Three great stories we found on the internet this week.
Texas house ‘em
Sometimes it’s the boring solutions that really work.
As part of its economic stimulus program, the U.S. government has given cities and states $5 billion in grants to spend on housing vouchers for people experiencing homelessness. The problem is, many landlords don’t like to take the vouchers because housing officials must first inspect the property and process the lease. Meanwhile, the home sits empty, not generating any rent.
The Dallas Housing Authority decided to fix this. Last summer, a dedicated team worked 13-hour days for a month to create a software program to streamline its housing voucher process. This software now seamlessly coordinates 15 agencies and some 100 caseworkers. Before, it took weeks or even months to get a voucher recipient into a property. Now? It takes a few days, which means landlords are less resistant to participating.
Could other cities design a similar program? According to Myriam Igoufe, vice president of policy and development research at the city’s housing authority, absolutely. “We knew we were designing something from scratch that other people were going to look at and say, ‘Look it could be done,’” she said.
Reeling in relief
Covid hit Brazil’s fishing communities hard, but it would have been worse if not for the women fisherfolk who assumed new leadership roles, a new study has found.
As street markets closed and incomes from fish sales subsequently plummeted, in many cases it was fisherwomen — long marginalized in a male-dominated field — who spearheaded the relief efforts. Groups of fisherwomen organized to solicit aid from government agencies, establish relationships with NGOs, negotiate food exchanges with nearby communities, and implement “productive yards” policies in which residents used their land to grow fruits and vegetables.
These decisions helped to stabilize local economies at a crucial moment, the researchers found. What’s more, they may have a lasting impact, with women remaining in more prominent roles going forward, “leading to something of a shift in the balance of power,” reports Hakai.
“The women have organized to strengthen their movement, including in the fishing segment,” said the director of one fisherfolk group. “They have been protagonists during this serious crisis.”
Water will soon flow naturally through parts of the Everglades for the first time in decades, thanks to an unprecedented restoration project just announced by the U.S. government.
As part of the recently passed infrastructure bill, $1.1 billion will be spent to remove levees, fill in canals and generally allow water to move freely through the south Florida wilderness. Scientists expect the effort to be transformative, restoring habitats for wading birds, alligators, panthers and an array of other wildlife. Much of the funding will actually push forward a plan that was approved over 20 years ago but never sufficiently resourced. It is sorely needed – about half of the Everglades have been lost to development, and many species that call it home have declined as a result.
“The Everglades is the lifeblood of South Florida,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, co-chair of the House Everglades Caucus, adding that the effort would be “the largest environmental restoration project in American history.”