“A rebuilt branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is opening with a new feature: on the seven floors right above the library, there will be 49 affordable housing units. Michelle de la Uz, executive director of Fifth Avenue Committee, a nonprofit that builds affordable housing and which partnered with the Brooklyn Public Library on the project, said she’s excited to see how those tenants engage with the library, and that the branch’s programming and resources could help people feel less isolated.
Linda Johnson, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library, and de la Uz hope to see it replicated, throughout New York and beyond. “There’s an urgent need for affordable housing, and there are a lot of underutilized libraries that need modernization anyway,” de la Uz says. ‘Why not kill two birds with one stone?'”
A study by Peter Dreier, a professor of urban and environmental policy at Occidental College, found fewer than 3 percent of single-family properties sold in L.A. in the 2021-22 tax year cost above $5 million.
He told the Washington Post: ‘Ninety-eight percent of the homeowners in L.A. won’t feel this at all, and the ones who will feel it can afford to pay it.
How should we understand the increasing demonization and criminalization of homelessness across America? Is shelter alone enough for meeting the call of this moment, or merely an essential starting place? What can leaders in this field teach us about invoking empathy and critical analysis in responding to this complex set of issues?
“I talk about broken windows in the article because I wanted to figure out what is the policing strategy that’s being used to turn homeless people into a canary in a coal mine of crime. So you have William Bratten, who is the police chief who moves from New York to Los Angeles and back to New York as the proponent of this policy that we call ‘broken windows’ which we are still living with to this day. And under this view of policing, it doesn’t matter what the crime rate is. It matters if basically rich, white residents feel safe. And when we use police to do that, we give an incredible amount of discretion to police officers, and we’re policing people and places, as [Michael] Bloomberg says, rather than events or incidents. And so I think it is very important that we situate the rise in policing of unhoused people in this broader project of broken windows policing that cities engage in, that is essentially criminalizing the poor.”
In announcing the new policy, the library said its board of trustees “is dedicated to creating a library that is more open, equitable and understanding of our community,” and explained that “eliminating fines for overdue materials means more people in our community have greater access to the Library’s vital materials, resources and services.”
“What’s important is that people use their libraries. We want to make sure that our community has access to the materials and services we provide,” said a statement from the BCLS. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not charged any overdue fines so patrons had one less thing to worry about, so we are already positioned to join the many other libraries across the state who are fine free. Fines account for less than one-half of one percent of our revenues.”
“While libraries all over the country have followed suit on eliminating fines, [Executive Director] Jones said she believes San Diego is the only library system that has a social equity component to its matching funds policy.”
To date, Chicago Public Library (CPL) is the largest library system in the country to go fine-free. Starting October 1, CPL will eliminate overdue fines on all CPL-owned items currently in circulation, which it said will remove barriers to basic library access, especially for youth and low-income patrons.