Shelterforce Series

Under the Lens

Under the Lens series are Shelterforce’s deep dives into specific topics. Here you’ll find features, explainers, solutions, opinion, and conversation around crucial themes in housing and community development. A single Under the Lens series is a focused exploration of a topic—but never the last word.

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Not Just Ramps—Disability and Housing Justice

A composite picture that includes blueprint-style drawings on blue, a row of apartments in pink and a tall tower in blue. Large figures are a smiling young woman with long black hair and a smiling young man in a wheelchair. Smaller images include people with canes and in wheelchairs, and two men seated on a bench at a bus stop, the older one wearing dark glasses and holding a cane.
Disability and housing intersect in many ways. What comes to mind for most people is physical accessibility, but accessibility is not always a matter of physical spaces. A wide range of policies, rules, and procedures can also have accessibility implications, often unintended. Over the next several months in our new Under the Lens series, Not Just Ramps—Disability and Housing Justice, we'll delve into some of the different laws that are supposed to require accessible spaces and reduce discrimination, as well as the tactics and resources housing developers can use to prioritize making disability-friendly housing. Don't miss a story—sign up for our newsletter today.
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New AFFH Rules: What You Need to Know

A black and white photo of seven people protesting racial discrimination in housing on a street corner, as a 1950s-era Buick drives past. The signs read "Stop racial discrimination now!"; "I support open housing"; "Don't patronize picture floor plans"; and a hand-lettered sign says "There can be no innocent bystanders." Most of the people in the photo are people of color; two are hidden by their signs.
What’s the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing provision? How has it been enforced in the past? And what do fair housing advocates think of the Biden Administration's proposed changes? Shelterforce’s new Under the Lens series—New AFFH Rules: What You Need to Know—explores that and more.  This Under the Lens series launched in March 2023 and ran for two weeks. For more stories like this, sign up for our newsletter.
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Tenant Power Returns

An illustration show tenants rallying on the streets. Some have signs that read "Rent is Too Damn High." The illustration is part of Shelterforce's series "Tenant Power Returns."
In the Under the Lens series Tenant Power Returns, Shelterforce dives deep into the past, present, and future of tenant organizing. We take a closer look at the components of what many organizers call a tenants bill of rights and give you accessible ways to share them with others, plus lots more. This Under the Lens series launched in November 2022 and ran for several weeks. For more stories like this, sign up for our newsletter.
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Homes or Cash Cows?

An illustration of homes on a conveyor belt going through a machine and coming out as golden homes. Green dollar bills are coming out of the homes. This illustrates the financialization of housing.
Nowadays housing is treated more as an instrument for financial gain than a place for shelter. How has this way of thinking changed the market? In Homes or Cash Cows, Shelterforce explores what people mean when they talk about the "financialization" of housing, some of its causes and effects, and what housing advocates are trying to do about it. This Under the Lens series launched in August 2022 and ran for several weeks. Don’t miss a future series by signing up for our newsletter.
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ADUs Explained

In ADUs Explained, we’ll look at some of the major policy considerations in legalizing accessory dwelling units, how they get built and financed, and the role they can play in our affordable housing landscape. The series launched in May 2022. Don’t miss a beat by signing up for our newsletter.
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The Racial Wealth Gap—Moving to Systemic Solutions

As important as homeownership, business ownership, and higher education are, we must go beyond simply promoting more of each if we want to close the racial wealth gap. In The Racial Wealth Gap—Moving to Systemic Solutions, Shelterforce widens the lens on the racial wealth gap and what needs to be done about it. The series launched in February 2022. Don’t miss a beat by signing up for our weekly newsletter.
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Building Differently

Experiments to lower construction costs, from utilizing shipping containers to 3D printing, have been happening for years. But have we found anything that will help us build affordable housing at scale, and for less? And if not, what will it take to get us there? We'll take a closer look in Building Differently, an Under the Lens series. The series launched in October 2021. Don’t miss a beat by signing up for our weekly newsletter.
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Community Ownership Takes Center Stage

Community land trusts and cooperatives are two of the most prominent models of community ownership, and ones we’ve written about for many years. In this Under the Lens series—Community Ownership Takes Center Stage—we take a focused look at some of the ways these forms of community ownership are evolving. The month-long series launched July 2021. Don't miss a beat by signing up for our weekly newsletter.
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Health Sector 101

Housing is health care. The truth of that statement is clearer now than ever before. But as we’ve found in our coverage of health and community development over the past couple of years, knowing that partnering with the health sector is a good idea and understanding how to do it are two different things. This series talks about what often doesn't get said. Who are the players in the health sector, and what are their incentives to address social determinants of health? What is the difference between public health and medical care? How do partnerships get started?
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