Also: The future of the street light might be in the past, and a London funeral home gives death a style makeover.

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What We’re Following

Soundbites: For the first time in a long time, the Democratic presidential candidates have been talking about housing on the trail. But last night in Atlanta was the first time they were asked about it on the debate stage. First up was Tom Steyer, a candidate whose housing ideas have not yet been covered by CityLab. The California billionaire jumped right in on why where you live matters.

Where you put your head at night determines so many things about your life. It determines where your kids go to school. It determines the air you breathe, where you shop, how long it takes you to get to work.

Steyer has yet to release a detailed housing plan, but he promised to “build literally millions of new units” and he connected housing to climate change. “How we build units, where people live, has a dramatic impact on climate and on sustainability.”

Next up was Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Our housing problem in America is a problem on the supply side,” said the senator, pointing to how the feds “stopped building … affordable housing” while private developers built “McMansions.” True to her brand, Warren has a plan: To build 3.2 million housing units (see CityLab coverage here). But it’s not just about building for Warren. “Housing is how we build wealth in America,“ she said, noting the need to reverse the effects of redlining that cut African Americans out of housing subsidies.

Finally, Senator Cory Booker, who started his career as a tenants’ rights lawyer and served as Newark’s mayor during the housing crisis, turned to gentrification:

We’re not talking about something that is going on all over America, which is gentrification and low-income families being moved further and further out, often compounding racial segregation.

Not so fast, Senator. Evidence suggests the scope of gentrification is bit narrower than “all over America.” On the broader problem of affordability, Booker offered his plan to give a refundable tax credit to renters (CityLab coverage here).

Off stage but on Twitter, former Obama HUD secretary Juliàn Castro had a few ideas he would have liked to add to the mix. Maybe next time!

Watch the video clip from MSNBC here, and for more context, check out CityLab housing writer Kriston Capps’ Twitter feed from the evening.

Andrew Small

More on CityLab

What a Trillion-Dollar Housing Pledge Looks Like

Representative Ilhan Omar’s Homes for All Act would fund the construction of 12 million new homes in the U.S. over 10 years, mostly as public housing.  

Kriston Capps

What Happens When a City Tries to End Traffic Deaths

Several years into a ten-year “Vision Zero” target, some cities that took on a radical safety challenge are seeing traffic fatalities go up.

Laura Bliss, David Montgomery, and Matthew Gerring

The Future of the Streetlight Might Be in the Past

A new competition from the L.A. mayor’s office invites designers to reimagine the rich history of civic illumination and create next-generation streetlights.

Laura Bliss

Death Be Not Dull

U.K. restaurateur Oliver Peyton’s newest project, a style-forward funeral home called Exit Here, aims to shake up a very traditional industry.

Kriston Capps

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Jesse Meliefste/Nacht van de Nacht

The country that produced Van Gogh’s Starry Night is now covered in a thick layer of light pollution. Even on the clearest nights, only 10 percent of the stars visible from Earth can be seen from Dutch cities. But during Nacht van de Nacht (Night of the Night), an annual event in the Netherlands, cities turn off their lights for one night to encourage people to embrace a “dark where possible, light where necessary” philosophy year-round.

The lights-out evening is meant to raise environmental awareness and bring attention to how light pollution makes urban dwellers feel. “Light pollution forms a kind of roof, ... severing our last connection with the outdoors and that which lies beyond us,” says one designer who runs workshops for darker skies. On CityLab: Holland Aims to Bring Back Its Starry Nights

What We’re Reading

The plight of the urban planner (New Yorker)

How Seattle can slow gentrification—and why it must (Crosscut)

Would a universal basic income pay your rent? (Curbed)

Black student enrollment in Chicago’s schools has fallen 30 percent over the last decade (Chalkbeat)

Denver’s B-Cycle, the city’s bike-sharing system, is shutting down (Denver Post)

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