Disability Rights Activist Sasha Blair-Goldensohn Fights for Inclusive NYC Transit System

Public transportation is the lifeblood of cities, enabling residents to get to work, take their children to school, and access vital community resources. Too often, however, transit systems fail to meet the needs of those with disabilities — making it nearly impossible for them to participate fully in civic, cultural, and economic life. 

This was the troubling reality facing Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, a Google software engineer and disability rights activist in New York City. When a tragic accident in 2009 partially paralyzed his lower body, this native New Yorker quickly realized that the subway he had relied on his entire life was woefully inaccessible by wheelchair, with frequent elevator outages that could leave him stranded for hours at a time. Blair-Goldensohn penned a powerful op-ed in The New York Times recently framing transit inaccessibility as a matter of equity and inclusion, and is continuing the fight as a plaintiff in two court cases calling for a more accessible NYC subway. 

America’s Tomorrow is excited to bring you the latest episode of Equity Speaks, a PolicyLink podcast focusing on racial and social equity. Blair-Goldensohn and PolicyLink CEO Angela Glover Blackwell discuss the moral imperative of making cities accessible to all, the power of the “curb-cut effect” as a frame for transit advocacy, and the promise of universal design as a way forward for city planning. 

Listen to the podcast below:

Read excerpts of the interview below:

Angela Glover Blackwell: This is Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink and I’m joined by Sasha Blair-Goldensohn to talk about the “curb-cut effect”, but more importantly to talk about an advocacy effort that Sasha is a part of trying to create greater access to transportation in New York City. Many of you know that PolicyLink, a national organization trying to advance equity by Lifting Up What Works, has really been concerned for some time about the notion that Americans too often feel that creating opportunities for one group takes something away from another group — that equity and inclusion is a zero-sum game.

When I say the curb-cut effect I’m talking about how that curb-cut that is in the sidewalks because of the advocacy of people with disabilities in wheelchairs, who could not access opportunity that was theoretically available to them because they couldn't traverse their communities. And yet when that curb-cut was there, people pushing strollers immediately went to it, workers with carts, and parents could feel a little better about their new bike riders traversing the city sidewalk to sidewalk, not having to ride in the street. It also saves lives because that curb-cut orients people to cross at the corner and that makes a tremendous difference. The curb-cut effect makes the point that by focusing authentically and effectively on those who are most vulnerable while we address challenges, we create solutions that benefit everybody.

I have the impression from something that Sasha wrote in the New York Times, that he very much appreciates this point of view. I wanted to bring his voice and his story to the equity movement that is often associated with PolicyLink to be able to understand how expansive we can be when we think about the benefits to society when we make sure that everyone can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. So thanks again Sasha for joining.

Sasha Blair-Goldensohn: My pleasure. 

Angela Glover Blackwell: I must say, Sasha, when I saw your op-ed in the New York Times, I was interested for two reasons: One, the topic was very interesting to me because you were talking about access, but I also remembered that I read about you in the New York Times years ago when you had your terrible accident in New York City that left you in a wheelchair. Therefore, there was a direct relationship between that story I read years ago and this story, so I was drawn to it. I wondered if you would take a little time to tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, how you happened tragically to end up in the situation you’re now in, and how that has changed the way you see the world. 

Sasha Blair-Goldensohn: I’d be glad to. Nearly eight years ago, almost exactly eight years ago — July 2009 — I was a fit, able bodied person walking in Central Park on my way to work and a giant limb chose that exact second to fall. It was a clear day, it was just preposterously bad luck that I happened to be walking under it at that moment and it fell on top of me. From that moment, I had very much good luck to still be here I would say. There’s really no question about that actually, because it was really touch and go for a while. I was in an intensive care unit for about a month and a rehab hospital for six months, and by the time I got out I got back so very much. I didn’t get back the ability to walk, so I would have to start getting around in a wheelchair. So for the past several years that has been my life and my experience, and it’s been...obviously your life changes, but you become aware of a lot of things. And a big one has been access. I grew up in the city and the subway is how you get around. I was kind of proud [of it]. I’d have friends visit from other cities and towns, and I’d say isn’t this cool there’s this subway that anybody can take. For two dollars you go anywhere around town, and it runs all night. It's not always the cleanest, it's not beautiful, but it works, it gets you there. And then lo and behold it doesn’t get you there at all — it doesn’t get a lot of people there.

