Welcome back to The Weekly Wrap! If you’re new here, this is 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.
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Mayor Adams Asks Court to Suspend “Right To Shelter”
Mayor Eric Adams’ administration formally asked a court to suspend the 40-year-old “Right To Shelter,” a ruling that requires the city to offer shelter space to anyone who is unhoused. Adams’ law department asked for the requirement, the result of a 1981 consent decree, to be temporarily suspended during emergency declarations by the mayor provided certain circumstances were present.
“The City is not seeking to terminate the Consent Judgment; we seek only the immediate relief that present circumstances demand,” according to the request. The city claims that 122,700 migrants have moved to the city since April 2022 and that suspending the Right to Shelter will help them address the crisis. Adams is also taking a trip to Latin America in an apparent effort to dissuade people from migrating to New York City. While the city is struggling to house migrants arriving there, its population is still smaller than it was in 2019, according to the comptroller and census data.
In San Francisco, the city and Mayor London Breed have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a similar ruling that requires local governments to provide shelter to people experiencing homelessness before clearing encampments, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
SEPTA Strike on the Horizon
The union representing 5,000 transit workers in Philadelphia’s transit system voted to authorize a strike if they don’t finalize a contract by the end of this month when the current contract expires, KYW Radio reports. Workers are negotiating over wages and pensions, and according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, are calling for more policing on the transit system. The Inquirer reports that SEPTA workers have gone on strike 11 times since 1975. The agency has a $240 million operating deficit due to depressed ridership and is asking the state to subsidize it with a greater share of its sales tax.
California Boosts Fast Food Worker Pay
Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law increasing the minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 an hour starting April 2024, according to Axios. The state’s minimum wage is currently $15.50 and fast food workers made an average of $16.60 an hour last year according to the outlet. The win comes after a law signed last year, AB 257, could have raised wages for some fast food workers of large chains to $22 an hour, according to the LA Times. But that legislation faced blowback from the fast food industry, which worked to place a ballot referendum before voters next year that would have reversed the law. Advisors of Newsom negotiated a deal with the SEIU, the union representing fast food workers, and the restaurant industry to take the referendum off the ballot and increase wages to $20 an hour beginning next year.
$9 Billion of Debt Relief as Student Loan Repayment Begins
The White House announced that it erased $9 billion of student loans on Wednesday, according to the New York Times, which includes the loans of public service workers and people on disability. According to a White House statement, much of that money results from “fixes” to two pre-existing programs, income-driven repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. (The latter program was rejecting virtually all applications for forgiveness during the Trump administration.) The remaining debt forgiveness for borrowers with permanent disabilities. This month’s restart of student loan repayments after a three-year pause will still be a financial hardship for many, with average payments of around $500 a month, according to some estimates.
Lawsuit Blocks Grants to Black Entrepreneurs
A federal appeals court ordered an Atlanta venture capital fund, “Fearless Fund,” to suspend grants directed toward Black entrepreneurs while a lawsuit is heard. That lawsuit alleges that singling out Black founders for funding violates the law. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the lawsuit was filed by a conservative group called American Alliance for Equal Rights, which was founded by a right-wing activist who also supported the successful lawsuit that overturned affirmative action at the Supreme Court. Both parties met in federal court this week as the Alliance requested that Fearless Fund remove racial eligibility criteria from its website, which the judge did not agree to, saying it was protected speech, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Curated by Deonna Anderson
As residents of the Toronto Islands age, some now question their decision to invest in price-controlled real estate. Bloomberg CityLab
In Winston-Salem, city leaders are exploring how a housing trust fund could help increase the affordable housing stock in the city. Triad City Beat
A new tool from the Environmental Defense Fund and Texas A&M University aims to give people “the knowledge to understand the climate risks they face and the tools to advocate for more resources.” Capital B
Our friends at Prism and Indiegraf have teamed up to offer journalism training and community media best practices to a cohort of 20 organizers who are interested in community news entrepreneurship. Applications are being accepted until October 13. Learn more and apply here.
A Little Better Co is accepting applications for its Unless Project, aimed at nonprofits with novel, transformational ideas but not a lot of cash. Selected organizations will each receive $150,000 in services and resources and a grant. The first cohort begins in January 2024. Applications are due by October 15. Learn more and apply here.
The Black Futures Lab, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is accepting applications for its Black Organizing Innovations Project. It will award grants of up to $250,000 to community organizations working to engage and activate Black men ahead of the 2024 election and beyond. The deadline to apply is November 1. Learn more and apply here.
The housing team at PolicyLink is seeking applicants for its inaugural class of Spatial Futures Fellows. It supports leaders who are envisioning new futures for land and housing in the U.S. The deadline to apply is November 9, 2023. Learn more and apply here.
The Virginia Prison Justice Network and The Virginia Defenders For Freedom, Justice & Equality will co-sponsor the People’s Tribunal on Virginia’s Prisons, Jails & Detention Centers, an all-day hearing to be held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn more here and here.
In the second episode of its Advancing Economic Justice Series, Ariva Executive Director Irene Baldwin will be in conversation with Demetris Giannoulis, CEO of Spring Bank to discuss how they work together “toward the mission of financial inclusion for all people in the South Bronx and across New York City.” Wednesday, October 18 at 12pm Eastern. Learn more and register here.
And don’t forget to check out upcoming Next City events and others hosted by partner organizations 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.
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.