NPR: Is Redeveloping Religious Spaces A Solution To DC’s Housing Crisis?

NPR, November 19, 2019: Is Redeveloping Religious Spaces A Solution To DC’s Housing Crisis?

As Amazon carves out a new home in Arlington, the county is continuing its search for new solutions to a growing problem: the shortage of affordable housing. One possible answer? Redeveloping underused religious spaces.

“Land is one of the prime cost factors in housing,” said Judith Meany, a clinical associate professor in architecture and planning at Catholic University. “And it’s not one that many people understand is frankly driving the housing affordability crisis.”

As the county considers feasible ways to create more affordable units, underused churches — in part a symptom of an overall decline in attendance at religious institutions — present one possibility in a patchwork of housing solutions, with the added benefit of onsite services.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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