Also: How to inspire girls to become carpenters and electricians, and the disappearing old-school coffeehouses of Kuala Lumpur.

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What We’re Following

Green light: Earlier this month, Puerto Rico took a big step forward on clean energy, committing to power the island exclusively with renewable sources by 2050 and phasing out all coal plants by 2028. It’s a worthy goal, but there’s reason to pause in applying comparisons to the climate justice proposal known as the Green New Deal. Without specific language about economic and racial justice, CityLab’s Brentin Mock writes, the territory’s likely privatized transition to renewable energy could lay the burden on its poorest families.

Another related question looms about who gets access to reliable power at all. After Hurricane Maria, the last 30 percent of households waited between 130 to 270 days for power to get restored. “These 200,000 families should be the main energy policy priority for 2020,” says an engineering professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. But this policy onus doesn’t just fall on the territory: A subservient relationship to the U.S. federal government has prevented Puerto Rico from developing power on its own terms. Read Brentin’s story: Puerto Rico’s New Climate Change Law is Not a ‘Green New Deal’

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Can Opportunity Zone Tax Breaks Be a Boon for Charter Schools?

The charter school movement is eyeing the tax incentives in the federal Opportunity Zone program to help fund school construction.

Rachel M. Cohen

How to Inspire Girls to Become Carpenters and Electricians

Male-dominated trades like construction, plumbing, and welding can offer job security and decent pay. A camp aims to show girls these careers are for them, too.

Hallie Golden

What Happens When a Company Renames Your Neighborhood

From National Landing to SoHa, neighborhoods often find themselves rebranded by forces outside the community, from corporations to real estate firms.

Raechel A. Portelli

The Disappearing Old-School Coffeehouses of Kuala Lumpur

Traditional kopitiams, which serve sweetened coffee in no-frills surroundings, are a part of Malaysian national identity, but their survival is precarious.

Helen Jambunathan

‘What Does the World Beyond Jails and Prisons Look Like?’

The Detroit Justice Center helps the formerly incarcerated navigate the complications of their return by providing free legal services to people from four Michigan prisons.

Zenobia Jeffries Warfield


For Rent Sign

Finding the right roommate can feel like waiting for the planets to align, but can your astrological sign actually be a criteria for a housing inquiry? That’s the question posed by a viral tweet from an applicant who was turned down for their zodiac sign of Capricorn, which writer Kari Paul spotted on a Facebook group this week. The rejection note read:

Hey Christine! Sorry I haven’t responded earlier. My concern is that you’re a Capricorn. Our main goal is to keep things egalitarian, without anyone being “in charge” or domming the household. I love Capricorns, but I don’t think I could live with one (or be in a band with another one). This Virgo/Gemini house is a special place where soft mutable signs get to run free untethered by cardinal authorities.

So is that discrimination? It’d be tough to find a lawyer to take your would-be Gemini roommate to court, but it’s not actually a valid reason for turning someone down under California law, a fair housing advocate told The Guardian.

CityLab context: Why HUD is suing Facebook for housing discrimination


What We’re Reading

Democrats court a new voting bloc: renters (New York Times)

A small town swore in its new mayor. Then the fires started. (Washington Post)

This Estonian startup has become a thorn in Uber’s side (New York Times)

Want to understand U.S. real estate trends? Look to Florida. (Curbed)


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