News U Can Use Archive

UB experts believe there’s a fundamental flaw with current polling


Read the full article from WBEN here.

BUFFALO (WBEN) – “The one thing we can say for sure in this is that the big loser last night was the pollsters,” said Professor Jim Campbell, as a group of University at Buffalo experts held a virtual meeting to discuss Election Night and the election process as a whole.

“This was not supposed to be as close as it turned out to be in many states,” he continued.

Wisconsin turned out to be a very thin margin, as election officials continues to tally votes in a state where Democratic Nominee Joe Biden holds a lead. Prior to Tuesday night, it was anticipated that Biden would run away with Wisconsin, holding nearly a double-digit lead in some polls.

UB Professors Discuss Divisions Amid Presidential Election

Andy Young

Watch the video and read the full article from Spectrum News here.

“This is a deeply, deeply divided country along ideological lines,” said Henry Louis Taylor, professor of urban planning.

“This was in some ways a referendum on President Trump and indicates how sharply polarized we are as a nation,” said James Campbell, professor of political science.

President Trump has threatened lawsuits to come over the voting process and collecting and counting of ballots in some states.

Election law expert James Gardner expects to see recounts and court cases to resolve this, but also wondered about the how the federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court, would handle the situation with objectivity.

Black Man Died of Suffocation After Officers Put Hood on Him

Troy Closson and Ed Shanahan

Read the full article from The New York Times, here.

“A Black man died of suffocation in Rochester, N.Y., after police officers who were taking him into custody put a hood over his head and then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, according to video and records released by his family and local activists on Wednesday. The man, Daniel Prude, 41, died on March 30, seven days after his encounter with the police, after being removed from life support, his family said.”

Black Americans Still Face Obstacles In Obtaining Credit, Mortgage Loans

Palash Ghosh

Read the full article from International Business Times, here.

“Black Americans are denied access to credit far more than their white counterparts, according to a recent report from LendingTree (TREE), the online lending marketplace. Specifically, regardless of income levels, in 2019, Black adults were denied credit – including credit cards, higher credit card limits, mortgages, refinancing, student loans, personal loans – 44% of the time (versus 19% for whites). Put another way, Blacks were denied or approved for less than the amount requested 57% of the time versus 24% for whites.”

Black Workers in Buffalo Face Bigger Share of Coronavirus Impact

Kim Mackrael

Read the full article from Wall Street Journal, here.

“The coronavirus pandemic risks widening the financial gap in Buffalo, N.Y., between white and Black workers, who entered this year’s economic downturn with less financial security and are disproportionately employed in sectors more vulnerable to layoffs and exposure to Covid-19. Over the last half-century, Black people in Buffalo were more likely to trade relatively stable manufacturing jobs for lower-wage work in the service sector, live in poorer neighborhoods and face higher levels of unemployment, according to researchers…”

Trump boasts of pushing low-income housing out of suburbs

Matthew Choi

Read the full article from Politico, here.

President Donald Trump is pining for support in the suburbs, and pushing out low-income housing is playing a part in his bid to get it.

In a set of tweets and in remarks in Texas on Wednesday, Trump bragged about his administration’s rescinding an Obama-era fair housing rule that was meant to combat housing discrimination. He characterized low-income housing as a detriment to the suburbs and claimed that Democrats were out to uproot and destroy suburbia — a cultural sphere that he equated to the American dream.

“You know the suburbs, people fight all of their lives to get into the suburbs and have a beautiful home,” Trump said during a talk in Midland, Texas. “There will be no more low-income housing forced into the suburbs. … It’s been going on for years. I’ve seen conflict for years. It’s been hell for suburbia.”

Buffalo’s Police Brutality Didn’t Start With Martin Gugino

Geoff Kelly

Read the full article from The Nation, here.

According to activists circulating a petition demanding his immediate resignation, [Mayor] Brown has never demonstrated an inclination to change the way police operate.

