Also: Mapping an America changed by climate, and grocery stores near Seattle are getting vertical farms.
What We’re Following
No quarter: Robert Marbut Jr., the Trump administration’s pick to be the director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, has made a career out of the belief that “panhandling is a gateway to vice.” As a consultant, Marbut has spent the last decade repeating the claim that the overwhelming majority of money given to panhandlers is spent on drugs, alcohol, or sex. The problem is: No other homelessness experts have found any research to support such a claim.
Marbut has advised hundreds of cities and counties on his controversial “velvet hammer” strategy, a model for providing homeless services that places a policing-heavy emphasis on banning panhandling, placing homeless facilities far from urban centers, and providing food and shelter only as a reward for good behavior. CityLab’s Kriston Capps takes a look at Marbut’s past in Texas and Florida to see what he might bring to the administration: Here’s the Enforcer for Trump’s Punitive Agenda on Homelessness
More on CityLab
I Call That a Bargain
There is a new high-speed rail dream in America: A trans-national, ultra-high-speed rail line that could hit 250 mph and put Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver within super-commuting range. According to Washington state’s secretary of transportation, Robert Millar, such a train could be built to the tune of about $50 billion. While that may sound like a lot, it could be a bargain compared to adding a lane to I-5, the current north-south corridor linking the mega-region.
“[For] $108 billion we’ve got another lane of pavement in each direction, and it still takes you all day to get from Portland to Vancouver,” Millar said earlier this month. “Half of that invested in ultra-high speed rail and it’s two hours. That’s game-changing stuff.” On CityLab: The Case for Portland-to-Vancouver High Speed Rail
What We’re Reading
A transit hub for an all-corporate-sponsored San Francisco (New York)
WeWork will lay off more than 400 employees in New York (Quartz)
Philadelphia pharmacies loved OxyContin—until suddenly they didn't (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Dog-walking apps fight state oversight (Stateline)
Forget the log cabin. Wood buildings are climbing skyward, with pluses for the planet (Washington Post)