Tag: blog_reimport

Financial Incentives Encourage New Partnerships in Housing and Health

If you watch Downton Abbey, as I do, you know that Lord Grantham is becoming an affordable housing developer—much to his consternation. He’s been called on to help build a slate of new homes on a piece of his property in the wake of The Great War. But it was his answer to a question […]

Three Takeaways from the President’s 2016 HUD Budget

Here are three key facts to understand the President’s 2016 budget request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in its broader budget, policy, and political contexts: 1. The proposed funding increase is much more modest than it may initially appear. The President’s $41.0 billion HUD request for 2016 is $6.2 billion, or […]

Promising News from the Post-Civil Rights Suburbs

The passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act promised greater suburban housing opportunities for people of color in the U.S. Yet, progress has been slow. Over half of African Americans, Latinos, and Asians live in the suburbs, but the typical middle-income African American household still lives in a neighborhood with a higher poverty rate than […]

Funding the City

At a regional forum on inequality earlier this month, the mayor of Albany, N.Y., Kathy Sheehan, made some remarks that jumpstarted some regional discussion about regional equity, commuter taxes, and the like. As reported by Jimmy Vielkind at Capital New York, Sheehan argued that “the funding mechanism for cities—property taxes—was set up at a time […]

Shelterforce Poll Results: Community Developers Feel Conflicted About Police

When the conversations surrounding the Michael Brown and and Eric Garner cases were at their strongest late last year, Shelterforce conducted a survey, asking our readers how they felt about the relationship between law enforcement and the communities in which they work and live. The answers we received ran the spectrum, from “Police presence is […]

Keeping an Optimistic, Yet Watchful Eye on the Ball

It looks like President Obama and his administration kept most of the great ideas explored with the Grow America Act, last year's transportation initiative. The total investment is increased to $478 billion and expanded to six years in the latest iteration of the budget released yesterday. A few of the best pieces for low-income communities […]

The Day The Fed Stood Still

With the Federal Reserve Board’s first meeting of 2015 last month and the upcoming 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, I had Mr. Peabody crank up the “Wayback Machine” and set it for April 14, 1980. (If Millennials think they can’t afford to buy their first home now, mortgage interest rates then were heading to […]

Return to the Roots: Solidarity Networks and Housing Justice

On January 20, two Portland, Oregon women visited their former property managers with several dozen of their friends in tow. Becky and Aubrey Cook were evicted from their apartments, run by Fox Management, after complaining about slum conditions including raw sewage spilling into their apartments. In a bizarre turn, Fox then charged the women $437.00 […]

Supreme Court Argument Reaffirms the Case for Disparate Impact

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in a very important fair housing case, and the Justices’ comments from the bench have had court watchers buzzing ever since. Here’s my take on what the legal back-and-forth in the case does and does not mean. It’s safe to say that the oral argument in […]

CDFIs: Bridging the Poverty Gap

Each year, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday prompts people to reflect on Dr. King’s life and legacy. By achieving passage of civil rights and voting rights legislation, the actions of King and others compelled a sharp decline in the blatant discrimination and wanton violence that had permeated the nation for generations. However, today, five […]

Public School Closures: Loss And Opportunity

In many people’s minds, a neighborhood is not complete without a public school, as they not only hold the key to the next generation’s success, but also represent an open and welcoming space for civic interaction. Practitioners, policymakers, and researchers alike have based their work on this vision. Local school districts and community partners have […]

Plugging the Leaky Bucket: It’s About Time

“A society grows great when old people plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” If that Greek proverb is true, what does it say about a society where most of our policies for affordable housing and community development look more like the mono-cropping of field corn than the patient cultivation of […]

Income Is How You Get Out of Poverty, Assets are How...

In Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a vision for rebuilding the middle class with pathways to the middle class for lower-income families. But to manifest this vision, we need a much stronger focus on addressing the root causes of concentrated, generational poverty: financial insecurity and lack of ownership. In […]

Making the Connections Between Housing and Health

In December, President Barack Obama signed into law the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act that offers health, and dignity to millions of people through access to life-saving water and sanitation. The focus of this legislation will not cost taxpayers a penny more; it simply makes U.S. investment in existing programs smarter, more […]

Are Millennials Different, or Just Delaying Homeownership?

