Also: The verdict’s still out on battery-electric buses, and a better way to find out why transit fails.

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***

What We’re Following

Tick tock: Mayors are watching the clock as the federal government’s partial shutdown reaches its fourth week. The consequences may be less visible beyond D.C., where the majority of the 800,000 furloughed federal employees work, but the impacts will start to trickle down to cities in far more dramatic ways over time. Here are a few examples of what that might look like as federal funds freeze up:

  • Food assistance: The USDA will continue to provide food to local food banks, but furloughed workers could mean a dramatic uptick in customers, especially if SNAP loses funding. The department could also soon run out of funds to store and transport that food.
  • Opioid services: Cities could have to foot the bill for keeping federally funded anti-opioid centers open if the shutdown extends beyond 30 days. Grants that support victims of violence and drug abuse also became inaccessible when the shutdown started; the longer it drags on, the greater the risk that nonprofits will run out of money while waiting for federal reimbursements.

  • Late rent: Renters who receive Section 8 assistance have already had monthly payments end, putting millions at risk of eviction. But if the shutdown continues through February, more funds to local housing authorities that help low-income renters find housing could dry up.

That’s just a portion of the mounting pressures cities face during the shutdown. Karim Doumar takes a deeper look today on CityLab: The Shutdown is Screwing With Cities and Mayors Are Not Pleased

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

This Isn't a Border Wall: It's a Monument to White Supremacy

Like Confederate monuments, President Trump’s vision of a massive wall along the Mexican border is about propaganda and racial oppression, not national security.

Bryan Lee Jr.

The Verdict's Still Out on Battery-Electric Buses

As cities experiment with battery-powered electric buses, some are finding they struggle in inclement weather or on hills, or that they don’t have enough range.

Alon Levy

Alabama Can’t Make Birmingham Display Confederate Monument

The legal decision was monumental both for its dismantling of a pro-Confederate law and the implications for cities’ rights in the face of states’ rights.

Brentin Mock

How Social Media Will Save Historic Lighthouses

While other attractions feel cursed by Instagram hoards, the United States Lighthouse Society is embracing social media.

Daisy Alioto

Why Do Cities Discount Public Input in Expanding Bikeshare Systems?

Under 10 percent of new Citi Bike and Divvy bike docks are sited where residents suggested using interactive online maps, a new study shows. But that doesn't mean city officials weren't listening.

Greg Griffin and Junfeng Jiao


Who Can Ditch the Car?

(Institute of Transportation & Development Policy)

Getting people to commute without a car isn’t a sprint or a marathon, it’s a Rubik’s cube. That becomes clearer when you look at commuting data that goes beyond simply how popular different types of transportation are. The chart above, included in a new report from Institute of Transportation & Development Policy, shows what percent of jobs, people, and low-income households are located near frequent transit in various cities. The green dots, meanwhile, show the share of people who commuted by bus, train, bike, or walking in 2015. That ranges a lot—from 49 percent of people in Boston to only 4 percent in Nashville. It’s this discrepancy, ITDP argues, that holds the key to solving the urban commuting puzzle.


What We’re Reading

Verdict expected today for Chicago cops charged in cover-up of Laquan McDonald shooting (NPR)

What makes a vegan-friendly city? (The Guardian)

How to think about the costs of climate change (New York Times)

Student debt hinders Millennial homeownership (Curbed)

Microsoft pledges $500 million to tackle housing crisis in Seattle, Eastside (Seattle Times)


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