A Gem for New Jersey Neighborhood Revitalization

‘A dollar and a dream,’ was the phrase I read in a brochure about the starting point for revitalizing neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) program, a unique economic development tool created by the State of New Jersey. While I agree there must be a starting point, its important to know that the […]

Flip… Flip… Flip… Flop (Property Flipping and Mortgage Fraud)

Vincent Quayle and the folks at the St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center in Baltimore began to sense something was wrong about 1997, when people began coming to them for foreclosure counseling who weren’t victims of recent unemployment, illness, or divorce, but people who had never really been able to afford the house they owned at […]

Devolution Hits Housing in Canada

Canadian housing policy has undergone quite an evolution over the past one hundred years. In the first quarter of the 20th century, it was a mish-mash of loosely instituted and often informal programs. From the mid 1930s through late 1940s the federal government began to become more formally involved in housing through the Dominion Housing […]

Hearts on Fire (Fighting Organizer Burnout)

I have always thought of my movement work as a demanding, aggravating and irresistible lover – one it’s impossible to marry, or to leave. I know it has an air of pathology, but I am not alone. For most of us, the passion precedes the paycheck. Sift through the ashes of organizer, and you’ll likely […]

Geographic Information Systems

For a long time, questions like “Who lives near this housing development?” were notoriously difficult to answer. The level of data analysis that went into such seemingly simple questions made them too time-consuming for anyone who didn’t have ready access to their own research department. Now a powerful new tool called geographic information systems (GIS) […]

Neighborhood Information is NOT Just for the Experts

In 1997 a group of housing activists and their supporters came to focus attention on the deterioration of residential conditions in Los Angeles. Self-named the Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Slum Housing, the group undertook research and advocacy to change the way that public agencies addressed a growing local problem. Two years earlier, the Census’s […]

Knowledge is (Still) Power

It’s getting harder and harder to call our time a period of record prosperity when the income disparity is as great as it is and so many people are living in poverty. Yes, the rate of poverty has decreased some, but not enough. And our “prosperity” is putting increasing pressure on those at the low […]

Shelter Shorts

And the Beat Goes On: Mega-mergers Continue Citigroup has announced plans to acquire The Associates for $31.1 billion. The Associates, the largest publicly traded finance company in the U.S., with managed assets of over $100 billion, is better known to activists as a subprime and frequently predatory lender. “[Associates is] the poster child of bad […]

Persistence Pays

Employees of Erickson Cosmetics Company (makers of Banana Boat lotion) only wanted what they had earned. Especially workers like Juana Vasquez who worked at the factory in the northside of Chicago until the day before she gave birth in February 1999. She had felt fortunate to have a steady job that provided healthcare, but soon […]

First Steps to a Capital Campaign

A “capital” campaign is a two-to-five year effort to raise money for a one time need over and above the annual budget. They are usually used to buy, build or refurbish a building, or increasingly to begin an endowment. Capital campaigns allow donors to pledge a large amount and pay it off over several years. […]

New Markets: Trickle-Down With a Twist

The New Markets program recently passed in the House (H.R. 4923), a tax subsidy scheme to divert capital into low- to moderate-income areas, is yet another variation on the administration’s long-held strategy of benefiting places – not necessarily people. The New Markets Initiative is a tax break for those with money, but there are no […]

The National Affordable Housing Trust Fund

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has introduced S. 2997, the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act of 2000. The bill would create a fund with a dedicated source of revenue to produce rental housing that is affordable to extremely low-income families (less than 30 percent of area median income). Three quarters of the funds will be […]

The Long Haul and the Short Haul

No Trespassing: Squatting, Rent Strikes and Land Struggles Worldwide by Anders Corr. South End Press, Cambridge, MA 1999. 256 pp. In 1972, I was placed as a VISTA Volunteer in Newark, New Jersey. My host organization was the Newark Tenants Union. When I arrived, public housing residents in several high rise complexes were in the […]