Big, diverse, and a little bit different, the Millennial generation is often cast as the solution to—or the cause of—many of America’s housing challenges. But Millennials probably aren’t as principal to understanding U.S. housing market conditions as the sheer amount of media coverage may lead us to believe. The opportunities available to Gen Xers and […]

Working in Partnership

[Editorial note: In commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Rooflines has chosen to share an essay from the Shelterforce archives. Co-written by Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and John Taylor in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the decade-old essay shows us that the reality for millions of Americans in poverty has not changed very […]

Disparate Impact: A Texan’s Perspective

It’s important to remember, as Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project reaches the Supreme Court of the United States later this month, the actual people who bear the brunt of Texas’ history of housing discrimination. As Alan Jenkins’ earlier post on Rooflines points out, on January 21 the Supreme […]

Homegrown Solutions To Inequity in Ferguson and Beyond

The debate about Ferguson continues: The grand jury decision is unfair to many; policing practices seem discriminatory and dangerous; and local court systems have been shown to prey upon low-income people. The sheer scope of the problems can be overwhelming. But let’s take a step back. Richard Rothstein’s “The Making of Ferguson“ links some modern […]

Punctuated Equilibrium and Racial Justice

“Ordinary people exercise power in American politics mainly at those extraordinary moments when they rise up in anger and hope, defy the rules that ordinarily govern their daily lives, and, by doing so, disrupt the workings of the institutions in which they are enmeshed. The drama of such events, combined with the disorder that results, […]

Time to Learn from Europe on Housing?

Since we recently had bloggers squaring off on the question of whether expanding homeownership really is an important policy priority in and of itself (Alan Mallach: Yes, Tony Roshan Samara: No), I thought it was interesting to throw this New Yorker article into the mix—a reminder that many of our tax subsidies ($200 billion a […]

“Inequality Happens?” Hopefully Not

In a recent Rooflines post, Sarah Treuhaft holds up new, reputable data that finds that inequality is not a circumstance of economic success, after all, but that it actually has a dampening effect. Specifically, the widening gap between the poor and lower middle class (households in the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution) and […]

Community Foundations Move to Adopt a New Anchor Mission

According to the Foundation Center’s 2014 Key Facts report, community foundations today have nearly $65 billion in assets, more than 9 percent of all foundation assets ($715 billion). As noted at a recent White House conference, over 700 community foundations operate nationwide. Yet while the first community foundation in Cleveland was founded in 1914, their […]

Foreclosures Are Making People Sick

[Editor's note: Shelterforce continues to discuss the connection between health and housing, and most recently devoted an entire issue to the topic. The op-ed below originally appeared in American Banker on November 3, 2014.] While foreclosure activity has declined since the peak of the mortgage crisis, millions of families are still at risk of losing […]

There’s Really No Argument Against Disparate Impact

Open, inclusive communities free of discrimination are critical to our national success. But despite the progress we’ve made as a nation, significant obstacles to fair housing persist. There are still some real estate agents, landlords, and others who practice intentional discrimination against people of color, families with children, people with disabilities, and other Americans. But […]

Would Just Letting the Hot Markets Build More Help Affordability?

As people move back into the cities, and rental housing demand goes up, it's been an interesting time for people wrestling with the problems of highly unaffordable areas to live. Some people are arguing that limits on development—whether it's density restrictions like Washington, D.C.'s height limits, or the kinds of geographical, historical, or quality of […]

Forget Red and Blue States: Go Green for Better Jobs, Health,...

The following op-ed is an expanded version of “Green States Better for Jobs,” that appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal on October 20, 2014. How do you win an election in any red Southern state? If you are running as a senator the conventional wisdom is you condemn government as an enemy of working families […]

Happy Holidays From All of Us to All of You

                    As we wind down 2014 and prepare for the new year, the folks at Shelterforce would like to express our thanks to you—our readers and supporters. We’ve enjoyed connecting with you through Shelterforce in print and on the web, Rooflines, and our Shelterforce Weekly newsletter, […]

Amidst Congressional Missteps, Housing Opportunities Remain

Here in Washington, Congress has finally done its primary job: that of funding the government. The process of last-minute scrambling and late-night bargaining is clearly no way to run a government—as members of Congress and their staff become harried, priorities don’t get properly vetted. This style of governance also offers an opportunity for special interests […]

