Also: The politics of homeownership, and the arrival of carbon offsets for trees.

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What We’re Following

Hard times: The U.S. economy may be doing well by many metrics, but even people with jobs are feeling the pinch. While the national unemployment rate averaged just 4.4 percent in 2017, nearly 40 percent of working-age adults reported at least one material hardship that year, according to a new report from the Urban Institute. Among families with at least one working adult, 35 percent had trouble fulfilling a basic need like buying food, paying medical bills, or keeping up with rent, mortgage, or utility payments.

A chart from the Urban Institute's Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey
(Urban Institute)

The study points out how poor nutrition, unstable housing, lack of heating or utilities, and limited access to health care intertwine to make life more difficult for families. New gaps in the safety net can exacerbate these problems. As the federal government proposes raising rents for housing aid and cuts to SNAP benefits that fight poverty, it’s worth remembering that the stress of covering the rent is not just an economic phenomenon: It can affect people’s health, too. “People talk a lot about health, education, or jobs, but they don’t often pivot back to housing or where people live,” as one researcher said. “A stable home is the foundation to thrive.”

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

The Politics of Homeownership

Homeowners are more active in national and local politics than non-owners. This disproportionate involvement can potentially limit the economy and further divide our politics.

Richard Florida

If You Want Less Displacement, Build More Housing

Blocking new development doesn’t keep people from moving in. It often prices residents out of the neighborhoods they’re trying to preserve.

Joe Cortright

Carbon Offsets for Urban Trees Are on the Horizon

Austin, Texas, and King County, Washington, are testing carbon credits for planting and protecting urban trees.

Maria Dolan

Why Robot Cars Will Need a Lot of Human Help

Waymo is preparing to launch self-driving taxis. But the people tending them may be the most important part of the system.

Alexis C. Madrigal

5 Reasons LeBron James's School Really Is Unique

The I Promise school’s five-year plan, published here in full, details its ambitions to do much more than just educate its students.

Alia Wong



What We’re Reading

How London’s trial of smart cards in the ’90s transformed bus travel (The Guardian)

The best things to do with kids in 13 U.S. cities (Curbed)

The school shootings that weren’t (NPR)

Your next weather apocalypse: the smokestorm (Wired)

Trump’s tax cuts were supposed to depress housing prices. They haven’t (New York Times)


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