Residents March Through Baltimore City Hall To Demand Affordable Housing Funds

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By Staff of The Real News Network – TAYA GRAHAM: This is Taya Graham reporting for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland. Baltimore City activists have finally said enough is enough and are demanding that the city give residents money to invest in their community, not wealthy developers. A quick survey of the Baltimore City skyline reveals in stone and mortar what public tax incentive can produce. But the problem with this rising tide of gleaming towers is that the new construction is only widening the gap between the rich and poor, says community activist, Destiny Watford. DESTINY WATFORD: This tool will allow us to keep wealth in our neighborhood. It would allow us to build the things that we need in our neighborhoods because no one else in Baltimore knows what we need more than the people that live there. TAYA GRAHAM: Incentives funded by residents who can’t afford to live in the buildings their tax dollars produced. BONNIE ORRAVENLEE: I’m here because I am pissed off and I am outraged because people are dying in the street every day. TAYA GRAHAM: And who are now demanding change. TARELL ASKEW: We need for our city leaders to be more than leaders at the podium. We need for them to join us and this great cause of building the city into a better place to live and building us all into better people to live in it.

Tiny Homes Banned In U.S. At Increasing Rate As Govt Criminalizes Sustainable Living

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By Staff of Daily Curiosity – As the corporatocracy tightens its grip on the masses – finding ever more ways to funnel wealth to the top – humanity responds in a number of ways, including the rising popularity of tiny houses. These dwellings, typically defined as less than 500 square feet, are a way for people to break free of mortgages, taxes, utility bills and the general trappings of “stuff.” They’re especially attractive to millennials and retirees, or those seeking to live off-grid. But government and corporations depend on rampant consumerism and people being connected to the grid. Seeking actual freedom through minimalist living should seem like a natural fit for the American dream, but the reality is that many governments around the country either ban tiny homes or force them to be connected to the utility grid. “As of now, few cities allow stand-alone tiny houses. Most communities have minimum square footage requirements for single-family homes mandating that smaller dwellings be an “accessory” to a larger, traditional house. Many also have rules requiring that dwellings be hooked up to utilities, which is a problem for tiny-house enthusiasts who want to live off the grid by using alternative energy sources such as solar panels and rainwater catchment systems.”

National Low Income Housing Coalition On Tax Proposal

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By Diane Yentel for Natinal Low Income Housing Coalition. WASHINGTON, D.C.- The tax reform legislation proposed by House Republican leaders takes a historic step in directly revising the mortgage interest deduction (MID), a $70 billion annual tax expenditure that primarily benefits higher income households—including the top 1% of earners in the country. The Republican tax proposal makes sensible reforms in lowering the amount of a mortgage against which the MID can be claimed to $500,000 for new home loans and doubling the standard deduction. This change to the MID would impact fewer than 6% of mortgages nationwide and would save an estimated $95.5 billion over the first decade.

Housing Justice Groups Align As National Movement Grows

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By Jess Clarke for Homes for All – Renters across the US are beginning to rise up against the housing affordability crises that is hitting cities, towns, suburbs and even rural regions of the country. Since the mass evictions brought on by the foreclosure crisis, the number of renters has grown. Six million were added when they were pushed out of home ownership by the banks and millions more began to rent as young workers entered the labor market to face a decade of recession. Renters are now more than 50% of the population in the top 100 US cities, and high rents coupled with stagnant wages mean that over 50% of these renter households now pay unaffordable rents.[1] These two tipping points mean renters are poised to emerge as a powerful block in local and national politics. In September of 2017, this rising tide of discontent was mobilized. Over one hundred organizations in two dozen cities and towns staged fifty coordinated demonstrations during a national Renter Week of Action and Assemblies (RWAA) organized by the Homes For All Campaign. They demanded universal rent control and eviction protections, full funding for the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD), an end to subsidies for corporate landlords, the right of all tenants to organize and bargain collectively, and long-term community control of land and housing.

Newsletter - Greater Austerity Coming Unless We Act

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. As one of the world’s richest nations, the US stands out for having the greatest wealth divide and high levels of poverty. Over the past 40 years, wages have stagnated and, as Lynn points out, “the richest one percent took more than half of all income growth since 1979.” Currently, the top 0.1 percent have wealth equal to the bottom 90 percent. It isn’t a matter of whether the US has enough money to support basic necessities like health, education and housing, but who has the wealth in the US and where our tax dollars are being spent.