Jobs and More Jobs: Organizing’s Economic Impact

In the report, “Jobs and More Jobs: The Economic Impact of Community Organizing,” Gamaliel community organizers add up $13 billion worth of public and private programs that faith, community, and labor leaders worked to create or save through their advocacy efforts in 2012-13, employing nearly 460,000 people. Using commonly accepted economic formulas to measure the […]

Say It Loud: Inequality is Bad for Everyone

    There is an invisible culprit in the great scandal of inequality in America: your Econ. 101 textbook. Go ahead, dig it out from that storage chest, and undoubtedly you’ll read that inequality, while we might not like it, is good for economic growth and progress. This idea has undergirded decades of policymaking, and […]

Photo Contest: Aging With Dignity

Do you have a senior housing development? Are you helping seniors age in place with supportive housing, accessibility retrofits, home repair assistance, creative financial solutions, or other services? Are you organizing against financial abuse for seniors? Does your organization run on the power of retirees and their volunteerism? Share their faces and stories with your […]

Do Good Techies Make Good Neighbors?

Everybody knows that if you want to restore integrity to your downtown business corridor or your local industrial park, if you want to create jobs and point your community toward the future of the workforce, or if you want to capture the hearts and minds of DIY makers and social entrepreneurs, you'd better have a […]

Maybe We Should Call Them Trailers

It is an article of faith among advocates for residents of manufactured housing that one of the most important things we can do to get over the stigma that this form of housing carries is to stop using the term “mobile homes” (they aren't really mobile) or “trailers/trailer parks” (ditto). Shelterforce has used “manufactured housing” […]

Stepping Back From “Stepping Forward”

Public housing tenants are celebrating the Seattle Housing Authority’s (SHA) decision to retract a controversial plan to raise rents by more than 400 percent in the coming years. The “Stepping Forward” plan, announced last September, was immediately met with stiff resistance from tenants mostly organized through the Tenants Union of Washington State (TUWS). In November, […]

How Much Money Is Your City or State Losing to “Economic...

Have you ever wondered how much money your city or state is actually losing when it gives a 20-year tax break to a developer in exchange for a handful of jobs? You might soon be able to find out. As Shawn Escoffery of the Surdna Foundation and Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First explain in […]

Renters Are Not The Problem

Alan Mallach concludes his recent commentary on the problem of declining homeownership (Do Urban Neighborhoods Need Homeowners?) with the important reminder that cities and policymakes should not neglect renters. Yet, his argument leading up to this point is a prescription for continuing a century-old approach to housing that structurally advantages homeowners and disadvantages moderate- and […]

How Are Shared Equity Programs Growing With Public Investment?

In an era of dwindling affordable housing resources, communities are looking for ways to use what they have more efficiently. Advocates for shared equity homeownership programs have long argued that preserving long-term affordability helps public funding go further; in fact, new data shows that public funds invested in shared equity homes have been growing at […]

Housing Equity’s Future: Moving from Debate to Productive Dialogue

A robust debate erupted on Shelterforce in response to Miriam Axel-Lute’s article, “The Dangerous Rhetoric of Escaping to Opportunity,” with strongly worded opinions flowing from both sides of the mobility and place based debate. As practitioners who were involved in this vigorous conversation and referenced in the article, we had a series of private discussions […]

Vouchers Are Helping Children Avoid Concentrated Poverty

More than 5 million people in some 2 million low-income families use Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) to help them afford decent housing. Although the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program makes little difference in where poor white families with children live, it makes a large difference for poor families of color, as our recent paper explains. […]

Manufactured Housing: Underutilized and Misunderstood

What will it take for manufactured housing, the principal source of unsubsidized, affordable homes in the United States, to reach its potential? Limited and expensive financing options make life even more difficult for the financially vulnerable residents who live in manufactured housing (MH) communities. The continuing consolidation of ownership is taking a toll, and the […]

Policing in Communities of Color: We Want to Hear Your Voice

On Rooflines, bloggers have written directly about events in Ferguson, MO, and indirectly analyzed the social ramifications of racial and economic discrimination going unchecked in communities. From “Three-Strikes” Law enforcement, to sentencing disparity among races in crack/powder cocaine offenses, to aggressive policing strategies in communities of color, the relationship between law enforcement and people of […]

