Confronting the Dark Side of “Smart Cities”

April 8, 2015

Confronting the Dark Side of “Smart Cities”

Torin Monahan talks with attendees after his presentation at Hickerson House on April 8, 2015.

Torin Monahan talks with attendees after his presentation at Hickerson House on April 8, 2015.

Torin Monahan, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and
2014-2015 Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies

Under the banner of “smart cities,” regional governments around the world are embracing sensing and networking technologies in hopes of solving a wide range of urban problems. Rather than view smart-city developments as neutral, it is important to probe their underlying politics and ask what kinds of worlds are being created in the name of efficiency, economic growth or security.

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A Roadmap to Regulating AirBnB and Short-Term Rentals

by Mai Thi Nguyen, CURS Faculty Fellow

"Multicolore" by La Boirie is licensed under CC-BY-2.0.

“Multicolore” by La Boirie is licensed under CC-BY-2.0.

March 26, 2015 — AirBnB, a company that started off helping the everyday man so that he could rent a bed in his home for a small fee to make extra income, has become a multi-billion dollar global business. AirBnB is a web-based service that allows residents—whether homeowners or renters—to rent a room or house to strangers. AirBnB and the many other web-based services that offer short-term rentals (STRs) have ushered in a cultural revolution in the way people shop for bedrooms and homes. While some argue that this is an example of capitalism at its best—two penniless entrepreneurs start a small company with a good idea and a few years later, voila, the company grows and develops into a successful global firm—the problem is that AirBnB and similar web-services don’t always play by the rules and can harm communities if they are not appropriately regulated. Economists would call this a negative externality—transactions on AirBnB are imposing harm on other people living in communities and the people involved in the transaction (e.g. AirBnB, hosts, and renters) are not paying the consequences.

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Perspectives on Cohousing and Ecovillages: Building Diversity in Intentional Communities

A panel discussion called “Perspectives on Cohousing and Ecovillages: Building Diversity in Intentional Communities” was sponsored by the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on March 27, 2015. Video of the panel discussion is below.

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Michael Webb Awarded AAG Research Grant

 

Most Section 8 residents in Charlotte are concentrated in relatively low-income neighborhoods north and west of Uptown Charlotte.

Most Section 8 residents in Charlotte are concentrated in relatively low-income neighborhoods north and west of Uptown Charlotte.

Dr. Michael Webb, research associate at CURS, has been awarded a $500 Association of American Geographers (AAG) Research Grant to support fieldwork in conjunction with CURS’ evaluation of the Charlotte Housing Authority’s Moving Forward program. His study “Displacement, Revitalization, or Both? A Mixed-Methods Approach to Understanding Neighborhood Trajectories of Section 8 Residents in Charlotte, North Carolina” uses administrative data, results from survey responses of 641 randomly-selected Section 8 households and resident interviews to understand how Section 8 residents are affected by neighborhood change – especially gentrification and revitalization. Dr. Webb will be presenting his work at the Urban Affairs conference and the AAG annual meeting, both in April 2015.

Local Political Geography and Racial Inequality: Spatial Evidence from Advocacy and Litigation

Dr. Allan Parnell presents his research on local government infrastructure provision and racial inequities during his talk in the New East Reading Room.

Dr. Allan Parnell presents his research on local government infrastructure provision and racial inequities during his talk in the New East Reading Room.

March 25, 2015

The Center for Urban and Regional Studies sponsored a talk today by Allan Parnell, Ph.D., vice president of the Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities, called “Local Political Geography and Racial Inequality: Spatial Evidence from Advocacy and Litigation” in the New East Reading Room at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Continue reading

Housing Choice Voucher Survey Released by CURS

March 3, 2015

Housing Choice Voucher reportThe federal Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, also known as Section 8, allows low-income households to find their own modestly-priced rental housing on the private market as an alternative to living in public housing developments. Researchers at the UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies conducted a survey of more than 1,000 randomly-selected Section 8 households in 2014—with a 66 percent response rate—to assess the household characteristics, levels of satisfaction, social needs, health and work efforts of those participating in the Charlotte Housing Authority’s (CHA) primary voucher program. Continue reading