In fact, those activists say, the opposite is true. Under three police commissioners named by Brown in his 14 years as mayor, the department has instituted policies embodying the specific brand of racism that fuels protests across the country.

Some examples:

§ Setting up police checkpoints in poor, mostly black and Latino neighborhoods, which were discontinued after their constitutionality was challenged in a lawsuit.

§ Raising revenue for Brown’s cash-strapped administration by targeting motorists in those same neighborhoods for minor infractions—busted headlights, expired registrations or insurance cards, rolling stops.

§ Creating special units with a reputation for brutality and disregard for the Fourth Amendment.


NYC slashes program funding in ‘cautious’ FY21 budget

David Oliver

Read the full article from Smartcities Drive, here.

Dive Brief:

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city’s budget for fiscal year 2021 (FY21), which previewed “cautious planning” and deep cuts across multiple sectors to address constraints amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. At $89.3 billion, the budget is $3.4 billion smaller than the one for fiscal year 2020 (FY20) to account for a potential $7.4 billion tax revenue loss across both years.
  • The sanitation department, for instance, saw its e-waste and community composting subsidy programs temporarily disappear, amounting to cost savings of $3.4 million and $3.5 million, respectively in FY21 and beyond. The city also curtailed funding for its Summer Youth Employment Program; Vision Zero program; tree pruning and tree stump removal efforts; and educational district-charter partnerships program, among other adjustments.
  • The budget aims to keep safety, health, shelter and access to food top of mind, but “Washington must also step up” to get New Yorkers through the pandemic, De Blasio said. ​

$8M will fund fight against Covid-19 in Buffalo’s most ‘vulnerable communities’

Caitlin Dewey

Read the full article from Buffalo News, here.

The plan comes after weeks of growing evidence that coronavirus has hit communities of color particularly hard, as well as vocal calls for governments and health care systems to step up more targeted interventions. Five of the seven Erie County ZIP codes with the highest concentration of Covid-19 are predominantly African American, according to an analysis by Alan Lesse, an associate dean at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Health department data also show black patients account for a disproportionate share of Erie County’s Covid-19 deaths.

“Black and brown people are scared. They’re staying home,” said Dr. Raul Vazquez, a physician and health care executive whose affiliated organizations serve thousands of low-income patients in Buffalo. “But the community will benefit from this. That’s very important.”

Black Businesses Left Behind in Covid-19 Relief

Natalie Hopkinson and Andre Perry

Read the full article from CityLab, here.

Social distancing is not new to black communities. “Social distancing” in the form of anti-black segregation and discrimination was U.S. law throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. This created racial wealth disparities that have lingered, negatively impacting black people’s capacity to start and maintain businesses. The remnants of federally backed redlining practices, which financially isolated black people throughout the 20th century, throttled the amount of wealth black people could create from homeownership. Most entrepreneurs start businesses with the equity they’ve accrued in their homes. Consequently, black people, who’ve been over-burdened by American economic policies, require a different kind of stimulus in this coronavirus scourge era.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Cares) package is an attempt to offset an impending recession caused by mandated and voluntary social distancing, which will last until at least April 30. Congress should also pass a relief package for people who’ve suffered from the de jure and de facto social distancing of racial segregation, which still sets African Americans apart from white people today on both a spatial and economic basis.


A Green Stimulus Plan for a Post-Coronavirus Economy

Brentin Mock

Read the full article from CityLab, here.

If we’re going to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, then let’s do it in a way that shakes up the status quo. This is the message that a group of U.S. economists, professors, and veterans of the last financial crisis sent in a letter to Congress yesterday asking for “green stimulus” legislation to jump-start the economy in a way that controls for climate change and poverty.

They are asking for a $2 trillion commitment for programs that will create living-wage jobs, amped-up public health and housing sectors, and a pivot away from a fossil-fuels-based energy frame. Under their plan, the stimulus would automatically renew every year at 4 percent of GDP, or $850 billion annually, as well as give the public more of a voice in whether — and how — large-scale corporations would get bailouts. For now, the coalition recognizes that the focus should be on stopping the spread of coronavirus and mitigating all related health risks.