On Beyond Income: Asset Building and Union Organizing Go Together

I wrote earlier this week about how the current increase in labor organizing among service workers calls for a conscious choice by other nonprofits who work with low-income households to offer our solidarity to those campaigns. Beyond the fact of supporting workers in their struggle for self-determination, there are some other opportunities for cross-pollination there. […]

That YouTube Video You’ve Seen has a Land Trust Background

Over 5 million YouTube views?! For a regional nonprofit that measures social media impact in the thousands (of connections) and hundreds (of clicks), it was quite a mashup when Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland (NHSGC) connected with Defy Media, producers of the Prank It FWD video series, in their quest to surprise a single […]

On Progressives and Picket Lines

The story was very different, depending who told it. To the organizers of the I'M HOME and National Manufactured Homeowners' Assocation conferences, news that the Seattle Olive 8 hotel, which they had booked for their annual conferences this past November, was under boycott by the hotel workers union UNITE HERE for refusing to allow workers […]

Walking Away: What Happens When a Project Can’t Be Completed?

As children, many of us grew up hearing from our parents that we must, “finish what we started.” Whether we stalled on a math assignment or scooped too much food onto our dinner plate, we were instructed to keep going until we were done. Certainly, this lesson provides some guidance for events to come later […]

Happy Thanksgiving!

To All Shelterforce Rooflines readers and contributors: The Shelterforce staff is thankful for you and your words that inspire, challenge, and inform. We wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving holiday. We'll return to our regular blog publishing on Monday. (Photo credit: Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P., CC BY-NC 2.0)

Still Learning, After All These Years

I had a great education and was fortunate enough to have scholarships to become the first in my family to obtain a Master’s degree. But I made a career choice in 1974 to forego a PhD for experiential learning. I didn’t know that at the time. For me it was a job then not just […]

Do Urban Neighborhoods Need Homeowners?

At a conference I attended last week, one of the speakers, a colleague whose judgment and knowledge I respect, offered his take on the future of urban single family neighborhoods. The lower income families who have the credit and can get together the down payment to become homeowners are buying in the suburbs. People working […]

Historic, and Green, and Affordable, and at (Some) Scale?

Iberville Offsites—the collective name of the 46 historic homes throughout New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood, restored and preserved as low-income affordable housing—received the 2014 National Trust/HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation earlier this week. “This project is proof that eliminating blight, providing affordable housing and maintaining the historic fabric of our neighborhoods are not […]

Ferguson: No One Should Be Surprised

This op-ed originally appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on October 8, 2014. Recent events in Ferguson constitute the logical outcome of forces spelled out in 1968 by the National Advisory Panel on Civil Disorders, better known as the Kerner Commission. The report warned of a “permanent division of our country into two societies: […]

A RADical Change for Public Housing?

Earler this month, we published an op-ed from HUD in which the authors declared the Rental Assistance Demonstration project a success, calling for a lifting of the cap on the number of units that could go through the process. The idea behind RAD is to address the massive backlog in capital improvements in public housing by […]

Asian Americans Key in Virginia Senate Race?

When I drafted this post, incumbent Virginia Senator Mark Warner held a narrow margin of victory over challenger Ed Gillespie (Warner has since declared victory, and Gillespie officially conceded). The race was bitterly contested, and the results are notable in that Asian Americans–with growing populations in Northern Virginia–were very likely determinative in Warner’s victory. UC […]

Housing Microfinance: So Little Changes So Much

Housing in the developing world is a process. Families may replace a dirt floor with a clean, hard surface. They might reinforce the walls or the roof to prevent water from seeping through the cracks when it rains. They may build an additional room after welcoming a new child into the world or build a […]

An Artful Rebirth in Columbus

In two excellent articles and a video, The Atlantic magazine profiles the good work the community development field is doing in Columbus, Ohio. As part of a larger series on reinvention and resilience in communities throughout the country, the magazine takes a close look at the Franklinton neighborhood and the Franklinton Development Association (FDA). Like […]

#OMG: Is the #NPO Sector Tech Averse?

