• A New Responsibility for Children’s Hospitals: The Health of Neighborhoods

    Children’s hospitals in Ohio are making key investments to address a major cause of poor health — substandard housing.

  • To Save On Medi-Cal Costs, a Bid to Help Homeless Patients With Rent Money

    California lawmakers consider devoting an additional $90 million to subsidize rent for homeless patients.

  • How to Get $2 Billion for Affordable Homes

    San Francisco Bay Area voters approve bold new investments after housing advocates ignite successful electoral strategy.

  • Lots of Maps, Little Insight in Richard Florida’s Latest

    The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class—and What We Can Do About It by Richard Florida. Basic Books, 2017, 336 pp., $14.64 (Hardcover), $17.99 (Kindle). Purchase a copy here.

  • Making the Right Connections

    A health center in New Orleans has partnered with a legal services agency to better help patients by addressing the social determinants of health. This “medical-legal partnership” is part of a growing trend that’s taking place across the nation.

  • A Shelterforce Roundtable on Regulation and Housing Supply: Where the Left and Right Agree (Sort Of)


    Last year, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—a right-leaning libertarian think-tank—issued a report on how to encourage more development of affordable housing. One of the paper’s authors is a longtime Shelterforce reader, and he forwarded the report to us with a note that started: “While you probably are not a fan of the American Enterprise Institute, I expect you’ll find this paper interesting.” He was right on both counts.

    The question of regulation and permitting of development is one that crosses usual political lines. In the current political climate, we should be very clear that regulation is not inherently bad, and many regulations have been responsible for our country having breathable air, drinkable water (in some places), and basic levels of safety and equal opportunity. But regulation is also not inherently good—Shelterforce readers are well aware of the effects of redlining and exclusionary zoning, for example.

    We gathered some people who have done a lot of thinking and studying of these issues (including Charles Wilkins, the co-author of the aforementioned report) to discuss what it might look like to actually remove obstacles that get in the way of developing less expensive housing options responsibly. What’s possible? What are the trade-offs?

    Joining us were Ingrid Gould Ellen of the Furman Center at New York University; Jamaal Green of Portland State University; Rosanne Haggerty of Community Solutions; Rick Jacobus of Street Level Advisors; Greg Maher of the Leviticus Alternative Fund; Alan Mallach of the Center for Community Progress and a National Housing Institute senior fellow; and Charles Wilkins, a consultant and co-author of the AEI paper.

  • Community Organizing: Integrating a Woman’s Approach

    “In closed or structured societies, it is the marginal or ‘inferior’ person . . . who often comes to symbolize . . . ‘communitas.’” —Victor Turner

  • Interview, Rinku Sen, president and executive director of Race Forward & publisher of

    In those exhausting and frightening days right after the election in November, I had the good fortune to catch Rinku Sen for a few minutes at the end of a long day of her organization’s biannual Facing Race conference. Though she must have been running on next to no sleep by that point, Sen was insightful, earnest, and eager to talk about the road ahead.

  • Looking at Places Through Artists’ Eyes

    How an Alaskan housing authority plans to focus on creative placemaking as a development strategy to better reflect the communities it serves.

  • An Appetite for Art in Small Town Minnesota

    In rapidly diversifying rural Minnesota, an ArtPlace grant is seen as a resource for celebrating cultures and creating bridges between them.

  • A Resource for Well-Meaning Landlords

    The Good Landlord: A Guide to Making a Profit While Making a Difference
    By Peter Gilman Shapiro. The Good Landlord Publishing, 2016, 284 pp., $19.95 (paperback); $8.99 (Kindle)

    Purchase a copy here.

  • Bringing Together Arts and Community Development

    Who has been behind the large increase in financial support for and attention to what has been termed “creative placemaking” over the past couple years, and why?

  • Preserving the Character of Little Tokyo

    In the wake of rapid gentrification, an organization in Los Angeles leverages the arts to celebrate a community’s rich heritage and keep social equity as a priority.

  • Keeping Your Artists Close to Home

    New Orleans relies on its artists as a core part of its economy. What can be done when those artists can no longer afford to call the city home?

