Also: We started a podcast, and Sidewalk Labs gets pushback in Toronto.
Keep up with the most pressing, interesting, and important city stories of the day. Sign up for the CityLab Daily newsletter here.
What We’re Following
Do the work: It’s easy to feel cynical about the state of the public housing in the United States. Each day we see news about maintenance backlogs, declining federal funds, and increasingly unaffordable cities. But for every shocking story about moldy apartments, there are thousands of unheralded successes—families staying together, down payments made, and homelessness avoided. Sometimes, the way to make life better for your most vulnerable neighbors might just be to volunteer. That’s what Christian Milneil did when he saw that the housing authority in Portland, Maine, was spending thousands each year to maintain a little-used parking lot in his neighborhood instead of building more housing.
Seven years ago, Milneil signed up as a commissioner, and in 2017, the agency opened its first new apartment since the 1970s on that very same lot. Some of the biggest challenges facing local public housing agencies are a result of not having the time, staff, or financial resources to get things done. “If you’re interested in the practical details of building a more welcoming and more egalitarian city, it’s hard to beat the experience of public housing board service,” Milneil writes. Read his perspective on CityLab: Is Housing in Your City Getting Unaffordable? Here’s How You Can Help
More on CityLab
We Started A Podcast
Technology is reshaping our cities—often without permission and sometimes without a clue. That’s why we’ve launched a podcast, Technopolis, about how technology is disrupting, remaking, and even overrunning our cities. Urban innovation expert Molly Turner and startup advisor Jim Kapsis will be your guides on this techno-urbanist adventure, drawing from their experience inside both government and tech to get at the heart of what tech is trying to do and what it means for the rest of us, from Silicon Valley to city hall. In this first episode of the show, they tackle a key question: Why are tech investors so interested in disrupting cities? And is all that venture capital good for cities? Check out the first show here and subscribe to Technopolis: Apple Podcasts / Stitcher / Google Play
What We’re Reading
An Amtrak train with 183 passengers has been stranded in Oregon since Sunday (CNN)
Opportunity-zone investors are buying now, planning later (Wall Street Journal)
San Francisco to expunge thousands of pot convictions (NPR)
Lime warns riders about “sudden excessive braking” due to firmware bug (The Verge)
With Chicago mayoral election yard signs, these people are really hedging their bets (Block Club Chicago)