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Disasters and the rental housing community: Setting a research and policy agenda

October 5, 2023

The nation's system for managing disasters is broken. Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and related emergencies caused by increasingly severe and frequent effects from fossil-fuel-induced global climate change can have massive health and financial consequences for communities. Our current disaster management system relies on local, state, and—increasingly—federal resources to support disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts before a disaster; provide evacuation, safety, and relief during; and support rebuilding and recovery after. Yet gaps in public responses to disasters hold especially true for renters, rental properties, and rental housing stakeholders. Renter conditions—the availability, affordability, and quality of rental housing units throughout this timeframe—are a key indicator of climate and disaster vulnerability. And despite renters accounting for over one-third of U.S. households, funding and programming across all disaster stages still disproportionately serve single-family homeowners.There have been calls for "disaster justice" over the last decade, often as an offspring of environmental and housing activism. But equitable disaster processes, outputs, and outcomes have remained poorly defined. To ensure that renters' voices are at the center of any policy or evidence-building agendas, scholars and policy analysts affiliated with the Brookings Institution and Enterprise Community Partners—with generous support from the Walmart Foundation—developed an overview of the key challenges in practice, policy, and evidence on the subject of renters and the disaster continuum, from hazard relief and response through recovery to longer-term hazard mitigation and resilience. The team also hosted a full-day, invitation-only convening of local grassroots tenant organizations, rental housing providers, and regional housing advocates at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. on July 20, 2023, to answer the question: How can tenants and landlords be better served in programs across the public disaster management system?We approach this challenge comprehensively, starting by including renters at the table. We center renters' perspectives, incorporating their lived experiences into the evidence base when making recommendations about policy that affects their lives. Drawing on this experience, along with additional research, we offer recommendations for tweaks and transformations to practices among local civic organizations, disaster and housing service providers, and responsible government agencies to center the renters who form a significant portion of their resident and survivor populations. These recommendations include: 1) universal renter protections; 2) the prioritization of low-income renters of all kinds in all disaster programs; and 3) requirements for state and local governments to enforce tenant protections and support tenants and rental housing in exchange for access to federal disaster funding. This document narrates the preliminary research and agenda-setting developed for the convening, describes the convening's multiple conversations, and outlines recommendations drawn from workshop participants for improving policy and research.

Addressing Food Insecurity through the FRESH Delivery Project, Osapa Tunowa: The Chickasaw Nation

June 28, 2023

In 2020, the Walmart Foundation awarded grants to 11 community-based projects offering innovative approaches to supporting healthy food access. The grants focused on initiatives that improve access to fresh foods for regions and populations experiencing disproportionately high rates of food insecurity. The Chickasaw Nation, one of the 11 grantees, focused on reducing food insecurity among tribal members through a mobile market that provided access to fruits and vegetables for tribal members in mostly rural areas.Key features of the initiative included providing prepackaged boxes of fruits and vegetables in 12 locations as well as delivery options for tribal community members who faced significant transportation barriers. We found that using a mobile market format and providing "last mile" delivery was reported to improve access to fruits and vegetables for tribal communities and citizens. 

The Belonging Barometer The State of Belonging in America

March 7, 2023

Belonging is a fundamental human need, and one that is linked to many of the most complex challenges of our time.Without a sense of belonging, individuals and communities suffer; with it, they thrive. Yet, because belonging is notoriously difficult to measure, it is often ignored in efforts to address the deep fractures in our societies.One purpose of this report is to call attention to belonging as a factor that matters deeply for leaders and stakeholders across diverse sectors. We make the case for including belonging in the design and implementation of programs and policies across all areas of life in the United States. A second purpose is to propose a nuanced new tool for measuring belonging—the Belonging Barometer—that is robust, accessible, and readily deployable in the service of efforts to advance the common good. As with any new tool, it is our hope that the Belonging Barometer can and should be refined and improved upon over time. We offer it up to changemakers across the world and welcome feedback and collaboration.In this report, we review the concept of belonging and introduce a new measure, the Belonging Barometer. We then describe initial findings based on a nationally representative survey regarding the relationship between the Belonging Barometer and health, democracy, and intergroup dynamics in the US. Next, we report on the state of belonging across five life settings: family, friends, workplace, local community, and the nation. Lastly, we briefly discuss emerging themes and considerations for designing belonging interventions.

