The Weekly WrapThe Weekly Wrap

The Weekly Wrap: Colorado Bill Could Make Rent Gouging Illegal

Also: Rhode Island raises wages for bus drivers amid shortage.

Apartment building near park with mountains in background

(Photo by Knopka Ivy / Unsplash)

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Welcome to The Weekly Wrap, our Friday round-up of stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice.

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Colorado Could Make Rent Gouging During an Emergency Illegal

Bills in Colorado that would prevent rent gouging after a disaster and decrease filing fees for renters during eviction proceedings were voted out of committee. Legislators said HB24-1259, the rent gouging bill, was crafted in response to the 2022 Marshall Fire in Boulder, which damaged or destroyed over 1,000 homes, adding to the state’s affordable housing crisis. “After the Marshall Fire, rents skyrocketed and priced people out of their community who just lost everything they owned,” Representative Kyle Brown stated in a press release. The proposed law would ban increases “greater than 10%” during emergencies, declared by the president or Colorado’s governor. While 37 states have laws preventing retailers from price-gouging during emergencies, most states do not have statewide rent-gouging laws.

SNAP Benefits Can Be Used in Online Marketplace

Axios reports that people receiving SNAP benefits, or food stamps, can now use their benefits in an online store for the first time. “Thrive Market,” an online marketplace that began in 2014, started accepting EBT payments on February 26. While Thrive Market typically charges $60 annually for memberships, SNAP recipients will receive memberships for free. The announcement did not mention whether SNAP recipients will still have to pay delivery costs, but a Thrive spokesperson told Axios that low-income people use their service less often than people who pay for memberships.

Rhode Island Raises Bus Driver Wages in Response to Labor Shortage

A shortage of bus drivers in Rhode Island has led the state’s transit agency, RIPTA, to raise its starting salaries from $21.71 an hour to $25.33 an hour, The Providence Journal reports. The wage increase came out of a collective bargaining agreement with the union that covers the state’s transit workers, the Amalgamated Transit Union. Higher-paid workers will also see pay increases of $1 an hour. The union’s contract was not set to expire until June 2025, but the transit agency opened negotiations ahead of schedule in response to the shortage.

Mayor Brandon Johnson Cancels ShotSpotter Contract

Mayor Brandon Johnson announced on February 13 that the city would end its controversial “ShotSpotter” contractors after the summer, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The technology, meant to pinpoint where gunshots are coming from, has long been criticized by civil liberties advocates and a Chicago Inspector General report found that it increased instances of stop-and-frisk in certain neighborhoods. A $49 million contract with Sound Thinking, ShotSpotter’s parent company, has expired, and the mayor’s administration will enter a new contract with the company until it ends its relationship in September. “We know that there’s a lot of work to do ahead of us with other surveillance technologies. But we’re clearly feeling that a lot of progress has been made today,” Freddy Martinez, a member of the Stop Shotspotter Coalition, told the Sun-Times.

Advocates Push for “Ecocide” Prosecutions in International Criminal Court

Grist reports that environmental and human rights advocates around the globe are pushing to make “ecocide” a crime under international law, which the article defines as “the severe, widespread, and long-term destruction of the environment.” The European Union adopted a 2021 definition of ecocide in legislation, potentially increasing the chance that the International Criminal Court would take up the term. The term was created in the 1970s after a team of scientists visiting Vietnam saw the effects of widespread the U.S. military’s Agent Orange use had damaged the country’s soil. Experts on ecocide told Grist that Israel’s actions in Gaza since October, which a consensus of genocide experts believe is likely a genocide, would also fit the working definition of ecocide; the country has used white phosphorus which, in addition to causing horrific burns, poisons soil. It has also razed agricultural land and began flooding tunnels with seawater, potentially contaminating the drinking supply for millions of people.


Curated by Deonna Anderson

MORE NEWS

  • Filipino history will now be taught in Hawai’i schools. Students led a two-year campaign to integrate Filipino representation into Hawai’i’s education system. Teen Vogue

  • A group of American cities are working to reverse practices that have held down Black homeownership — and the generational wealth it brings — for nearly a century. Governing

  • An analysis from the nonprofit Clean Energy States Alliance, finds a $7 billion federal program is on track to help more than 700,000 lower-income households install solar and storage systems, making it the largest such investment in U.S. history. Canary Media

RESOURCES AND OPPORTUNITIES

  • Our friends at Island Press and its Urban Resilience Project released a free e-book, Resilience Matters: Flourishing in an Era of Extremes. It compiles 50 hopeful and life-affirming articles — including a few from Next City — about climate adaptation and justice, sustainable, equitable communities, and more.

  • B Lab U.S. and Canada is accepting applications for its Level program, through which it will “connect 15 businesses led by Black, Indigenous or People of Color who also identify as women, with B Corp Certification consulting firms to help guide them through the B Corp Certification process.” Learn more here.

  • The Greenlining Institute is accepting applications for its 2024-2025 Leadership Academy program. The fellowship is aimed at the “next generation of emerging leaders who are passionate about advancing racial equity through public policy.” Learn more about the program and access the application here.

  • The National Low Income Housing Coalition published its annual Advocates’ Guide, which compiles information about the programs and policies that make housing affordable to low-income people across the U.S. Click here to access the report.

EVENTS

  • March 14 at 11:30 a.m. Pacific: If you’re in the Bay Area, UC Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute is hosting Dr. Tanya Golash-Boza for a conversation about her book “Before Gentrification: The Creation of DC’s Racial Wealth Gap.” Learn more and register here.

  • Watch the recording: The Solutions Project hosted a panel about advancing Black-led climate justice solutions.

  • Watch the recording: The Brookings Institution hosted

  • 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: policeenvironmental justicerenters rightslaborcoloradofood stamps

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