The Weekly WrapThe Weekly Wrap

The Weekly Wrap: As Campuses Rise Up for Gaza, Police Crack Down

Also, a look at Flint, Michigan a decade after its water crisis began.

A protest encampment at Columbia University

A protest encampment at Columbia University, the day after an NYPD raid. (Photo by Pamela Drew / CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED)

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Anti-War Protest Encampments Emerge Across the Country

After a protest encampment against the genocide in Gaza at Columbia University faced hundreds of arrests from the NYPD, solidarity encampments have sprung up at more than 20 universities across the country. According to the group Columbia University Apartheid Divest, the Columbia encampment’s demand is for Columbia University to divest its finances from “corporations that profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide and occupation in Palestine” as well as for amnesty for students who have been suspended or arrested for their support for Palestine. Similar protests have emerged at USC Los Angeles, UT Austin, Harvard, MIT, Yale, Emory, Northwestern and more. According to The Guardian, many organizers are also fusing demands to divest endowments from weapons manufacturers and companies like Google and Amazon that have lent support to the IDF with calls.

The wave of protest encampments come as grim news of multiple mass graves at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis and Shifa Medical Center in Gaza City. Over 300 bodies were discovered just at Nasser Hospital, and according to Al Jazeera the bodies included women, children, medical staff and patients. Some had been exhumed by Israeli forces from previous mass graves dug in January, Israel acknowledged. Gaza officials said there were signs that hands of some of the bodies had been tied, suggesting executions. U.N. officials called for an independent investigation, as did the E.U. A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. would wait for Israel’s response before calling for an investigation.

Flint’s Clean Water Crisis, 10 Years On

According to Capital B News, a decade after the Flint Water crisis began, no victims have seen any of the $625 million in settlement funds, 20% of the city’s residents have left, the city’s unemployment rate is 1.5 times higher than the national average — and people are still testing for high lead levels in their blood.

The federal government will pay $15 billion of the $30 billion required to fix all of the nation’s pipes, but Flint residents are concerned as even water from homes with replacement service lines are showing high lead levels. There is also concern that federal funding for repairs will not flow evenly to Black communities most impacted by the lead crisis. “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic widened the racial death gap in Flint, Black residents’ death rate climbed at a rate that was more than twice the city’s death rate between 2014 and 2019,” Capital B reports.

Residents Demand Sewer Improvements in Houston

Axios reports that Houston organizations are calling on the city to make $20 million available for sewer repairs, particularly for low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods that disproportionately experience sewage overflows. Houston agreed to invest $2 billion in sewer upgrades in 2021 as part of a negotiated settlement. As of last year, 35 of 81 public lines covered under the agreement had been repaired, but families in northeast Houston are hoping to prioritize private pipe repairs not covered by the agreement as well as the health impact of sewer overflows.

New York’s Good Cause Law Comes With Major Asterisks

New York State has just passed a very restricted version of Good Cause protections, after years of tenant advocacy.

The City reports that the protections have huge carve outs. They will not cover buildings constructed since 2009; they provide a 30-year exemption for new construction; and there are exemptions for high-end apartment buildings starting at $5,846 for a studio, apartment units where the landlord’s portfolio consists of nine or fewer units, every condo and co-op apartment, all income-restricted affordable housing, and all rent stabilized units.

An analyst estimated to The City that between 321,000 to 473,000 units will be covered by the rules, or between 14.7% to 21.6% of the city’s rental housing stock. But figuring out who is eligible could be difficult because many units are owned by LLCs, and there’s no public database of LLC ownership. For those covered by the law, landlords can not raise the rent by 5% plus the consumer price index or 10%, whichever number is lower. Landlords can not evict tenants or deny lease renewal unless there is a “good cause” which under the law includes nonpayment of rent, demolishing a building or converting the use of the building, according to The City.

HOUSING: Colorado’s No Fault Eviction Law Also Comes With Exemptions

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis also signed a statewide Good Cause law (it’s called a No Fault eviction law, but the principle is the same). The law grants tenants the ability to renew their leases, but includes exemptions when an owner is going to occupy or demolish a building or if tenants have a history of not paying rent. According to the Greeley Tribune, a previous version of the bill would have forced landlords to pay tenants’ relocation costs in certain circumstances but was opposed by moderate Democrats.


Curated by Aysha Khan

MORE NEWS

  • California leaders asked for a Supreme Court homelessness decision. Will it backfire? L.A. Times

  • More than one-third of people in the US exposed to harmful air pollution. The Guardian

  • A first-in-the-nation home repair program sees overwhelming demand. Smart Cities Dive

  • NY State approves $90 million tax credit for local newspapers. The Village Sun

  • Richmond has no plan to reimagine Monument Avenue, years after statues. WTVR

  • Biden marks Earth Day by going after GOP, announcing $7 billion in federal solar power grants. AP

RESOURCES & OPPORTUNITIES

  • IBM announced a new request for proposals from government and non-profit organizations focused on technology-driven projects aimed at advancing city resiliency. Submit proposals to join the next cohort of the IBM Sustainability Accelerator by April 30.

EVENTS

  • April 25 at 6 p.m. Eastern: Catalyst Collaborative Farm and other organizations are hosting a panel of Black farmers and advocates to discuss the Farm Bill and how to have your voice heard at the federal level and state level. Register here.

  • May 1 at 4 p.m. Eastern. How can politically-conscious people meaningfully engage with the onslaught of propaganda during an election year? Our regular partner Prism is hosting “No More Bad News: Tools for Critical Media Literacy during Election Season,” a conversation with movement journalists. Register here.

  • Check out other events from Next City and our partner organizations here!

This article is part of The Weekly Wrap, a newsletter rounding up stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice. Click here to subscribe to The Weekly Wrap newsletter.

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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.

Tags: new york cityevictionsflintnew yorkcolorado

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