Angela Glover Blackwell: I would love for you, if you can, to say a word about the litigation. I know you can’t go into any details, but I want our listeners to know that your activism has taken you all the way into a direct challenge. If you could just describe it. Then I want to talk a little bit more about how important this is, not just for you, or people in wheelchairs, but how important it is for all New Yorkers, and ultimately all people who need to access opportunity.

Sasha Blair-Goldensohn: Sure thing. There are four elevators between my home and my getting to work. Any one of those elevators being out stops me. Concretely, what does that mean? In any week going back and forth from work, there will be at least one time that one is out. So, one of my trips back and forth to work — and it’s not like the trip is delayed a bit, people can deal with that — it means I get halfway through a trip and I’m stopped.  And the thing is there is no system. First of all it’s not announced on the subway, so you can get off the train, on the platform, you get up to the elevator, and, ”Oh.” It’ll be bad enough if it were just out and nobody knew, but not infrequently it’s out and it’s clear that somebody knew. There will be a cardboard sign on it or a little strip of nylon tape across it. Someone knew and thought that that was a sufficient reaction. And then in a few days, maybe somebody will fix it. What do you do at that moment? You got off the train, you can’t get on the elevator. Your options are, if I’m in a rush…you know, you got to get to work, pick up your kids, people are going somewhere, that’s why they’re on the train. What I’ve found is the quickest way to get going is to find two or three strong-looking, industrious-looking people on the platform and ask them. It took me a while to get up the gumption to do that and have the confidence. It’s terribly dangerous — it’s not an advisable thing, my physical therapist would not want me to do that. I’ve come to find that it actually kind of works. I’ve gotten good at managing people and being the foreman and say, “You here, you here, you here.” And I have a system. It works, but it’s awful. I take it back: it’s awful that I have to do it and that’s the system and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) hasn’t made anything better than that. But there is something very affirming about it, which is to say, community. Community is a big deal, and people are kind. People are always busy ignoring people and acting anonymous, especially in big cities. People have sometimes refused because they have a bad elbow or something. Much more often than not, people will chip in and say, “Ok, yeah I got ya.”

So, I was having this happen all the time, and I thought, am I just having back luck? So my cousin, who is a journalist, she put in a freedom of information law (FOIL) request to get a year’s worth of outage data from the MTA and they dumped it into a big spreadsheet. I’m a computer scientist so what do I do? I analyze it, I took the average. And I was like, whoa, this is not just me, not at all. There were 9,000 outages over the past year. What does that mean? So let’s see 365 days in a year, neighborhood of 20+ a day, and these are not outages because they are improving. No these are just things that nobody predicted and the situations that happened to me where it just stopped working and these outages, these aren’t five minutes. The median time, some have more or have less, four hours. This is an elevator. Once I saw that, I thought, this is far from being just me, and I ended up getting in touch with DRA (Disability Rights Advocates). It was astounding — those are the numbers that I put in the [New York Times] article. 

Angela Glover Blackwell: So I talk about the curb-cuts and the people pushing strollers and workers with carts, but also the lives saved by ordering people to cross at the corner. When you think about this issue of access to the subway and what difference working elevators could make, have you couched this argument in the context of all the other people who haven’t been activists around this that should be? 

Sasha Blair-Goldensohn: Absolutely. I haven’t had to stretch too hard to think about that. It’s not like I’m thinking how can I make this a bigger issue than just me. No, because every time I get in an elevator in a subway, I’m very rarely alone. And who is always in there? Very rarely is it other wheelchairs actually, because most people in wheelchairs have given up on the subway because it works so poorly so if they actually wanted to get somewhere, they’d probably find another way. So since I’m one of the ones on the subway elevators, who do I see all the time —  strollers, elderly people, workers, often. That’s someone you mentioned in your article. Who takes the curb-cuts? It’s workers with handcarts. Talk about not being a zero-sum game, we’re making our whole community, our whole society more functional and more economically viable [when we deal] with obstacles in our way that don't need to be there.

Angela Glover Blackwell: We have been talking about that at PolicyLink in the context of the economy and the people who are being marginalized and left out of it. A lot of what’s happening now in the United States is that people who are White and working class, White and poor are really front and center because of their angst, their insecurity, the opiate addiction, increasing suicide rates, and early mortality.  And a lot of people are starting to write about it. Ann Case and Sir Angus Deaton at Princeton University have probably written the most. When we’re talking about poor, near-poor White people, if we intervene, and just try to solve the problem there, we’re going to still have the fundamental problem of what’s been happening with people of color.  And that fundamental problem of what’s happening with people of color — if we were to address it directly the benefits of it would go to all. So getting people to understand what you just said: always go to the most vulnerable not out of charity, go to the most vulnerable because the only way to sustainable, effectively fix something for the long term is to start there.