9to5 Colorado Fights For Renter’s Rights, Affordable Housing

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By 9to5 Colorado. Colorado – Community members from Denver, Aurora, Westminster, and Commerce City came together to participate in the National Renter’s Week of Action alongside other affiliates of the Right to the City Homes For All campaign. These impacted community and non-profit organizations behind the following local actions are all part of a statewide coalition called Colorado Homes For All, which was formed as a response to the national and local housing crisis. Colorado kicked off the National Renters’ Week of Action here locally with “Evicting THE EVICTOR,” an action that exposed the Tschetter, Hamrick and Sulzer Law firm that represents 80% of corporate landlords across Colorado.

Baltimore’s Push To Solve Its Affordable Housing Crisis With Community Land Trusts

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters      4.8k     1.0k      Alana Semuels Aug 9, 2015   Half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty, the number of Americans living in slums is rising at an extraordinary pace.  The number of people living in high-poverty areas—defined as census tracts where 40 percent or more of families have income levels below the federal poverty threshold—nearly doubled between 2000 and 2013, to 13.8 million from 7.2 million, according to a new analysis of census data by Paul Jargowsky, a public-policy professor at Rutgers University-Camden and a fellow at The Century Foundation. That’s the highest number of Americans living in high-poverty neighborhoods ever recorded.  The development is worrying, especially since the number of people living in high-poverty areas fell 25 percent, to 7.2 million from 9.6 million, between 1990 and 2000. Back then, concentrated poverty was declining in part because the economy was booming. The Earned Income Tax Credit boosted the take-home pay for many poor families. (Studies have shown the EITC also creates a feeling of social inclusion and citizenship among low-income earners.) The unemployment rate fell as low as 3.8 percent, and the first minimum wage increases in a decade made it easier for families to get by. Programs to disassemble housing projects in big cities such as Chicago and Detroit eradicated some of the most concentrated poverty in the country, Jargowsky told me.  As newly middle-class minorities moved to inner suburbs, though, the mostly white residents of those suburbs moved further away, buying up the McMansions that were being built at a rapid pace. This acceleration of white flight was especially problematic in Rust Belt towns that didn’t experience the economic boom of the mid-2000s. They were watching manufacturing and jobs move overseas. Population Living in High-Poverty Neighborhoods (in millions) Source: 1990 and 2000 Census, 2005-2009 and 2009-2013 ACS/The Century Foundation  Cities such as Detroit saw continued white flight as wealthier residents moved to Oakland County and beyond, further and further away from the city’s core. They brought their tax dollars with them, leaving the city with little tax base, a struggling economy, and no resources to spend on services. More From The Next Economy      The Racial Gaps in America's Recovery     $500 Million Is a Small Price to Pay for Women's Health     A Long Road Home  Low-income residents who wanted to follow the wealthy to the suburbs would have had a difficult time. Many wealthy suburbs passed zoning ordinances that prohibited the construction of affordable-housing units or the construction of apartment buildings in general. Some mandated that houses all be detached, or are a minimum size, which essentially makes them too expensive for low-income families.  “It’s no longer legal to say, ‘We don’t want African-Americans to live here,’ but you can say, ‘I’m going to make sure no one who makes less than two times the median income lives here,’” Jargowsky told me.  (Though some affordable-housing developers try to build in the suburbs, many more, especially those in the “poverty-housing industry,” advocate for building more developments in high-poverty areas to stimulate economic growth. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which has a goal of investing in distressed neighborhoods, for example, has spent $14.7 billion building affordable housing units since 1980.)  Some of the cities where poverty is the most concentrated are in the Midwest and Northeast, where tens of thousands of people have headed to suburbs, and the region itself is shrinking in population. In Syracuse, New York, for example, 65 percent of the black population lived in high-poverty areas in 2013, up from 43 percent of the black population in 2000, Jargowsky found. In Detroit, 58 percent of the black population lived in areas of concentrated poverty in 2013, up from 17 percent in 2000. And in Milwaukee, 43 percent of the Latino population lived in areas of concentrated poverty in 2013, up from 5 percent in 2000.  The number of high-poverty census tracts is also growing in many of these cities. In Detroit, the number of such tracts tripled to 184, from 51 between 2000 and 2013, as concentrated poverty spread to inner suburbs. In Syracuse, the number of high-poverty census tracts grew to 30 from 12.  Federal dollars have sometimes been used in ways that increase the concentration of poverty. Most affordable housing is built with low-income housing tax credits, which are distributed by the states. States assign the tax credits through a process in which they weigh a number of different factors including the location of proposed developments. Many states have favored projects in low-income areas, a practice that was the recent subject of a Supreme Court case known as Inclusive Communities. The Inclusive Communities Project argued, in the case, that the way Texas allocated tax credits was discriminatory, since 93 percent of tax credit units in Dallas are located in census tracts that are more than 50 percent minority, and are predominantly poor. The Supreme Court agreed in June, allowing groups to bring lawsuits about such segregation.  Finally, Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8, are meant to give poor families better options about where they live, but are instead confining the poor to the few neighborhoods where landlords will accept the voucher.  All of these developments have increased the racial concentration of poverty, especially in mid-sized American cities.  “These policies build a durable architecture of segregation that ensures that racial segregation and the concentration of poverty is entrenched for years to come,” Jargowsky writes. Highest Black Concentration of Poverty Sources: 2000 Census, 2005-2009 and 2009-2013 ACS/The Century Foundation  Some recent developments, including the Supreme Court decision and a new HUD rule that requires regions to think more carefully about segregation, are positive signs. But Jargowsky says deeper policy prescriptions are needed to reduce these depressing trends in concentrated poverty. First, he says, federal and state governments must ensure that new suburban developments aren’t built more quickly than the metropolitan region is growing, so that such developments don’t create a population vacuum in cities and inner suburbs. Second, every city and town must ensure that new housing construction reflects the income distribution of the metropolitan area, he said, so that more housing is available to people of all incomes in different parts of town.  “If we are serious about breaking down spatial inequality,” Jargowsky writes, “We have to overcome our political gridlock and chart a new course toward a more geographically inclusive society.”  That’s important for the future of our cities, but also for our nation, Jargowsky said. His research shows that poor children are more likely to live in high-poverty areas than are poor adults—28 percent of poor black children live in high-poverty areas, for example, compared to 24 percent of poor black adults. Overall, 16.5 percent of poor children live in high-poverty areas, compared to 13.8 percent of poor adults.  A child who grows up in a high-poverty area is likely to be poor when he grows up. Research out this year from Harvard shows that children who moved from poor areas to more affluent areas had higher incomes and better educational achievements than those who stayed in poor areas. Without dramatic changes, today’s children who live in high-poverty areas are going to grow up to be poor, too.      Jump to Comments   About the Author      Alana Semuels is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was previously a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.         Twitter   by Taboola Sponsored Links AROUND THE WEB 8 Signs You May Have AfibWebMD 19 Common Habits That Will Destroy TeethWedMD 8 Bags Every Man Should Own Macy's Top 20 Worst Snacks to Avoid at All CostsWorld Lifestyle Most Popular      The Coddling of the American Mind         Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt      Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.     Continue Reading     When Success Leads to Failure         Jessica Lahey      I’ve known the mother sitting in front of me at this parent-teacher conference for years, and we have been through a lot together. I have taught three of her children, and I like to think we’ve even become friends during our time together. She’s a conscientious mother who obviously loves her children with all of her heart. I’ve always been honest with her about their strengths and weaknesses, and I think she trusts me to tell her the truth. But when she hits me with the concern that’s been bothering her for a while, all I can do is nod, and stall for time.      “Marianna’s grades are fine; I’m not worried about that, but she just doesn’t seem to love learning anymore.”     Continue Reading     A Matter of Black Lives         Jeffrey Goldberg      In late april of 1994, a 9-year-old African American boy from the broken-down Central City neighborhood of New Orleans wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton, asking him to bring about an end to the violence that was devastating his city.      “Dear Mr. Clinton,” James Darby began. “I want you to stop the killing in the city. People is dead and I think that somebody might kill me. So would you please stop the people from deading. I’m asking you nicely to stop it. I know you can do it. Do it. I now you could.” He signed the letter, “Your friend, James.”      Ten days later, on May 8, Mother’s Day, Darby was visiting A. L. Davis Park with several members of his family. The park, named after Abraham Lincoln Davis, the first African American to sit on the New Orleans city council, is a compact rectangle of basketball courts and grass patches situated directly across the street from a public-housing complex.     Continue Reading     With Donald Trump's Rise, Fox News Reaps What It Sows         Conor Friedersdorf      Fox News’ coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign has resembled the treatment that the real estate tycoon and reality TV star receives in “the mainstream media.” It is unlike the network’s coverage of unqualified populist favorites from past election cycles, like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain. And populists are taking notice.      Last week’s debate is a fine illustration.      Immediately after the candidates left the stage in Cleveland, Ohio, Fox News moderator and anchor Megyn Kelly threw the network’s coverage over to pollster Frank Luntz, who stood in a room with a small group of voters gathered to offer their impressions. “Megyn, we’re about to make some news tonight,” he said as he turned to the panel. His meaning quickly became apparent: Under questioning, most of the assembled voters revealed that they felt unfavorably about Trump’s performance.     Continue Reading     That’s Not Funny!         Caitlin Flanagan      Three comics sat around a café table in the chilly atrium of the Minneapolis Convention Center, talking about how to create the cleanest possible set. “Don’t do what’s in your gut,” Zoltan Kaszas said. “Better safe than sorry,” Chinedu Unaka offered. Feraz Ozel mused about the first time he’d ever done stand-up: three minutes on giving his girlfriend herpes and banging his grandma. That was out.      This was not a case of professionals approaching a technical problem as an intellectual exercise. Money was riding on the answer. They had come to Minneapolis in the middle of a brutal winter for the annual convention of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), to sell themselves and their comedy on the college circuit. Representatives of more than 350 colleges had come as well, to book comics, musicians, sword swallowers, unicyclists, magicians, hypnotists, slam poets, and every kind of boat act, inspirational speaker, and one-trick pony you could imagine for the next academic year.     Continue Reading     Why Iran’s Anti-Semitism Matters         Jeffrey Goldberg      A few days ago, I spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the politics of the Iran deal (you can find the full interview here), and at one point in our conversation I put to Kerry what I thought was—to be honest—something of a gimme question: “Do you believe that Iranian leaders sincerely seek the elimination of the Jewish state?”      