A New Twist on Housing Policy

As a campaign issue in this 2004 election, housing distinguished itself by its absence. The war in Iraq, terrorism and the economy eclipsed any meaningful debates over affordable housing policies. But as a Red Sox fan and ardent optimist, I have great hope for the new and returning leaders at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. […]

Tearing Down the Community

A year after she left Chicago’s notorious Robert Taylor Homes public housing development, 30-year-old Lee-Lee Henderson said she was ready to return. “I’d rather live in Robert Taylor,” she answered when asked whether she would prefer to live among private-market neighbors or public housing residents. A curious reply when one considers that popular and academic […]

The Housing That Community Built

In 1993 President Bill Clinton visited Pittsburgh to promote the new HOPE VI program to residents of the Hill District. The program was developed to reform severely distressed public housing through physical and management improvements, and by providing social and community services to address resident needs. Fittingly, Clinton spoke outside of the Civic Arena (now […]

Multicolored collage of houses with photos of ceramic birds

Be It Ever So Humble

In the American idiom of good things, the importance of “home” and “community” cannot be challenged. The associated images – mom, apple pie and the picket fence – serve as anchors for our images of the American Dream. The power of these symbols would seem to protect houses and communities from destruction, but in the […]

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.

Restoring the Commonwealth

Public housing is not a gift to those who cannot find shelter: it is an obligation of the commonwealth that asserts no person living in this country should be deprived of a decent home even if the market cannot provide it. Like public education, Social Security and the minimum wage, it says you will not […]

Shelter Shorts

Rent Control Advocates Lose Again in Boston The long fight to bring some form of rent control back to Boston continued this winter, as advocates asked city and state elected officials to support their efforts. The Community Stabilization Act, backed by 70 housing and community groups, would have allowed elderly, disabled and low- to moderate-income […]

Alabama Arise Fights For Tenant Protections

It was hardly an unusual story in 1993 in Montgomery, Alabama. A tenant had spent months trying to get her landlord to fix a persistent leak in her roof, and one day the ceiling finally gave way. It collapsed in her child’s bedroom. The woman and her child did the only thing they could – […]

Creative Fundraising

When Habitat for Humanity volunteers Lynne Blaesser and Mary Scott were approached by a Habitat executive about the prospect of leading Newark Women Build in the fundraising and construction of its first project, they declined the offer. To break ground and complete construction of a home in Newark for a single mother and her five-year-old […]

Paradise Lost

When Public Housing Was Paradise: Building Community in Chicago, by J.S. Fuerst. University of Illinois Press. 2004. 264 pp. $20 (paperback). When the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) released its “Plan for Transformation” in January 2000, it was a public acknowledgment of its abject failure to provide safe, habitable and well-managed housing for the 38,000 households […]

Jesus “Jesse” Leon

The lyrics of an old Diana Ross song swirl around my mind when I think about Jesus “Jesse” Leon: “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand and make this world a better place if you can.” As I spoke with Jesse about his life – the challenges and accomplishments – he was most vocal about his […]

Housing, Politics and Moral Values

How long will it take for us to wise up? I would guess that almost all readers of Shelterforce feel very deeply that extensive poverty remains a national scandal, that the current minimum wage is shameful, that discrimination against gays is disgraceful and that the growth of unaccountable corporate power is morally wrong because it […]

The Lack of Support is Taxing

Well, the people have spoken and given George W. Bush a second term in the White House. Housing advocates should prepare for more of the same, only worse. What lessons can we draw from our experience with federal housing policy from the first Bush Administration? The words are soaring, but the works do not match […]

What Did We Learn and What Do We Do?

This was an election not so much about economic and social justice issues, but about values and culture. While economic security, health, education and income were always a part of this year’s political debate, family and faith were the strong motivators for many across the country. Over the past 20 years the Republicans organized a […]

We Must Rein in the Regulators

Following the presidential election, advocates working for economic justice are alarmed that ultra-conservatives in Congress will turn back the clock on access to credit, capital and basic banking services for women, minorities and people with low incomes. In spite of a national epidemic of predatory lending practices, the Republican leadership and the White House did […]