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Useful Community Plus
November 14, 2019

In This Issue: Housing Creates Neighborhood Fabric,
Special Days to Observe in Your Neighborhood, New Website Articles
Visit us at the Useful Community Development website.

Our featured article is designed to stimulate holistic thinking about housing. Before we get to that, check out the new articles on our website or learn about signing on to well-organized and well-resourced national or international special emphasis dates of the year.

New On the Useful Community Development Website This Month

This month we completed our series on season-based ideas for your community newsletter, e-blast, or social media. Check out the winter newsletter ideas. Forward this to your newsletter editor(s), who will want to check out all of the general tips for HOA, neighborhood, and community newsletters, found on our homeowner newsletter page. We won't be obnoxious enough to link to the other three seasonal pages, but your editor can find the links near the bottom of the general newsletter page.

Also as usual we created these new pages through answering questions from site visitors:

Rezoning during construction

Subdivision selling small park to generate revenue that will allow it to improve its larger park

How to interpret buffer requirements

Business in a subdivision apparently not allowed by deed restriction

Noise and pollution from multiple gas leaf blowers

Tying into Special Day Observances

Many of your neighborhoods and communities could generate more excitement about a particular issue or call to action if you plan local observances of national and international special dates.

You might ask why this strategy is brilliant. Usually these special days offer outstanding ideas, graphics, and resources that you can use to plan your own local events. You may even be able to use their social media reach to your advantage. In addition, your local media will be encouraged to cover your event when they realize there is national or international significance to what you are doing.

Below are some good picks. Note that many recur every autumn, so start now to plan for next year.

World Kindness Day. Every single community can devise their own version of this, because in most cases kindness does not cost us any money and very little time. This occurs each year in multiple countries on November 13.

GivingTuesday is a coordinated day for donating to non-profit organizations. This U.S.-based idea has spread to 52 countries. You could start this in any country of the world where there is a currency system and credit card or similar payment system. In the U.S., this occurs on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and if you are beginning something similar in another nation, select a date around any annual harvest or gratitude festivals that you celebrate.

If you are in the U.S. and haven't registered for this before, we predict most of you will be surprised and pleased at the response of your current and prospective donors. If you have never identified possible donors, this is a good excuse to get busy on that task.

PARK(ing) Day. The idea of this U.S. event in September is to replace a couple of free or inexpensive curbside parking spaces with an impromptu parklet for a day, as a demonstration of other possible uses of this space. The American Society of Landscape Architects provides the resource page we like best. Although originated in the U.S., every country with curbside parking should look at this model.

You will need some background to explain this idea to folks. We have written a good introduction to the related concept of tactical urbanism on our site, and also about the idea of a tiny park, called a parklet in the jargon of today.

World Food Day. This annual October observance promoted by the United Nations often can shine the spotlight on challenging local food situations ranging from hunger to food deserts to food safety.

World Town Planning Day. A November date is celebrated annually in 30 countries around the world. A professor in Buenos Aires created this observance to highlight the importance of city planning, a cause that should be near and dear to the readers of this newsletter.

World Refugee Day. If your community is impacted by people fleeing as refugees or individuals and families arriving as refugees, you could make this United Nations-sponsored event every June 20 incredibly meaningful.

Feature: Sharpening Your Focus on Housing

The Urban Institute has consolidated their housing articles and resources under the banner Housing Matters. This emphasizes the emerging understanding in the community development field that housing not only brings the comfort of home, but also affects life outcomes in health, education, and children's well-being in amazing ways.

In the U.S., we think that the release of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition report Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing in 2018 opened a few eyes. Quoting from the press release on the Out of Reach report:

"In no state, metropolitan area, or county can a worker earning the federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage afford a decent two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40-hour week. There are just 22 counties out of more than 3,000 counties nationally where a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair-market rent."

This is a high-quality update on the well-defined problem of low-income housing, a problem shared widely in many other European and Western Hemisphere nations.

But we are all waking up to further implications of housing policy, which in the U.S. is not only responsive to federal policy but also shaped by locally proactive neighborhoods, advocacy groups, and elected officials.

After decades in the community development field, it is clear to us that we need fewer silos among practitioners and activists in the fields of housing, economic opportunity and mobility, racial equity, infant health, child development, social services, educational accomplishment, and generational wealth accumulation through clear legal practices for property ownership.

A stellar local housing policy and program, developed through interdisciplinary collaboration, can be the linchpin for better outcomes in all of these areas.

For starter reading along these lines, we recommend this particular article from the Housing Matters website. To keep an eye on all of the Housing Matters content, bookmark the entire site.

You don't have to get all wonky about this, but if you are serious about housing, subscribe to the Shelterforce Weekly e-mail newsletter. Scroll down a bit and you'll find the sign-up in the right column. It's free.

By the way, if any of this reading and thinking about your own community generates a question in your mind, remember you can ask us a housing question and receive an online answer.

We encourage you to contact us about any detail on our site. We will send the next newsletter in December.

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