Braiding Resources, Place, and Opportunity

Posted by Bill Bynum on July 7, 2015

Creating economic opportunity for people who live in distressed communities is by necessity place-based, or if you prefer, place-conscious, work, because the obstacles to opportunity vary depending on where exactly people live.

For HOPE, our place is the Delta, a region that includes three states–Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi–that are home to 97 of the nation’s 384 “persistently poor” counties. Even here, where the story of struggle permeates the region, the challenges in New Orleans’ Central City neighborhood are very different from those in Itta Bena, Mississippi, and similarly, the resources available to address those challenges vary from place to place.

So, the long-term solutions we design must be grounded in local realities and buttressed by partnerships between diverse entities with varied interests and capabilities, including government, business, and philanthropy.

A recent study examining place-based initiatives and their potential for transforming places with concentrated poverty called this bringing together of various interests, “braiding.”

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How *Not* to Connect Health and Community Development

Posted by Miriam Axel-Lute on June 29, 2015

A few months ago as I walked to a board meeting of my local CDFI, I passed a memorial to a young man who was shot and killed a couple of days earlier. There was a huge collection of candles on the ground between two stoops, marked off by caution tape, and with a large crowd of mourners around it.

This section of Lark Street in Albany is pock marked with vacant buildings, many exuding a smell of mildew as you walk by. Thanks to a decades-old fiscal sleight of hand by which the county conducts the city’s tax foreclosures and makes the city whole, and then auctions off the property, it has been very hard for the city to gain any traction in the fight against speculators and irresponsible landlords, many of whom stop up from New York City. (This will hopefully be changing soon with the advent of the Albany County Land Bank.) Sidewalks are rarely shoveled in the winter.

Albany, like many Northern cities, is highly segregated by race, and this neighborhood is clearly separated from the downtown area by a very steep hill, which in many places can only be navigated on foot by means of long sets of stairs, several of which are currently closed for lack of maintenance. Retail is limited—fresh food not easily accessible. It is a familiar story.

Across from that memorial, tacked to a telephone pole is a relatively recent cheerful green and white sign that designates this stretch of road as part of a get-fit walking trail, and exhorts the viewer to “grab someone and take a walk!”

This walking route extends up the hill into a much more affluent, bar-and-gallery-strewn Brooklyn-esque brownstone neighborhood.

As far as I can tell, the only actual investment in the “route” has been the signs.

The idea that someone thought this was what this neighborhood needed baffles me.

It also is a really good symbol for what could go really really wrong with our newfound focus on the connection between health and community development.

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Detroit Future City’s Plan for Revitalization Pushes Job Creation

Posted by Brittany Hutson on June 26, 2015

For supporters and enthusiasts of Detroit’s revitalization, the city is poised to be a “model for the future;” but in order to make a comeback, it will have to start with fixing neighborhoods and attracting more people.

Though the city has seen a 60 percent population decline, a 90 percent industrial job loss and amassed 23.4 square miles of vacant land, its recovery will center on a strategy of innovation. On June 2, nearly 125 community members were issued a call-to-action to become innovators in the movement to revitalize Detroit.

The two-hour event, held inside the Packard Plant building on the east side of the city, was the second in Detroit Future City’s (DFC) three-part Innovation Series, and included a presentation of the DFC’s Strategic Framework plan and panelists who shared their stories of innovation.

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Cooking With Health, and Heritage, in Mind

Posted by Sarah McMackin on June 22, 2015

A recent article in The New York Times discussed an initiative to bring fresh, healthy food to a low-income Bronx neighborhood in New York’s least-healthy county. The expectation was that adding a new grocery store in this underserved community would lead to healthier food choices. That didn’t happen.

The reality is that just because a greater variety of fresh, healthy food is available, that doesn’t mean people will buy it. Many need help in bringing unfamiliar healthy items from the supermarket to the table.

A Taste of African Heritage (ATOAH), a culturally-based cooking and wellness program from the nonprofit Oldways, is doing just this.

