Also: Brussels enlists “mystery shoppers" to fight housing discrimination, and the disappearing hospitals of rural America.

What We’re Following

Hard bargain: By California standards, housing costs have been a relative bargain in Fresno, the poorest major city in the Golden State. Arising from the sea of agriculture that is the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno often feels like a giant farm town, free from the tech boom and oceanfront development that make the Bay Area unaffordable. But even with those relatively low prices, a large portion of Fresno’s population has had trouble making ends meet. Nearly 60 percent of renter households in Fresno County are “rent-burdened,” spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

Now as Fresno’s economy grows, it has become a welcome market to those fleeing higher housing costs elsewhere—and it’s exacerbating housing costs for those who have been there all along. What may seem like a good deal for those with higher paychecks is a burgeoning crisis for longtime residents. CityLab’s Laura Bliss went to Fresno to speak with the people hit by another side of California’s affordability challenge: California’s Poorest Big City Faces A Different Kind of Housing Crisis

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Brussels Enlists ‘Mystery Shoppers’ to Fight Housing Discrimination

Officials hope to catch and fine real estate agents who discriminate on the basis of race, physical ability, sexuality, or other factors.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Clustering Makes Tech Inventors More Productive

New research finds that high-tech inventors are significantly more productive when they work in large clusters—but there are drawbacks.

Richard Florida

I Found My Mother With This London Tube Map From 1977

As a newly arrived immigrant from India, my mother used this London subway transit map to understand an unfamiliar city. Today, I use it to understand her.

Suchandrika Chakrabarti

The Disappearing Hospitals of Rural America

The challenges facing rural America make it difficult for hospitals to survive. Their closure often signals the beginning of progressive decline of small rural towns and counties.

Jane Bolin, Bree Watzak, and Nancy Dickey

Delhi’s Famous Sunday Book Market Is Fighting Relocation

The modernizing government in Delhi is taking aim at the city’s characteristic street culture, including the book market that has charmed passersby for decades.

Swati Janu


Happy Birthday, President Carter!

President Jimmy Carter stands at the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project 2017 site in Edmonton, Canada. (Habitat for Humanity)

Today marks former President Jimmy Carter’s 95th birthday, making him the oldest living former U.S. president in history. Carter has made housing a focus of his post-presidency by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity with his wife Rosalynn. Each year, the Carter Work Project builds new affordable homes in a different city. This year’s project will take place in Nashville, Tennessee, later this month.

CityLab’s Richard Florida interviewed President Carter two years ago during a home-building blitz in Edmonton, Canada. “A lot of people don't look at housing as a human right, but it is,” Carter told Florida. “To have a decent place to live is a basic human right.” Watch their conversation here on CityLab.


What We’re Reading

The fastest growing commute is no commute at all (Washington Post)

Most postal trucks don’t have air conditioning. That’s bad news for birth control. (Vice)

How a brief socialist takeover in North Dakota gave residents a public bank (Vox)

The least powerful man in New York (City and State)

America’s middle class can’t afford their cars (Wall Street Journal)


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