Welcome Neighbor?

If you live anywhere with a substantial resistance to the current administration’s attacks on immigrants, you may have seen these lawn/window signs–they say, in Spanish, English, and Arabic, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” (There’s also a variant in Hebrew, English, and Arabic.)

In an atmosphere of demagoguery and baseless hysteria about foreigners and immigrants, this kind of gesture is important (not sufficient, but important). I intend to get one. But their popularity also makes me a little uncomfortable, and I imagine anyone else who pays attention to fair housing might feel similarly. Continue reading “Welcome Neighbor?”

Developer In Chief

People have been asking me what I think about Ben Carson as the nominee to be Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It’s not just family, friends, and acquaintances who ask this question, but allies—people who work in the field.

But can I admit something? This question—what do I think about Ben Carson as nominee for HUD Secretary? —is an especially hard question for me to answer. Sure, I have set of pat answers that I’ve been giving people. I express skepticism because the nominee has so little prior experience with issues of housing and community development or with public administration. I talk about my displeasure that someone who recently and publicly called fair housing a failed socialist plot would be at the helm of a federal agency charged with enforcing fair housing. I talk about my and my commitment to fight for quality, affordable housing for low-income people; for equitable, vibrant, and sustainable communities; and about how these commitments stem from our larger vision of racial and economic justice. And I express my hope that all of these values remain a core part of HUD under the new administration, regardless of whoever becomes the head of the agency.

But underneath my answers, I admit to being uncomfortable, and even stifled with my own talking points. Ben Carson seems like a nice enough man, but my real feeling is that he is probably what they called a “Chamcha” in India under British rule—conveying a person without a backbone who facilitates the erosion of society by being uncritical and instead a pawn of the empire. I hope I am wrong. Continue reading “Developer In Chief”

Fear And Loathing In America

I have been working to try to make meaning of the Presidential election and its aftermath now for over a week. I keep focusing on a number of important and sometimes conflicting data points. Voter turnout was the lowest in twenty years. The exit polls showed that the majority of whites, including women, voted for Trump with two-thirds of non-college whites supporting him. More than a third of Latinos voted for the president-elect. One in ten Millennials voted for a third party. Hillary Clinton looks like she will win the popular vote by over 2 million votes. Protests against the results have taken place in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Schools, elementary to college, have reported an uptick in acts of hate against Jews, Muslims and Blacks since election day.

With this limited information, I have been trying to grasp what this says about our country, what it means for low-income people in America’s cities and what it means for the work of Living Cities, the organization I lead. Of course, I do not have all the answers to those questions but ten days later, these are some of my initial takeaways:

Race and Women
The election clearly was, in part, a reaction to a changed America that many Americans simply are having a hard time coming to terms with. One is about race. The other is about women. There is no doubt that fear of demographic change played a role in this election. Continue reading “Fear And Loathing In America”

Off To The Races: Is The House A Reality? At Least Picking Up Several Seats Is Indeed Possible!

Daily Kos: “New polling shows Democrats really could take back the House”

BUT…the 10 most likely House races in play still need your financial support   The Democrats are entering red states as Trump’s popularity is taking a nosedive.  The chances of a House takeover are slim—the Democrats need to win 30 seats, but if the electorate abandons the Republicans because of Trump, it is a cross-our-fingers possibility.  Please dig deep into your pockets and support these close races.

1. Florida 13th District is rated safely Democratic in 2016. It was previously rated as a battleground, but due to court-ordered redistricting, the seat became much more Democratic. David Jolly® is seeking re-election in 2016. He initially planned to pursue a U.S. Senate bid, but he dropped out of the race in preparation for incumbent Marco Rubio’s entry. Jolly will face former Governor Charlie Crist (D) in the general election on November 8, 2016.


2. Nevada 4th District GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy, considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents  the country, is in a dead heat with Democratic state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, according to a new poll from the National Republican Congressional Committee. Hardy has 38 percent and Kihuen has 36 percent, meaning that about a quarter of the electorate chose a minor candidate or is undecided. This election will be determined by the Hispanic vote that turns out.  President Obama won this district by double digits. Continue reading “Off To The Races: Is The House A Reality? At Least Picking Up Several Seats Is Indeed Possible!”