Sasha Blair-Goldensohn: What it reminds me of, right now in New York City…the MTA is never well-loved, but this is a disastrously bad summer. The lead story on local news more or less every night is about the so-called “summer of hell” because Penn Station, which is a major choke point and has been in bad shape for many historical reasons for many years, has come to a [breaking] point. Commuters from Long Island and New Jersey, and all over the place, are thinking this is the worst, I’m being late to work every day, I’m sitting on the train, they’ve cut down the number of trains. And in a funny way, I’ve come to think that they’re finding out what I’ve been dealing with and what this community has been dealing with for much longer. This is what it feels like when the system is at best, sort of okay on a regular day, and on many days far worse than that. So, the point is that I feel like sometimes now we come to the MTA and say they need to deal with this elevator thing, they’ll say they can’t deal with this now, Penn Station is already a mess, everyone else is already struggling. [We need] to convince people that this is the same fight and convince people that this is in some ways the best moment to deal with it. Because this is already going to be hard. So, let’s make it work together and approach it in the universal design way and say what's the way to fix it for everybody, to look at all these problems as one problem and how can we help the maximum number of people with one effort instead of doing it piecemeal and with band-aids, because that’s never going to get it done.

Tax Alliance for Economic Mobility Provides Feedback to the Senate Finance Committee on How to Improve Tax Reform

In response to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) call for input and feedback from tax stakeholders across the country on how to improve the American tax system through tax reform, The Tax Alliance for Economic Mobility submitted the following letter to the Finance Committee that focuses on reform that outs low and moderate income people first, and fuels upward economic mobility instead of exacerbating an already-growing wealth divide.

The letter hones in on four sets of principles for reform of tax-based aid that can lead to more equitable programs that will expand opportunity throughout the country:

  1. Increasing Financial Security for Working Families;
  2. Making Higher Education Tax Expenditures Work for Everyone;
  3. Using the Tax Code to Encourage Savings and Investment for Retirement
  4. Reduce Subsidies for Mortagage Debt and Larger Homes Owned by High-Income Households

Read the full letter here and sign up for the Tax Alliance newsletter for updates on our work.

Narrative Change in a Shifting Political Landscape: The Ambassadors for Health Equity Focus on Building a Culture of Health

Cultural narratives are powerful, often underutilized tools for promoting policy change. Especially in today’s shifting political landscape — where fear, anger, and xenophobia have taken root in the public discourse — the story of who we are and what we value as a nation has never been more important. 

That is why narrative change has become a central theme in the work of the Ambassadors for Health Equity, a year-long fellowship of 13 national leaders from the private and social sectors who have worked together to foster environments where everyone — regardless of race, neighborhood, or financial status — has the opportunity for health and well-being.

A joint venture of PolicyLink and FSG, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), this fellowship creates a platform for leaders from outside the health field to share ideas and experiences, forge new alliances, and collaborate around promoting health equity in their work. Guided by three health equity experts, the fellowship included five in-person meetings, a series of webinars, and ongoing remote engagement around pressing topics in health equity.

The power of narrative has been at the forefront of the ambassadors’ work since the fellowship’s launch when ambassador, author, and executive director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Jeff Chang presented on the importance of art and culture in promoting policy change.

“We can’t understand the social movements of recent years — Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter — without understanding the power of culture,” Chang said at the July 2016 launch meeting in Oakland, CA. “Culture is where we can introduce ideas, attach emotions to concrete change, and foster enthusiasm for our values…culture is where we change the narrative.”

As the year progressed, the need for counter-narratives within an increasingly contentious political climate brought new urgency to this work, and the ambassadors sought to deepen their knowledge and share their own experiences of using storytelling to advocate for low-income communities and communities of color both locally and nationally.

What follows are some of the insights and best practices that have emerged from the many discussions around narrative change that took place throughout the Ambassadors for Health Equity fellowship.

Narrative Change in the Field

Narrative change is a slow, culturally-embedded process, and the results — a shift in public consciousness and public policy — can take years, if not a generation to appear. 

