West Side Congressman Jerry Nadler faced boos and catcalls September 6th at the Fulton Senior Center in Chelsea. Dozens of tenants of the Elliott-Chelsea and Fulton Houses jammed the meeting chanting “My house is not for sale,” and “no demolition.” Residents of the two housing projects located between Ninth and Tenth Avenues are enraged by Nadler’s support of a plan to demolish and rebuild the half dozen buildings and replacing the public housing with a luxury 3500-unit development. Three-quarters of the new units would rent at New York City’s astronomical market rate. One quarter would be reserved for low- and middle-income tenants.
In a state with some of the country’s most expensive real estate, Libby is among the 184,000 people — including thousands who are homeless, at risk of losing their homes or living in unsafe conditions — on a waitlist for the state’s 41,500 subsidized apartments. As they wait, a WBUR and ProPublica investigation found that nobody is living in nearly 2,300 state-funded apartments, with most sitting empty for months or years. The state pays local housing authorities to maintain and operate the units whether they’re occupied or not. So the vacant apartments translate into millions of Massachusetts taxpayer dollars wasted due to delays and disorder fostered by state and local mismanagement.
In the corner of a Dollar General parking lot on the southwest side of Louisville, across the street from the Nottingham Plaza Drive-Thru Liquor Barrel and an abandoned coin laundry, the Louisville Tenant Union convened for Sunday afternoon canvassing. It was nearly 90 degrees with the June sun beating down from the midday sky, so organizer Josh Poe invited the red-shirted union members to gather beneath the spotty shade provided by a small tree at the corner of the parking lot. Most have canvassed before, but Poe still walked everyone through the process. Today’s goals: have residents of Newberry Parc apartments submit comments online to the Federal Housing Finance Agency about rent hikes and poor housing conditions, and also to invite them to the next tenant union meeting.
London’s residents face the highest rents and have the lowest rate of homeownership in the U.K. today. One solution would be for local councils to expand public housing, known as “council housing.” However, the waitlist for these homes has jumped by 50,000 since 2020. This has happened partially because London councils have reduced their housing stock by 10 percent since the beginning of the pandemic, often due to privatization. Building complexes made up of only council housing, called council estates, are becoming increasingly rare sights in the capitol.
During the second half of the 1960s, on the heels of the civil rights movement and in the midst of a steadily growing urban Indian community, American Indian community members in Minneapolis and Saint Paul began to meet to discuss the many issues urban Indians across the Twin Cities were facing. These community gatherings eventually became the foundation for the politically minded American Indian Movement, widely recognized as AIM. It would not be long before “AIM and its leaders saw the need for a native-oriented housing development to help American Indians transition from the reservation to the city without losing touch with their traditional values” researcher Robert G. Style writes.
The housing crisis is particularly acute for the 79 million Americans with a criminal record: People with convictions are nearly 10 times more likely to experience homelessness compared to the general public. While federally subsidized housing could provide support to these individuals, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) contributes to the problem by permitting each public housing authority (PHA) wide leeway to discriminate against people with convictions. But some advocates have successfully gotten their local PHAs to change course: A 2016 policy change in New Orleans has been able to open up public housing for people with convictions by providing a clearer rubric for PHAs to use during screenings and appointing a board to review applications.
New York City, New York - The coronavirus pandemic laid bare the critical need for affordable housing across the United States. As millions lost their jobs, many Americans were only able to remain housed thanks to the advent of COVID-19 housing policies, including eviction moratoriums and rent freezes. In the last year, as these protections dwindled across the country, tenants in Black neighborhoods have taken up fights to improve housing access and have won significant battles. In Kansas City, Missouri, residents pushed city leaders to codify a right to legal counsel during eviction procedures for low-income residents as rents rose 10% last year. In Oakland, California, following a years-long rent strike against a landlord who wanted to kick out tenants to raise rents, voters made it illegal to evict people without reason, a win against displacement and gentrification.
Home in Tacoma aims to overhaul Tacoma’s housing rules to allow greater flexibility in building practices. It will allow denser housing to be built to house our city’s ever growing population. The initial framework passed in December 2021 bringing Tacoma are one step closer to that goal. Though forward thinking, the plan also falls short of its potential. As I’ve pointed out in previous articles, the reach of the plan is not exactly equitable or far reaching. In short, poorer communities of color are being disproportionately rezoned in comparison to their wealthier, whiter counterparts. Communities of color will be transformed while privileged communities get to maintain the status quo. Segregation with some window dressing, if you will.
