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Two Steps to Rebalancing Housing Policy

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Tax-writing committees in both houses of Congress are developing legislation to reform the tax code that may be seriously considered over the next year.  They should use this opportunity to rebalance federal housing subsidies to better align spending with need.  In 2012, the federal government provided $270 billion in tax breaks and direct spending to help families buy or rent housing. But the bulk of this went to homeownership subsidies—like the mortgage interest deduction—that mainly benefit higher-income families, who typically can afford homes without help.   In fact, the federal government spends more on the 5 million households with incomes of $200,000 or higher than on the more than 20 million households with incomes below $20,000, even though lower-income families are far more likely to struggle to afford a mortgage. (See graph.)  

Written by Rooflines

August 30th, 2013 at 12:07 pm

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Housing Center Annual Benefit

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Benefit Invitation 2013 updated-1

Celebrate an evening of eclectic tastes by Oak Park chef Su Jang,
performances by Oak Park River Forest High School’s Spoken Word Club, and
a captivating photography exhibit narrating the diverse stories of Oak Parkers by Eileen Molony

We are proud to present the
Roberta Raymond Founder’s Award for Commitment to Diversity to

David Pope
Former Village President of Oak Park

David Pope’s leadership as Village President has extended Oak Park’s influence on a regional and national level. His continued support of Oak Park’s integration and sustainability has led to our recognition as a forerunner for developing diverse and innovative communities.

Click the Benefit tab to purchase your tickets now!

Written by mdavis

August 29th, 2013 at 7:48 pm

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Now clarified in state law: Bicycles may pass cars on the right

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Starting New Year's Day, 2014, Illinoisans riding bicycles may confidently pass slow-moving cars on the right side of the road and know that they are on solid ground legally. The Active Transportation Alliance-backed bill was adopted by the Illinois legislature in May and was signed into law this month by Governor Pat Quinn.

The bill (HB 3367) does not change the intent or meaning of current law, but rather clarifies it — to end dangerous misunderstandings that have already caused real harm to Illinois bicyclists, as documented in a February Chicago Streets Blog post, The Obscure Traffic Law That Punishes Cyclists for Getting Doored, by Ken Griffith.

The article documented the case of Lilly, who was doored by a car while riding her bike and then blamed by police for the crash:

Lilly was lying in the trauma unit at Northwestern Memorial (for anonymity, she that asked we only use her nickname). She’d been doored on Lincoln Avenue on her morning bike commute, and now doctors were swarming around her, trying to determine if her pregnancy, then five months along, was at risk.

That’s when the police officer who had responded at the crash scene walked in to drop off the incident report and to let Lilly, 30, know that — by the way — she was at fault for the crash. Her heart-rate monitor began beeping furiously — how could she be at fault? She’d been riding in the shared lane on Lincoln, passing between the line of stopped traffic and the line of parked cars, when a passenger in one of the cars idling in the traffic lane swung his door open straight into her bike, sending her spinning into the pavement.

Barring extenuating circumstances, liability in dooring crashes is straightforward. "If you're driving a car and I'm on a bike, and you open your door into my path, then you're at fault, and your insurance pays my medical bills," Lilly said.

But in this case, the responding police officer said Lilly was at fault for passing on the right, and not the car passenger for opening a car door into the path of an oncoming cyclist. Subsequently, the driver's insurance company denied Lilly's claim and she has since been embroiled in a nearly year-long legal battle regarding $10,000 in medical bills that may never be reimbursed.

What gives? In a state where the law requires bicycles to ride as far to the right as safely possible, where they pass and get passed by cars dozens of times on every ride, why would Lilly be liable for being hit by a passenger who forgot to check for a cyclist before opening a car door?

People on bikes do have the right to pass cars on the right, but as bike lawyer Brandon Kevenides wrote in a subsequent blog post, the language of Illinois law on this matter makes that fact about "as clear as mud."

The law in question is known as "eight foot rule" and, as Griffin wrote, is intended "to prevent motorcycles from roaring down the shoulder of the road.” It prohibits "two-wheeled vehicles" from passing cars on the right unless there is eight feet of space.

Dozens of pages earlier in the statute, the term "vehicle" is defined as a "device that transports people and property . . . except devices moved by human power.” So the law is limited to motorized devices like motorcycles and does not apply to bicycles.

That limitation makes sense because motorcycles may need eight feet of space to pass cars because they are much wider, heavier, and operated at much higher speeds than bicycles. But if applied to bicycles it "would turn the whole concept of ‘share the road’ on its head," said Kevenides, because bicycles routinely and safely share the road in parallel streams of traffic with cars in cities where there is less than eight feet of space between traffic and parked cars.

Even designated bike lanes, which are normally 5 feet wide and have a long history in national and state standards, would be in violation of the 8 foot rule if cyclists were subject to it, said Ed Barsotti, executive director of the League of Illinois Bicyclists.

HB 3367 should help prevent future situations like Lilly's by clarifying that the 8 foot rule applies only to motorcycles and not bicycles. It was passed less than a year after the current law's problems were first noted by Griffith and Kevenides — thanks in large part to the work of its sponsors, State Representative Laura Fine of Glenview and Senator Thomas Cullerton of Villa Park.

"I drive a car and ride a bicycle, and I think this bill is a big victory for both," said Fine. "Whether or not a person agrees with a particular law, everyone agrees that the law should at least be clear."

With this bill's passage, Illinois cyclists will now have a crystal clear understanding about their right to pass cars on the right side of the road.

