Miriam Axel-Lute

Miriam Axel-Lute is editor of Shelterforce and associate director of the National Housing Institute. Her email is miriam at nhi dot org.

She has been a journalist, newspaper editor, freelance editor, parenting blogger, urban planning student, and community development consultant. Based in Albany, N.Y., she is a board member of the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region and the Community Development Alliance of the Capital District, and writes Looking Up, an award-winning column for Albany’s alt-weekly, Metroland.


  • A Shelterforce Roundtable on Regulation and Housing Supply: Where the Left and Right Agree (Sort Of)


    Last year, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—a right-leaning libertarian think-tank—issued a report on how to encourage more development of affordable housing. One of the paper’s authors is a longtime Shelterforce reader, and he forwarded the report to us with a note that started: “While you probably are not a fan of the American Enterprise Institute, I expect you’ll find this paper interesting.” He was right on both counts.

    The question of regulation and permitting of development is one that crosses usual political lines. In the current political climate, we should be very clear that regulation is not inherently bad, and many regulations have been responsible for our country having breathable air, drinkable water (in some places), and basic levels of safety and equal opportunity. But regulation is also not inherently good—Shelterforce readers are well aware of the effects of redlining and exclusionary zoning, for example.

    We gathered some people who have done a lot of thinking and studying of these issues (including Charles Wilkins, the co-author of the aforementioned report) to discuss what it might look like to actually remove obstacles that get in the way of developing less expensive housing options responsibly. What’s possible? What are the trade-offs?

    Joining us were Ingrid Gould Ellen of the Furman Center at New York University; Jamaal Green of Portland State University; Rosanne Haggerty of Community Solutions; Rick Jacobus of Street Level Advisors; Greg Maher of the Leviticus Alternative Fund; Alan Mallach of the Center for Community Progress and a National Housing Institute senior fellow; and Charles Wilkins, a consultant and co-author of the AEI paper.

  • Interview, Rinku Sen, president and executive director of Race Forward & publisher of Colorlines.com

    In those exhausting and frightening days right after the election in November, I had the good fortune to catch Rinku Sen for a few minutes at the end of a long day of her organization’s biannual Facing Race conference. Though she must have been running on next to no sleep by that point, Sen was insightful, earnest, and eager to talk about the road ahead.

  • Bringing Together Arts and Community Development

    Who has been behind the large increase in financial support for and attention to what has been termed “creative placemaking” over the past couple years, and why?

  • A Tale of Two Murals

    Having had the experience of public art with no public involvement, a community organization set out to show there could be another way.

  • Art Just Became Even More Essential
  • New Lenses on Economic Development
  • Being “Well,” Financially
  • College Bound

    Children’s savings accounts for higher education, even those that have accumulated only small amounts of money, can change expectations for low-income students—and they might also provide a vehicle for larger wealth transfers.

  • Mixing It Up
  • A New Way to Do Affirmative Action?

    Place, Not Race: A New Vision of Opportunity in America. by Sheryll Cashin. Beacon Press, 2014, 176 pp. $18 (paper). Purchase at nhi.org/go/33629

  • Community Development and the School Reform Fight
  • On Beyond Anniversaries
  • Dispatches from Whose City?

    City by City: Dispatches from the American Metropolis, edited by Keith Gessen and Stephen Squibb. N + 1. 2015, 496pp, $18 (paper). Purchase here.

  • It’s Not Actually About Ownership

    Private Property and Public Power: Eminent Domain in Philadelphia,
    by Debbie Becher. Oxford University Press, 2014. 334pp. $30.50 (paper)
    Purchase here.

  • Tenant Solidarity in Oakland

    Q&A with Kitzia Esteva-Martinez, Causa Justa/Just Cause

  • A Nation—and Neighborhoods—of Immigrants
  • It’s Not Actually About Ownership

    Private Property and Public Power: Eminent Domain in Philadelphia
    by Debbie Becher, Oxford University Press 2014.

