book

Meltdown: The Financial Crisis, Consumer Protection, and the Road Forward

In 2010, the scattered enforcement of consumer protection and fair lending laws across several agencies would end. The CFPB would have broad oversight over banks and non-banks, and though not perfect, this model has produced some impressive results.

White House Hosting ARRA Web Forums

The White House Office of Management and Budget has announced a series of forums geared to help recipients of funding appropriated through the American...

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...

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.
Snow-covered Downtown Chinatown in Philadelphia.

In Spite of HUD, Fair Housing Process Can Help Communities

Last year, Philadelphia was one of the first cohorts to go through the AFFH process, a fair housing assessment mandated by HUD to discover...
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.

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...

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...

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...

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...