Youth Data & Intervention Initiative: Identifying and Intervening with Youth at Risk for Gun Violence

October 7, 2022

With support from the Walmart Foundation through the Walmart.org Center for RacialEquity, NICJR will launch a Youth Data and Intervention Initiative (YDII) in NOVPNmember cities. YDII is a research, data tracking, and intensive intervention initiative thatseeks to prevent youth in their early teens from becoming involved in gun violence bythe time they reach young adulthood.Utilizing interviews and data from law enforcement, probation and parole, and community-based organizations, NICJR has conducted detailed analyses of gun violence in several cities throughout the country. Although youth account for only a smallproportion of the population involved in nonfatal injury shootings and homicides, YDIIis based on the premise that risk factors for gun violence were likely already presentduring the pre-teen and adolescent years. If specific experiences and measurablecharacteristics can predict who will become a victim or suspect in a shooting later in life,these data can be used to guide intervention strategies to prevent the violence.

Cultivating Contact: A Guide to Building Bridges and Meaningful Connections Between Groups

September 27, 2022

The United States is in the process of reckoning with many forms of social division, but it is also facing a moment of immense possibility. With deepening divides occurring and being fomented across racial, religious, socioeconomic, partisan, and geographic lines, trust in others has declined and members of distinct groups are more isolated from each other than ever. Many forces seek to exploit these vulnerabilities and stoke fear and anxiety about group differences. Yet our nation's history shows us that, even in the midst of these challenges, Americans from all walks of life have found ways to come together across lines of difference to solve critical community problems.How we choose to respond to group differences is ultimately up to us. We can take steps either to build walls or build bridges in the face of these differences. When we feel insecure, unsafe, or threatened, our initial instinct is to build walls, in an effort to protect ourselves and our groups. This instinctual response can help us to feel more secure and protected in the short term; but one long-term consequence is that we may grow more distrustful and fearful of people who are not like "us" and whom we don't personally know. Worse still, challenging social and economic conditions can exacerbate these tendencies, such that we start to develop competitive narratives that pit "us" against "them" and further deepen existing divisions between groups.Instead, when we build bridges, we take steps to engage with people across lines of difference. Engaging with one another in meaningful and authentic ways often requires us to step outside of our comfort zone, as we begin to share our life stories and experiences openly while attending deeply and respectfully to those shared by others. From interacting with others with this spirit of openness and attentiveness, we invite others into our worlds, just as they invite us into theirs. By doing so, we not only develop greater mutual understanding, but we are also likely to become more invested in each other's lives and to care more about each other's groups—and this emotional investment and caring is what compels us to work toward improving our communities and social institutions to ensure that everyone feels like they belong.In this guide, we describe how to set the stage for people from different backgrounds to engage with each other in ways that foster trust and belonging, while also drawing on their similarities and differences to solve community problems. We review a number of strategies that encourage people from different groups to work together as equals, so that they can share ideas and perspectives, and co-create new initiatives in collaboration and across group divides. We also provide materials that can help organizations begin to envision how they might assess the effectiveness of their contact programs.

Supporting Underserved Communities Amid COVID-19: Insights from Louisville's COVID-19 Community Impact Survey

February 10, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable people across the United States, including racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants. Many have faced challenges in retaining employment and meeting the basic needs of their families. In order to better support Louisville's underserved communities and expand equitable access to services for all residents, New American Economy (NAE) partnered with the City of Louisville to survey residents about their experiences during the pandemic. The COVID-19 Community Impact Survey, conducted between February and May of 2021, asked Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) and immigrant communities in Louisville about their essential needs, the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing, and what assistance they have received to support their families through the crisis.

Addressing the Needs of Vulnerable Communities During COVID-19: Insights from Tulsa’s COVID-19 Community Impact Survey

December 9, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally affected vulnerable communities across the United States, including racial and ethnic minorities and immigrant groups. Many face severe challenges in meeting the essential needs of their families and handling mental health issues, both of which have been exacerbated by the prolonged stress and isolation during the pandemic.To better support these vulnerable communities and to ensure that Tulsa's emergency services provide equitable access to all of its residents, New American Economy (NAE) worked with the City of Tulsa and local community organizations to survey Tulsans about their experiences during the pandemic. The COVID-19 Community Impact Survey conducted targeted outreach between February and May of 2021 to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) and immigrant communities in Tulsa about the essential needs of their families; the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing; and the help they received from local organizations.

