Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


Sanctuary, Not Just Shelter: A New Type of Housing for the Homeless

Yesterday from NPR:

Ending homelessness isn't just about finding a home. Sometimes, it's about finding a nice home — a place that's bright, modern and healthy to live in. That's the idea fueling the development of a number of buildings around the country, as communities try to move chronically homeless people off the streets.

In downtown Washington, D.C., one of those buildings is currently going up right beside NPR's headquarters. Still under construction, the structure looks a little like four huge blocks, stacked atop each other and slightly askew. At 14 stories high, it will have a striking view of the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument when it's finished.

"It's going to be definitively an inspiring place for the folks that are in it and for this neighborhood as well," says Nadine Maleh, executive director of the Institute for Public Architecture. Until recently, she was the director of inspiring places at the nonprofit Community Solutions, one of the groups behind the project.

"The front of the building will be predominately glass," Maleh adds, explaining that it's designed to let in as much natural light as possible.

The building will provide permanent housing for 60 homeless veterans and 64 other low-income adults, beginning early next year. Each resident will pay about a third of their income in rent for an efficiency apartment. The building will also have a big, open lobby with a concierge desk, much like many of the other new apartment buildings in the area.

"And then we have a lot of really wonderful building amenities which serve to promote community within the building. So there's a computer room. There's a gym," Maleh says.

Out back there will be a patio, and inside, a room for residents to keep their bikes. Social services, like job counseling and health care referrals, will be offered through an office in-house. There are also plans to build a restaurant or cafe on the ground floor, to help attract others in the community who might be wary about having such a facility in the neighborhood.

Maleh says that's the whole idea behind this place: that people who have the kinds of mental health and other issues that made them homeless in the first place will do better — even thrive — when they live somewhere they feel calm, comfortable and part of a community.

Continue reading the full piece here.


Historian Says Don’t ‘Sanitize’ How Our Government Created Structural Ghettos, Baltimore Included (via NPR)

We really have to stop blaming individuals for the aftermath of the extensive and violent structural policies of this nation... past and present. And we must be mindful enough to not confuse this with the increasingly popular discussion of implicit bias. Implicit bias is indeed real (not to mention a very old concept in the psychological literature) yet it does not negate (and can even distract us from understanding) the persistent and intentional racism that continues to shape public policy in this country. Moreover, our failure to understand the structural roots of violent and persistent inequities further confuses people and reinforces the implicit biases people form.

From NPR, May 14, 2015:

Fifty years after the repeal of Jim Crow, many African-Americans still live in segregated ghettos in the country's metropolitan areas. Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, has spent years studying the history of residential segregation in America.

"We have a myth today that the ghettos in metropolitan areas around the country are what the Supreme Court calls 'de-facto' — just the accident of the fact that people have not enough income to move into middle class neighborhoods or because real estate agents steered black and white families to different neighborhoods or because there was white flight," Rothstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

"It was not the unintended effect of benign policies," he says. "It was an explicit, racially purposeful policy that was pursued at all levels of government, and that's the reason we have these ghettos today and we are reaping the fruits of those policies."