How Coronavirus Affects Black People: Civil Rights Groups Call Out Racial Health Disparities

Royce Dunmore

Read the full article from Newsone, here.

The president of Color Of Change, Rashad Robinson, explained:

“This pandemic reveals a terrifying reality — many Americans don’t even know if they are infected with COVID-19 because they are scared to go to the hospital and receive free tests and treatment that may saddle them with debt that could take years to pay off. After years of Republicans, big pharma and major corporations fighting against paid sick leave legislation and medicare for all we are left with a crisis where disproportionately Black low wage workers are continuing to support the public without the health insurance or paid time off that would make us all safer.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 29 percent of the workforce was able to work from home. Ninety percent of higher-wage workers received paid sick leave compared to lower-income workers, according to BLS. Just 31 percent of workers with salaries in the bottom 10% were allowed paid sick leave.

Among the working poor, Black workers will witness an even greater impact.


A Golden Opportunity for a Green Stimulus

Kate Aronoff

Read the full article from The New Republic, here.

Providing both Democratic and Republican talking points—about government waste and excess, for instance—Data for Progress found at least 60 percent of respondents supported the idea of green industrial policy to boost a number of concrete technologies: smart grids, electric buses, renewable energy, battery technology, and building retrofits with a focus on low-income housing. Investments toward underground high-voltage transmission lines and electric minivans and pickup trucks also polled well. The only technology for which poll respondents seemed to dislike the idea of federal backing was meat alternatives like Beyond Meat. Report authors Daniel Aldana Cohen, Thea Riofrancos, Billy Fleming, and Jason Ganz also found strong support for federal funding of graduate programs in fields linked to green technology, such as engineering.

“Americans seem fine with a mixed economy. If anything, they’re excited about it,” said brief co-author Aldana Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania. “The Republican Party and the mainstream media will tell you that Americans want markets to be the leaders. Respondents were excited for the government to support things that feel even minimally like a public good, even when they’re told the private sector would do a better job.” Riofrancos, a Providence College political scientist, argued that the results show an appetite for the state to be something more than a “handmaiden to capital.”

Rising home values: As investors cheer, low-income owners despair

Caitlin Dewey

Read the full article from Buffalo News, here.

Like hundreds of other low- and fixed-income homeowners in fast-appreciating neighborhoods, the Howells fear they can’t keep pace with the speed or the scale of the reassessment. The project, which concluded in September and will hit city tax bills next July, logged steady growth in most neighborhoods, though some parts of the city saw no real appreciation, and others experienced staggering spikes.

Average assessments spiked most dramatically on the West Side, a Buffalo News analysis of more than 60,000 preliminary assessment records shows. They increased by as much as 272% on the blocks south and west of Symphony Circle, raising property tax bills by hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

Residents of a number of traditionally working-class and mixed-income neighborhoods, including Allentown, the Fruit Belt and Elmwood-Bryant, also saw assessments jump far above the citywide norm, hiking tax bills, escrowed mortgages and rents. Citywide real estate values grew at four times the rate officials predicted in 2015, according to The News’ analysis.

Fighting gentrification and displacement: Emerging best practices

Juliana Broad

Read the full article from The Next System Project, here.

California’s Bay Area is home to one of the country’s worst housing crises, where despite soaring rents there are still far more empty homes than unhoused people. In late January 2020, a group of unhoused mothers—organizing under the name “Moms 4 Housing”—took matters into their own hands, occupying a home in West Oakland that had been vacant for two years. Despite their violent police eviction, the moms had overwhelming community support and media attention. Their occupation and organizing resulted in a historic win not only for the right to housing but also for a burgeoning strategy that communities are using to combat decades of racist housing policies, displacement, and gentrification.

The property’s absentee landowners, Wedgewood Properties, agreed to sell the home to the Oakland Community Land Trust, a nonprofit that buys land to maintain permanent affordable housing for low-income communities.

