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.
Nation’s Largest Labor Union Supports Ceasefire
The labor union SEIU, which represents close to 2 million nursing, healthcare and homecare workers across the United States and Canada, has called for a ceasefire in Gaza, In These Times reports.
“SEIU’s almost two million members believe that wherever violence, fear and hatred thrive, working people cannot,” Union President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement. The statement called for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages. Additionally, Mondoweiss reports that members of the National Education Association are asking the union to rescind its endorsement of President Joe Biden until he calls for a ceasefire.
California County With Wildfire Threats Sees Building Boom
Grist reports that many California residents are building homes in fire-prone areas as regions outside large cities absorb population growth. The article points to one development of 4,000 planned homes in Winchester, a city in Riverside County, and 7,500 more that are in different phases of development, many of which are in high fire severity zones.
The outlet notes many of the new subdivisions are “in a zone that the state of California has classified as one of the riskiest parts of the state,” where brush fires have hit in recent years. Unincorporated Riverside County added the fifth most new housing units out of all California municipalities in 2022, behind only Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, and San Francisco, according to Grist.
Mayors Ask Congress To Extend Discounted Internet
More than 170 mayors from across the country asked Congress in an open letter to extend the Affordable Connectivity Plan, which subsidizes internet access for low-income families, Smart Cities Dives reports. The law was enacted as part of the 2021 infrastructure law, but its funding will run out this spring, at which point 23 million households could see increases in their internet costs. Households in the program get up to $30 a month cut from their internet costs. The Federal Communications Commission has said it will block further enrollment in the ACP on February 8 unless Congress approves more funding.
Virginia Bill Would Study Displacement of Black Residents By Universities
A Virginia lawmaker introduced a bill to study the displacement of Black Virginia residents when the state’s colleges and universities were built, VPM News reports. The bill would set up a 19-member commission consisting of elected officials and citizens to file annual reports until 2027. The state would then decide whether to compensate those Black property owners or their descendants.
The bill comes after an investigation by the Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism and ProPublica that found the state uprooted Black neighborhoods to build its universities and that policies from college presidents led to a decrease in Black students. Under one president at Christopher Newport University, for example, Black enrollment dropped from 17% to 7% over 26 years, according to the investigation.
Online Shopping Pollutes Black and Latino Neighborhoods
According to a new report from the Environmental Defense Fund, the boom in online shopping has led to disproportionate health impacts on poorer New York City neighborhoods. This is mainly because the large warehouses that store goods are based near poorer communities. “Goods transport is the fastest-growing driver of greenhouse gas emissions and the largest absolute contributor to emissions in many regions,” according to the report. Researchers found that New York City has 2,421 warehouses that are more than 50,000 square feet each and that Black and Latino communities live near warehouses at rates 59% and 48% higher than normal. Across the country, the story is similar: 15 million people live within a half mile of a warehouse, with nonwhite and low-income populations mostly impacted.
Also: Streetsblog reports that Albany is considering legislation that would require studies of emissions and the feasibility of low or no emission zones in certain congested areas.
Curated by Deonna Anderson
Here’s an assessment of California Forever, the possible tech billionaire-funded city in the state’s Solano County. It’s likely to be on the ballot in November. Urben Field Notes
Three Black-led organizations in Atlanta — Housing Justice League, The Guild and American Friends Service Committee’s Atlanta Economic Justice Program — are helping to lower rents for residents. Capital B Atlanta
The city of Calgary has invested millions in office-to-residential conversions. But how do the units rank on livability? The Tyee
WIC, the nutrition program for pregnant people and babies, is facing a budget shortfall. The 19th
The Los Angeles Housing Department, which mediates disputes between renters and landlords, has been displaced from office by its landlord. LA Public Press
“The number of renter households spending more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities rose by 2 million in just three years to a record high of 22.4 million.” That’s according to America’s Rental Housing 2024, a new report released this week by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. Access the report here.
Vanguard Alum Mallory Nezam will be presenting a lecture titled ‘Planners are Creative: Art, Culture and Imagination in Planning.’ At the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs on Wednesday, February 21 at 5:45 p.m. Pacific. Learn more and register here.
Next City is hosting transportation expert Jarrett Walker for a conversation about his new book, Human Transit, Revised Edition, and how to achieve successful public transit that will enrich any community. Feb. 21 at 12 p.m. Eastern. 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.