Understanding The Impact of COVID-19 in Diverse Populations: Georgia-data analysis by LCF Georgia based on a national initiative led by New American Economy

November 12, 2021

In 2020 the New American Economy (NAE), wanted to better understand why COVID-19 had such disproportionately severe economic and health impacts on BIPOC and immigrant communities in 5 cities. LCF Georgia and the Atlanta Mayor's Office of Immigrants Affairs expanded the scope of the data collection from a city to a state-wide effort and incorporated translations and outreach to communities that spoke languages other than English and Spanish with particular emphasis on Portuguese and Mayan languages.The Georgia-specific analysis centers on comparing different ways in which the crisis was experienced by immigrants, children of immigrants, non-immigrants, and Metro vs. Outside Metro Atlanta.

Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Diverse Populations: Insights and Strategies for Inclusive Emergency Management From Cities on the Frontlines

August 19, 2021

As communities across the United States work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession while also grappling with a surge in new cases, it's clear that the impact on Americans has been unequal. More so than previous crises, COVID-19 exposed gaps in access to basic information, services, and social safety-net support that disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) and immigrant communities. These communities have shouldered a greater share of the economic and health-related consequences of the pandemic, and without targeted efforts to promote equitable disaster response and recovery, they will be more vulnerable to future emergencies.In this report, we provide lessons and guidance for how cities can equitably respond to COVID-19 and future crises based on our five-city COVID-19 Community Impact Survey, a year-long effort to document best practices generated by the Cities Index Working Group and other leading municipalities across the country, and findings from Year 3 of the NAE Cities Index. Our findings shed new light on the ways in which COVID-19 affected communities of color and immigrant communities, including challenges they faced in accessing timely information, health care, utility and rental assistance, and other crucial services during some of the most difficult months of the pandemic. Data gathered in 17 languages by community partners also reveals the difficulties many residents will face as the recovery continues in the months ahead. Finally, this report highlights the varied and often creative ways cities have stepped in to fill gaps in the federal response, and includes recommendations for how local governments and community leaders can help promote a more equitable, inclusive response to future disasters and emergencies.

Advancing Frontline Women: Realizing the Full Potential of the Retail Workforce

March 4, 2019

Even though women comprise half the retail workforce, they are overrepresented in frontline positions and consistently underrepresented in higher-paying management roles. By advancing women into management roles, companies are able to improve retention rates, reduce the cost of turnover, improve customer loyalty, and strengthen retailers' performance.Advancing Frontline Women identifies 12 evidence-based practices companies can employ to help break down barriers women face in the workplace, while simultaneously creating a competitive advantage.

Diversity & Inclusion in Corporate Social Engagement

December 7, 2018

With support from the Walmart Foundation, CECP led this year-long inquiry with the goal of identifying and sharing actionable insights and best practices that corporate leaders can learn from and apply in their own companies.The white paper lays out six key trends which includes case studies, latest knowledge, methods, and valuable insights. We hope this report will equip you and other corporate societal engagement (CSE) professionals to advance your company's corporate citizenship efforts to address issues of diversity and inclusion.This release comes in advance of the Day of Understanding on Friday, December 7th when leading businesses and organizations including CECP will host daylong discussions and activities on understanding differences, inclusive work cultures, and education in their respective companies.

Supportive Services in Workforce Development Programs: Administrator Perspectives on Availability and Unmet Needs

December 13, 2016

This report presents findings from a national, online survey of 168 administrators of job training and career and technical education programs. It examines administrators' perspectives on the role of supportive services such as child care and transportation assistance in improving program completion, the availability of supportive services across different types of training programs, the unmet support needs of job training participants, and sources of funding and cost-effective strategies for providing supportive services. The report was informed by expert interviews on the need for supportive services in the workforce development system and promising models for providing these services. It is the second report of a larger Institute for Women's Policy Research project that is funded by the Walmart Foundation. The first report in the series, Supportive Services in Job Training and Education: A Research Review, presents findings from a review and analysis of literature on the importance, effectiveness, and availability of supportive services for participants in job training programs in the United States.