Welcome back 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.
Do you have news or an event that should be in this newsletter? Email us details at firstname.lastname@example.org — and it might just get included in next week’s edition!
MTA Votes on Congestion Pricing, Mayor Pushes for Exemptions
Gothamist reports that the MTA board has approved congestion pricing tolls for vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th Street, with tolls set to begin in spring 2024. The toll will be $15 for passenger vehicles from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. There will be a 60-day public comment period before the MTA takes a final vote next year. The toll’s purpose is to raise revenue for the MTA and decrease traffic and pollution below 60th Street. After the vote, Mayor Eric Adams suggested that there was room to add additional exemptions, including for taxi drivers and people traveling to medical appointments. Congestion has been successfully implemented in other cities, notably Stockholm and London, for years. Evidence from those cities also shows that once passed, controversy over the tolls dissipates.
HUD Introduces New Rule Delaying Evictions for 30 Days in Buildings It Subsidizes
The Biden Administration is proposing a new rule that would be a stopgap in eviction filings for public housing and some federally subsidized affordable housing, Bloomberg Citylab reports. Landlords of these units would have to submit notice 30 days before an eviction filing, according to the proposed rule. HUD already expanded this notice period from 14 days to 30 days for public housing residents in November 2021, but the latest proposed rule would expand these protections to project-based rental assistance — including project-based Section 8 — and make them permanent. The program would not apply to residents with Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, which tenants typically use in the private market. Separately, the Homes Guarantee Campaign has been lobbying the federal government to restrict rent increases in units with federally-backed mortgages, something in the government’s power as a loan provider.
New Tax Credit for Renewable Projects in Low-Income Neighborhoods Gets Plenty of Applicants
The Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Energy announced that it received 46,000 applications for a program that subsidizes wind and solar energy in low-income communities, as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. The applications are four times the capacity of the program, according to the agencies. The Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program provides 10 or 20 percentage point increases to an existing tax credit for wind and solar facilities.
According to the Treasury Department, “Renewable energy like solar can reduce low-income household energy burdens; however, renewable energy adoption rates are relatively low in these communities.”
Report Shows NYC’s Store Owners of Color Suffered Most from Pandemic Rent Hikes
A new report from the Association of Neighborhood & Housing Development found that in the three years since the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City, businesses in communities of color have faced more stark challenges with storefront rents. According to the report, in city council districts where commercial rents increased, 72% of residents were people of color. In districts where rents decreased, 47% of residents are people of color. (About 31% of New Yorkers overall are white.) Just over 42% of store owners of color owe back rent, compared to 30% of white store owners. About a quarter of all store owners said they were in danger of closing in the next year, a number that was more stark for immigrant merchants, who were more likely to have had rent increases, owe back rent or be personally liable for rent.
Queer Cinema for Palestine Festival Returns
The Queer Cinema For Palestine festival has been screening films in London, Montreal, Berlin, Amsterdam, Vancouver and Toronto, Hyperallergic reports. The screening series launched in 2020 in response to the state-sponsored Tel Aviv International LGBT Festival, which advocates accused of “pinkwashing,” or using queer visibility to launder its reputation. Eight filmmakers associated with the Tel Aviv festival have withdrawn, citing the government’s right-wing politics and the “decades of oppression, subjugation, and disenfranchisement of the indigenous Palestinian population.” According to festival organizer John Greyson, “QCP is a chance to listen to and spotlight all sorts of Palestinian voices, in the context of this global cine-solidarity project with Palestine.”
Curated by Deonna Anderson
How a new ordinance will make it easier for small businesses to open in San Francisco. It’s an attempt to jump-start the city’s slow economic recovery from the pandemic. San Francisco Chronicle
The Central Wetlands Reforestation Collective aims to plant 63,000 trees to restore hurricane buffers in Louisana’s Orleans and St. Bernard parishes. Verite News
In San Diego, Foodshed Cooperative is working with some of the county’s 3,000 small farmers to address food insecurity and build climate resilience. Civil Eats
Cities across the U.S. are attempting to crack down on short-term rentals. Stateline
Councilmembers in New York City passed a bill that enables tenants to report vacant apartments in their buildings to the city housing agency. They hope the legislation will lead to action on thousands of empty units. The City
RESOURCES & OPPORTUNITIES
The Hip Hop Architecture Camp is hosting a virtual town hall to share more about the program and how you can bring the camp to your city in 2024 and 2025. This event is for educators, design professionals, community leaders, and anyone else who would love to see more diversity in design. Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 12 p.m. Eastern. Learn more here.
A team of architects from Daniels Faculty, University of Toronto and LGA Architectural Partners launched ReHousing.ca, a free online resource designed to equip homeowners with the knowledge to become ‘citizen developers.’
Next City has one more webinar this year — it’s happening next Wednesday, December 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern. Join the discussion, sponsored by City Threads, on how cities can implement mobility projects in as little as 24 months, making mobility easier for all. Register here!
The Urban Institute is hosting a discussion about the knowledge and evidence changemakers will need to successfully implement the bipartisan Community Disaster Resilience Zones (CDRZ) Act. December 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern. This is a hybrid event. Learn more and register 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.
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.