  • Q: Is scattered-site rehab always more expensive than new construction?
  • Creating Miles of Art in the Mile High City

    How a Denver organization intends to create a 9-mile art-, health-, and heritage-themed bike and pedestrian trail that will feature authentic cultural expression.

  • Affordable Housing and . . . a Museum

    For over 30 years, Broadway Housing Communities has developed its own formula for meeting the housing needs of West Harlem’s lowest-income residents. One of its unorthodox ingredients has been art galleries, and now, there’s a children’s museum in its newest building.

  • A Tale of Two Murals

    Having had the experience of public art with no public involvement, a community organization set out to show there could be another way.

  • Working with Local Artists

    In response to an influx of high-profile street art, one Brooklyn community development organization decided to invest in homegrown art and artists, and learn how to support them.

  • Poetry on the Panel

    Attendees at the 2015 PolicyLink Equity Summit experienced something unexpected when they walked into many of the panels and workshops—a poetry performance.

  • Poem: “Tires Stacked in the Hallways of Civilization”
  • Poem: “What Must Be Done”
  • Flipping the Script

    A nonprofit forgoes the typical community meeting for a “living charrette,” which leads to greater neighborhood feedback about a proposed 24-acre development.

  • Art Just Became Even More Essential
  • Exploring Foreclosure Through Art

    In Minneapolis and Boston, artists help explore the losses (and gains) of foreclosure with work that supports advocacy and community building.

  • Poem: “This Yes”
  • Interview with Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation

    Rip Rapson is the quintessential mid-westerner: quiet, modest, the last person in the world to toot his own horn. But if you look at what he’s accomplished and the insight he brings to his current work, you’ll get a much better picture of who he is and the challenging, important work he spearheads at the Kresge Foundation.

    A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to speak with him, trace his experiences and the projects he conceived or championed over the years (some of which we’ve written about, but, not surprisingly, without his name attached to them) and drill into the opportunities and difficulties faced by a large philanthropic organization as it works to integrate its grant making interests with the way real communities operate—as dynamic entities with systems that fully integrate, even if they do so in a seriously dysfunctional way.

    One interest Kresge has is in arts and culture, and we spent some extra time talking with him about the importance and role of arts and culture in community health and development.

  • New Lenses on Economic Development
  • Making a Success of Local Hire

    Local hire policies are among the strongest strategies for bringing good job opportunities to disadvantaged communities—but adding more provisions to specifically target those with the most barriers to employment can make local hiring practices even more effective.

  • Why Your Community Should Kick the Subsidy Habit

    Corporate incentives won’t help communities thrive, even distressed ones. But nurturing local businesses will save municipalities money and promote the growth of income, wealth, and jobs.

  • In the World of Community Wealth-Building, Ownership Has Its Privileges

    What local government can do to support new, more inclusive economic models.


  • Who Will Benefit from Port Covington?

    Advocates, city leaders, and Under Armour’s real estate arm negotiate a $660 million tax deal and a vision for economic development in Baltimore.

  • Making Community Benefits Agreements Count

    CBAs can be extremely difficult to implement and enforce, which is why a detailed agreement in the early stages of the community-developer relationship is so important.

  • Connecting Companies to Business

    A Chicago organization is bringing together local businesses and large institutions to promote economic growth.

  • Using Business as a Force For Good

    B Corps are for-profit businesses that focus strongly on their social and environmental impact. The movement has grown to 1,800-plus worldwide and now cities, economic authorities, and activists are trying to attract more of these mission-driven and worker-friendly companies to help spur economic growth.

  • Continuing the Dream

    Arc of Justice, directed and produced by Helen S. Cohen and Mark Lipman.
    Open Studio Productions, 2016, 22 minutes. Price varies for home and institutional use.

    Purchase the DVD at

  • Keeping Everyone Afloat: Is Universal Basic Income the Answer?

    Advocates and organizers who deal with the needs of the poor often say it’s not really a housing/food/training issue, it’s an income issue. So what would happen if we just addressed income?

  • A New Way to Finance Equitable Economic Development?

    Big companies discovered the long-stagnant Immigrant Investor Program EB-5 after the 2008 financial crisis. Can community developers bend the program toward their goals too?