Though there is sometimes disagreement about how to define and measure displacement and gentrification (with some pompous claims that it’s not even a bad thing), the public and private strategies of disinvestment—which have long incubated the concentrated poverty experienced by communities of color—are undeniable: redlining, exploitative financial practices, white flight, tenant harassment, and predatory housing courts have resulted in the structural racism that undergirds our nation’s housing crisis.

Beneath Amherst’s Audubon Golf Course, a long-forgotten mass grave

Stephen T. Watson

Read the full post from Buffalo News, here.

It was a secret to all but a few people with long memories in the Town of Amherst.

In 1964, crews working to build a new roadway on the University at Buffalo’s Main Street campus dug up several graves. What was all but forgotten was where the remains were unceremoniously reburied.

In two locations on and near Amherst’s Audubon Golf Course.

Now, the town is figuring out what to do to give the dead a proper final resting place.

“This is what it is. We have what we have. Now, what do we do, and how do we do it in the right way?” Amherst Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa said.

Apple Commits $2.5 Billion to Ease California Housing Crunch

Jack Nicas, Kevin Granville and Conor Dougherty

Read the full article from The New York Times, here.

Apple on Monday announced a $2.5 billion plan to address the housing crisis in California, becoming the latest big tech company to devote money to a problem that local lawmakers and economists believe it helped create.

The iPhone maker’s plan includes a $1 billion investment fund for affordable housing and another $1 billion to buy mortgages. Apple also intends to make a 40-acre, $300 million property it owns in San Jose, Calif., available for new affordable housing.

Apple’s housing plan is a response to the increasing pressure Silicon Valley’s tech giants are under to play a more active role in the region’s housing crisis. As local tech companies big and small have boomed, they have flooded the region with hundreds of thousands of highly paid employees.

Daring Imagination: Growth in Buffalo and Utica

President Shirley A. Mullen

Read the full article from The Houghton College Blog, here.

Houghton’s extension programs are intended to serve students who would not otherwise be able to access a Christian liberal arts education, and who would be highly unlikely to come to Houghton’s residential campus. The focus on tutoring, language development, mentoring, community support and accountability has resulted in impressively high completion rates (over 80% in both Symphony Circle and Houghton College Utica).

Pierre Michel, a member of the Class of 2011, recently assumed the leadership of the oldest of Houghton’s extension sites—Houghton College Buffalo: Symphony Circle. The son of Haitian immigrants, Pierre brings his own life experience to the Symphony Circle site, along with his previous work in leadership roles at two other educational institutions. Thus far, the program has primarily served refugees on the west side of Buffalo.

Erie County Corrections Advisory Board expected to be approved next week

Mike Desmond

Read the full article from WBFO, here.

The Erie County Legislature held a public hearing Thursday evening, but not a single speaker showed up. That was unexpected, because the hearing revolved around the plan for a Corrections Advisory Board, which has been controversial.

Earlier in the day, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard told the Legislature’s Public Safety Committee he would go along with the creation. That was unexpected as well, as he has been unhappy about recreating a board that fell out of existence six years ago.

The sheriff told the committee he wanted “an open-minded, honorable advisory board,” not one “to advance a political agenda,” and that its work might benefit his department. That was such a breakthrough that hours later, no one showed for the evening hearing.

San Diego Housing Commission Sued Over Housing Voucher Program

Claire Trageser

Read the full article from KPBS Public Media, here.

Last year, the San Diego Housing Commission decided not to use a federal program aimed at desegregating its neighborhoods. Now, the housing commission is being sued for that decision.

The bulk of people in San Diego who use housing vouchers to help pay their rent are segregated into lower income neighborhoods. At the start of 2018, the city had an opportunity to join a federal program aimed at fixing that — it would help people who want to live in more expensive areas by increasing the number of their vouchers, which would give them access to safer neighborhoods, more grocery stores and better schools.