The Department of Housing and Urban Development posted a proposed rule in the Federal Register today that would evict undocumented members of mixed-status families from public housing, which could displace tens of thousands of families. The Washington Post reports that “current rules bar undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing subsidies but allow families of mixed-immigration status as long as one person — a child born in the United States or a citizen spouse — is eligible. The subsidies are prorated to cover only eligible residents... Approximately 25,000 households, representing about 108,000 people, now living in subsidized housing have at least one ineligible member, according to the HUD analysis.” ThinkProgress reports that “a mass eviction of undocumented immigrant families could have drastic consequences. A 2016 study by the American Psychological Association examined the “unintended consequences” of zero tolerance public housing policies. “People who are evicted from any type of housing often have difficult times getting accepted for other types of housing,” the paper notes. “This leads evicted individuals to regularly experience prolonged homelessness.””
This week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the US, effectively banning abortions after six weeks. Alabama is considering legislation that would “effectively ban most abortions at every stage of pregnancy, from conception on, and would criminalize the procedure for doctors. A doctor could be charged with a felony, and face up to 99 years in prison, for performing an abortion in most circumstances; a doctor could risk a 10-year prison term for attempting an abortion.”
CityLab covers a new report from the Economic Policy Institute on racial inequities in exposure to adverse childhood experiences and the long-term health consequences of these exposures. “[T]hreatening childhood experiences can change the way children grasp math and learn the alphabet, and can even affect their ability to read a simple story. Those experiences can also permanently alter children’s physiology, creating “toxic stress.” The study’s authors also point to a connection to neighborhood conditions, as chronic issues of “excessive litter, vandalism, deteriorated and overcrowded housing, graffiti, noise, public drug and alcohol use” can exacerbate toxic stress in children. [Study authors] Leila Morsy and Richard Rothstein synthesize research to zoom in on the effects of stressful childhoods on low-income children, and black and white children. They find that children with low family income—children with a family income of $20,000 or less—are more likely to encounter threatening experiences and the “toxic stress” that accompanies it. They also find black children generally have more exposure to these experiences than white children…”
The New York Times reports in-depth on the history of segregation and disinvestment that now makes it possible for white home-buyers to move into predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Raleigh, often displacing longtime residents. “In South Park, a neighborhood with picturesque views of the Raleigh skyline, the white home buyers who have recently moved in have average incomes more than three times that of the typical household already here. Whites, who were largely absent in the neighborhood in 2000, made up 17 percent of the population by 2012. Since then, they’ve gotten nearly nine in 10 of the new mortgages… In neighborhoods like South Park, white residents are changing not only the racial mix of the community; they are also altering the economics of the real estate beneath everyone. “That’s what finally came to me — it’s not just the fact that the neighborhoods look different, that people behave differently,” said Kia E. Baker, who grew up in southeast Raleigh and now directs a nonprofit, Southeast Raleigh Promise, that serves the community. Some of that change can be positive, she said. This realization was not: “Our black bodies literally have less economic value than the body of a white person,” she said. “As soon as a white body moves into the same space that I occupied, all of a sudden this place is more valuable.” … White flight and white return are not opposite phenomena in American cities, generations apart. Here they are part of the same story. In the places where white households are moving, reinvestment is possible mainly because of the disinvestment that came before it. Many of these neighborhoods were once segregated by law and redlined by banks. Cities neglected their infrastructure. The federal government built highways that isolated them and housing projects that were concentrated in them. Then banks came peddling predatory loans… Here, because of that history, [single-family homes] a bargain. And while that briefly remains true in South Park, the disinvestment and reinvestment are visible side by side on any given street.”
A proposed rule change from the Office of Management and Budget would count fewer people as living below the official federal poverty line and thus disqualify millions of people living in poverty from accessing safety-net programs like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and housing assistance, among other social programs. “This policy would, over time, cut or take away entirely food assistance, health and other forms of basic assistance from millions of people who struggle to put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads and see a doctor when they need to,” said Sharon Parrott, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. She also noted that the reductions stood in contrast to the administration’s 2017 tax law, which gave new benefits to high-income households.”
A new report from the CDC finds that 60% of maternal deaths are preventable, with Black and Native American/Alaska Native women being three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. Pregnancy-related deaths claim the lives of approximately 700 women in the US each year, and the US has one of the highest maternal death rates among developed countries.
City Lab reports on cities explicitly addressing environmental justice through land-use policy change, with strategies that include outright bans on certain land uses, environmental review processes, proactive planning, and mitigating the harmful effects of existing land-use policies. The report notes that “examples of racial zoning are ubiquitous in planning history.” These same local zoning codes and land-use policies are now being used to address both existing and future pollution sources concentrated in low-income communities and communities of color. The report’s authors write: “If zoning and land use policies got us into this mess, they have the potential to get us out of it.””
Society Pages, a sociology blog, brings together recent research on the relationship between housing and health, including how a health crisis can exacerbate housing hardship, how health suffers when housing is precarious, and how gaining access to stable housing after experiencing housing insecurity can boost mental health.
The New Yorker reports on noise pollution as a public health issue: “Studies have shown that people who live or work in loud environments are particularly susceptible to many alarming problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, low birth weight, and all the physical, cognitive, and emotional issues that arise from being too distracted to focus on complex tasks and from never getting enough sleep. And the noise that we produce doesn’t harm only us. Scientists have begun to document the effects of human-generated sound on non-humans—effects that can be as devastating as those of more tangible forms of ecological desecration. Les Blomberg, the founder and executive director of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, based in Montpelier, Vermont, told me, “What we’re doing to our soundscape is littering it. It’s aural litter—acoustical litter—and, if you could see what you hear, it would look like piles and piles of McDonald’s wrappers, just thrown out the window as we go driving down the road.”