“In some ways, in doing the work of narrative change we’re running a relay marathon that we won’t see the finish line of, but our children and grandchildren will,” Michael Skolnik, ambassador, entrepreneur, and CEO of creative agency SOZE, said during the May 2017 fellowship meeting in New York, NY.  “It can be challenging to make the case for the need for narrative work when it’s so difficult to quantify.”

This challenge makes examples from the field a powerful tool for communicating the potential of narrative work. At the May meeting, Skolnik shared a case study from activists and artists in Ferguson, MO, who used street art to send a powerful message of solidarity and hope to the community and the national media covering the protests. 

In the fall of 2014, as America waited to hear if officer Darren Wilson would be indicted for the lethal shooting of unarmed Black youth, Michael Brown, tensions were running high in Ferguson. Along the two-block stretch of West Florissant Avenue where demonstrations had continued for weeks, shopkeepers had boarded up entire storefronts in preparation for the protests that might ensue following the grand jury’s decision. 

With the press swamping protests for weeks, local artist and activist Damon Davis saw an opportunity in the boarded-up storefronts. 

“It was a stage where the whole world was watching,” Skolnik said. “These boards would become a canvas for communicating with news cameras, and by extension, to America.” 

Working with community members, Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte, Skolnik helped secure funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support the activists and Davis’ art project. Davis photographed the backs of the hands of people of all ages and races, papering the storefronts (with the owners’ permission) with larger-than-life black and white prints. The images evoked the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture, which had become a symbol of outrage over the shooting of unarmed Black youth, but also suggested solidarity and hope, the artist said. 

The art received widespread, national media coverage almost immediately upon installation, and was noted as “the most powerful street art in America” at the time. 

“The fight with narrative work is to lift up the voices of those directly impacted, and build compassion to open up the heart,” Skolnik said. “This project moved people across America.” 

Shaping the Message, Finding the Messenger 

In a charged political climate, shifting the narrative on a contentious issue isn’t just about communicating an argument; it’s about building empathy and finding avenues for human connection. 

This was the overwhelming takeaway from political strategist Marc Solomon’s work on the Freedom to Marry campaign, which helped activists win marriage equality nationwide in 2015. Sharing his experience with the Ambassadors during a May webinar, Solomon recounted a turning point in their campaign that forced them to re-envision how they talked about gay rights.

“For years we'd been focusing on raising awareness of how gay couples were excluded from rights and benefits, but it wasn't moving the needle; we realized we’d lost touch with the core reason why most gay couples wanted to get married in the first place: to show love and commitment to their partners,” Solomon said.

Solomon and colleagues revamped their advocacy campaign to tap into the shared humanity of issue, highlighting the fact that “gay people shared the same hopes, dreams, fears, and aspirations as straight people,” Solomon said.

Instead of using celebrities or politicians in their campaign, they selected messengers that would speak to these priorities. They enlisted friends and family members who had moved from disapproval to acceptance when they discovered their loved one was gay, using them as spokespeople for commercial, ads, and congressional testimony. 

“We wanted to take people who were conflicted on the issue on a journey that allowed for the fact that it was okay to be conflicted, and yet showed them people they could relate to who had journeyed to a place of support,” Solomon added. 

This human connection piece is especially important in the realm of health equity work, where the sites of intervention — the need for healthy food, quality healthcare, and safe housing, for example — are both deeply personal and universal. 

“People can see themselves in work to promote health, improve education, and help the environment,” Tynesia Boyea-Robinson, ambassador and president and CEO of Reliance Methods said at the May 2017 meeting. “There is less othering because everyone has had a sick family member, everyone wants clean air and good schools for their kids.” 

Forging New Conversations in Health Equity

When we talk about narrative change, we are ultimately talking about a cultural shift — a fundamental change in the dominant views, values, and eventually policies. 

Advancing a health equity agenda within today’s tumultuous political climate will require advocates to build on the creativity and compassion showcased by the examples above, and push the narrative further through new partners, messengers, and platforms for discussion, debate, and dissemination.

That is why the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has focused on building a Culture of Health, in part through cross-sector initiatives like the Ambassadors for Health Equity that bring together new allies from outside the health sector and gives them the tools to promote health equity within their own work.