I was speaking with a friend of mine who works at a very large nonprofit organization (very large as in over $100 million in annual revenues). They serve thousands of clients every year with job development, alcohol and other drug abuse treatment, affordable housing, psychological counseling and a variety of other supports. As a result […]

City Halls Help Plant Seeds for Community Co-ops

What do Austin, New York City and Denver have in common? All three cities voted to support the development of cooperatives for the first time this year. The amounts are modest, but the trend is clear—mayors and economic development leaders are beginning to add cooperatives and community wealth building to the economic development toolbox. In […]

A Win for the CLT And Inclusionary Housing Community

The NHI family is very pleased to share the news that our op-ed, “Faith in land trusts: Time to consider the middle ground of housing,” appears in The Boston Globe today. Publication of the article by National Housing Institute executive director Harold Simon, with Lincoln Institute of Land Policy president and CEO George McCarthy, is a […]

Want a Stronger Economy? Focus More on Racial Inclusion

  As housing and community development practitioners, you need little convincing that dismantling racial barriers to economic opportunity—from policing practices to exclusionary zoning—is critical to building stronger, more cohesive communities. But what about the economic cost of these persistent racial inequities? Might segregated regions not just undermine the country’s moral fabric, but also hinder its […]

Covered Bridge: A Program That Keeps the Elderly in Their Homes

Nonprofit housers need to think gray in a new way. It has long been predicted that a demographic wave of retirement-age Americans would soon be breaking upon the shores of our communities. It has now arrived. Despite being forewarned, most communities are poorly prepared to meet the housing needs of this cohort. That is especially […]

After a Long Impasse, A Win for Dudley Street?

In the film Gaining Ground, about the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a powerful community planning and organizing group in Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, one of the major story lines involves the Kroc Community Center. In a nutshell, the Salvation Army got a huge amount of money to build community centers around the country, and wanted […]

2014 Elections: The Takeaway for Housing and Community Development Policy

Enterprise Community Partners created this quick yet comprehensive analysis of the implications of the election on housing and community development programs that we here at Shelterforce and Rooflines have found helpful. (Photo credit, Flickr user Carl CC BY-SA 2.0)

Attitude Reflects Leadership

Recently I was honored to receive the Ned Gramlich Award for Responsible Finance during the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) Conference in Denver. To be recognized by the national association of investors dedicated to aligning capital with justice was a humbling experience—one made more so by the courageous legacy of the late Federal Reserve Bank Governor […]

Rural Housing: An Election Day Post-Mortem

For those of us in the rural housing silo, the most significant November 4 result may be a fairly ho-hum and fully expected re-election in Eastern Kentucky. In the nation’s most rural Congressional district, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) ran against the same Democratic opponent he defeated in 2012 with 78 percent of […]

Advancing Economic Opportunity Through Diversity

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in an important and powerful conversation about the importance of diversity and inclusion in achieving economic equity at the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) conference in Denver, Colorado. This is a topic that hits close to home for me. Before I joined JPMorgan Chase, I spent 10 years at […]

Private Money Successfully Fixing Public Housing

[Editor's note: Over the past several years, Shelterforce has covered HUD's plans to address the capital funding backlog in public housing through allowing PHAs to take on private debt here, here, and here, when it was announced in its first form, PETRA, or the Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance initiative. This op-ed by […]

Hey Housers, Health Folks Want to Talk to You Too!

  People in the affordable housing field have grown increasingly interested in talking about healthcare. Concepts like “housing as a platform” for health outcomes have become part of our professional lexicon and panel topics at our conferences. We talk a lot about the barriers to progress in aligning health and housing policy in this country. […]

Two Years Later, Much More Work Remains

  Today marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. To commemorate, the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey joined Sandy survivors, community leaders, and elected officials at several events along the Jersey Shore.   In a statement, HCDNNJ President and CEO Staci Berger said: “Coming back from a disaster of the magnitude of […]

Election Polling, Big Data, and Movement Building

There is a data geek Internet flame war going on between Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium and Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com over 2014 election projections. Evidence of the confrontation can be found here, here, and here. My research interests (such as they are) tend more toward demographic analysis, and I am far from […]

The Benefits of Having Everyone at the Table

How might we better engage the families we work with and provide them access to larger opportunities? Last month, CFED held their bi-annual Assets Learning Conference. It featured a range of topics that touched on an array of asset-building issues and included networking opportunities, mobilized conversations with policymakers, and celebrations of the progress of the […]

Finding and Fostering Entreprenuerial Spirit in Underserved Communities

A few years ago, I had what I thought was a great business idea. After much excited Googling and resource combing, I came across a seven-week small business training program being offered through my town. The training, run by the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL), was only open to people who were unemployed. I was […]

A Look in the Mirror: Do CDFIs (and CDCs) Reflect Their...

