MZ Strategies, LLC provides strategic assistance on infrastructure, housing and development matters to policy makers, planners, and community leaders working to create thriving, inclusive communities.
— Mariia Zimmerman

Recent Entries to the Policies and Politics Blog

Policies and Politics Blog

In our excitement over what may possibly happen with a new infrastructure proposal, let’s not lose sight of what is happening right now in the world of housing infrastructure. Actions by this administration to cut funding for affordable housing, suspend Fair Housing requirements, and reduce the impact of public sector investment in housing needs to be part of our forthcoming infrastructure debate.

This week Enterprise Community Partners released a new report calling for the creation of a new regional housing entity to address the Bay Area's alarming housing crisis. MZ Strategies co-authored the report with Enterprise staff, and while the report details specific recommendations and a set of actions for Bay Area partners, many of the ideas presented have resonance in other communities. The report includes case studies of innovative tools, structures and partnerships being deployed in New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Washington. The Elephant in the Region: Charting a Course for Bay Area Metro to Lead a Bold Regional Housing Agenda challenges the many partners and public agencies involved in housing to think differently and seize this moment in time to write a new chapter for the region.

I’m excited to journey to Kansas City, MO next week to join the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and local partners in discussing how the Kansas City region can ensure that its many diverse and remarkable communities remains places where people of all ages (and income levels) can thrive. MARC is among the country's top regional planning agencies. It's leadership on such topics as complete streets, transportation equity, and active living make it a national leader. 

A Tax Reform Sucker Punch

Tax reform was an area that many who care about infrastructure held out hope. Would Congress fix the Highway and Transit Trust Funds by indexing the gas tax for inflation? Would new tax incentives be created to foster greater private sector investment in a variety of infrastructure asset classes? Would loopholes be closed to bring off-shore funds back to invest in America? Could we create a new tax credit to address housing displacement and stabilize neighborhoods? The answer to each is a resounding no. Rather than recognize and respond both to the need and the bipartisan demand for infrastructure investment that benefits the economy, the environment and the average American, this Congress provides a sucker punch.

Read my latest reflections from this year's Rail~Volution, my pitch for voting on the 50 Most Influential Urbanists, and highlights of new research by AARP and MZ Strategies documenting how states, regions and localities are stepping forward to support transit-oriented development and walkable urbanism. We still have far to go to restore the walkability and vibrancy in our communities so that living well without a car becomes more viable, but many places are stepping up.  While a start, we need many more to follow suit.