  • Thinking Gray—And Positive
  • Close to Home
  • Economic Security First

    Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. Times Books, 2013

  • We May Be Small, But…

    Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World, by Catherine Tumber. MIT Press, 2012

  • Put Your Spending Where Your Goals Are

    Local procurement policies take money already being spent and direct it to local businesses to get more economic development benefit for the buck.

  • Let’s Talk About Jobs—And Ownership
  • On Board

    How do you make a community development organization’s board welcoming to residents and low-income members, and ensure that once there, they are more than window dressing?

  • Layers of Opportunity

    Land of Opportunity Interactive, landofopportunityinteractive.com

  • Educate, Motivate, Organize

    An Interview with Chokwe Lumumba, mayor of Jackson, Mississippi

  • Don’t Assume
  • Role-Playing for Energy Efficiency

    Connecticut experiments with a “megacommunity strategic simulation” to move the needle on residential energy efficiency—providing a look at a tool that could also apply to other community development challenges.

  • Who’s After the Park?

    Edge of Albany: A Warren Crow Mystery,
    by Kirby White. Fox Creek Press, 2012. 218pp. $20 (paper).

  • Joyful Journey

    Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America’s Sorted Out Cities,
    by Mindy Thompson Fullilove, M.D. New Village Press, 2013, 333pp. $19.95 (paper).

  • Many Goals, One Field
  • What Is Community Development?

    Over the following pages, our authors explore many aspects of the community development field, and especially the role of community development corporations in it. But we know you have opinions too. To set the stage, last year we invited our readers to take a survey about how they understood the community development field and community development corporations. The survey was promoted through our weekly newsletter and social media. We got about a hundred responses.

  • Reconnecting Jobs and Housing

    National community development leaders discuss making the case for housing in a “jobs above all else” political environment.

  • Stories of Community
  • Hanging in the Balance
  • Don’t Dump on Us
  • Stabilizing Urban Neighborhoods: Q&A with Elyse Cherry

    Boston Community Capital’s SUN program has gotten a lot of media attention. How is it working and what’s next?

  • Going Upstream

    If a lender won’t or can’t modify, why wait until they foreclose? Some groups are taking matters into their own hands with note purchases or short sale programs.

  • Capital Markets & Neighborhood Stabilization

    The articles in this issue depart from our usual stomping grounds a bit to look at capital markets and how they are partnering or might partner with community developers. Here’s how we came to be consorting with private equity firms and their kin.

  • Strange Bedfellows
  • True Costs, True Responsibilities
  • CLTs Go Commercial

    The idea of turning the community land trust model into an economic development tool is attracting growing interest, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions about how it would work.

  • No One Left Behind
  • Can Lease-Purchase Save Us?

    As developers struggle to find buyers for rehabbed affordable homes, many are looking to a lease-purchase model to expand the pool of potential owners. But lease-purchase is far more complicated than just an end-run around the credit crunch.

  • Making Connections
  • Rules Matter
  • Green Jobs with Roots

    For the founders of Cleveland’s Evergreen Coops, putting a handful of people to work at minimum wage isn’t worth it. They are aiming at nothing less than a ground-up economic transformation—one owned by the very people it’s intended to help.

  • Hello, Again
  • Disappearing Act

    Facing financial difficulties as new technology takes customers away, the United States Postal Service reviewed 3,300 branches to find those that could be deemed disposable. In low-income communities, just how disposable are the final 162?

  • Don’t Assume
  • Will Columbia Take Manhattanville?

    Balancing an Ivy League university’s expansion plan with a Harlem neighborhood’s needs is a tricky business, especially when eminent domain is in the mix.

  • Small is Beautiful - Again

    The shrinking cities movement imagines revitalization without growth - and housing advocates take a hard look at what that means for the poor.

  • A Community Whodunit
  • Picking Up The Pieces

    Hurricane Katrina forced organizing groups to stretch to their limits, but it also showcased their strengths as never before