Affordable Housing and Community Action

Affordable housing is a lynchpin of sustainable community development. Americans traditionally consider housing affordable if it costs 30 percent or less of their income.  In order to ensure that communities have this option, social or public housing options are critical.  However, affordable housing is more than just low-income housing.  It also involves a broader understanding of housing options, the relevance of other policy sectors for housing (environment, transportation and education to name a few) and how they come together to impact equity, sustainability, and livability in communities.

Two important factors in creating advancements in affordable house are community action and support of the social economy.  The main purpose of this page is to raise awareness of resources, support and networks in these areas.  Specifically, Why is Affordable Housing a Concern reflects on the grassroots reasons.  Tool Kits provides not only the tools, but plans and information on best practices.  The Public/Social Housing section explains the role the government plays in cooperative housing and the resources available in this sector. The Housing Cooperatives section provides details on how to start, run and find resources and tools to build or make your organization better.  The Understanding Your Rights section discusses The Fair Housing Act/Equal Opportunity and how its role in affordable housing. The Community Action section provides details how to get involved and the resources available locally, regionally and nationally.

Why is Affordable Housing a Concern?

With high unemployment and wages that fail to keep pace with the cost of housing, the necessity of affordable housing continues to be a deep concern for Americans.  Affordable housing creates diversity (aging population, disabled, working to middle income) in communities for both neighborhood development and economic growth.  Additionally, whether housing is rental or owned, the affordability allows individuals to live in areas close to work and education that affect transportation, urban sprawl environmental concerns and many other prevalent issues facing the people of the United States today.

Below you can find articles that provide a good place to start for an overview of what affordable housing is and the relevant issues surrounding this topic.

Renewing the Land of Opportunity by Nicholas Brunick, Patrick O’ B. Mainer and the Innovative Housing Institute develop the issues surrounding the current economic crisis and housing bust since 2008.  The article specifically focuses on the need for affordable housing, creating and preserving the existing affordable housing and creating livable communities for everyone. Click here for PDF: RenewingtheLandofOpportunity

Affordable Housing, Land Tenure and Urban Policy: The Matrix Revealed by J. Peter Byrne and Michael Diamond discusses how housing is a critical apex to the social and economic needs of people.  The book highlights how housing creates the security, physical and social foundation for life and that a shortage of it creates communal instability throughout the nation.  Click here for PDF: Affordable Housing, Land Tenure, And Urban Policy The Matrix Revealed – Byrne and Diamond

Providing Affordable Family Housing and Reducing Residential Segregation by Income by Laurie M. Anderson, PhD, Joseph St. Charles, MPA, Mindy T. Fullilove, MD, Susan C. Scrimshaw, PhD, Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, MBA, Jacques Normand, PhD, and the Task Force on Community Preventive.  This book argues that the social, physical and economic characteristics of communities create issues with health, low levels of affordable housing and segregation of households.  Click here for PDF: Providing Affordable Family Housing and Reducing Residential Segregation by Income

Services

The National Housing Trust preserves and revitalizes affordable apartments to better the quality of life for the families and elderly who live there. Saving affordable housing is the essential first step in solving our nation’s housing dilemma. http://www.nhtinc.org/why_preserve_affordable_homes.php

 

Tool Kits

Below you will find tool kits available for advancing Affordable Housing options in local communities.  These instruments vary from handbooks to consultants to how-to’s for whatever level you are at in working toward affordable housing.

Policy Link Affordable Housing Tool Group an array of workshops on introductions, preservation and legal information in regards to Affordable Housing. 

Policy Link is a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity by “lifting up what works”.  They provide an excellent resource for strategies to not only promote community and resident ownership, but to protect tenant and rental housing, stabilize and improve neighborhoods and expand the affordable housing stock more broadly.

 

Nonprofit Housing Toolkit Though a non-profit group in California, Nonprofit Housing provides a great set of resources related to advocacy campaigning, housing policies and community development to folks throughout the country.

Smart Growth/Smart Energy Toolkit provides one of the most comprehensive resources available on Affordable Housing.  This organization was put together by Massachusetts government.  It provides case studies, slide shows, models of bylaws and links to guidebooks.  Additionally, it provides information on subsidized housing, preservation of historic buildings and a large amount of information related to cooperative housing concerns.

