Pulling Together to Fight for Jobs

Grassroots community organizations across the country often win significant local change for their constituents. But particularly around welfare reform issues, many of these campaigns get ensnared by federal issues-allocations, regulations, or restrictions. These same groups often have a tough time creating a powerful enough presence in Washington to push through the changes they need. On […]

Housing and Welfare Reform

Although welfare and housing assistance systems are designed and administered separately from each other, their beneficiaries overlap to a substantial degree. Especially in the wake of welfare reform, this intersection presents both opportunities and challenges for welfare recipients, tenants receiving federal housing assistance, housing and welfare advocates, and administrators of both welfare and housing programs. […]

Congressman Henry Gonzalez

One of Congress’s leading advocates for the poor and for an open government prepares to leave after 18 terms. It’s rare for U.S. Representative Henry Gonzalez to not follow through on a promise, but in late 1997 he did just that. He didn’t retire in December after all, as he had announced he would earlier […]

Esperanza Community Housing Corporation:

Building Hope with the Community Growing from a neighborhood effort to keep six single-family homes from being demolished to make way for a garment factory, the Esperanza Community Housing Corporation (ECHC) in Los Angeles has worked to reverse the trend of disinvestment that has marked so many of the city’s neighborhoods. ECHC was founded in […]

Learning from Victory

Learning from Victory In this issue, we offer two articles exploring the challenges of welfare reform from the perspective of community organizers and housing activists. We’ve all heard of the remarkable decreases in welfare caseloads around the country, but we’re only now starting to read about the failure of reform programs in many states to […]

Shelter Shorts

From Welfare to Unemployment Challenging the theories that tougher welfare restrictions impel people to find jobs and that the recent decline in welfare rolls indicates just that, a survey of New York State residents who left welfare between July 1996 and March 1997 found that only 29 percent reported income in the following quarter. The […]

Leveling the Playing Field

In 1997, a coalition of churches, environmental groups, developers, and government officials organized a campaign to help clean up Minnesota’s 4,000 acres of brownfields, the abandoned and polluted industrial land commonly recognized as a major barrier to inner-city job development. The coalition won a significant victory-a 7-year, $68 million commitment to brownfields cleanup. Local development […]

Using Letters Effectively

Like most Americans, you probably buy or give by mail occasionally. You order from catalogues, you respond to credit card promotions, and once in a while you open mail appeals from organizations that look interesting and you send donations. In addition, you give regularly to organizations that keep in touch with you primarily by mail. […]

Finding a Comprehensive Vision for Neighborhoods and Families

Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America by Lisbeth B. Schorr. Doubleday: New York 1997. 482 pp. Since Ronald Reagan was elected President, the infuriating cliche? “We fought a war on poverty, and poverty won” has been invoked by politicians across the political spectrum. Lisbeth Schorr’s refreshing book, Common Purpose, disagrees and suggests […]

The Seven Lessons of HMDA

$393 billion. That’s the amount banks have committed to lend in low and moderate income communities nationwide since the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) went into effect 20 years ago. By anybody’s calculation, that’s a lot of money. The commitments are the result of efforts by community groups, using opportunities presented by CRA. But the fuel […]

Washington News and Views

Public Housing Talks Continue Behind Closed Doors As of early April, the principal sponsors of legislation to deregulate public housing and to merge the Section 8 voucher and certificate programs were negotiating the framework for a conference committee to reconcile the public housing reform bills (H.R. 2 and S. 462) passed by the House and […]