Network Organizing: A Strategy for Building Community Engagement

Across the country there is a fundamental condition that consistently undercuts even the most successful community development efforts: chronic disengagement. In most cities, public or civic life is a hostile environment for the average person, ruled by cynicism and division, and dominated by entrenched habits of isolation and detachment. Unfortunately, while our community development field […]

Back From the Brink

Few cities have had as rough a time adapting to post-industrial life as Lawrence, Massachusetts. The city’s core textile and shoe factories started leaving after the Bread and Roses strike of 1912, which lasted nine weeks and was the first major labor action in this country in the 20th century. In recent years there wasn’t […]

Restoring Neighborhoods, Rebuilding Markets

Richmond, Virginia, is offering soft loans to “urban pioneers” willing to buy, fix up and move into a vacant house in the city’s Jackson Ward area. Pioneers are eligible for up to $35,000, if they invest $70,000 of their own money. They are not required to make payments on the loan, and, if they live […]

Back to Court

The big fair housing news of 2005 is a new federal court ruling in Thompson v. HUD, the Baltimore public housing desegregation class action filed by the Maryland ACLU in 1994, partially settled in 1996 and finally brought to trial in December of 2003. Judge Garbis’s 322-page January 6 opinion places the full weight of […]

Challenging Ourselves

Let’s start by saying what isn’t said often enough. Affordable housing and community development practitioners and advocates have done extraordinary work for many decades. CBOs and their allies have fought slumlords and segregation, rehabbed whole neighborhoods, defended CRA and created jobs and hope all across America. From San Francisco to New York City, places once […]

Shelter Shorts

A Different Twist on Equal Opportunity Housing officials in Berkeley, California, were surprised recently to be told they might be favoring African-Americans over people of other races. Among the suggestions HUD made after it did a fair housing compliance review was that Berkeley should try to have the demographics of its public housing reflect the […]

A Neighborhood in Brooklyn Says “No” to Worker Exploitation

A language barrier, I believe, has muddled my conversation with Nieves Padilla. “We’re fighting to get the workers on Knickerbocker Avenue the minimum wage,” she tells me. “You mean a living wage,” I respond. “By law, employers are required to pay their workers a minimum wage. You must be talking about a living wage.” Padilla […]

The Local-Global Grassroots Connection

Unmaking Goliath: Community Control in the Face of Global Capital, by James DeFilippis. Routledge, 2004. 188 pp. $24.95 (paperback). Contours of Descent, by Robert Pollin. Verso, 2003. 238 pp. $21.00 (hardcover). Community-based movements for development and local autonomy face a number of challenges. One of the most daunting is the problem of capital mobility. In […]

In Memoriam: Cushing Dolbeare

Cushing N. Dolbeare, founder and chair emeritus of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, died March 17 of cancer at her home in Mitchellville, MD. Dolbeare began the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) in 1974 in response to the Nixon Administration’s moratorium on federal housing programs. She served as NLIHC’s executive director from 1977 […]

Advocates for Healthy Housing

As public health and housing activists recognized a century ago when they fought for stronger sanitation and health codes, poorly maintained housing causes serious health problems. Today, with a better understanding of the scientific link between housing conditions and health, advocates for decent and affordable housing are building a new grassroots healthy housing movement. These […]