  • Interview: Michael Rubinger, former CEO of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation

    LISC, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, is one of the central community development intermediaries, financing and supporting community development work for decades. Michael Rubinger was there at LISC’s founding. And from 1999 to June 2016, he headed the organization, steering it most recently on a path toward comprehensive community development rather than just housing work. In a video marking his retirement, colleagues spoke of Michael as someone who remained intensely engaged with community organizations and their work, even after so many years overseeing a much bigger picture. We’ve known Michael since he became the CEO of LISC as a dedicated, persistent, pragmatic leader who encourages new thinking and finds ways to mine the promise of older ideas. And he’s got a pretty sharp sense of humor. Just before Michael left LISC, Shelterforce spoke with him to get his thoughts on the field he devoted his life’s work to.

  • Q: Do economic development incentives support small businesses?
  • Think Scattered Site Rehab Is Too Expensive? Think Again.

    Vacant properties are so persistent in part because it’s too expensive to do anything with them. At least that’s the assumption. It’s much simpler, goes this reasoning, and more cost-effective, to construct and manage a new multifamily building than to try to rehab and manage single-family homes spread over a wide area. But what if that’s just not true?

  • In Pursuit of Financial Well-Being: A Conversation on Fairness, Accessibility, and Empowerment

    In a world of growing financial complexity, predatory products, stagnating wages, and escalating inequality, financial insecurity is a dramatic problem. To kick off our focus on this topic, we gathered a group of leaders who are combating financial insecurity by both working with individuals and changing systems for a conversation on how it all relates and how to balance the big picture and the household-level work.

    Taking part in this conversation with Shelterforce editor Miriam Axel-Lute and NHI executive director Harold Simon, were Holly Frindell, senior program manager, National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders; Andrea Levere, president, CFED; Andrea Luquetta-Kern, director of policy and research, California Reinvestment Coalition; Ann Solomon, strategic initiatives manager, Federation of Community Development Credit Unions; and Woody Widrow, executive director, RAISE Texas and NHI board member.

  • Is Financial Unsteadiness the New Normal?

    A yearlong analysis of 200-plus households suggests that we should add a third leg to the financial security stool along with income and assets—cash flow.

  • The Ripple Effects of Income Volatility

    Research shows a connection between the financial instability of families and the economic health of communities.

  • Fight for Full Time

    Unpredictable hours lead to unpredictable cash flow, which is a barrier to budgeting and saving. One response to this—the Opportunity to Work Initiative—would require that San Jose employers give more hours to part-time employees before hiring new staff.

  • Challenging the Almighty Credit Score

    A majority of mainstream lenders base loan approvals on a hotly debated three-digit score. Are there better, fairer ways to assess risk?

  • Being “Well,” Financially
  • Well Worth the Read

    What It’s Worth— Strengthening the Financial Future of Families, Communities and the Nation.
    Edited by Laura Choi, David Erickson, Kate Griffin, Andrea Levere, and Ellen Seidman. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco/CFED, 2015, 393 pp., Free.

    Download a copy at

  • Getting New Jersey to Divest from Payday Lending

    NJ Citizen Action says having a state pension fund invested—even indirectly—in a form of lending illegal in the state cannot stand.

  • Q: Why don’t low-income families save?
  • College Bound

    Children’s savings accounts for higher education, even those that have accumulated only small amounts of money, can change expectations for low-income students—and they might also provide a vehicle for larger wealth transfers.

  • Financial Inclusion Begins With Our Tax Code

    Changes to tax programs that support low-wage earners will strengthen gains made in the asset-building field.

  • Why Financial Education Should Get Political

    Financial curricula for low-income households often focus on personal choices about budgeting and saving—but if they don’t also address systemic problems, exploitation, and discrimination, they aren’t speaking to their audience’s reality.

  • The Catalyzing Power of Art

    Art can be an economic engine for neighborhoods—but sometimes locally-based artists need some support to kick their “businesses” into gear, and community-based organizations are stepping up.