Kerry responded provocatively—provocatively, that is, if you understand Iranian leaders, and in particular the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the way I understand them: as people theologically committed to the destruction of Israel. Quotes such as this one from Khamenei help lead me to this conclusion: “This barbaric, wolflike, and infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.” The supreme leader does not specialize in nuance. (Here is a long list of statements made by Iranian leaders concerning their desire to bring about an end to Jewish sovereignty in any part of the ancestral Jewish homeland.)     Continue Reading     Life's Stories         Julie Beck      In Paul Murray's novel Skippy Dies, there’s a point where the main character, Howard, has an existential crisis.“‘It’s just not how I expected my life would be,'" he says.      “‘What did you expect?’” a friend responds.      “Howard ponders this. ‘I suppose—this sounds stupid, but I suppose I thought there’d be more of a narrative arc.’”      But it's not stupid at all. Though perhaps the facts of someone’s life, presented end to end, wouldn't much resemble a narrative to the outside observer, the way people choose to tell the stories of their lives, to others and—crucially—to themselves, almost always does have a narrative arc. In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you're on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are.     Continue Reading     What the Iran-Deal Debate Is Like in Iran         Abbas Milani and Michael McFaul      The nuclear deal with Iran has sparked a vigorous debate not only in the United States, but in Iran as well. The discussion of the agreement among Iranians at times echoes the American discussion, but is also much deeper and wider. Reports in Iranian media, as well as our own correspondence and conversations with dozens of Iranians, both in the country and in exile, reveal a public dialogue that stretches beyond the details of the agreement to include the very future of Iran. And it seems that everyone from the supreme leader to the Iranian American executive in Silicon Valley, from the taxi driver in Isfahan to the dissident from Evin Prison, is engaged. The coalitions for and against the deal tend to correlate closely with those for and against internal political reform and normalized relations with the West.     Continue Reading     Could the Internet Age See Another David Foster Wallace?         Megan Garber      Here is an extremely incomplete list of things I would like to know David Foster Wallace’s thoughts on:      selfie sticks     man buns     farmers’ markets     the Starbucks S’mores Frappuccino®     The League     professional football     college football     trigger warnings     Ferguson     media coverage of Ferguson     Netflix     Breaking Bad     Uber     Mars One     Donald Trump     Facebook     the “personal brand”     Ashley Madison     Instagram     Snapchat     the film The End of the Tour      I would especially love to know his thoughts on that last one, since the movie, being pretty much a filmic love letter to the late author, could well fall into the category of Praise That Made David Foster Wallace Itchy and Squirmy. The conventional wisdom about Wallace—an idea put forth during the nascent days of his fame, and reiterated in a good portion of the approximately 512,246 essays and novels and Tumblr posts that came as that fame crystallized into something closer to canonization—is that Wallace, the person, was extremely ambivalent about Wallace, the persona. He wanted, on the one hand, to join the ranks of DeLillo and Pynchon and Updike (though the latter he famously denigrated as “just a penis with a thesaurus”). But the fame that accompanied literary achievement during the time he was doing all his achieving made him, he insisted, “want to become a recluse.” There’s being celebrated, and then there’s celebrity. Celebrity, in all its tentacular forms, was one of the things Wallace’s work most consistently mocked.     Continue Reading     How White Users Made Heroin a Public-Health Problem         Andrew Cohen      This piece was reported through The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal-justice system.      Heroin use and abuse in America has dramatically increased over the past decade.  Between 2006 and 2013, federal records reveal that the number of first-time heroin users doubled from 90,000 to 169,000. Some of those users, no doubt, already are gone. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced last month that the rate of deadly heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.      These troubling figures, and a spate of more recent stories and daunting statistics, have prompted officials across the country to implement bold new policies and practices designed to reduce the harm of heroin use. Although there has been some push to enhance criminal sanctions to combat the surge, much of the institutional reaction to the renewed popularity of the drug has sounded in the realm of medicine, not law.     Continue Reading     The Wanderlust of #Vanlife         Sam Price-Waldman      How an Instagram hashtag inspired a movement     Watch Video     The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today         Chris Heller      A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.     Watch Video     The Creator of The Wire Explains the War on Drugs' Effect on Police         Nadine Ajaka      David Simon on America's failed policies and the decline of law enforcement     Watch Video  Subscribe  Get 10 issues a year and save 65% off the cover price. 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By Kevon Paynter for Yes! Magazine – Men and women huddle inside the St. John’s United Methodist Church in central Baltimore. The air conditioning in the church is inefficient on a day when the outside temperature is over 100 degrees. Cold water bottles get distributed, along with paper towels to wipe off sweat. Many of these people are homeless or formerly homeless. Others are longtime residents struggling to afford their rent, and they are here to advocate for an affordable housing solution that could bring relief as well as fix Baltimore’s blight. They want Mayor Catherine Pugh to dedicate $40 million in the upcoming budget to fund community land trusts. Across the U.S., cities struggle with expanding income inequality and tight housing markets that drive up rent. These factors result in an extreme shortage of affordable housing. For every 100 low-income renters, there are 31 affordable units, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. Over the years, solutions have emerged. In Burlington, Vermont, and Boston, for example, community ownership of land through nonprofit community land trusts has had decades of success turning vacant lots into affordable housing.

