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.
For months, we’ve been paying attention to Israel’s war on Gaza. Here’s a visual investigation of how the war destroyed Gaza’s neighborhoods, from The Guardian. Also, Chicago has become the largest U.S. city to call for a ceasefire. Mayor Brandon Johnson broke a tie in City Council to pass the ceasefire resolution, according to In These Times. It joins Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Oakland, and San Francisco, which have all passed similar resolutions.
Now, onto this week’s briefs…
Hoboken Celebrates Seven Years of Zero Traffic Deaths
While cities like New York have struggled with spiking traffic deaths even after spending millions on road improvements and infrastructure upgrades, the city of Hoboken announced that it had seven consecutive years without a traffic fatality, three years after implementing its own Vision Zero policy, Patch reports. Hoboken’s traffic fatalities were low before it ever implemented Vision Zero — it had one road death a year between 2015 and 2017, the last year there was a road fatality. But there is some evidence that road improvements, which include adding stop signs, improving visibility, updating curbs and reducing speed limits in school zones, are helping reduce injury. The city said there was an 18% reduction in crashes resulting in an injury between 2022 and 2023 and a 62% reduction in injuries deemed serious, according to Patch.
Los Angeles Public Library Acquires Publishing House
The Los Angeles Public Library announced last month that it had acquired a small publishing company, Angel City Press, through a donation from the press’ founders. The press, founded in 1992, publishes nonfiction books about Los Angeles and California cultural history, including books about Asian American actors in Hollywood and the work of science fiction writer and former California resident Octavia Butler. In an interview with the New York Times, Los Angeles Public Library head John Szabo said he saw the acquisition as part of a trend of public libraries adapting to the needs of communities, including having social workers and mental health workers on staff.
FEMA Will Pay 75% of the Cost for Solar Installation After Storms
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on Tuesday that it would largely reimburse local governments for renewable energy upgrades to public buildings that experience damage after disasters, the New York Times reports. FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell told the Times that the initiative is intended to build more “energy independence.” FEMA typically reimburses governments 75% of the cost to rebuild public infrastructure after disasters, and local officials have to cobble together the rest of the funds. The same formula will now include renewable energy upgrades including solar panels and heat pumps, though many local governments may still choose to opt out of this offering. The funds are being made available through the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.
Sacramento’s Legal Weed Businesses Get Boost From City
The city of Sacramento’s Cannabis Opportunity and Racial Equity program has helped introduce four new cannabis stores to the city, including “Crystal Nugs,” the city’s first legal Black woman-owned cannabis business, according to the Sacramento Observer. To qualify for the program and its grants and loans, participants must have an arrest record related to marijuana sales or possession or live in a zip code disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Ten participants were awarded licenses through the program in 2021 and will have until April 2024 to open their stores.
Refugee Farmers in San Diego Want To Run The Farm They Cultivate
A group of refugee farmers in San Diego formed a nonprofit in an effort to manage the land it has been farming on, but no one can tell them who owns it, inewsource reports. The 2 acres of land are listed as a public right of way in city records, but the city said it did not own a title to the land when asked by inewsource. A local community development corporation has been managing the land for years and leasing it to the refugee farmers of the New Roots Community Farm, but the farmers revolted when they learned the CDC never owned the land. When the farmers refused to renew their lease, the CDC refused to let them back on the property to tend to the plants they had cultivated on what might be public land, leading to a standoff between 80 community members and a security guard. The guard called the police, who left after learning the CDC had no proof of ownership.
Curated by Deonna Anderson
The New York City Housing Authority, the biggest public housing program in the country, has limited funding to address billions of dollars in repairs. Now it’s turning to private companies to take on operations. How will this affect residents and the future of housing? Code Switch / NPR
Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey signed an executive order instituting skills-based hiring practices for the state’s workforce. Press Release
UPS plans to cut 12,000 jobs, just five months after agreeing to a new labor deal that would increase salaries for drivers. By the end of the five-year deal, they will earn an average of $170,000 in annual pay and benefits. CBS
The Green Energy Justice Cooperative will develop solar projects for low-income and Black and brown communities in Illinois. Inside Climate News
Tent city supporters in Vancouver have been trying to persuade the city and park board to provide services such as better washrooms, and access to water and electricity to people living in Canada’s homeless encampments. The Tyee
The Women’s Catalytic Fund is accepting applications for its Spring 2024 Request for Proposals, which will provide one-time $15,000 grants for organizations in California that are working to end gender-based inequity and fundamentally change the systems that perpetuate it. Apps are due by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 21. Learn more here.
Community advocates and elected officials are invited to apply for City Thread’s Accelerated Mobility Playbook (AMP) Technical Assistance Grant Program now through March 22, 2024. City Thread will host a webinar on February 6 at 11 a.m. Central and encourages interested parties to register for additional information.
- Next City is hosting a conversation with a handful of Chinatown Community Land Trusts in North America. You’ll learn more about their vibrant histories and promising futures. Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. Eastern. Click here to register!
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.
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.