Publications by Barbara Ray

As owner of HiredPen, Barbara specializes in social media and strategic communications for nonprofits and research organizations.

“Just Growth” Shows How Regions Can Grow for All

Friday, May 11th, 2012

5.11.12 | In a new, beautifully written book, “Just Growth,” BRR member Manuel Pastor and Chris Benner show why issues of equity are important to economic growth, and how regions manage to pull off both. Spoiler alert: if the answer were a bumper sticker, it would be “let’s share the same facts.”  (more…)

Public Housing Relocations a Modest Success So Far, Say Scholars

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

5.3.2012 | Many people have claimed that the demolition of public housing high-rises in metro areas across the country has led to a crime wave in new neighborhoods. The Atlantic Monthly started the ball rolling with its misleading article about Memphis in 2008. But recent research by the Urban Institute, which we blogged about here, says they’ve got the story wrong.

They find that crime in neighborhoods where many public housing residents have moved is not as high as projections would have it. The backdrop to these findings is a significant decline in crime city-wide in metros such as Atlanta and Chicago.  Susan Popkin, a scholar at the Urban Institute, told an audience in Chicago at an Institute for Policy Research (IPR) seminar that the findings point to the very positive effects of the tear-down, as far as crime goes. (more…)

Yankee Nation, cell phone calls, and “pop” shed light on borders

Friday, April 27th, 2012

4.27.2012 | Despite all the technology at our disposal, in many ways we are still products of place. That’s the conclusion of a fascinating article over at Atlantic Cities about borders.

The map at the left illustrates our cell phone calling patterns, detecting communities of callers within networks. Highly connected counties are grouped together by color. People in Missouri, for example, tend to call friends and family (and colleagues) in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. Equally fun is the maps for words we use or our sports allegiances.

The take-away message from these maps is that state lines miss a lot of regional connections. (more…)

The Importance of Smart Housing Policy and Planning

Friday, April 20th, 2012

4.20.11 | Two recent reports on housing shed light on how important smart housing planning is for healthy metros.

The first, Housing an Aging Population: Are We Prepared? by the Center for Housing Policy considers the ramifications of an aging society. The second, Public Housing Transformation and Crime, by the Urban Institute, looks at the effects on crime of relocating residents from a failed housing experiment: public high-rise housing. (more…)

Chicago’s Infrastructure Trust and Regional Planning

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

4.18.2011 | Chicago City Hall is voting today on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $1.7 billion “infrastructure trust.” The trust was announced with much fanfare in February and is presented as an innovative public-private venture that would allow city government to tap billions of private investor funds for public schools, transportation, and other much needed infrastructure projects. (more…)

Exports as a Regional Growth Strategy

Friday, April 6th, 2012

5.6.2012 | If “plastics” was once the buzzword for hopeful young graduates in 1967 (at least by “The Graduate” standards), today’s buzzword is  ”exports” –or so some regional planners are hoping. Export growth jumped 11% in 2010, and demand for new products is growing sharply in Asia and Latin America in particular.

But there’s some work to be done first. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, just 1% of American firms sell a product or service outside of the U.S. And, according to the Brooking Institution, many states and metro areas have underplayed their export card in economic development plans. (more…)

In Predominantly Black or Latino Neighborhoods in Chicago, 40% of Mortgages are Underwater

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

3.29.2012 | A new report by the Woodstock Institute in Chicago puts some numbers to what many have been saying all along: African Americans and Latinos are suffering disproportinately from the foreclosure crisis.

Although home values have stopped their slide (for now) and the number of foreclosures that were in process during the fourth quarter of 2011 fell by 4.1% from the previous period, you wouldn’t know it from a stroll through many of the Chicago neighborhoods in the Woodstock report. (Foreclosures declined, according to analysts, mainly because of recent efforts to get banks to stop “dual tracking” (starting the foreclosure process while loan modifications are underway), and recent federal pressure on banks to work harder to keep families in their homes.) (more…)

Spurring rebound in chronically depressed metros

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

3.22.2012 | As the recession begins to loosen its grip, cities and regions across the country are beginning to assess the damage and plot a course of recovery. They might turn to an initiative by the Federal Reserve Board of Chicago for some guidance, as well as a strong base of research on metro and regional resilience.

Network member Hal Wolman recently spoke at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago as part of their “Industrial City Initiative.” The project is examining cities that were traditional manufacturing hubs in the 1960s and determining why prospered and others declined. Providing a broader context, Wolman pulled together the key findings from several ongoing initiatives that are examining resilience in distressed metro regions, including work by BRR. (more…)

Using NSP3 to Meet Affordable Rental Demand

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

3.19.2012 | With new housing starts and pricing data due out today and tomorrow, we hope to see continued revival in the housing market. But often overlooked in the focus on housing, and the lurking foreclosures in the pipeline, is what has happened to the rental market. It’s getting much harder for families to find affordable rentals.

As Zillow, the real estate site, recently reported, rents were up 3% since January 2011 while  home values dropped 4.6%.  Recognizing the growing pressure to find affordable rentals, HUD is urging a focus on affordable rentals in its latest round of grants under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. But as a recent report notes, their success in stimulating rental development has so far been modest at best. (more…)

Is Segregation Over? A New Report Takes Issue with Manhattan Institute’s Claim

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

3.7.2012 | As we reported here in February, a Manhattan Institute report by Edward Glaeser and Jacob Vigdor argued that segregation is essentially over.  It caused quite a stir. Now, scholars from the Center for Urban Research at CUNY have issued a rebuttal in ”The End of Segregation? Hardly.” (more…)