A new book, “Arbitrary Lines,” argues that a century of zoning has hardened racial and class segregation in cities across the U.S. and worsened the effects of inequality by making it almost impossible to build anything but single-family homes in some cities. Author and planner M. Nolan Gray says there is a better way: Just look at Houston.
In the wake of two historically devastating storms in 2017, financial aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development contributed to an increase in wealth inequality.
Natural disasters are increasingly common each year, affecting infrastructure and contributing to economic, social, health, and psychological hardships. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, it quickly amassed $125 billion in damages, displacing over a million people and their homes. Along with the economic toll of a disaster event, mental health concerns carry a cost that is difficult to measure.
The Kinder Institute’s Urban Data Platform warehouses over 50 datasets related to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. These resources can help researchers, agencies and organizations work toward ways to prevent and withstand the worst effects of the storms to come.
When it hit five years ago this week, Hurricane Harvey was an unprecedented disaster: 68 people dead, 200,000 homes damaged or destroyed, a half-million cars wiped out, $125 billion in damage.
Flood survival stories are a Houston shibboleth, a test of membership. Make it through a devastating downpour, and you are one of us. And everyone who lived in the Houston area in August 2017 has a Hurricane Harvey story. For some, it was another entry in a collection of flood stories, depending on how long they lived here and where; for others, it was their first, a rude awakening to very real vulnerabilities.
Friendswood, a close-knit suburb southeast of Houston that routinely makes lists for being the “best place to raise a family,” also serves as a case study for how flaws in the federal approach to flood insurance and disaster recovery aid resulted in fractured outcomes even among similarly situated middle-class neighbors after Hurricane Harvey.
A new book serves as a guide for how cities can best learn from one another to design systems and build ways to endure the worst climate shocks to come. This includes Houston’s experience—both for what to expect from a changing climate and how to respond. Its authors say Houston has done several things right, but they also worry that future disasters could outpace these efforts.
Harris County will soon have, for the first time, a full picture of its public wealth—the commercial value of all government-owned assets, from land to buildings to infrastructure—as well as a plan to start putting this wealth to work toward community development and economic growth.
As a method of community planning, and as an impetus for creative placemaking (and placekeeping), poetry can help anyone–not just writers–think about how they are situated within their local communities and urban spaces. By writing poetry, any member of the public—in particular, those who are historically underrepresented—can turn conceptions into things that can be discussed and implemented. Since poetry has dislodged itself from patrician control and has found fertile ground in the digital landscape, it can be easily shared within local contexts and beyond.
With 2020 Census data in hand, Houston is moving forward with city council redistricting. The first proposed map was unveiled last week ahead of a public comment phase. For the most part, not much changes in terms of actual boundaries, but the underlying demographics of Houston’s population shifted considerably in the past 10 years.
As the name of my new book of essays suggests, I have always believed that place and prosperity are deeply intertwined. A city or town probably won’t be prosperous unless it has lots of place amenities – things that draw people to the location like parks, good schools, restaurants and stores, cultural institutions, walkable neighborhoods. And a city or town probably can’t afford all those amenities unless it is prosperous.
The past two years have been a heady time for real estate, and as we emerge from the pandemic’s fog of uncertainty, the 2022 State of Housing report details an increasingly stressed situation in Harris County and Houston. Median prices now exceed $300,000 and are approaching $350,000, slipping out of reach for residents earning the median household income. Meanwhile, much of the already limited affordable rental housing stock is becoming increasingly vulnerable.
The Rio Grande Valley (RGV), or el Valle del Rio Bravo as it is known in Mexico, is often considered a far-flung collection of small-town border communities. As such, it remains largely unknown to the rest of the U.S., except when cited as one of the poorest areas in the country alongside Middle Appalachia or the Lower Mississippi Delta.
Climate change is propelling more extreme weather events, including more precipitation and flooding, which means the need for more strategies such as buyouts has never been more urgent. As a concept, buyouts are fairly straightforward: the government buys up properties to remove them out of harm’s way, reducing the risk of loss of life, the need for future flood repairs, insurance payouts and other costs.