News Roundup

  • Airbnb Invests $25 Million in Affordable Housing and Small Businesses
    Airbnb launched a new $25 million community impact investing program in Los Angeles County and the Bay Area to support affordable homeownership, small businesses, and the construction and preservation of affordable housing. Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s cofounder, head of community, and CEO, noted that this pilot program was created to put the company on a path toward more equitably serving all of Airbnb’s stakeholders, “including the communities our hosts and guests call home.”
  • New York City’s Resiliency Plan Leaves Some Communities of Color Behind
    Nearly one-fifth of all housing units within New York City’s floodplain are public housing. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $10 billion flood resiliency proposal is under scrutiny by advocates for not adequately addressing the fact that climate change disproportionately affects communities of color. Advocates have expressed frustration that even in neighborhoods that have received municipal investments, planners have yet to holistically address the impact structural racism and disinvestment have on climate resiliency.
  • Gentrification in the District of Columbia Leads to Widespread Displacement
    The District of Columbia has one of the nation’s highest displacement rates for low-income residents because of rapid gentrification in neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights, Capitol Hill, Navy Yard, and Shaw. Black and low-income residents have been forced out of their communities in the wake of owners turning formerly lower cost rental buildings into higher cost rentals and condos, ushering in a flow of new, affluent, mostly white renters and homeowners. Longtime Shaw resident Mae Green reflected on the changes in her neighborhood over the past two decades, saying it “doesn’t make sense because [Black residents] were here. We are still here. But it’s almost as if we don’t exist.”
  • Facial Recognition Technology in Public Housing Raises Concerns
    In some cities, including Detroit, facial recognition software has been installed on public housing so that round-the-clock video footage can be provided to local police departments. On the local level, San Francisco, California; Somerville, Massachusetts; and Oakland, California, have all banned facial recognition software. Federally, Representatives Yvette Clark (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) have introduced the No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act of 2019 (H.R. 4008). Rep. Pressley said she cosponsored the bill because without policy and regulations around facial recognition software, this burgeoning technology stands to “criminalize vulnerable communities and result in greater surveillance and racial profiling.”
  • Neglect, Pests, and Mold Threaten Health of the USDA’s Rural Public Housing
    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees federally funded public housing for more than 400,000 low-income families in rural America. These properties, many of which are specifically dedicated to agricultural workers, were built to address a shortage of quality, affordable housing in rural areas. Though the USDA requires that the homes be “decent, safe, and sanitary,” staffing cuts and limited resources have led the agency to pare back housing inspection protocol and lag on enforcement. Tenants from Appalachia to California’s Central Valley have reported that their housing has physically deteriorated and become infested with roaches and mold. The White House has proposed further reducing funds for rural rental housing in 2020, attracting bipartisan disapproval