Active Trans is your voice for better biking, walking and transit. Support our efforts to make active transportation safer and easier by donating or becoming a member today.

Written by Max Muller

August 29th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

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Bloomingdale Trail under construction

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Written by John O’Neal

August 29th, 2013 at 3:23 pm

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Dismantling the Model Minority Myth Should be Everybody’s Project

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The National Coalition For Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD) recently released a report that gives a demographic profile of poor Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and highlights the dramatic growth of the AAPI poor population in the wake of the recession. One of the ulterior motives in producing this report is to debunk the Model Minority Myth.   There is some community self-interest in this approach—as a coalition of organizations who serve low-income and poor AAPI communities, we often get confused looks from people who don’t understand that there is economic need in AAPI communities. So, one big reason why we wrote the report and why we put the cold, hard data out there, is that we’re trying to build a factual case as to why AAPI poverty is a real issue, deserving of real attention and resources. But, a less obvious but equally important reason for the report is that everybody concerned with equity and the broader struggle for social justice should be concerned with dismantling the Model Minority Myth. The Model Minority Myth not only causes us to overlook the needs and real problems of AAPIs who do not fit the stereotype but also its continued existence undermines the larger project for social change and racial justice. Anybody who has experienced a sibling rivalry should understand this at an emotional level.  “Why can’t you be more like so-n-so?” is a pretty damaging thing for a kid to hear.  But the Model Minority Myth goes deeper.  

Written by Rooflines

August 29th, 2013 at 12:00 pm

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How to Build on the Work of Dr. King

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“As we mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington today, it’s clear that the nation has made great strides to advance equality, but our society remains inequitable. Continuing the work of Dr. King and all the others who have sought to build a truly inclusive nation has become more complicated. The stakes are higher. The past 50 years have demonstrated that the struggles of all people seeking to realize their full potential are intertwined; looking ahead, it’s clear that our nation’s future depends on ensuring that the talents and energy of all can be fully tapped.

The new book from PolicyLink and the Center for American Progress, All-In Nation: An America that Works for All, provides a blueprint for an equitable future in which we can enjoy shared prosperity. Becoming an all-in nation means building a strong, inclusive economy, and standing up for voting rights, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, students’ rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights—all civil rights that make our country strong and our communities healthy, safe, and vibrant.

Moving forward from this anniversary, we must commit to take action, with a sense of urgency, and find the patience required to work together through challenges that arise to create the future we desire and deserve.”

Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder & CEO, PolicyLink

PolicyLink staff were asked, “Moving forward from the #MOW50, what three things do you want to see?”  They’ve shared their visions in commemoration of the March on Washington.

[[Show as slideshow]]

Written by Amber Washington

August 28th, 2013 at 6:43 pm

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CDOT Complete Streets website

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Written by John O’Neal

August 28th, 2013 at 1:31 pm

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In Transit Development Grants, Affordable Housing Incentives

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Ask affordable housing practitioners what keeps them up at night and you’re bound to hear about these two major concerns: • Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) opposition to affordable housing development. • Gentrification that displaces low- and moderate-income households from neighborhoods just as the neighborhoods are starting to strengthen. Given the prominence and seeming intractability of these concerns, you would think that a new federal policy that addresses them would be headline news across all major affordable housing channels. But with a few notable exceptions, this policy change seems to be largely flying under the radar. The new federal policy is one that, for the first time, provides tangible financial incentives for local communities to preserve affordable housing near planned transit stations and ensure that any new development in these areas includes housing affordable to low- and moderate-income households. The new incentives come through changes to the criteria for awarding federal New Starts grants for new and expanded public transit lines to give extra points in the “economic development” section of the competition to communities that adopt and implement housing policies to achieve these goals. The new policy also creates incentives in the “land use” section of the competition for communities to choose transit alignments that serve neighborhoods that include subsidized housing. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) just finalized the policy guidance that sets the specific criteria for evaluating the housing policies and transit alignments proposed by New Starts applicants. The final rule announcing the policy in broad terms came out earlier in the year.  How would the new policy address concerns about NIMBY and gentrification?

Written by Rooflines

August 28th, 2013 at 12:00 pm

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Could Transportation Policy Transform Affordable Housing?

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Ask affordable housing practitioners what keeps them up at night and you’re bound to hear about these two major concerns: • Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) opposition to affordable housing development. • Gentrification that displaces low- and moderate-income households from neighborhoods just as the neighborhoods are starting to strengthen. Given the prominence and seeming intractability of these concerns, you would think that a new federal policy that addresses them would be Headline News across all major affordable housing channels. But with a few notable exceptions, this policy change seems to be largely flying under the radar. The new federal policy is one that, for the first time, provides tangible financial incentives for local communities to preserve affordable housing near planned transit stations and ensure that any new development in these areas includes housing affordable to low- and moderate-income households. The new incentives come through changes to the criteria for awarding federal New Starts grants for new and expanded public transit lines to give extra points in the “economic development” section of the competition to communities that adopt and implement housing policies to achieve these goals. The new policy also creates incentives in the “land use” section of the competition for communities to choose transit alignments that serve neighborhoods that include subsidized housing. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) just finalized the policy guidance that sets the specific criteria for evaluating the housing policies and transit alignments proposed by New Starts applicants. The final rule announcing the policy in broad terms came out earlier in the year.  How would the new policy address concerns about NIMBY and gentrification?

Written by Rooflines

August 28th, 2013 at 12:00 pm

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U.S. Census has Field Representative Positions Available

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Written by Logan Square Neighborhood Association - Latest news

August 27th, 2013 at 6:00 pm

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