This week in community development: 6/9/14

Every week, Praxia Partners shares important community-building news. Check out what we’ve been reading this week.

Home ownership, the American dream, and affordable housing 

  • Hart Research, on behalf of the MacArthur Foundation, shows how housing matters— and that renters and homeowners alike are still suffering from the mortgage and foreclosure crisis. They notes, “While economists and housing experts say that the housing crisis is behind us, large proportions of the American people are not feeling the relief. Very high proportions of the public continue to believe that we are still in the midst of the housing crisis or that the worst is yet to come.”
  • Affordable housing supports the well-being of childrenA new report from Johns Hopkins University indicates that supporting quality, affordable housing boosts the cognitive abilities of children in the household. Simply put, when families have to spend huge chunks of their income on housing, they have less money to spend on child enrichment.

    When a family spent more than half of their income on housing, their children’s reading and math ability tended to suffer, found Sandra J. Newman, a Johns Hopkins professor of policy studies, working with researcher C. Scott Holupka. Children’s cognitive abilities also took a hit a hit when families spent less than 20 percent of their income on housing. ‘Families spending about 30 percent of their income on housing had children with the best cognitive outcomes,’ said Newman, who is also director of the university’s Center on Housing, Neighborhoods and Communities. ‘It’s worse when you pay too little and worse when you pay too much.'”

Economic opportunity

  • Guernica presents the views of 7 experts on the current state of class in America. Do we live in a meritocracy, or can we improve economic opportunity for all?
  • Paul Krugman delves into “inequality denial,” which he likens to climate change denial, stating, “inequality denial persists, for pretty much the same reasons that climate change denial persists: there are powerful groups with a strong interest in rejecting the facts, or at least creating a fog of doubt.” (New York Times)
  • Mother Jones laments that “if you’re born poor, you’ll probably stay that way.”
  • Michelle Chen writes in the Nation that closing the gender gap in “big box” retail wages could have a powerful ripple effect, lifting millions of families out of poverty and economic struggles. The positive benefits would be felt in society at large, as well, because when workers can’t earn a living wage:

The losses run deeper than their paycheck. Workers skip doctor’s visits because they lack paid leave time and scrimp on groceries to pay the bills. With just 5 percent of retail workers granted paid parental leave, new parents are pressured to rush back to work, potentially jeopardizing their newborn’s health. These day-to-day hardships tax public resources, too, as working-poor families absorb public funds in the form of food stamps, Medicaid and other public assistance programs.

Environmental stewardship

  • Last week, Community Renewable Energy covered the enormous progress of solar power in America. Some highlights? Solar power made up nearly 3/4 of all new power installations in the first quarter of 2014. Residential solar is way up. In the first quarter of 2014, residential installations surpassed commercial installations for the first time in 12 years. Additionally,households are embracing solar with or without subsidies. In fact, 1/3 of residential installations didn’t utilize subsidies.
  • Discovery reports: “It’s official. Solar power can beat out fossil fuels in generating big-scale electricity. For the first time, scientists have used solar power to generate ‘supercritical’ steam.”
  • Brazil is boosting its economy while reducing carbon emissions and deforestation. (National Geographic)

What do you think was the most important community development story this week? Share your insights and thoughts below or by email.

For news about solar power and sustainability, visit Community Renewable Energy’s blog.

About Holly

Holly Jensen is a writer and poet who has worked with nonprofits and businesses for over a decade. She also serves as editor of The Ghazal Page, an international literary journal.
This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *