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Climate Change and Rural Water for Frontline Communities in the Southwest United States

March 26, 2024

This issue brief provides an overview of the escalating threat climate change poses to rural water for frontline communities in the Southwest United States. This region, defined by the US National Climate Assessment's 6-state area (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah), is facing increasing water challenges due to prolonged droughts, extreme temperatures, groundwater depletion, wildfire, flooding, and reduced mountain snowpack. The brief delves into the observed and projected impacts of climate change, emphasizing the disproportionate risks faced by Latino, Hispanic, and Indigenous populations in these areas. Through this issue brief, the authors also aim to highlight the need for innovative strategies and approaches necessary to build equitable, climate-resilient rural water systems.

Evaluation of Tipping Point Community’s Chronic Homelessness Initiative

March 21, 2024

In May 2017, Tipping Point Community announced a $100 million initiative to halve chronic homelessness in San Francisco in five years. Tipping Point's Chronic Homelessness Initiative (CHI) is the largest private investment to address homelessness in the city's history. Tipping Point engaged the Urban Institute to evaluate CHI's implementation and outcomes. The evaluation's primary goal is to understand CHI's overall success in helping San Francisco halve chronic homelessness and make long-term, systemic improvements that support the city's most vulnerable residents.As CHI came to an end in June 2022, this final report documents the implementation of CHI and identifies key areas of successes and lessons learned based on evaluation activities conducted between fall 2018 and fall 2023. This report also highlights the outcomes of specific strategies and programs implemented as part of CHI.

Do Registration Reforms Add New Voters or Keep Californians Registered?

March 12, 2024

In the last few years, California's voter registration rate has surged. Two important policy changes—a version of automatic voter registration (AVR) and a change that helps update addresses on file when registrants move across county lines—may explain the surge. We examine how address updates and new registrations have changed in the voter file over the last few years, looking at race/ethnicity and age, and we place California's changes in a national context to better understand the contributing role of automatic voter registration.

2023 San Luis Valley, Colorado: Local Food Finance Landscape Map

December 31, 2023

The purpose of this report is to highlight possible financing resources at the state and local levels that can be brought into coordination with existing efforts to advance the local food system in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. For development finance professionals, this includes demonstrating the significance of incorporating local food systems efforts into local economic development agendas. For local food system practitioners, this means highlighting the importance of engaging local development finance agencies to restore healthy, sustainable, and equitable food systems.

How climate risk data can help communities become more resilient: Insights from San Diego

December 4, 2023

Governments at all levels have a responsibility to help communities adapt to increasing climate risks. Local governments are on the front lines, as they regulate and incentivize the location of new housing and commercial development, develop and operate transportation and water infrastructure, and oversee emergency preparedness and response. The rapidly growing field of climate analytics can help local governments adopt a more proactive approach by identifying risks, developing climate action plans, and implementing strategies that limit the harms of both chronic and acute climate stresses, from intense storms to wildfires to extreme heat.The goal of this project is to illustrate how local governments can use geographically granular climate risk data to map local hazards and plan community-based adaptation strategies, while highlighting some of the challenges in working with this data. We also discuss areas where regional, state, and federal agencies can support their local colleagues in these efforts. This analysis is intended to be useful for local governments—including elected officials and career staff—as well as utilities, regional planning agencies, private sector firms, and civic organizations engaged with built environment planning.To illustrate the potential uses and challenges of geographically granular climate risk information, we analyze data created by First Street Foundation that measures heat, wildfire, and flood risk. Focusing on the city of San Diego, we create risk maps at several levels of geography—city, neighborhood, and parcel—to illustrate how risk varies across geography, over time, and by climate risk category. These metrics primarily capture physical risk; when possible, we look at overlaps with social and economic characteristics that affect community vulnerability. Case studies of three neighborhoods with particularly high risks show the usefulness—and some cautions—of parcel-level analysis.

The California Effect: How the Golden State is Driving the Progressive Agenda on Free Expression

November 28, 2023

Since 2021, California's state legislature has introduced and successfully passed into law several first-of-their-kind policies that have shifted the landscape for free expression in the state – and even for the country at large. This report contains laws that PEN America heralds as exemplary models for promoting the equitable exercise of free expression, as well as those that we heavily critique for their language, scope, and requirements. What these policies, however, have in common is their undeniable reach: all of them have inspired or buttressed similar legislation in states around the country or at the federal level. The laws proposed and passed in California promise to have a major impact on the free expression rights of not just Californians, but all Americans.

Youth Impact & Learning Brief

November 21, 2023

Caring for Denver Foundation's Youth funding is focused on youth-informed and youth-led mental health, trauma, and/or substance misuse supports, which increase youth's (ages 0-26) ability to manage life stresses and pressures. It also provides support for families and allies of youth to better support youth in their healing. This brief summarizes the impact Caring for Denver's Youth grantees made from April 2022 to March 2023.