Robles Park Village is a 433-unit public housing complex in Tampa Heights, Florida, near Ybor City. After months of inspections, city officials found that a small portion of this community was built on top of Zion Cemetery, a historic Black cemetery, forcing 88 units to be vacated to move forward with cemetery preservation processes. Following several surveying sessions, the remaining Robles Park residents were told by Tampa city officials that their homes were set to be demolished. The Tampa Housing Authority along with Baker Barrios Architects and Property Markets Group announced a “master plan” for the Robles Park Village which is set to include over 1,000 new houses, resource facilities, and a Zion Cemetery memorial site. The Tampa Housing Authority reports that 85 percent of the new development will be “affordable rental housing” while
The first ever presidential visit to the South Bronx took America’s chief executive to a multi-unit cooperative, a radical break from the nation’s housing norms that became a symbol of hope during the depths of the urban crisis. In October 1977, Jimmy Carter’s cream-colored limousine rolled into the devastation of the South Bronx. Escorted by six motorcycles and three helicopters, the trip had been kept secret until the last possible moment. There were two stops on the tour. At one, Carter saw a ghost block where every building had been leveled, confirming the nightmarish popular image of this section of New York City. The other stop was something else entirely. The president was driven to a multistory apartment building at 1186 Washington Ave., where tenants had taken control after the landlord walked away.
I am the author of a book, The Color of Law, that disproves the myth of de facto segregation. In truth, we are residentially segregated, not naturally or from private bigotry, but primarily by racially explicit policies of federal, state, and local governments designed to prevent African Americans and whites from living as neighbors; these 20th-century policies were so powerful that they determine much of today’s residential, social, and economic inequality. Because powerful government policy segregated us, racial boundaries violate the fifth, 13th, and 14th amendments. Our nation thus has a positive constitutional obligation to redress segregation with policies as intentional as those that segregated us. The federal government made housing and homeownership critical to families’ economic stability and upward mobility.
Washington, Ward 1 - “I wanna know where the $2.5 million is – that’s my reaction.” Muhsin Boe Luther Umar — or as we call him, Uncle Boe — throws his hands up and shakes his head. In his role as both Resident Council President at Garfield Terrace and D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B03 Member, he’s had more than his fair share of dealings with D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA). So I had asked him what his reaction was upon hearing about the recent audit of three DCHA contracts, which found nearly $1.4 million in wasted funds. “You’re talking $1.4, I’m talking about $2.5 million spent on one senior housing building,” he says. Back in 2018, D.C. is said to have spent $2.5 million on “weatherizing” improvements for Garfield Terrace, “$975,000 spent to keep the roof from leaking – it’s still leaking,” Boe says, pointing to the water stains on the ceiling.
Is today the time to fight for public housing in the United States? That’s the argument of “Social Housing in the United States,” a new report published by the People’s Policy Project, an independent think tank. With half of the rental population facing the prospect of being rent-burdened, and with fewer than 1 in 3 of the 9 million families foreclosed during the recession likely to purchase homes again, something clearly must change in the way we approach housing and shelter. I spoke with Ryan Cooper, co-author of the report (with Peter Gowan), about current approaches to government intervention in the rental market, the politics of home ownership, why public housing needs to be mixed income, and what we can envision from a society that provides adequate, affordable housing to all of its citizens. Quotes from the interview are included in a piece on public housing published with In These Times.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has answered President Trump’s call to shrink the social safety net. Carson recently offered a proposal that would triple the rent some of America’s poorest families have to pay before they get housing assistance. Housing advocates are appalled. If they’re pushed out of public housing, many low-income families could face housing instability at every turn. That could mean a lifetime of poverty, tenuous employment, and an unstable environment for kids. As of March 2018, the median cost of a new home is $337,200, placing home ownership out of the reach of many Americans. Even for those who try to reach it, redlining and discriminatory lending on the part of banks can render the possible impossible. An analysis from Reveal by The Center for Investigative Reporting found that black Americans in particular...
Many American cities face a severe shortage of affordable housing — and not just for the poor, but well up into the upper-middle class. A recent report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies concluded: “The rental market thus appears to be settling into a new normal where nearly half of renter households are cost burdened,” or paying more than 30 percent of their income in rent. What these cities need is a dramatic increase in the number of mid-range and affordable dwellings to ease the price pressure on their rental markets. They should address the problem directly: by constructing a large number of government-owned municipal housing developments. Unlike traditional American public housing, all city residents will be eligible to live there. There are two major benefits to this approach. First, it adds new rental capacity in the housing market directly where it is needed.