Tool kit for Advancing Systems Change. Corporation for Supportive Housing is an advocacy agency for the prevention of homelessness.  They provide a toolkit containing information ranging from financial leveraging, collaborative planning to creating a network of allies.

 

Public/Social Housing

Public/Social Housing is owned by a government entity, cooperative or other social association.  This type of housing is valued for the diversity it creates in neighborhoods, cities, and the workforce.  Additionally, there are general trends and links of public/social housing linked to an increase in advantageous public policy in terms of health, education and work.  Overall, public/social housing provides benefits to marginalized communities.

Affordability is another important piece of sustainability, and we need to make sure that everyone benefits from these changes. A big part of HUD’s mission is to make sure community development provides access to jobs for people who are low-income–and makes it possible for people to live in community that has a mix of housing types while still having access to a terrific school system. The notion that we are creating fair, open, inclusive communities is a fundamental piece of the agenda, in addition to economic, environmental and health concerns

–Shelley Poticha, Head of HUDs Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. HUD’s Shelley Poticha discusses sustainable development - Jenny Sullivan in Builder 2010 http://www.builderonline.com/sustainability/huds-shelley-poticha-discusses-sustainable-development.aspx?cid=BLDR100223003


 

Federal Programs

HUD – US Department of Housing and Urban Development deals with community planning and development, public housing, fair housing and equal opportunity, policy development and research.  They also house the Federal Housing Authority that provides homeowners with loans and financing for home buying.

For a comprehensive list of HUD programs see http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/hudprograms/toc

The United States Department of Agriculture provides housing assistance and works to improve the quality of life in rural areas by combing forces with existing entities, tribes, communities and other agencies.  They make available funding for housing for farm laborers to nursing homes and many other groups.

For a nice overview of the housing programs available to rural residents click here: USDA Fair Housing

Housing Vouchers

HUD provides families and individuals with vouchers so that they may choose their own neighborhood and housing in the private market.  The vouchers are applicable wherever they are accepted and are not limited to subsidized housing project.

USDA Rural Development Housing Vouchers Demonstration Program provides tenants of USDA family housing from being foreclosed on or evicted.  The voucher supplements the tenants’ rent for a year.
USDA Housing voucher PDF: USDA housing voucher info

Inclusionary Zoning

Housing Policy.org provides definitions, summaries and external links on inclusionary zoning.  They briefly explain it as housing policies that are mandatory or voluntary where developers allow for a portion of their rentals to be rented/purchased at modest prices.  For an introduction to inclusionary zoning see

Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning—The Answer to Affordable Housing Problem by Brian R. Lerman takes on the social attitudes that have been predominate in areas of inclusionary zoning and how to encourage new affordable housing in these existing environments.  Click here for PDF: Mandatory Inlusionary Zoning — The Answer to Affordable Housing Problem – Brian R. Lerman

Learn more about Affordable Housing Options in Arizona

In July, 2011 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $8.2 million to public housing authorities in Arizona, and a few other US territories (including the District of Colombia, Guam, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico).  The funds will allow these agencies to make major large-scale improvements to their public housing units.

To look up the Affordability of Arizona compared to other states see the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index: http://htaindex.cnt.org/

 

What Does Affordable Housing Look like in Arizona?

Housing and Transportation Affordability Index was developed by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), along with its partner the Center for Transit Oriented Development (CTOD).  The Index provides a map of the “true cost” of housing based on items such as location and transportation.  To use the map click on any region to zoom in to see the median income, population, commuters, gender and other variables that deal with the affordability of housing.  

 

Additional Information and Support

Articles and Books

An Introduction to Social Housing by Paul Reeves (2005) speaks to the heart of the affordable housing issue and its connection to maintaining a diverse and prosperous society.

Inclusionary Zoning: A Guide to Ordinances and the Law by Tyler Mulligan and James L Joyce (2010) provides a guide to the vast amount of inclusionary laws, language, examples and case studies of specific issues involved in developers setting aside portions of rentals for low-income housing.

Zoning, rent control, and affordable housing by William Tucker describes the history of rental control, affordable housing, abuse of the system and the housing crisis in America.

Affordable Housing Through Historic Preservation by William F. Delvac, Susan M. Escherich and Bridget Hartman outlines how communities can use two tax credits to preserve old buildings and develop affordable housing in their neighborhoods.