“In my field of criminal justice, we’re extremely siloed,” said James Bell, ambassador and founder & president of the W. Haywood Burns Institute. “These meetings have helped me get the language and educate others about the connections between criminal justice and other sectors like health, education, and housing.” 

In this way, the work of narrative change begins with the conversations that transpire between colleagues, opponents, and community members. 

“We need to be able to see the humanity in each other, even when we disagree,” Sarah Kastelic, ambassador & executive director at the National Indian Child Welfare Association said at the May 2017 meeting. “If we’re going to have the conversations we need to have, we need to build relationships that are durable enough to make mistakes.” 

She added, “We must be vulnerable enough to say things and know we may not get it right at first, and compassionate enough to listen and help our opponents get it right.”

PolicyLink Launches All-In Cities Policy Toolkit


Today marks the launch of the All-In Cities Policy Toolkit, a new online resource designed to help leaders inside and outside city government identify, understand, and choose targeted policy solutions to advance racial economic inclusion and equitable growth.

The toolkit includes an initial selection of 21 tools, including, but not limited to: Equitable contracting and procurement, Financial empowerment centers, incentivized savings accounts, living wage, local and targeted hiring, minimum wage, worker-owned cooperatives, and more. New content and additional policies will be added throughout 2017 and beyond. The toolkit provides examples of specific policies that local leaders can adapt to their own economic and political contexts, key considerations for design and implementation, and outlines where these policies are working to advance racial and economic equity.

This toolkit is just one resource from All-In Cities. Through this initiative, PolicyLink continues its work to change the dialogue about how and why equity matters to city and regional futures, while working hand-in-hand with city leaders to advance equitable growth strategies.

These Boston Apprenticeships Are Pushing the Economy Toward Equity

Donan Cosme was only 15 when he found himself in the crosshairs of gang life, facing off against a member of a competing gang, guns raised. More than a decade later, these two men would meet again — not as rivals, but as colleagues and fellow apprentices in Boston’s Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 550.

“We’ve put our differences aside and we can work together like it never happened,” Cosme, 30, said. “This is what’s possible when you give people a second opportunity to make something of themselves.”

Cosme credits this second opportunity to Operation Exit, a program that provides formerly incarcerated and at-risk residents with the skills and support necessary to enter apprenticeships in building trades, culinary arts and the tech industry. The program has placed dozens of graduates into career-track apprentice opportunities that pay well above the city’s living wage.

Read the full article in Next City>>>

Expansion of CalEITC to Reach More than One Million Additional Low-Income Working Families

 

On June 27, Governor Jerry Brown signed a budget that significantly expands the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), a refundable state tax credit that increases the economic security of low-income working families. Effective for the 2017 tax year, low-income workers with self-employment income and working families with incomes up to about $22,300 will be able to benefit from the credit. Initial estimates from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy indicate that more than one million additional families could benefit under the expansion.

“The expansion of CalEITC represents a significant step toward creating a more equitable California, one in which all Californians, no matter race, gender, or socioeconomic status, can thrive and reach their full potential.” – Lewis Brown, Senior Associate, PolicyLink

Read Full Statement at Children's Defense Fund -- California 

Infrastructure Is Not Just Roads and Bridges

I once missed a job interview in Watts because the hour and a half I allotted for travel across Los Angeles wasn’t enough for the five buses I needed to get there. After two and a half hours, I turned around, defeated.

That was years ago, but President Trump’s infrastructure rollout this week brought the memory back to me.

When politicians talk about infrastructure, people generally think of roads and bridges. But these are just a part of the nation’s infrastructure, and not necessarily the most important part for millions of poor and working-class Americans who have limited access to public transportation, broadband and even clean water. If we’re going to talk about how infrastructure can get America back to work, Mr. Trump needs to think beyond concrete and steel spans.

My own frustration that day in Los Angeles pales in comparison to what many people face. Sixty percent of public transit users are people of color who rely on broken or inefficient systems. Only 62 percent of rural Americans have access to high-speed internet. Imagine what that means to a high school student applying to college or a small-business owner trying to connect with customers. From Flint, Mich., to the Navajo reservation in the Southwest, more than 1.3 million Americans don’t have running water at home, and many don’t have access to clean water at all.

Read the full op-ed in the New York Times>>

Six New Cities Selected for Equitable Economic Development Fellowship

The National League of Cities (NLC), PolicyLink, and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) announced the selection of six additional cities for participation in the organizations’ jointly-supported Equitable Economic Development Fellowship: Austin, Baltimore, Louisville, Nashville, Phoenix and Sacramento.

