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.
This week we announced the host city for the 2024 Vanguard conference. It’s Lexington, Kentucky! Click here to read more about what we aim to do in the city this fall and be on the lookout for applications to join us.
New York Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Create “Social Housing Authority”
Two lawmakers in New York, Assembly Member Emily Gallagher and State Senator Cordell Cleare introduced a bill that would establish a “Social Housing Development Authority,” which would “increase the supply of permanently affordable housing in the state through the acquisition of land” and by rehabilitating existing housing. The authority would also be empowered to construct new, permanently affordable housing. At least 25% of the housing owned by the entity would be for people making 30% of the area median income, or $38,000 for a family of three in New York City. The authority would also help fund tenant organizations that wish to purchase their buildings and transform them into cooperatives.
The bill sets aside $60 million for initial operating expenses. City & State reports that the authority, which would be a public benefit corporation rather than a state agency, would be run by a 19-member board including eight elected members from developments it owns. Gallagher told City & State that the entity would be able to issue its own debts, allowing it more flexibility with its finances than a state agency.
Atlanta Removes Parking Minimums from BeltLine Projects
On Monday, Atlanta’s city council voted to remove parking minimums from projects in the BeltLine Overlay District, which includes areas around the 22-mile walking trail and transit loop, Urbanize reports. The new rules will also ban drive-thru restaurants and gas stations from the area. Parking minimums attached to building projects tend to increase construction costs, decrease space for housing and incentivize car ownership. They can also make streets less safe. According to Urbanize, Georgia recently reached a 40-year high in pedestrian fatalities. The BeltLine was partially completed in 2021 and connects 10 of the city’s parks through trails and rail transit.
“Land Grant” Universities Profiting From Fossil Fuels On Stolen Land
Grist reports that land grant universities, which were built with land stolen from Native tribes in the 1860s, are also profiting from oil and gas projects on said land. Across 21 states, land grant universities own 500 million acres of surface land and subsurface acres, “a term pertaining to oil, gas, minerals, and other resources underground.” At the University of Arizona, this seized land brought in $7 million in revenue in 2022. Grist reports that the vast majority of the subsurface land that the University of Arizona owns is used for oil and gas drilling. “The actual income of the institution is subsidized by this ongoing dispossession,” a University of British Columbia professor told the outlet.
Celebrated Transgender Activist Cecilia Gentili Has Died
Trans activist, author and performer Cecilia Gentili died on Tuesday at age 52, according to an announcement made on Gentili’s Instagram page. Gentili migrated to New York from Argentina as an asylum seeker, according to Them, and eventually became a mentor to many queer and trans New Yorkers. She was a powerful advocate for trans healthcare and the decriminalization of sex work in New York. Her memoir, Faltas, was published in 2022, and in 2023 she began performing an autobiographical one-woman show called Red Ink. She also appeared on the show Pose on FX.
According to a statement from the organization Queer Art, of which Gentili was a board member, “Cecilia may be most lovingly remembered as a nurturing and vibrant mother. Even outside the spotlight she so easily attracted, Cecilia exuded a once-in-a-lifetime level of selflessness, grace, and generosity, making her a beacon of warmth for anyone seeking a renewed sense of home.” A memorial for Gentili at Judson Memorial Church on Tuesday evening drew hundreds of attendees.
Los Angeles Homeless Sweeps Tossing Naloxone
In These Times reports that workers conducting homeless sweeps in Los Angeles have been throwing out naloxone, a life-saving overdose-reversing drug. The Los Angeles Community Health project told the outlet that 70% of the naloxone it distributed was thrown out in sweeps. Much of the naloxone is purchased with state funding, according to the outlet, which means local governments are destroying the life-saving supplies it pays for. “After sweeps…people are running up and down the street screaming, begging for Narcan,” one unhoused person told In These Times. A third of the deaths of unhoused people in Los Angeles in 2020 and 2021 were caused by overdose, the outlet reports. And overdose deaths in zip codes that encompass Skid Row increased 1000% between 2017 and 2022, according to the LA Times.
Curated by Deonna Anderson
Temple University’s Promise program aims to make tuition free for low-income Philadelphia families. The Philadelphia Inquirer
RESOURCES & OPPORTUNITIES
Smart Growth America welcomes applications for its new grant program, Healing Our Highways, which “aims to generate creative ideas and activities that build knowledge, connections, and power within disadvantaged communities most harmed by transportation systems and climate change.” The application period ends on February 22 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.
The Future Earth Coasts is accepting applications for its Small Grant program, which targets individuals and three-to-five-person teams of early career professionals who aim to increase their ability to understand, predict and/or manage the effects of human activities, including climate change, on estuarine and coastal regions. Applications are due by March 31. Learn more here.
The Urban Insitute is hosting a conversation focused on the future of federal support for small businesses. Feb. 13 at 11 a.m. ET. Learn more about this hybrid event 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.
The Census Bureau is changing the way it measures disability. The Urban Institute is hosting a virtual conversation about the implications of the proposed changes and policy. Feb. 22 at 1 p.m. ET. Learn more here.
Next City is hosting a webinar 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!
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.