Special Issue: Saving Affordable Housing
What Community Groups Can Do & What Government Should Do
by John Atlas and Ellen Shoshkes
A National Housing Institute Study
Funded by the Ford Foundation
SPECIAL ISSUE: Shelterforce’s 25th Anniversary! Essays on history, policy, and strategies from asset building to organizing for power.
Focus on: Leadership
Focus on: Faith-Based Initiatives
Focus on: Schools and Communities
Focus on: Evaluation
30th Anniversary of Shelterforce: Looking Back, Looking Forward.
Bringing Shared-Equity Homeownership to Scale
Housing and Presidential Politics
Community Development at 40
What Green Means for Communities.
From the Grass Roots to the Oval Office: Some of the nation’s leading community development thinkers and practitioners weigh in on key issues leading up to the 2008 presidential election.
Coming Up for Air: What Housing and Community Developer Practitioners Need to Know to Survive the Economic Deluge.
Neighborhood Stabilization and the Foreclosure Crisis.
The post-ACORN world of organizing.
Private Money, Public Housing: Will PETRA Work?
The Road to Neighborhood Stabilization
Fair Housing: The Work Continues
6×6: 36th Anniversary Issue
In the Courts & on the Streets: Holding Banks Accountable, plus Making Green Affordable and Affordable Green
Strange Bedfellows: Can Capital Markets Serve Neighborhood Stabilization?
Are Our Neighborhoods Making Us Sick?
Third places are those gathering places that are neither home nor work. They have tremendous importance for the vitality of our communities. This issue looks at many aspects of how they are created and sustained.
Time to Rethink the CDC Model?
Redevelopment: Can We Get the Good Without the Bad?
The Work Issue
Almost Home: Caring for Our Veterans
Aging in Community
Looking Toward Resiliency
School reform has become one of the most hot button issues of the day, polarizing people who would otherwise be political allies.
This issue focuses on school reform and community development, and what we need to know about charter schools, education work involving real estate, and more.
It’s a common goal of redevelopment to promote economic inclusion by mixing incomes within a new development. While you’ll find little argument about economic inclusion in general, there can be some significant differences of opinion about how, why, on what scale, and at what cost.
In this issue we explore many sides of those questions, looking at developments from San Francisco to the D.C. area.
What does it take to achieve financial security for the millions of American households without it? Clearly full employment, higher wages, and a more robust safety net would be some major components.
But as important as those are, they aren’t the full picture.
In this issue, we tackle perceptions that asset-building is mostly about behavioral change for low-income households, explore the problem of income volatility, look at structural issues that reproduce financial instability, and talk about some solutions and campaigns.
In this issue, we focus on equitable economic development, with an increased focus on the role of the public sector. After all, billions of taxpayer dollars are spent every year to stimulate economic development.
Is it going where we think it’s going? Can we find ways to make use of formerly obscure federal sources of funding? Are big economic development investments generating the results we want, and how do we measure that? The answers are not always easy.
When we selected the articles for this issue, we were looking primarily at the ways that arts and culture work can be brought into and more systemically applied to place-based community development work.
This intersection is by no means new—not only has it been around for thousands of years, but we’ve even been writing about it in the context of modern-day community development for well over a decade.
What does housing affordability mean? We bring in the history, the challenges, the different contexts, and the many ways to define what having “enough” means to provide a comprehensive look at this fundamental question.
In this edition, we delve into issues like why we measure housing affordability the way we do, and does it make sense; how we define who is “low income” and what counts as having “enough” income to meet your basic needs; and whether “naturally occurring affordable housing” is really natural.
Working directly or indirectly to fight racial injustice is a large part of what the field does. And yet, that doesn’t get us off the hook. We need to examine our organizations to determine whether we are falling short of advancing racial equity and inclusion.
It can show up in the way we stick with hiring practices. It can show up in racially loaded language like “inner city” or “urban pathology”. It can show up in uncritical adoption of measures with historic disparities built into them.
