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.

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...
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.

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...
housing justice for all rally

What the Fight for Universal Rent Control in New York Can Learn from Prop...

Voters have set up an unprecedented fight between progressive housing groups and real estate interests. It will be a brutal fight. For proof of this, housing advocates in New York need only to look at California.

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...
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.

Congress Agrees: Collaborative, Comprehensive Care Needed For Rural Vets

Rural America has a strong history of protecting our country. In fact, as highlighted in a recent report on...

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.

Congress Can’t Give House Room to Paulson’s Section 8

Listening to Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson testify before the Senate Banking Committee, I’m marveling at his insistence to Republican Sen. Mel Martinez,...

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...

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...
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!
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.

NSP at Halftime

The federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program is a welcome source of funds in struggling communities, and it has had a massive effect on the nature of the response to the problem of vacant foreclosed property. As NSP3 gets underway and the NSP1 obligation period comes to a close, Shelterforce looks back at NSP so far.

Transit-Oriented Preservation

Affordable housing already exists near transit, but without action it will be lost.

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...

A Victory for American Democracy

Americans all over the nation, political pundits, Wall Street workers, and, I venture to guess, even the president, were stunned Monday afternoon to hear...

Let�s Get Serious Here

Here we go again. To use a catchy Obama phrase during his run for the high office,...

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...

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...
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...

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.
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.

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...

Labor Day, Chris Christie, and the Employee Free Choice Act

It’s labor-day weekend so let’s think about unions, Republicans, and politics. Unions are a potent reality check as well as a counterforce to the power...

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...

Freedom for the Pike

Book Review: Subprime Mortgages: America's Latest Boom and Bust, by Edward M. Gramlich.
Urban Institute Press, 2007, 120 pp. $25.00 (hardcover).

Finally Moving Toward Principal Reduction?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Obama administration is now considering, in some cases, encouraging banks to reduce loan principal as a...

The Feds Bow Out: We’re On Our Own

Yes, the federal government is back in business.After 16 days and untold billions in lost earnings and wasted dollars,...

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...
Dean Shareski via flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Poverty Is a Choice—Says The House Budget

Tax brackets, tax breaks, and just how much more rich the rich will become are all important details, no doubt, but among those details runs a single, shining, unifying message: Some people are worth investing in, and some are not.

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...
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?

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...

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...

Can’t Sue ‘Em? You Can Move Your Money

Local governents, frustrated (there’s an understatement for you) with the devastating effects of massive foreclosures have tried suing lenders for essentially offering defective products,...

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 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...

Jerry E. Abramson, Louisville Kentucky’s Progressive Mayor on Housing and Community Development

Housing is a serious issue in Louisville, Kentucky. Last October was Affordable Housing Month, a month sponsored by the Metropolitan Housing Coalition (MHC) that...

Community Organizing: The Sequel

Election Day’s over, we’ve already blown past “Yes We Can!” to “Yes We Did!” Now we’re on to watching President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team and...
richard rothstein

The Not-So Hidden Truths About the Segregation of America’s Housing

Our conversation with The Color of Law author Richard Rothstein on uncovering truths about our not-so distant history of federally mandated racial segregation in housing.

Actually United States

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

They Heard the News Today

My first email of the first day after the election of Barack Obama as president came from Serbia. Its sender is a longtime colleague,...

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...

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.

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...
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.

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.

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,...

“No Home, No Job, No Peace, No Rest”

My son downloaded “The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springsteen with Tom Morello on my iPod a couple of months ago. During this...
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.

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...
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?
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?

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.

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...

Data Says Inclusionary Housing Does Foster Economic Integration

Review of Is Inclusionary Zoning Inclusionary?, by Heather L. Schwartz, Liisa Ecola, Kristin J. Leuschner, Aaron Kofner. Rand Corporation, 2012. Long time advocates of inclusionary...

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 Costs of “Moving On”

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

Fair Housing at 50: At the Root, It’s Still Race Over Place

We should have known better. The Kerner Commission taught us that race matters most, not place. But it also embedded in our psyches the equation of Black = central city and the similarly absolute equation of white = suburbs.

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...

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...

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 Stimulus Package and Smart Growth

It was a busy day on Capitol Hill yesterday as the Senate, in addition to several amendments to the now-$900 billion economic stimulus package,...

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...

Housing, Transportation, and Workforce Development: A Coordinated Attack

The Center for Housing Policy and the Metropolitan Planning Council released a pair of policy briefs this week that promote improved coordination as related...

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...

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...

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...
"Coming Soon, Very Sad" painted on border wall outside of new development.

We Are All NIMBYs…Sometimes

If we built enough housing, we would still need subsidized housing for many people, but market prices would be low enough that most people could afford them. But we’ve chosen not to. And the reason we give for that choice, more than any other, is that we are trying to preserve or improve the character of our communities.

Candidate (and Tenant) Perry’s Housing Record

In June, Rooflines published a piece by Kevin Jewell, a consultant for the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service outlining Texas Governor Rick Perry’s...

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....

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...
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.

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...

Housing the Political Agenda

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

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...

McCain’s Bad-Mortgage Buyout

The second presidential debate just ended. John McCain threw out a new policy proposal tonight that came as a surprise: He announced that he’d direct...

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...

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.

McCain’s Nashville Flatline

John McCain’s newly unveiled idea — a buyout of “bad mortgages” to the tune of $300 million — left a lot of viewers bemused...

Commission Says End Fannie and Freddie, Make a Public Guarantor

The Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission released its report, Housing America's Future, on housing policy this morning. ...

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.

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...
Display of Jim Crow-era signs

Integration as a Means of Combating Inequality

A review of books that delve into the harmful and far-reaching effects of racial segregation and solutions that integration measures can provide.

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...

What We Talk About When We Talk About Voting Machines

I suppose post-election time is as good a time as any to talk about voting machine flaws, particularly following a...

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”...
State policies on everything from taxation to land bank funding can make the difference between a vacant property and a well-care-for property like this one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

State Policies Play a Central Role in the Fight Against Vacant Property

Abandoned and vacant properties seem like a quintessentially local problem. But state policies have a huge effect on how well municipalities can fight it.

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,...

Beware the Myth

In the Spring 2009 issue of Shelterforce, now available to view online at www.shelterforce.org, Nandinee K. Kutty, an author and economist who works in...

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...

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...
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.
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.

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...

Budget Reaction Roundup: Social Security Cuts Dominate

Reaction to Obama's proposed FY 2014 is coming in fast and, in some cases, furious. We're seeing mixed feedback...

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...