Fair and Affordable Housing in the US: Trends, Outcomes, Future Directions by Robert Silverman with Robert Mark and Kelly L. Patterson expands on the current state of fair and affordable housing policy in the United States and explores the possibilities for the future.

Support Organizations

Housing Policy.org provides individuals with the answers to the what, why, how, and who in connection to affordable housing.  Their dropdown menus are easily accessible for all of your questions whether you are new or need to refresh your memory on policy, advocacy and community information and a plethora of other items.

 

National Low Income Housing Coalition aims at achieving socially just public policy.

Housing and Economics Rights Advocates resides in California and fights legally and as an advocacy organization against discrimination and economic abuses.

Corporation for Supportive Housing advocates for national supportive housing and the prevention of homelessness.   

Innovative Housing Institute advocates for national affordable housing, specifically in terms of inclusionary housing.  

National Housing Trust preserves and revamps affordable apartments for families and the elderly.  Within the organization, Neighborhood Works America reports the latest news and resources relating to resources, policies and practices for affordable housing.

Habitat for Humanity in conjunction with partners and volunteers builds simple and affordable housing around the world. 

Urban Land Institute is comprised of lawyers, librarians, lenders, architects, students and many others all joined in the goal of research and the dissemination of information on urban planning and development.

IN ARIZONA

Arizona Housing Alliance advocates for affordable housing for Arizonans.  Their website provides individuals and groups with information regarding fact sheets for housing and cur rent projects and policies of Legislative and Congressional districts.

ASU Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family opened in 2005 as a part of the downtown Arizona State University campus.  It works to improve and provide growth and sustainability for affordable housing. An important area on their site is the resources section; it provides a great overview of Arizona policies, practices and resources under their ‘Web links’ section.

Blogs and Newsletters

Shelter Force boasts as the United State’s oldest community development magazine as it celebrates three decades of advocacy, providing a forum for organizers and activists and shedding light on some of the major issues concerning housing in the US.

Neighborhood Works America is a monthly e-newsletter that includes information on community development, policy issues, funding opportunities and events.

Affordable Housing Institute: US works to develop affordable housing eco-systems worldwide.  Their blog provides up to date, daily discussions of issues around the world dealing with affordable and environmentally friendly housing options.

Affordable Housing Finance features stories that discuss and debate the latest financial issues concerning affordable housing.

 

Housing Co-operatives

Housing Co-operatives exist to promote equal decision-making, create collective ownership and provide cost-benefits for its owners … more “bang-for-the-buck” as quoted by Rachel Maddox, co-founder of the University of Maryland College Park Cooperative Housing organization.  These entities are relevant to the overall social economy because they create equal opportunity in ownership, fight against discrimination and provide opportunity for a diverse community of people that need access to quality housing.  Housing Co-operatives catalyze social justice efforts for communities by promoting membership involvement in neighborhoods and advancing social equality in ownership.

What are Housing Cooperatives and how are they relevant to today’s economy?

As defined by HUD, cooperatives include those properties held by a nonprofit cooperative ownership housing corporation or nonprofit cooperative housing trust.

For more information read Douglas Kleine’s brief article, “Housing Cooperatives: An Opportunity to Provide Stable Homeownership for Moderate Income Families” in the National Association of Housing Cooperatives’ Cooperative Housing Bulletin. Click here for PDF: Housing Cooperatives An opportunity to provide stable homeownership for moderate income families

Learn more about Creating and Sustaining Housing Cooperatives

Cooperative Housing Development Toolbox: A Guide for Successful Community Development As community leaders seek solutions to the affordable housing crisis, people continue to make difficult choices about where to live. Cooperative housing is one solution to the affordable housing crisis. This guide is designed to assist community leaders in determining whether co-op housing is right for their community, and helps with choosing, planning and organizing co-op housing developments. To order hard copies of this document contact North Country Cooperative Development Fund. Click her for PDF: Cooperative Housing Development Toolbox A Guide for Successful Community Development

Cooperative Housing Project: Action Plan and Resource Guide.  This guide, written by Rachel Maddox, is an excellent resource for how you get a housing cooperative off the ground, including a step-by-step overview of the key phases and issues involved.   The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) organizers’ handbook provides a comprehensive guide to creating housing cooperatives in local communities.  Click here for the PDF: Co-op Housing Project Action Plan

National Association of Housing Cooperatives (NAHC) is a nonprofit and national federation dedicated to advancing the interest of cooperative housing communities. Two specific resources that they provide to help individuals and groups form new housing cooperatives are:
A Comparison of Cooperative Housing and Other Forms of Housing
Fifty + ways to finance cooperative housing – PDF: Fifty plus ways to finance cooperative housing

 

Student Coops in Action

Seneca Co-op is located in Austin, Texas and is designed for graduate and upper-division student housing with special attention to community and environmental balance.