From Surviving to Thriving: A Quality-of-Life Study with Transgender, Gender Nonconforming, and Intersex (TGI) Adults in the City of Los Angeles

November 6, 2023

Transgender people in California experience discrimination and harassment in employment, housing, health care, schools, and other public places. More limited research has also documented that intersex people face employment discrimination and have poorer health compared to the general population. This study embraced a quality-of-life framework to gather first-person accounts from 55 transgender, non-binary, and intersex (TGI) adults to better understand the needs of TGI people who live, work, or receive services in the City of Los Angeles. Focus group topics included housing, employment, health care, and access to local services and resources. Overall, we found that while the TGI community continues to face many acute challenges, it has also developed expertise, relationships, and resources that will be critical to addressing these challenges in partnership with the City.

Closing the Climate Investment Gap: California Must Prioritize Climate-Smart Transportation Projects

October 4, 2023

The danger of climate change to Californians is more obvious than ever, with extreme weather and climate-related disasters making it clear that the status quo cannot continue. The California Air Resources Board recently adopted a plan to achieve carbon neutrality and cut human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2045. Because transportation is the largest source of GHG emissions in California, reaching these goals will require both rapid vehicle electrification and reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by investing in low-carbon mobility like public transit, bike paths, and pedestrian safety improvements across the state.NRDC analyzed state transportation investment decisions across 10 key funding programs that span 2019 to 2027—representing $22.4 billion invested in 4,824 projects—to see to what extent California's transportation spending matches the urgency of its climate goals. Unfortunately, our analysis finds a disconnect between the projects and programs that California funds and the urgency to decarbonize the transportation system in order to meet the state's climate goals: Less than one-fifth of the total budget is going to VMT-reducing projects.In a time of climate crisis, we can no longer afford to spend more than 80 percent of our state transportation investments expanding and maintaining the very sector that is contributing more than any other to climate pollution.

Race Counts 2023 Annual Report

October 1, 2023

RACE COUNTS is a groundbreaking initiative that shines a spotlight on the harsh realities faced by communities of color in California, across critical areas such as housing, education, economic opportunities, and incarceration. The 2023 annual report unveils the data, the challenges, and most importantly, the opportunities for change. In addition, the report also uplifts stories of organizations working on the ground to advance racial equity and offers policy recommendations for reducing racial disparities.The data reveals that not all counties are created equal. Mono County tops the list as the most racially disparate county in California, with Plumas County closely following. Surprisingly, Marin County, which used to be second, now ranks third in disparities. The Northern/Sierra region counties grapple with worse outcomes and higher disparities compared to other counties. In the Bay Area, despite its prosperity, communities of color do not share in this success. On the bright side, San Diego and Orange County are among the five counties with the lowest disparities, while Placer and El Dorado in the Sacramento area rank among the highest in outcomes. The San Joaquin Valley stands out as the only region where all counties within the region have lower-than-average overall outcomes. In Los Angeles, the largest county in California, disparities exist but are not as pronounced, with notable exceptions like chronic absenteeism rates for Black students.

Alaska's Election Model: How the top-four nonpartisan primary system improves participation, competition, and representation

October 1, 2023

Though nicknamed the "Last Frontier," Alaska is now very much the first frontier when it comes to election innovation in the United States. In the coming years, election reforms with the greatest impact on the health of our democracy will be those that improve political incentives: how candidates run for office, and how they govern once elected.Approved by voters in 2020 and used for the first time in 2022, Alaska's new election system pairs a top-four nonpartisan primary with an instant runoff general election. Already, our research finds that Alaska's reform has given voters more voice and power in who represents them and significantly increased electoral competition, tempered political extremism, and delivered a voting system that is viewed as both simple and popular among voters.Importantly, the reform did not advantage one party over the other: a conservative Republican, moderate Republican, and moderate Democrat were elected by the same electorate to statewide offices. Republicans retained legislative majorities, while Alaska's tradition of cross-partisan governing coalitions continued throughout the 2023 legislative session.

Oakland, California, The Cost of Gun Violence: The Direct Cost to Tax Payers

September 28, 2023

The National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) has conducted this detailed analysis that documents the government expenses accompanying every fatal and non-fatal shooting in Oakland. In tracking the direct costs per shooting incident, NICJR has deliberately used the low end of the range for each expense. This study does not include the loss-of-production costs when the victim or suspect were working at the time of the incident. Nationally, those costs have been estimated at an additional $1–2 million for each shooting incident. This means that the calculated cost of $3,191,722 for a fatal shooting in Oakland is a conservative estimate; the real cost is likely even higher.