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Reframing Government’s—And Our Own—Role in Affordable Housing

Posted by Amy Clark on June 19, 2015

Last Tuesday Scott Brown and Henry Cisneros, who serve on the executive committee of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families, wrote an opinion column for Fox News urging presidential candidates to address America’s housing affordability challenges. The former senator and former HUD secretary, citing the role of access to affordable housing in upward mobility and the country’s future prosperity, call for a “bipartisan policy response” to the nation’s housing challenges.

Comments on the article, on the other hand, call for the government to get out of housing: “After the bang up job that government has done with any part of the economy they touch,” said commenter Elbowmacaroni, “I'll tend to favor a candidate who proposes to let the market work.”

That sentiment isn’t unique to the Fox News audience. On the same day, the MacArthur Foundation released its How Housing Matters poll, an annual survey of national housing attitudes conducted by Hart Research Associates. The survey found that a majority . . .

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Big Sky, Big Opportunity?

Posted by Doug Ryan on June 17, 2015

Montana is an interesting state for manufactured housing. Looking at the policy and data environments of this component of the state’s housing market, about 11 percent of the state’s stock is mobile (pre-1976 HUD Code) or manufactured homes. About 54,000 Montanans live in manufactured homes, on private land or in one of the state’s 950 manufactured home communities. Some counties are heavily reliant on the housing type. Manufactured housing in Broadwater, which is just northwest of Bozeman, accounts for over 38 percent of homes.

Just as interesting, though again with variation across the state’s counties, is that, according to a 2012 Montana Board of Housing report, just eight percent of manufactured homes are in unacceptable condition, just a tick higher than detached site-built homes, but certainly low enough to counter stereotypes about conditions, quality, or durability. While this report on home conditions is encouraging, it is important to note that other reports, including a recent one from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, underscore the need for replacement strategies if weatherization or other repair programs are not cost effective.

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CA’s Surprisingly Strong Stand in Support of Inclusionary Housing

Posted by Rick Jacobus on June 16, 2015

Yesterday’s long awaited California Supreme Court decision in the California Building Industry Association v. City of San Jose case is being hailed as a major victory for inclusionary housing, but like most people outside the legal community, I was not entirely sure I could say what it was that we had won. These decisions can be so legally technical that reading the news articles simply doesn’t give you much of a sense of what is really going on.

I’m no lawyer. So it was with more than a little trepidation that I decided to sit down and actually read the 64 page decision (here). But I am glad I did. The Justices laid out a surprisingly clear summary of what is at stake in not just this case but the whole string of related inclusionary housing decisions. What emerges is a story of a multi-decade coordinated effort by the real estate development industry to limit the reach of inclusionary housing—an effort which the CA Supreme Court has taken a surprisingly strong stand against in this decision.

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JOB POSTING: Executive Director, Community Housing Fund; Beaverton, OR

Posted by Rooflines on June 15, 2015

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JOB POSTING: Policy Director, Minnesota Housing Partnership

Posted by Rooflines on June 15, 2015

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Tenant Solidarity in Oakland

Posted by Miriam Axel-Lute on June 12, 2015

[Editor's note: while we fix some technical difficulties and remodel our websites, content originally intended to run on Shelterforce online will run here, on the Rooflines blog. This article is part of our series on Immigration.]




Q&A with Kitzia Esteva-Martinez, Causa Justa/Just Cause

Last October, Oakland, Calif., passed a Tenant Protection Ordinance. This strong measure defending tenants against the kinds of landlord harassment that often take place in a rapidly appreciating market includes some immigrant-specific protections. Shelterforce spoke with Kitzia Esteva-Martinez, an immigrant rights organizer with Causa Justa/Just Cause, about organizing in different communities to support the bill and what “Black-Brown” solidarity looks like.

Miriam Axel-Lute: Tell me about the problems with landlords and immigration status. . . .

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