Last year, I wrote about the teeming conference of the Opportunity Finance Network, the trade group for community development financial institutions, with a little bit of awe at how different it was from the rest of the community development world in its growth and optimism, worrying about mission creep rather than survival. This year the […]

The Real Problem with the Model Minority Myth

There is a Time article—“The Real Problem When It Comes to Diversity and Asian-Americans“—that has been making the rounds on the Internet. As a card-carrying member of the Model Minority Myth Busters club, I am sympathetic with author Jack Linshi’s piece in that it seeks to discredit model minority mythology. However, there are a couple […]

Do the Roads Belong to All of Us?

The other day at a planning board meeting, I heard someone claim that all the roads from the nearest shopping center to their house, a distance of at least three miles, were “residential roads.” That was a new one to me. What he based that on was the fact that there are many houses along […]

What’s The Matter With Atlantic City?

Over the past few months, there’s been a drumbeat of bad news coming out of Atlantic City. Since the beginning of 2014, four casinos have closed, including Revel, which the state of New Jersey granted $261 million in tax breaks to back in 2011 so they could finish construction and open their doors. A fifth […]

Ferguson and Reparations

Shortly after the signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, the bill enacting redress and reparations for the internment of Japanese Americans, there was an editorial cartoon in my local newspaper. There were two Native Americans.  One was reading a newspaper. The newspaper had a headline that read “Japanese Americans to get $20,000 each.” […]

Reclaiming America on Columbus Day

As a college sophomore in October of 1968, I marched as part of the ROTC color guard at the front of the Columbus Day parade in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. Those were challenging times for our country. I chose to leave ROTC less than a year later as protests against the Vietnam War called our […]

“Inclusionary Upzoning” Is Gaining Ground. Here’s Why.

Inclusionary housing policies can help with a lot of the issues that many cities and towns struggle with these days, from the dwindling supply of affordable rental options in hot housing markets to the need for a fairer housing market that includes real location choices for lower-income households. These policies, which ask developers to include […]

Manufactured Housing as a Bridge Over the Affordability Gap

Although the percentage of new manufactured homes placed in manufactured home communities is still relatively low–about 30 percent in 2013—78 percent of the total new manufactured homes were titled as personal property.

“Workforce Housing” Is an Insulting Term

So folks, we need to have a chat about this whole “workforce housing” thing. It's a problem. Or rather, the way it is often being used these days is a problem, which is as shorthand for housing for people who aren't really low-income, but are still having trouble affording housing in a hot market. Moderate […]

When Will Attitudes Change Toward Solar?

It was a bright, sunny day in Chicago on September 24. Celebrants were singing, “You Are My Sunshine,” as the solar panels had already saved $64 since the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) in the US had started them up just a few hours earlier. With 483 panels, each producing 310 watts, ICA’s 166,000 square […]

Suitcases and Shopping Carts: Lessons from Recent Labor Victories

This week, the Hyatt Hotels Corporation agreed to pay $1 million to the 98 housekeepers who were fired and replaced by lower-paid workers five years ago.  A few weeks earlier, employees of the Market Basket family-owned grocery store chain returned to work after over a month of protests helped to reinstate the ousted, worker-friendly CEO. […]

Don’t Force Employees to Live in Cities They Work For–Entice Them!

I recently was asked about the pros and cons of municipalities requiring that their employees live within the city limits. It’s an interesting question that raises a host of public policy questions, but emergency response personnel comes to my mind. The city council of Brentwood, a small city in southern California, is debating whether or […]

How to Respond When Someone Screams “But We’ll Get Sued!”

