Also: Some good news for Europe’s car bans, and a city decides to make new land.

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What We’re Following

On the table: The Trump administration is proposing a new rule that would strip some 3.1 million people of food aid under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Specifically, the administration wants to restrict states’ ability to decide who is eligible for food assistance, yielding cuts that would fall primarily on poor working families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities.

As it stands now, some states raise the income limit for assistance to account for high costs locally, such as the cost of child care. Under the proposed rule, working-class families with higher earnings—but still no disposable income, and not enough income to cover basic needs—would be kicked out of the program in these states. Those with modest savings, such as older Americans and retirees, would be similarly penalized for their assets, a blow to their ability to save up for hardships, address sudden expenses, or retire with dignity.

The rule might also hamper one of the bipartisan goals of SNAP, which is to encourage eligible households to work: People who are already near the threshold for eligibility (130 percent of the poverty line) would lose their benefits if they receive a modest raise or work slightly more hours. (Read CityLab contributor Ariel Aberg-Riger's visual explainer on what food aid really looks like for low-income Americans.)

SNAP standards are already strict. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s data show that in 2017, only 0.2 percent of SNAP benefits went to households with any disposable income above the income threshold. Cutting off food aid for millions in order to trim a marginal inefficiency in the program is such a blunt response that it raises a question: Is waste the administration’s true target, or is it the people who receive food stamps themselves?

Kriston Capps


More on CityLab

In Madrid, a Car Ban Proves Stronger Than Partisan Politics

A new mayor vowed to bring vehicles back to the city center. The strong citizen backlash suggests that European cities’ car bans are not, in fact, in peril.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Ready or Not, Blockchain-Based Mobile Voting Is Getting Closer

Some voters in Provo and other Utah County cities will be able to cast ballots on a blockchain-powered mobile app in a pilot program for the August election.

Sarah Holder

Pressed for Space, Hong Kong Will Create New Land

The “Lantau Tomorrow” plan would expand small islands for much-needed new housing, but not without risks to the environment.  

Erin Hale

The U.S. Is Facing a Federal Firefighter Shortage

The government is struggling to budget and plan for longer, more severe fire seasons.

Maxine Speier

Startups Are Abandoning Suburbs for Cities With Good Transit

A new study finds that new business startups are choosing cities with good public transportation options over the traditional suburban locations.

Richard Florida


Island in the Sun

The hot spots of Baltimore, as mapped in the summer of 2018. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

If you had to walk outside during the heat wave that swept across two-thirds of the United States this weekend, you may have developed a keen sense for one when block was going to feel a lot more miserable than the ones around it. That usually has to do with asphalt, steel, and concrete trapping heat, while spaces with more natural vegetation offer up a little relief. On a citywide scale, the urban heat island effect can be quite dramatic: The map of Baltimore above shows a 16-degree temperature difference (87°F to 103°F) on one afternoon last August. Similar maps of Boston, Philadelphia, D.C., and Richmond reveal where residents experience extra heat as a result of the built environment, and where they might find a little relief. On CityLab: Mapping Urban Heat Islands in East Coast Cities


What We’re Reading

More Americans have died in car crashes since 2000 than in both World Wars (Washington Post)

Urban flooding is getting much more common (Slate)

In Chicago and San Francisco, Uber is testing an all-in-one subscription for rides, deliveries, bikes, and scooters (The Verge)

The budget furniture dilemma (Curbed)

New York City to consider banning sale of cellphone location data (New York Times)


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