Renter Nation Assemblies 2015

San Francisco housing, photograph by Justin Sullivan for Getty Images.

By Staff of Homes for All – Hundreds gathered and gave direct testimony about the citywide displacement crisis. Grassroots activists also planned strategies and tactics for passing Just Cause Eviction, breaking down by city council district, and they shared a variety of organizing approaches to the displacement crisis through interactive and cultural presentations. Topics included inclusionary development policy, community land trusts and community control of public land, creation of neighborhood stabilization zones, and struggles for local hiring and community benefit standards. The Right to Remain Assembly culminated in a massive citywide action cosponsored by Boston Tenant Coalition, Right to the City Boston, Alternatives for Community & Environment, Boston Workers Alliance, Chinatown Resident Association, Chinese Progressive Association, City Life/Vida Urbana, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, Dominican Development Center, Dorchester People for Peace, Fairmount Indigo Community Development Collaborative, Jamaica Plain Progressives, Neighbors United for a Better East Boston, New England United for Justice, SEIU 32BJ.

Tax The Rich To House The Poor

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By the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Washington, DC – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released the “Reforming the Mortgage Interest Deduction: How Tax Reform Can Help End Homelessness and Housing Poverty” report today calling for Congress and the Trump administration to use mortgage interest deduction (MID) reform to end homelessness and housing poverty in America. The report identifies solutions to the homelessness and affordable housing crisis in America that would incur no additional cost to the federal government, those proposed by the NLIHC-led United for Homes (UFH) campaign. The report and UFH campaign call for modest reforms to the mortgage interest deduction (MID)—a $70 billion tax write-off that primarily benefits higher income households—and for reinvesting the billions in savings in affordable housing for the lowest income families with the greatest needs.