Vail Co-operative House is located in one of Ann Arbor, Michigan’s historic buildings near the Central Campus.  The House provides an alternative living accommodation for students while advocating for sustainability.

Learn More

For additional information, resources, and support see the sections outlined below containing support organizations, blogs, newsletters and other useful materials.

Support Organizations

National Association of Housing Cooperatives offers a newsletter, a bookstore, a specific section for legislative issues, areas of focus for coop boards and information on buying, starting or living in a housing co-op. 

Urban Homesteading Assistance Board supplies individuals with knowledge on organizing and policy, co-op development and preservation, along with technical assistance in training all in relation to affordable housing.  The majority of these items can be found under their Programs section.  

NASCO provides general information regarding cooperative jobs, internships and anti-oppressive education under its Programs & Services section.  Additionally, they provide specific material for affordable housing in this same section under Co-op Development and NASCO Properties.  Individuals can find information on development services and activities as well as financial assistance and ideas.

USDA- Rural Housing Service. Mutual Self Help Housing Program provides those interested in cooperative housing with information regarding preservation, revitalization, property assessment and developer and non-profit opportunities available in this sector.  

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing cooperatives are eligible for restructuring through the M2M program. If processed through the M2M (mark-to-market) program, housing cooperatives must be renewed with project based assistance. For more details visit the HUD site.

 

Blogs and Newsletters

The Cooperator is an extension of the newspaper and serves the cooperative housing community addressing issues of management, finance, maintenance and much more.

Habitat serves the greater New York population of residential co-ops, condos and homeowner associations.  Their articles cover education, awareness, empowerment, management and many other issues concerning the boards and individuals involved in housing co-ops. 

Chum, Inc. is an organization dedicated to providing cooperative housing opportunities for students and community members in the University of Maryland community.  On their blog individuals can find meeting minutes and problems and solutions that this group has dealt with and overcome.

 

Understanding Your Rights

There is one main policy that help to establish equality in housing in the United States.  The Fair Housing Act/Equal Opportunity, prohibits discrimination in terms of race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and/or disability in housing practices administered via the USDA’s Rural Housing Service (RHS).

Fair Housing. Its Your Right. This USDA document provides an overview of the Fair Housing Act and what to do if you feel your rights have been violated.  Click here for the PDF: USDA Fair Housing

For more information on the Fair Housing Act see:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/hudprograms/fheo

For more information specific to the Equal Opportunity in HUD Assisted Programs see: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/hudprograms/eohudap

For more information on fair housing and equal opportunity see: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp

Need to file a housing discrimination complaint?

Housing discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability is illegal by federal law. If you have been trying to buy or rent a home or apartment and you believe your rights have been violated, you can file a fair housing complaint.  To learn more about the process go to the following HUD website: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/housing_discrimination

Still have more questions?

If you live in Arizona, contact the Region IX HUD office:

San Francisco Regional Office of FHEO
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
600 Harrison Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, California 94107-1387
(415) 489-6524
1-800-347-3739
TTY (415) 436-6594

 

Community Action

The very crux of social movements and equality opportunities lies within the action of communities and their ability to engage the public values inherent in the development of the social economy.  The issue of affordable housing is no different and will take the collective activity of all to create change and sustainability in creating homes for all.

Unless we involve people in the definition of their problems and the choice of solutions, we will produce a thin governing system that produces public services that patch over problems rather than going to their heart.

Gerry Stoker, Chair of the New Local Government Network (NLGN) think-tank and Professor of Political Science at Manchester University.

 

Community Action and the Environment

Part of the social economy agenda is to link community development to sustainability.  Below are some current efforts to do so at the federal, state, and local levels.