There are not a ton of things I read on the Internet that instantly make me want to hunt down the author and send him or her flowers. But Charles Marohn's post “On Liability“ on the Strong Towns blog was definitely one of them. “Liability” is increasingly sucking the joy out of life. Everywhere you […]

Our Window of Opportunity Is Open–Let’s Tackle Poverty Now

Every few generations, the stars align to create the potential for monumental, transformative social change. Turns out we’re in just such a moment right now when it comes to tackling poverty in the United States. I don’t blame you for being skeptical. Economic inequality is growing, big corporations are consolidating their political power, and our […]

Ferguson on My Mind

Outside my house, two young African-American boys, maybe 9 or 10, scoot by on skateboards. One is carrying something on a leaf and stops to show me a giant slug. We chat about it a bit; I tell him that I looked up what kind of slug that was recently but now don’t remember. He […]

The New Dawn of the Nonprofit Merger

It used to be that the idea of one nonprofit taking over another was simply anathema.  Nonprofits didn’t, you know, do that to one another. Mergers and acquisitions were the territory of national banks, energy companies and pharmaceutical giants with oversized ambitions and possibly malevolent intent. Nonprofits weren’t motivated by “creating efficiencies,” particularly at the […]

Asian-American Poverty Higher than You Think, And Growing

The US Census recently released American Community Survey (ACS) numbers for 2013. My narrow, first and foremost task with these new numbers is to look at poverty numbers. The growth in numbers of people in poverty is slowing—possibly a sign that the economic recovery is finally trickling (albeit a tiny trickle) down to poor people. […]

Now You See the Money, Now You Don’t

Since November of last year, the United States Justice Department has announced multi-billion dollar settlements with the nation’s three largest banks – Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America (BoA) – over what Justice calls the “packaging, marketing, sale and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities.” Collectively, these three banks have agreed to pay a total […]

Government Works Badly–If We Refuse to Invest in It

At the Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Summit earlier this week, Shelterforce got to interview former HUD secretaries Mel Martinez and Henry Cisneros (we'll publish that interview here next week). One of the questions we asked was how to handle the fact that the American electorate often seems to have a bias, not so much against […]

Congress Misses AmeriCorps’ 20th Birthday

AmeriCorps turned 20 on September 12th. To celebrate, the agency had an immensely successful Thunderclap campaign that reached over 51 million people on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. It was the 4th most popular Thunderclap campaign so far. Now I’m an old dog still learning new social media tricks so I didn’t know what a Thunderclap […]

All Hands on Deck: Bringing Universities More into the Fold

(with Sheryl Verlaine Whitney)  If there was one phrase heard more than any other during our work at HUD, it was “All hands on deck.” (Actually, it was second only to “Are you kidding me?”). In virtually every situation, whether it was implementing programs in response to the housing crisis, getting Recovery Act funds allocated […]

Moving Toward Solutions in Ferguson

Over the past few weeks, many news accounts have laid bare questionable—and perhaps criminal—police behavior and the subsequent and continuing protests by concerned citizens in and around Ferguson, Mo. On a single day, September 10th, at least three protests happened—one at the state capitol, one outside St. Louis City Hall, and one near Ferguson (a thwarted highway sit-in […]

“Nowhere to Live Safe”: Moving to Peace and Safety

We all experience stress in our daily lives, whether financial worries or problems at work or at home. Few of us escape some exposure to “adverse childhood experiences.” But many low-income families have to live, day in and day out, with corrosive fear for their children’s basic safety. A new policy brief, authored by researchers […]

Community Development News

Wages Are Falling Farther Behind Housing Prices   A worker would have to earn $13.87 per hour – called the “Housing Wage”– to afford the national median fair market rent for a two-bedroom rental house or apartment according to Out of Reach 2001: America’s Growing Wage-Rent Disparity, published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition […]

Shelter Shorts / Short Takes

Rent War Rages in New York City A pitched battle is underway in New York State, as landlord and tenant advocates square off over the expiration of rent regulations this June 15. Republican State Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno has vowed to let rent protections “sunset” if leadership reaches no deal with Assembly Democrats. But […]

Shelter Shorts

Landlord Tastes Own Medicine Newark landlord George Williams recently suffered a fate similar to that of Joe Pesci’s character in the movie The Super, in which a judge orders Pesci to serve time in the same decrepit building his tenants must endure daily. On November 22, Municipal Judge Paul R. Daniele ordered Williams to serve […]

Shelter Shorts

Jury Awards $3.2 Million in Lending Discrimination Case In the first jury trial in the United States dealing with mortgage lending discrimination, an individual was awarded $3.2 million in damages after a jury determined that he was discriminated against when denied a loan by First Gibraltar Bank (now known as First Madison Bank, FSB).  Gordon […]