Chicagoans Say ‘Yes In My Backyard’ To Affordable Housing

Members of NAHJP joined allies from the Catholic Worker and Su Casa for a “housewarming party” in May. (Twitter/@affordableJP)

By Derek Robertson for Waging Nonviolence – Andrea Mitchell knows a dog whistle when she hears one. In the ongoing struggle against housing segregation, they come in the form of chants of “No Section 8.” The fear of a voucher holder’s “miscreant cousin, nephew, brother, son” doing damage in the community. Calls for the children of low-income housing applicants to be screened for criminal records, to rapt applause. For Mitchell, a homeowner in the almost-suburban, majority-white Jefferson Park neighborhood in Chicago, those dog whistles were heard in early February at a neighborhood meeting regarding the proposed construction of a low-income housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Highway, and she decided she had to do something about it. “I just didn’t want the rest of the city to see that and think that’s what my neighborhood is like,” Mitchell said. “I thought to myself, there should be another voice — we’re homeowners, too.” Mitchell and a small group of like-minded residents launched the Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jefferson Park, or NAHJP, Facebook page in support of the development on Valentine’s Day, just four days after the heated meeting. Leah Levinger, director of the Chicago Housing Initiative, or CHI, a coalition of low-income housing activists, reached out soon after, and within just a month a new activist group was born.

Are You Unable To Afford Decent Housing? Welcome To The Club

‘By the time I was seven, I had already moved four times.’ Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

By Ijeoma Oluo for The Guardian – The affordable housing crisis is becoming inescapable. We have now reached the point where a minimum-wage worker can only afford to live in about a dozen counties in the entire nation. Even those with college degrees and wages above minimum wage struggle. This problem doesn’t just impact countless poor Americans any more. Now it hits middle class families, too. For many, it’s outrageous that this crisis is no longer is confined to the bottom of the income ladder. ‘What do you mean that someone earning $20 an hour in LA wouldn’t be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment?’ gasp those in the middle class. When it was in the news that you’d have to earn $24 an hour in order to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Seattle, where I live, I finally saw community members talking more seriously about housing density and rent controls. But for those of us who have been locked into a housing crisis for generations because of race, gender, class or disability, we are left wondering why so many are just now paying attention to an issue that has already destroyed countless lives.

Income Sharing Could Save Our Lives

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By Matt Stannard for Occupy.com. “Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away,” Hugo Award-winning author John Scalzi wrote in a personal blog post over a decade ago. “Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house… Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise… Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap… Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.” Economic insecurity is the American nightmare. It kills us earlier, messes up our mental health, saps the life out of us. Since Scalzi’s 2005 post, we’ve learned that more than 60 percent of us can’t afford a $500 emergency – which roughly translates to hoping the toothache goes away. That’s a pretty raw deal in exchange for an economic system that’s also killing the planet. And only rarely can we count on others to help us out. They’re either broke themselves, or profiting from our financial instability.

Chicago Renters Back ‘ROOTS’ As Solution To Affordable Housing

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By Chloe Riley for Equal Voice for Families. CHICAGO – In Roxanne Smith’s kitchen, a framed excerpt from Barack Obama’s 2008 Grant Park presidential victory speech hangs for all to see. “America, we have come so far,” it reads. “But there is so much more to do.” Smith, 60, has come a long way herself in recent years. In 2013, she faced potential homelessness after the Northwest Side apartment where she lives with her 35-year-old son was foreclosed upon. At the time, the downstairs neighbors in her two-flat apartment complex had accepted a payout and left the building. But Smith, whose son Roget lives with a developmental disability, couldn’t afford to leave. Sitting in the dining room of her two-bedroom apartment, Smith holds tight to a green plastic bag, which was left on her door over a year and a half ago.

Tired Of Tax Breaks, Baltimore Activists Disrupt Developer Fete

United Workers protest for Fair Development

By Staff of The Real News Network – This is Taya Graham reporting for the Real News Network here in Baltimore City, Maryland. I’m here at Port Covington, where developers are asking for a historic tax break. But this evening, community concerns intruded. If Baltimore is indeed two cities, one rich and one poor, then nowhere was this divide more evident than at City Garage in Port Covington Tuesday Night. I

Efficiency Could Provide Big Benefits To Low-Income Renters

Christa Lowman / Creative Commons

By Kari Lydersen for Midwestern Energy News – Low-income households spend up to three times as much of their income on energy costs as higher-income households do, and would benefit significantly from efficiency upgrades, according to a new report. Since their total income is lower, it’s not surprising that such households would see a higher proportion of it spent on energy. But these households are often paying more than they should be for energy because they are more likely to live in inefficient buildings, often where they don’t have control over heating and cooling or the power to make efficiency upgrades.