Sustainable Communities Initiative is a joint effort by HUD, EPA, and the Department of Transportation to help American families gain better access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs. The goal of the sustainable communities initiative is to coordinate Federal policies, programs and resources to encourage and fully assist cities, metros and rural areas to build sustainable communities. For more about this initiative and accomplishments since its launch in 2009 go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/07/09/urban-update-sustainable-communities

Green Development Guide outlines the use of green building into the rehabilitation, revitalization and building of affordable and sustainable housing projects.  Click here for the PDF: GreenHousingDevelopmentGuide

Examples Change Agents in the Field of Environmental Justice

Change Agent is an agency offering a biannual newspaper for adult educators and learners interested in social justice.  In Issue 32 they discuss Staying Safe In A Toxic World, including home, children, seller’s responsibilities and other community action and cultural issues.

 

IN ARIZONA

Arizona Community Action Association promotes the self-sufficiency and collaboration of communities and low-income peoples.  They provide a Peoples Info Guide that contains information on free and low-cost programs and services.  Additionally they have a quarterly newsletter that outlines new opportunities and information available for all Arizonans.  For more specific issues you can click on their Find Help section and gain information on community action agencies, energy programs in AZ, food and nutrition and local community resources.

Sustainability Arizona is an organization devoted to improving the life of Arizonans in the form of resources, education and action.  Their website provides a blog forum, an events calendar and the main environmental and community issues challenging Arizona.

The Southwest Conservation Corp (SCC) engages and trains a diverse group of young women and men and completes conservation projects for the public benefit.

Keep Arizona Beautiful is a non-profit organization providing Arizona with partnerships and statewide efforts to preserve and enhance the environment and beauty of the state.

Arizona Environmental Strategic Alliance is a public-private partnership striving for environmental leadership and positive environmental change in communities and businesses.

Community Action and Culture

Promoting cultural diversity and efforts of minority communities are extremely important in connection with affordable housing.  Community action and culture play a large role in supporting civic engagement and community action projects in neighborhoods across the country.  Below you will find advocacy and other organizations that supply individuals and groups with the tools and resources to attack the cultural housing injustices with community action.

 

Local Legacies: Celebrating Community Roots. Initiated in 2000 as a “snapshot” of the diversity of American culture to commemorate the Library of Congress Bicentennial, Local Legacies: Celebrating Community Roots, provides a comprehensive list of community festivals, events and happenings in Arizona and around the country.

For Arizona Local legacies see http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/legacies/AZ/index.html

National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit. The Principles of the Environmental Justice Movement, produced by the National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit lays out seventeen principles of justice related to the environment, including rights of workers, victims and political, economic and cultural action. Click here for the PDF: We, The People of Color…

Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative is an effort dedicated to addressing the wealth gap affecting millions of Americans.  Their website provides services and programs in workforce development, savings and asset building, early childhood and legal advice.  Additionally there are publications addressing similar issues as well as a section on Insight Communities that connects people across the US with a network of community resources and tools necessary to create effective change in the wealth gap struggle.

Native Americans for Community Action is dedicated to informing, advocating and empowering Native Americans to create healthy communities.  Their Program & Services section provides information on family health centers, mental health, substance abuse, youth pathway programs and community development programs.

 

Examples: Change Agents

Green Workers Cooperative is a program that facilitates the process of learning how to compete and develop trade skills in green jobs and help with worker ownership in the South Bronx.  The majority of these jobs are related to housing and construction of new developments. 

WAGES works with low-income immigrant Latinas to launch green business cooperatives.

Public Entities in Arizona with Interest in Supporting Community Development

Northern Arizona Council of Governments:  Community Development Funding Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG) is a group of local governments representing Apache, Coconino, Navajo, and Yavapai Counties that seek to improve local communities. One of these ways they improve communities is through the Community Development Block Grant that provides funds for housing and community development activities. The U.S. Housing and Urban Development program allocates this grant to local and state governments, such as NASCOG, who in turn allocate these funds to local community projects based on application status and certain criteria. For more information on this grant such as how to apply, what criteria must be met to be eligible and the type of projects this grant includes, please visit the following link: http://www.nacog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=dep_intro&dept_id=11

Pima Association of Governments Pima Association of Governments is a nonprofit metropolitan planning organization that works with local governments, the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), community agencies and interested citizens in developing plans and recommendations for the allocation of federal Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and other federal, state and local funds for human service’s needs. The SSBG plan directs funding to programs and services that help address the social services needs of children, youth at risk, families in crisis, low income individuals, homeless, elderly and persons with disabilities. For more detailed information on the SSBG grant please click on the following PDF:  Social Services Block Grant

Not sure how to get more involved in shaping your community?