The fellowship begins today in Washington, D.C., where representatives from each city, as well as those who participated in the 2016-2017 class, will convene to build a shared sense of equitable economic development, hear from the outgoing class of participants, and engage with program sponsors and other guest speakers.

During the year-long fellowship, each city will select an issue or project aimed at spurring inclusive economic growth. Economic development experts from across the country will then provide technical assistance, leadership training and make recommendations to help the cities reach their goals. The cities will also designate fellows within their communities to travel to the other participating cities for peer learning and the sharing of best practices.

"Cities are recognizing that racial and economic inclusion is central to their success," said Angela Glover Blackwell, PolicyLink founder and CEO. "We are excited to work with these economic development leaders who are ready to implement new strategies and approaches that set their cities on a trajectory of equitable growth."

Learn more about this fellowship and read the full press release.

Trump’s Budget Should Enrage Everyone


Back in March, when the Trump Administration released its preliminary budget document for FY2018 (the so-called “Skinny Budget”), PolicyLink called it “a NIGHTMARE for the entire nation — poor and low-income people, middle-income people, people of color, children, seniors, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, working people, those living in rural areas, those living in urban areas. EVERYONE.” The administration’s final FY2018 budget document, which was released yesterday, confirms that the NIGHTMARE continues…

The budget embodies an arrogant tossing aside of the majority of Americans while simultaneously elevating a very small constituency of the very wealthiest in our country. This budget includes something that should ENRAGE everyone- seniors, the poor and low-income, those living in inner cities and urban areas, those living in suburban and rural areas, middle-income people, those concerned about the environment, people with children, people with disabilities, those working to develop and improve communities, veterans, etc. Just a quick snapshot reveals drastic cuts to fundamental programs: Medicaid, Social Security Disability Benefits, and SNAP; an undermining of vital protections for clean air and water with significant cuts to the budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the gutting of key HUD funding that supports safe and stable housing and the development of communities rich with opportunities; the elimination of whole programs and departments that support rural businesses and communities; the evisceration of the U.S. Department of Education’s focus on quality public education for all students; significant increases in deportation resources such that immigrants in this country will be further threatened and isolated, and more.

Make NO mistake, this budget is a major shift away from our core American values of liberty, common good, justice, equality, diversity, and truth; and instead represents a roadmap toward a country keenly focused on the increased enrichment of the very wealthy in this country. The final budget MUST NOT look ANYTHING like the atrocity proposed by the Trump Administration.

This country belongs to ALL OF US. We cannot allow a select few to totally alter its fabric and trajectory. Remember that the final decision regarding the budget rests with Congress and THEY are all accountable to US.

NOW is the time for continued and sustained resistance and action. Below are just a few suggestions of how you can get involved:

  • Educate yourself about what is in the Trump budget by visiting sites such as:
  • Highlight the programs and funding important to you and your family by sharing your story at www.Handsoff.org and use the hashtag ( #Handsoff) to discuss proposed cuts to critical programs.
     
  • Reach out to your elected officials and hold them accountable to ensure that nothing close to the budget proposed by the Trump Administration passes. Visit www.resistancenearme.org to learn of activities in your city during the upcoming Congressional recess.
     
  • Join us and our partners at CarsonWatch.org as we monitor any attempts to roll back fair housing protections and undermine the housing security of millions of Americans. Sign up for alerts TODAY.
     
  • Mark your calendars and plan to join thousands of Equity advocates at our Equity Summit 2018, April 11-13 in Chicago, Illinois. Sign up for updates regarding the Equity Summit here.

Carson Has the Wrong Prescription to Fight Poverty

HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s ongoing listening tour has provoked deep concerns from those working to expand opportunity in all neighborhoods and for that suffering housing insecurity. Secretary Carson’s comments during the tour have betrayed a misunderstanding of the role that subsidized housing can play in helping families escape poverty.

While the HUD Secretary has raised concerns about residents of affordable homes being “too comfortable,” the inverse is sadly too easy to observe: unstable, inadequate housing often traps generations of families into poverty. Matthew Desmond vividly put these connections on display in his Pulitzer Prize winning book Evicted, that found widespread evictions are a symptom and a cause of chronic housing instability, with cascading negative impacts on health, educational achievement, and  job stability.

Read the full commentary on CarsonWatch>>>

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