  • Interview: Sheila Crowley, Past President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition

    When word came that Sheila Crowley was intending to step down from her longtime role at the head of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, we knew immediately that we wanted to do an exit interview with her. Crowley has led the organization through dramatic times, keeping a focus on those with the most pressing housing need when many wanted to just talk homeownership, staying the course with the National Housing Trust Fund, and modeling how to do national advocacy that leads with the voices of those directly affected. Shortly before Crowley’s actual departure, we spoke with her about how she got where she is, the state of the field, and what’s coming next.

  • Getting Beyond the Developer Fee

    In tough financial times, community developers are hanging on to their developer fees despite competition, but many are also diversifying their programs and revenue streams.


  • Housing Authority Eliminates Ban of Ex-Offenders

    With the approval of new background check procedures, a criminal conviction won’t automatically disqualify a person from receiving public housing or voucher assistance in New Orleans.

  • An Artist’s Way of Seeing: Community Engagement in Creative Placemaking

    How are artists converting the power and creativity of art into community-led change?

  • The Challenges of Economic Integration

    Is it more important to have mixed-income buildings, or to give more people access to mixed-income neighborhoods?

  • Making Mixed-Income Developments Work

    A single development with an intentional income mix involves very specific challenges—both in its design and its management.

  • Can San Francisco Get Mixed-Income Public Housing Redevelopment Right?

    The HOPE SF program is aiming to explicitly avoid many of the problems mixed-income public housing redevelopments have faced, to create a truly inclusive process.

  • Addressing Social Segregation in Mixed-Income Communities

    Living next to each other does not necessarily mean getting to know each other. But it could.

  • Don’t Build Mixed-Income Communities, Buy Them

    Building when you could buy is inefficient—and contributes to economic segregation.

  • Build Mixed-Income Housing–But Not in Isolation

    A focus on housing connected to education and wellness will be needed to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

  • Bigger Forces at Play

    Mixed-income housing alone won’t solve economic segregation.

  • “Inclusive Communities” Are Inadequate for the World’s Housing Crises

    Mixed-income housing policies are essentially “trickle-down” affordable housing.

  • Integrating Whitman

    A long-forgotten battle over a set of row houses in South Philadelphia makes current day NIMBYism look tame. What can housing advocates learn about how they finally got built anyway?

  • A Voyeur’s View

    Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul Theroux, Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, 441 pp. Purchase at

  • Q: What’s the difference between community economic development…
  • Mixing It Up
  • A New Way to Do Affirmative Action?

    Place, Not Race: A New Vision of Opportunity in America. by Sheryll Cashin. Beacon Press, 2014, 176 pp. $18 (paper). Purchase at

  • Voices From the Field: Mixed Income

    Do we need more mixed-income housing? Why or why not?  The following data and observations were collected via a survey we conducted from late January through mid-February, distributed via Shelterforce Weekly and social media. Add your own thoughts in the comments below.

  • Community Building Despite Trauma

    The trauma caused by poverty and the systems that reinforce it can short-circuit standard efforts to build community. A new method called “trauma-informed community building” aims to change that.

  • The Next Boom for Worker Co-ops?

    Baby boomers are the largest percentage of business owners, and they’re headed toward retirement. The worker cooperative movement wants to keep the jobs they’ve created from disappearing.

  • Exclusive: Interview, Chester Hartman, Poverty & Race Research Action Council

    Chester Hartman was the first executive director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, and has been a leader in housing equity work for decades. His keen intellect and deep convictions, coupled with his writing, advocacy, scholarship, and leadership, have had a major effect on the field. Shelterforce is honored to have worked with him for many years as a member of our editorial board. His contributions to fair housing are extensive, and we’re sure those contributions will continue into his retirement. Right after his retirement from PRRAC as its director of research, Shelterforce had the opportunity to chat with him about his life, work, retirement, and hopes for the future.

  • Government-Funded Organizing?

    Public funding for community organizing would strengthen our democracy and relegitmize a beleaguered public sector. It’s time to stop writing off the idea.

  • Why We Must Build

    We can’t build our way out of the housing crisis . . . but we won’t get out without building.

  • New Jersey Divests from Payday Lending

    Advocates in New Jersey mobilize to make a state pension fund put its money where its state regulations are.