The Community Visioning and Strategic Planning Handbook is put out by the National Civic League and details how to being a community vision, the outreach process and addressing the current realities of community development. Click here for PDF: VSPHandbook

Shaping Your Community. Though developed for MA, this guide provides some great ideas for citizens involvement in community planning, land protection and project review.  For a more comprehensive list of manuals and guides relating to Community development see the following Civic Practices Network resources: http://www.cpn.org/tools/manuals/Community/index.html.  Click here for PDF: Shaping the Future of Your Community

Community Organizing Training Centers

Arkansas Rural Enterprise Center is a division of the Winrock International. Both serve to expand jobs and income in rural Arkansas and the surrounding areas.  AREC provides guidance, counseling, management, board-training, business planning and many other resources geared towards cooperatives.

Common Enterprise Development Corporation is a non-profit organization serving the North Dakota area in corporation development, community-owned enterprises and improving the rural area culturally, economically and socially.

 

Indiana Cooperative Development Center is located in Indianapolis, IN and serves the state of Indiana providing cost-effective services to cooperatives and other organizations in the third sector.  Specifically, they specialize in strategic planning, marketing analysis, feasibility studies, business plans and staff training.

 

Center for Co-operatives & CED – Southern New Hampshire University is an academic program focusing on community building and development in order to change the plight of marginalized groups.  In addition to the scholarly program, they also offer free downloadable webinars on a variety of topics related to cooperatives; preservation, economic crisis and many others.

Center for Community Based Enterprise, Inc., (C2BE) is an organization dedicated to connecting communities and entrepreneurs to resources to inspire and grow “community-based enterprises” (CBEs).  One of their chief legal advisers is Deborah Groban Olson who has over 30 years experience in creating and advising employee-owned companies.

 

Hatch Detroit is a non-profit organization started by a businessman and a lawyer dedicated to the revitalization of the city of Detroit.  Their experiences reign from starting new companies and doing pro-bono work to recruiting new talent to Detroit.  Their organization offers a grant for $50,000 to an individual or group that is interested in starting a small business to refresh Detroit’s street corners.

De Comunidad a Comunidad  (Community to Community Development) is a grassroots organization that promotes the equitable access to the democratic process for all.  It facilitates this through programs and projects including creating free public space, immigration justice projects, community dialogues, having a food justice alliance and working on relationships of self-reliance and community building.

To Learn More

 

Books & Articles

Beyond Resistance! Youth Activism and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Practice and Policy for America’s Youth, edited by S. Ginwright, P. Noguera, and J. Cammarota discusses how the current policy has failed to address quality of life issues and therefore has created insurmountable problems for American’s urban youth, including barriers to civic participation.

 

Civic Innovation in America: Community Empowerment, Public Policy, and the Movement for Civic Renewal, by Carmen Sirianni and Lewis Friedland provides a broad overview of civic practices, models, policies, and organizations, as well as an account of the emergence of the civic renewal movement in the U.S. and how this movement might be further built.

 

Community Organizing: Building Social Capital as a Development Strategy by Gittell, Ross, and Vidal, Avis.  This book discusses the challenges of developing community-based organizations and motivating individuals to be involved in community action in their neighborhoods.

Democracy’s Promise by Janelle S. Wong tells of the vibrant and diverse American population and the political institutions that are playing catch-up to an increasing and changing demographics; she also explores the role of civic voluntarism and political action in the role of American politics.

 

Environmental justice: Creating equality, Reclaiming Democracy by Kristen Shrader-Frechette provides the reader with a philosophical take on environmental justice and the ethical concepts of equality that are tied to this concept.

Growth Management and Affordable Management.  Do they conflict? by Anthony Downs explores the issues brought about by “growth management and smart growth” proposals that often raise housing prices and ultimately make housing less affordable.

Latina Activists across Borders: Women’s Grassroots Organizing in Mexico and Texas by Mary Pardo discusses the advancement of women’s NGOs in the past twenty-five years and how the borders of US and Mexico have created border regions of women confronting issues of being the head of households and exploitative labor conditions.

