Weekly Urban News Update
November 9th, 2017
In This Update

Who is responsible for the future of cities? The Harvard Business School and Graduate School of Design sought to answer this question on October 25th, with a panel, " The Future of Cities," that featured a variety of perspectives from panelists of multiple disciplines. The discussion, ultimately, was about sovereignty; who has control over where a city is going? Despite the simple-sounding question, the answers were anything but. Opinions were divided right down the middle: some favored the private sector at the helm, while others were partial to local governments and civil society. But the divided outcome of the event shows that there is no future that is founded on one or the other. A city requires more than just the private sector or the government or civil society to function; it requires all of them.

Read the full recap here.

When the polls closed on Tuesday in the United States, a different world came alive on Wednesday, one with more female city mayors in the top 100 cities across the country than ever before, averaging in as a 25% jump in women mayors from last year, and a huge 177% jump since 2011. Some cities haven't had female mayors in decades; others have never had female mayors before. In this moment in history, cities get a chance to celebrate an exhilarating step forward in gender equality. But it is just that: a step. Citylab analyzes what these cracks in the glass ceiling mean, where barriers remain, and why. Tuesday has been largely seen as a victory for Democrats, and it is worthy to note that the women and people of color that are now sitting in power are responsible for much of the success.
Read the more about the elections here.

In more exciting, women-focused news: this past week, the Bahrain Conference on Women and Engineering was held in Manama, Bahrain, accompanied by a training workshop on gender and urban planning and design. The conference, which was attended by 50-some women Bahraini engineers, the first lady of Bahrain, and urban leaders from UN-Habitat, focused on integrating gender policies into urban planning, using the New Urban Agenda as a tool to boost more women into leadership roles in urban planning, and raising awareness of the challenges women- in Bahrain and the rest of the world- continue to face in the urban world. It is particularly important that this conference was held in Bahrain, as women, despite success in urban careers, are still given the highest share of domestic responsibility.

Read the full briefing  here .
D  Event: Promoting Economic Opportunity: Models that Work

In thriving cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, public, nonprofit, and private partners are developing and testing innovative programs and strategies that drive positive economic outcomes for low- and moderate-income residents. The Urban Institute, in collaboration with the Citi Foundation, invites you to a discussion featuring high-impact organizations and visionary thought leaders from across the country, as they highlight new ground they have broken and reflect on future efforts to create lasting change for individuals and communities.

This event will be an opportunity for practitioners, policymakers, funders, and community stakeholders to learn fresh insights, new data, and innovative approaches that can tackle poverty; and promising place-based strategies for transforming neighborhoods into environments that create and nurture economic opportunity.

 Wednesday, November 15, 2017
8:00 AM - 1:00 PM EST
Where: The Watergate Hotel
2650 Virginia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20037

Register and learn more about the event  here.
Feature IHC Global Urban Feature: Urban Housing
As temperatures turn cold, forced evictions in winter under debate

The Issue
Last weekend, IHC Global traveled to Chicago for the annual National Association of Realtors conference and expo. As a coalition that stands at the crossing between private sector and civil society, we were fortunate to present a session on Global Cities:  The Key Role of Housing with a focus on fair and affordable urban housing and housing policies. And as we gave our presentations and learned about real estate from a variety of lenses in the country's biggest conference centers, beyond those walls, most of Chicago, also known as "Chiberia" for its frigid temperatures, geared up for another joyful holiday season to get through the cold winter. But there is another side of the story: people teetering on the edge of eviction, in Chicago and other cold winter climates like Boston or New York, are worried about being forced out of their homes with nowhere to go, and into dangerous, icy conditions. They have a right to worry too; unlike many countries, in which housing is enshrined as a fundamental human right under their constitutions, the U.S. has no such framework, and some laws change from state to state or city by city. Some cities have no policies whatsoever, and even when a policy is in place, the minimum temperatures beyond which eviction is not permitted are usually below freezing (in Chicago's case, the temperature is a frosty 15 degrees Fahrenheit). But with the National Coalition of Homelessness estimating that 700 people who are homeless die annually from hypothermia-related causes, a national solution to winter evictions might be necessary.

What We See
Housing in the U.S. is a multifaceted, complicated issue that doesn't get the screen time and scope it deserves, and within that, homelessness is a particularly shameful and infamous topic that often lies on the edge of public consciousness. But homelessness is a national issue, and it is on the rise in several areas of the country, especially the West Coast, where cities like Seattle and San Diego are struggling to handle skyrocketing homeless populations, largely due to rising rents. (According to the Associated Press, the number of unsheltered people in California, Oregon and Washington has climbed 18% since 2015). While much of the homeless population in West Coast may not be subjected to freezing temperatures, they will still face the other horrors and vulnerabilities of living on the streets, like the Hepatitis A outbreak that swept through California last month. But homeless people in the West Coast and those facing frigid winters outside in colder temperatures have much in common, including the fact that fairer eviction policies and related policies could be a solution to keeping them off the streets. For example, a state-level moratorium on utility shut-offs has been suggested in the case of preventing winter evictions, so tenants don't have to make the dangerous choice between heat and rent. This idea of temporarily providing fundamentals (like water or electricity) to eliminate a difficult choice like that can and should be adopted to prevent evictions elsewhere, and warm climates, a policy towards air conditioning may do the same amount of good. But most of all, since there is no national policy and creating one would be a difficult road, l ocal policies need to reflect those of other countries that consider housing a basic human need. Access to shelter is just as important  as access to food and water, and cities that accept this could stem the flow- and the heartbreaking impacts- of homelessness. And though homelessness is a tough issue to talk about, its increasing prevalence should bring the it to national attention.
The fight for affordable housing is a difficult one, and has many facets beyond that of homelessness, but as IHC Global Board member and former NAR President Richard Mendenhall said last week at the conference, "the U.S. economy has the tools to end homelessness. So why are half a million people in the country still homeless?"
Read more  here and here
To learn more about IHC Global's Key Policy Topics, which are both barriers and gateways to better, more equitable urban development, click here
News In the news and around the web
  • Following up from last week, how terror-proofing cities can make them more liveable too.
  • A deadly smog has returned to Delhi, India, sending residents into a panic.
  • Update on Grenfell Towers: Jeremy Corbyn urges £1bn allotment for sprinklers.
  • Reminder: applications for side, networking and training events for the World Urban Forum are due on November 24th at 11:59 (UTC +3).
Now listen here...

 A resident of the Khruschevka buildings, the 4,000-strong apartment blocks that will soon be demolished to make way for Moscow's urban renewal.
     Source: Guardian Cities
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Help us gain a better understanding of urban safety; take our survey  here!
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