This issue represents a great cross-section of the variety of what community development is. In here we have stories of organizing, housing, health, and arts.
Stories of affordable housing challenges in strong markets and weak markets. We have policy, program, and resistance; fighting homelessness and lending to for-profit developers; stories and data, partnerships and individuals; and people and place.
It seems as if everyone is talking about the intersection of health and community development. And yet, the actual work is mostly at the beginning stages.
In this issue, you’ll find articles that will help you make the case to potential partners and funders about why you all should be working at this intersection, explore how community development and health care sector partnerships work, examine how the community development field is changing its own practices, share the latest innovations in metrics and evaluation, and promote good policy that supports this work.
In this issue we also take a look at where models of permanent affordability and shared equity stand now, how they have fared over time, and how they could be or are being expanded into new places —even some places where the existing community development organizations weren’t so excited to see them coming.
With the much-belabored and fretted-over rise in the proportion of renter households after the foreclosure and financial crisis has also come a resurgence of tenant organizing—or housing justice organizing as many groups are calling it. Rent regulation is no longer being discussed as a vestigial holdover from a previous age, but again actively debated and organized for.
Rarely are abandoned buildings and dumped-on lots counted in the asset category. And no surprise—they are damaging to the community around them in myriad well-documented ways. They harm the health of nearby residents, as well as their quality of life, and at some point if there are too many abandoned buildings, they can seriously hamper the ability of a neighborhood to function.
And yet, thinking of abandoned properties as merely problems we wish would go away, rather than opportunities that we need better tools to access, feeds into some of the less productive ways vacant properties have been handled over the years.
After the housing crash of 2008, one of the pieces of wisdom many people said we had learned from it was that there wasn’t “a national housing market,” but rather a whole bunch of very different regional markets and neighborhood submarkets.
Like many lessons, it may have only been partially absorbed, however. Thanks to the big-data work of researchers like Raj Chetty, there is significant widespread understanding about the vast differences in life outcomes that statistically come with different neighborhoods. The housing markets in these regions and neighborhoods also differ.
And yet, as prices skyrocket in popular, high-profile cities (and a small handful of neighborhoods in other places), there’s a growing assumption that that’s what’s happening, or about to happen, everywhere.
In this issue we look at many different kinds of housing markets and their implication for our work.
Resilience isn’t a new term. We’ve kept looking at it, because, of course, it’s not as if disaster preparedness and recovery, environmental quality, and working across sectors are not crucial issues, no matter what you call them. In this issue, we take a look at resilience, why we need accurate maps to increase flood resilience, designing for climate change, and much, much more.
Our default frame of reference has tended to be urban areas (“cities” or “metros”), with a feeling that rural was a baffling “other thing” that we didn’t really understand.
It’s true that rural areas have different needs, contexts, and challenges. But so do hot-market and Rust Belt cities, central cities and inner-ring suburbs, massive cities and smaller ones, and we consider all of them within our usual purview. It was time to shift our thinking so rural areas were more clearly part of the fold, and we decided that a focus issue would be a good way to do that.
It should be no surprise that transportation access is the No. 1 factor in lifting adults out of poverty, an often overlooked finding from the last several years’ wave of big data research into economic mobility, or the lack thereof, in this country. In this way, the question of transportation is directly bound up with the work of community developers, who are trying to further healthy communities and opportunities for people who have been marginalized.
Mass incarceration is a major influence in American society. But like so many other things, its effects are not evenly distributed.
In this issue we bring you a small sampling of areas where the worlds of criminal justice reform and community development intersect.
Housing is health care. The truth of that statement is clearer now than ever before. But as we’ve found in our coverage of health and community development over the past couple of years, knowing that partnering with the health sector is a good idea and understanding how to do it are two different things.
Over the next several weeks, we’ll talk about some of the parts that often don’t get said—Who are the players in the health sector, and what are their incentives to address social determinants of health? What is the difference between public health and medical care? How do partnerships get started? We hope these articles will give community development practitioners the context and the confidence to forge new and better partnerships with their health sector counterparts.