  • Q: Isn’t the foreclosure crisis over?
  • Shelterforce Exclusive: Interview with HUD Secretary Julián Castro

    In September 2015, on the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the bill that created HUD, Julián Castro, the agency’s 16th secretary, spoke at the University of Texas. In his speech he noted how the agency was formed partially in response to the Watts Rebellion in Los Angeles a month prior, situating the agency’s mission firmly in a social justice context, and he praised President Johnson as someone who believed in the potential for government to be a force for good. On September 3rd, Shelterforce got a chance to speak with Secretary Castro about some of the current ways in which he’s working to make HUD a force for good in people’s lives, and what steps there are left to be taken.

  • The Charter School Lenders

    Despite the controversy surrounding them, charter schools have become a major segment of the CDFI field’s business, requiring new assessment tools to keep the lending mission-focused.

  • Why Are Community Development Lenders Financing Charter Schools?

    The choice to support privately-operated, publicly-funded schools puts these lenders at odds with many of their usual political allies and constituencies. So what’s the motivation?

  • Above the Fray?

    As the school reform debates rage on, community groups struggle to stay out of the politics and yet keep influencing the quality of education in their neighborhoods.

  • Schools that Support Students’ Whole Lives

    Community schools support kids, families, and neighborhoods in their mission to improve education.

  • Charter Schools, Gentrification, and Weighted Lotteries

    Charter schools in gentrifying neighborhoods have the power to exacerbate the inequity that exists between low-income residents and wealthier newcomers. How can they use their power to instead ensure their student populations are as diverse as the neighborhoods they operate in?

  • The Place-Based Charter School?

    What is the relationship between charter schools and neighborhoods—and what could it be?

  • Don’t Call It a Comeback for Neighborhood Schools

    In the face of widespread school choice, some D.C. residents are advocating for an equitable system of neighborhood schools. But what’s the chance that will become a reality?

  • Gentrification and Public Schools: It’s Complicated

    An influx of more affluent families and their resources and advocacy is just what every struggling school needs, right? Well . . .

  • More Bang for the Buck?

    Austin, with prodding from advocates, pushes its economic development policy to go beyond big deal chasing.

  • Have We Been Wasting Affordable Housing Money?

    It might seem like 10, or even 30, years is a long time to require affordability—until it’s over and your public investment is lost.

  • Community Development and the School Reform Fight
  • Interview: Gordon Chin, Founding Executive Director of the Chinatown Community Development Center

    Gordon Chin started San Francisco Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), a longstanding CDC well-known in the field, in the mid-1970s. In June 2015, he released Building Community, Chinatown Style, a book about his professional life, the founding and evolution of CCDC, and the future of community development. Josh Ishimatsu, director of Research and Capacity Building at the National Coalition for Asian-Pacific American Community Development, and a regular Shelterforce contributor, spoke with Chin about where community development is going, and where it should go.

  • Q: Do inclusionary housing requirements make housing prices go up for everyone else?
  • Filmmaker Needs to Look at the Whole Picture

    I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Moviemaker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Achievement Gap, by M. Night Shyamalan. Simon & Schuster. 306 pp. $25.00 (hardcover). Purchase here.

  • On Beyond Anniversaries
  • Fighting Gentrification Through Collective Bargaining

    For the past two years, the Crown Heights Tenant Union of Brooklyn has turned collective bargaining strategies on landlords—and policymakers.

  • Fair Housing and Community Developers Can Work Together

    Two organizations in New Jersey show that with a good working relationship, a balanced approach to healthy communities and housing choice for all can be more than pretty words.

  • Organizing and the Community Land Trust Model

    What happens when organizers win a campaign for community control of land? That depends a lot on the choices they make about how to exercise that control.

  • Joy and Justice

    Community Projects as Social Activism: From Direct Action to Direct Services, by Benjamin Shepard. Sage Publications, 2014. 253pp.
    Reviewed by Matthew Borus.  Purchase here.

  • Dispatches from Whose City?

    City by City: Dispatches from the American Metropolis, edited by Keith Gessen and Stephen Squibb. N + 1. 2015, 496pp, $18 (paper). Purchase here.