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.

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.

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...

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.

Community and Economic Development, 2012-2016

Responding to Paul Ryan’s commentary about valuing seniors, Vice President Biden shared some advice he received from his father:...

Why Are Biased Banks Getting High CRA Marks from Regulators?

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) statute has a statement of purpose affirming that banks “are required by law to...
People line up next to donation items after Hurricane Katrina.

Civil Rights Organizations on Hurricane Relief Efforts

Throughout what we know will be a long recovery over the coming weeks, months, and years, Shelterforce hopes to share the stories of the...

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 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...
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.

Transit-Oriented Preservation

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

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...

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...

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...

Preliminary HUD Budget Shows Carson Lied in His Confirmation Hearing Too

The Washington Post reported today that a preliminary HUD budget cuts $6 billion—eliminating Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and...

Missing Priorities In HUD/DOT Sustainable Communities Initiative

At a US House of Representatives hearing last week on “Livable Communities, Transit Oriented Development, and Incorporating Green Building Practices into Federal Housing and...

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...

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...

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...

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...
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.
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

CFPB: Government for the People

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

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...
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.

The Reality of Poverty Deconcentration

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

Data Drives the Movement for Economic Justice

A government report concludes that residents of low- and moderate-income Census tracts have as much access to bank branches as residents in middle- and upper-income tracts in rural areas and large metropolitan areas. Yet access to bank services for low- and moderate-income consumers is still being lost. Why is that?
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...

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...

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.

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...

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...

Bair:  Mortgage Crisis Shows We Need a Level Playing Field

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair emphasized the “common goal” that should exist between banks and consumers regarding access to credit and healthy lending for the...

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...
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.

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...

Amidst Congressional Missteps, Housing Opportunities Remain

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

Participatory Budgeting: Why Not Fix Everyone’s Sink?

Participatory budgeting offers a glimpse of how a more civically engaged society might work, but it’s also a distraction.
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...

Is the Mortgage Interest Deduction Vulnerable?

Shelterforce and the National Housing Institute have been outspoken about the need to change the mortgage interest deduction — the country’s largest housing subsidy,...

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...

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...

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.
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!
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.

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 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.

Senate Passes Financial Reform; NSP 3 Included

With the Senate passing today, by a 60 to 39 margin, a major overhaul to the financial regulatory system (the Restoring American Financial Stability...

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...

The Financial Stability Plan

This morning, Treasury Secy. Timothy Geithner announced the Financial Stability Plan, geared to revive the banking system by way “attack our credit crisis on...

Rivlin, SEIU’s Stern, Picked for Debt Commission

President Obama announced today that it had chosen SEIU’s Stern to serve on his deficit commission, formally dubbed the “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility...

It’s The Great Election, Charlie Brown

Halloween approaches and, as always, we’re found waiting for the Great Pumpkin, er, Election. Immediately following the...

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...
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?
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.

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...

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...

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...
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?
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...

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.

Malign Neglect? Urban Policy in the Trump Era

To paraphrase physicist Niels Bohr, (or maybe it was Yogi Berra), “predicting is difficult, especially when it’s about the...
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.

Fairness and The Financial System

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

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...
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.

What’s in Store for PETRA?

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

The Most Important Housing Law Passed in 1968 Wasn’t the Fair Housing Act

At the Aug. 1, 1968 signing ceremony, President Johnson proclaimed “Today, we are going to put on the books of American law what I genuinely believe is the most farsighted, the most comprehensive, the most massive housing program in all American history.” He was right. 

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...

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."

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...

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...

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...

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...

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.

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.” ...

Senator Kennedy’s Awful Diagnosis

Oof—Bad sucker punch from the cosmos on Tuesday. We all saw the worrisome weekend news about Senator Edward Kennedy’s seizure, but it was followed by...

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...

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...
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...

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.

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...

Abolish HUD?

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

Affordable Housing Was On the Ballot, Here Are Some Election Results

A majority of voters nationwide supported funding for affordable housing as state and local governments try to address the problem in the absence of an adequate federal response.
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.”
Up-close pieces of the unprinted sides of a puzzle.

A Jobs-Housing Fit

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

The 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.

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,...

What’s in Store for PETRA?

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

FHA Commissioner Stevens Heading to MBA

FHA Commissioner David Stevens, who announced last week that he would leave the administration effective March 31, will take over at the Mortgage Bankers...

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...
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.

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...
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.

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)

From “Knucklehead Kid” to Boston Mayor?

There are several teenagers featured in Holding Ground, a film about the launch of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. DSNI...

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...

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...

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...

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...