Los Angeles Gardeners Organize for Jobs and the Environment.”  Progressive Planning by Alvaro Huerta takes on the issue of government creating environmental laws that benefit whites and cut the jobs of colored people.  Huerta discusses the organizing story of the Los Angeles Gardeners and their impact on the injustice of laws and color. Click here for the PDF: Progressive Planning Magazine – Alvaro Huerta Article

 

Power Politics: Environmental Activism in South Los Angeles by Karen Brodkin looks at the largely high school environmental justice activists of the 1990s that combated California’s energy/electric deregulation.

Race and landscape in the United States.” Landscape and race in the United States, ed. R. H. Schein breaks down the social basis for race and ethnicity, how change has taken place over time, and the historical patterns of inclusion and exclusion that play into these issues.

Rebuilding Urban Neighborhoods: Achievements, Opportunities, and Limits by Dennis Keating discusses the multiple options of organizing, citizen activism and self-government.

The Coincidental Order of Environmental Injustice.” Chapter 5 in Justice and Natural Resources: Concepts, Strategies, and Applications, ed. K. M. Mutz, G. C. Bryner, and D. S. and written by Jeff Romm discusses the absorbent rate of environmental injustices that people of color endure.

Voice and Equality: Civic voluntarism in American Politics by Sidney Verba, Kay Lehman schlozman and Henry E. Brady expounds on the popular thought that civic voluntarism and the involvement of citizens in family, work, school and other communal activities makes for an active and engaged populous.

 

Support Networks

Smart Growth America SGA is the only national organization dedicated to researching, advocating for and leading coalitions to bring smart growth practices to more communities nationwide. It works with communities to fight sprawl, save money and promote smart growth solutions to support businesses and jobs, provide more options for how people get around and make it more affordable to live near work and the grocery store.

Next American City is a non-profit organization that promotes socially and environmentally sustainable growth in cities and communities nation wide.

Urban Ecology Institute works to build urban ecosystems through research, education and community action. 

Center for Health, Environment and Justice is a national environmental agency that advocates for community health and related policy.

Green Collar Association advocates for the new green economy through press releases n the news, educational events, advocacy, programs and centers.  Additionally, their website provides a special section titled Industry that discusses the advancement of green buildings, clean transportation and waste, water and land management.

US Green Building Council is a non-profit organization designed to certify green buildings and make green buildings available for multiple generations.

Earth Foundation is empowering educators and students to work toward a sustainable economy, a just society and a healthy environment. Focus is on education, fundraising for conservation, and cooperative programs with conservation groups and indigenous organizations working to preserve balanced ecological systems internationally.

Environmental Defense Fund
is a leading national nonprofit organization representing more than 500,000 members. Since 1967, EDF has linked science, economics and law to create innovative, equitable and cost-effective solutions to society’s most urgent environmental problems.

Civic Practices Network brings together a plethora of entities all devoted to civic collaboration and community problem solving.

 

Insight Center for Community Economic Development works with foundations, non-profits, educational institutes and all individuals and groups willing to advocate and promote economic and health opportunities in vulnerable communities.

 

IN ARIZONA

Arizona Community Action Association promotes the self-sufficiency and collaboration of communities and low-income peoples.  They provide a Peoples Info Guide that contains information on free and low-cost programs and services.  Additionally they have a quarterly newsletter that outlines new opportunities and information available for all Arizonans.  For more specific issues you can click on their Find Help section and gain information on community action agencies, energy programs in AZ, food and nutrition and local community resources.

Arizona Clean & Beautiful is a nonprofit organization that utilizes partnerships, educational efforts, volunteerism and charitable actions to safeguard the environmental quality and beauty of Arizona.

Highland Center for Natural History is a natural science education organization promoting ecological stewardship with workshops, field studies and other activities.

Blogs and Newsletters

Smart Growth America advocates for a world where people can live and work near their housing so that it is more affordable and sustainable.

Sustainable Cities Collective pulls resources from a multitude of sources, centers, individuals and collectives that are interested in urban planning, sustainable development and urban economics. 

Sustainable Arizona is an organization devoted to improving the life of Arizonans in the form of resources, education and action.  Their website provides a blog forum, an events calendar and the main environmental and community issues challenging Arizona. 

Backyard Talk is the blog for the Center for health, Environment & Justice national environmental agency that advocates for community health and related policy.  The organization and the blog posts focus on national policies.

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