The Weekly WrapThe Weekly Wrap

The Weekly Wrap: Taxing Rich People Works. Just Ask Massachusetts.

Also: There’s a new Urban Institute report on efforts to decommodify housing.

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

Our team will be at a staff retreat next week, so we won’t be sending newsletters. The next edition of The Weekly Wrap will be in your inbox on June 14. Take good care until then!

Massachusetts Taxes The Rich, Exceeds Expectations

In Massachusetts, a 4% tax on earnings for residents making over $1 million has generated $1.8 billion in revenue, far higher than the billion dollars the “millionaire’s tax” was expected to generate, according to The extra revenue will go to a reserve account for one-time investments. According to MassLive, the money from the tax has gone to free community college, part of $524 million going toward education, with another $477 million going to the region’s transit system and bridge repair.

The millionaire’s tax was approved by a ballot initiative in 2022, and opponents warned that the wealthy would flee the state rather than pay. According to the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University, only 0.6% of the state’s residents are making more than $1 million a year, but they account for one-fifth of the state’s taxable income. While there’s no evidence as of yet that rich people are fleeing the state in droves, Grant Williams of the Boston Celtics left the state to join the Dallas Mavericks, and claimed the millionaire’s tax was part of his decision-making.

Report Shows Local Efforts to Decommodify Housing Are Gaining Ground

The Urban Institute has released a report on efforts to decommodify housing on the state and local levels. According to the report, “the problems of affordability and stability are exacerbated by commodification, which enables and incentivizes the treatment of housing as an asset to profit from rather than an essential good to be used.” The report identified bills to limit profit-making and speculation in the housing market in Minneapolis, Michigan, North Carolina and Florida. Among the projects highlighted is a $100 million revolving fund in Montgomery County, Maryland where the state provides low-interest loans to developers for building mixed-income housing. The report also states that local efforts like this need to be bolstered by federal funding both because of the scale of the housing crisis and because speculation has been exacerbated by federal policies which “have contributed to current levels of hyper-commodification.”

Mexico City Is Running Out of Water

Mexico’s Cutzamala water system is drying out and residents could be without water as soon as June 26, according to Mexico Business News. Over 60% of the city’s water comes from an aquifer that is overtapped, and 28% from the Cutzamala system. The water system could be completely dried out in four decades thanks to drought and climate change. Mexico’s national water service has been drilling deeper into the Earth to tap water, but water from this depth is more likely to be contaminated. (Only 42% of the country’s water met the standards of human consumption in 2022, according to the water service.) Some neighborhoods ran out of water months ago. CDMX, which was built by Spanish colonizers on top of the Aztec city Tenochtitlan, is sinking at a rate of 20 inches a year and the city’s aquifers aren’t able to absorb rainwater through its impervious foundation, created by the Spanish when they drained local lakes. A similar crisis hit Cape Town, South Africa in the 2010s, and residents were able to reduce consumption to avert disaster, but according to an interview with Vox’s Caroline Houck, “what ultimately helped in South Africa is that it rained.”

Empathizing with Mothers Facing Genocide: A Firable Offense

A Palestinian-American nurse who received an award for her work with grieving mothers was fired by NYU Langone following a speech in which she addressed the suffering of mothers during the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the West Bank. In Hesen Jabr’s speech, she thanked her mother and grandmothers for instilling in her “warmth and compassion for all humans.” Then she went on to say, “It pains me to see women from my country, going through unimaginable losses themselves during the current genocide in Gaza. This award is deeply personal to me for those reasons. Even though I can’t hold their hands and comfort them as they grieve their unborn children and the children they have lost during this genocide, I hope to keep making them proud as I keep representing them here at NYU.” Jabr said in an Instagram post that when she returned for her first shift after receiving the award, she was taken into a meeting with the President and Vice President of Nursing at NYU Langone that her speech put others at risk and offended people. After working one shift, she was read a termination letter and led off the premises, Jabr said in the post.

A consensus of experts who study genocide believe a genocide is under way in Gaza, including at least one scholar of the Holocaust in Israel. During this time, women in Gaza give birth without access to medical instruments, as 24 hospitals have been destroyed or taken offline, according to Doctors Without Borders, and the destruction of healthcare centers and forced famine — both war crimes — have led to a spike in stillborn babies and neonatal deaths. In January, the medical journal The Lancet urged the international community to protect “highly vulnerable women who are pregnant or postpartum” in Gaza.

Phoenix Deals With Heatwave Deaths as Pandemic Funds Dry Up

Annual heat-related deaths in Maricopa County, Arizona have increased from 61 to 645 in the last 10 years, Politico reports, a tenfold increase, and nearly half of those who died from heat in 2023 were homeless. Phoenix ran 117 cooling centers last summer but none were open overnight. Many of the centers do not allow pets and are not open on Sundays.

Homelessness has doubled in the city since 2017 and evictions spiked after a pandemic eviction moratorium ended. Phoenix officials are using $2 million in pandemic relief funding to open cooling centers, but the funding will run out in two years.

Curated by Deonna Anderson


  • New York City officials plan to launch a resettlement program to help migrants in Buffalo find apartments, jobs and apply for asylum. Gothamist

  • The Illinois House voted in favor of a state budget that creates a robust Child Tax Credit, which would allocate $150 million over the next two years, then an annual $100 million permanently. Press Release via Economic Security Project Action

  • A historic look at Gaze’s Great Omari Mosque, one of the many treasured landmarks damaged in Israel’s military offensive. New York Times

  • Luxury brands like LVMH are buying up entire neighborhoods in major cities. The Nation


  • Sunday, June 2 at 11:30 a.m. Pacific: If you’re in the Bay Area, The Archive of Urban Futures and Moms 4 Housing are hosting a summer institute at the Oakland Museum of California. The event will include conversations and an exhibition on community-led collaborations on the right to place, memory, and resistance against erasure in Oakland. Register here.

  • Monday, June 3 at 2 p.m. Eastern: The Othering & Belonging Institute continues its Reimagining Urban Planning series with a conversation that will explore how embodiment can help you better understand your internal experiences while building your relationship with the built environment. Register here.

  • Tuesday, June 11 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern: Next City is hosting a webinar that will delve into the final push to allocate remaining funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and explore the enduring impacts of this significant investment in local governments. 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.

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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: infrastructuretaxesmexico cityhousing crisispoliticsmassachusettstax the rich

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