Rohe and Webb Receive Continuing Funding for Moving Forward Evaluation

Moving ForwardCURS Director Bill Rohe and Senior Research Associate Michael Webb recently received a five-year contract to continue an evaluation of the Charlotte Housing Authority’s (CHA) Moving Forward program. Moving Forward is the CHA’s local branding for its participation in the Moving to Work demonstration, which provides the agency with the flexibility to waive certain HUD regulations and to combine various federal funding streams.

The evaluation comprises quantitative, qualitative and spatial analysis of various Moving Forward activities, including reforms for how tenants’ rent is calculated, expanding housing options in high-opportunity neighborhoods and a work requirement.

CURS’s Moving Forward evaluation—which began in 2009—has produced numerous interim reports in addition to scholarly articles and conference presentations. Findings from the evaluation are being used to inform both implementation of the CHA’s Moving Forward program and the potential federal expansion of work requirements in public housing.

CURS is a national leader in research on the Moving to Work program. In addition to the evaluation of the CHA’s Moving Forward program, CURS staff authored The MTW Guide: Formulating Strategies for Successful Participation (with funding from the HAI Group), Innovation in Public Housing: the Moving to Work Demonstration, an article that both summarized and critiqued the Moving to Work Program in the International Journal of Housing Policy and an article on the impacts of work requirements in public housing.

The Impact of Public Transportation Infrastructure on Low-Income Employment: A Case Study of Urumqi

The UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies presents:

A Brown Bag Lunch Seminar by Chun Zhang, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Architecture & Art, Beijing Jiaotong University

Reading Room, New East 211 | Friday, February 23, 2018, 12:30-1:15 PM
Beverages and light dessert provided

Cities in western China are experiencing heavy investment in large-scale transportation infrastructure, which makes it particularly important to evaluate and examine the economic and social impact of these projects. Zhang will discuss findings from her paper which explores the impact of public transportation infrastructure on job accessibility and satisfaction.

Immediately preceding this talk, Yuan Sun will present “Using New Technology in Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to Conserving Traditional Village Culture” from 12:30-1:15 pm.

Using New Technology in Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to Conserving Traditional Village Culture

The UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies presents:

A Brown Bag Lunch Seminar by Yuan Sun, PhD
Lecturer, School of Architecture & Art, Beijing Jiaotong University

Reading Room, New East 211 | Friday, February 23, 2018, 12:30-1:15 PM
Beverages and light dessert provided

Urban renewal and protection of traditional villages are a growing problem in China’s urbanization process. Sun will discuss using drone photography, 3D imaging and geographic information technology to analyze urban form, architectural styles and the landscape of traditional Chinese villages. Tianjin City and Zhan Qi village in Anhui province were used as case studies for this project.

Immediately after this talk, Chun Zhang will present “The Impact of Public Transportation Infrastructure on Low-Income Employment: A Case Study of Urumqi” from 1:15-2:00 pm.

Building a Strong Foundation: Integrating Financial Capability & Affordable Housing

“We have seen, time and time again, how critical the financial stability services are to sustaining any other outcome that we are trying to achieve with our members. Whether that is moving out of the shelter or getting a job, financial capability is crucial to every piece of what CEF Members are striving towards, and influences whether people can ultimately reach their goals. We have also seen that when financial capability isn’t there in a meaningful way, it can really throw a stable outcome into flux.” – Community Empowerment Fund

Building a Strong Foundation: Integrating Financial Capability & Affordable HousingFunded by JPMorgan Chase & Co., a new report by CURS affiliate, the Center for Community Capital, provides an overview of the ways in which seven diverse and innovative organizations have begun to integrate financial capability services into their affordable housing programs.

The report, “Building a Strong Foundation: Integrating Financial Capability & Affordable Housing,” highlights commonalities and unique differences among the seven organizations, and documents how their approach is influenced by the needs in their communities and by their mission.

“With a focus on the types of services that are provided and the strategies for implementation, this report is meant to inform practitioners that are engaging in the integration of these services,” noted authors Lucy Gorham and Sonia Garrison.

“Financial instability limits opportunity for individuals and has negative consequences for the financial health of neighborhoods and communities,” said Gorham and Garrison. “Efforts to mitigate this instability by building households’ financial capability holds significant potential for improving overall financial security and increasing economic mobility.”

The report gives three main reasons for the integration of financial capability strategies for organizations providing affordable housing services: 1) stable and affordable housing is essential for financial security; 2) homeownership is often the largest asset that many individuals have in their lifetimes and can be a significant way to build wealth; and 3) the path to stable housing and/or homeownership often requires many steps that overlap and interact with other aspects of a household’s finances.

The seven organizations studied in the report included:

  • CHN Housing Partners, Cleveland, Ohio
  • The Resurrection Project, Chicago, Illinois
  • Urban Upbound, The New York City Housing Authority and the Office of Financial Empowerment
  • Community Empowerment Fund, Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina
  • AHC Greater Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Mission Economic Development Agency, San Francisco, California
  • Foundation Communities, Austin, Texas

The full report can be read here.

Raleigh’s New Dorothea Dix Park: Recovering the Park’s History for Future Generations

The UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies presents:

Kate Pearce

Kate Pearce

A Brown Bag Lunch Seminar by the UNC Community Histories Workshop
with Kate Pearce, Senior Planner for the City of Raleigh’s Dorothea Dix Park, Bobby Allen, Professor of American Studies, and Graduate Research Fellow Sarah Almond

Reading Room, New East 211 | Wednesday, February 14, 2018, 12:30-1:45 PM

Please join us for a lunch-time presentation and discussion of the transformation of the Dorothea Dix Hospital site into a “destination” park, and the role of the UNC Community Histories Workshop in recovering the long history of that site.

From 1856 to 2012, Dix Hospital was the state’s principal insane asylum. For 150 years prior to 1856, Dix Hill, as it was called, was part of the Hunter family plantation.

Bobby Allen

Bobby Allen

After the closure of the facility, the 308-acre site was purchased from the state by the City of Raleigh so that it could be repurposed as one of the largest new urban parks in the U.S. The Dix Park Conservancy Board was formed to facilitate planning and design of the park and has engaged the nationally renowned landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates to develop a master plan. The vision guiding the planning process is to create a defining landscape feature of the city—a “destination park” for Raleigh residents and visitors alike. Dix project manager Kate Pearce will discuss the project’s goals and planning process.

The Dix Park Conservancy Board and the City of Raleigh are committed to honoring and preserving the long and multi-layered history of the site, making it a part of the experience of all who will visit Dix Hill in its new manifestation.

Sarah Almond

Sarah Almond

The Community Histories Workshop (CHW) is partnering with the Board and its Legacy Committee to recover the material history of the site so that it can inform and inspire the master plan and programming at the site over the planning and implementation phase.CHW faculty lead Professor Bobby Allen (American Studies) will introduce the work and mission of the CHW. Graduate Research Fellow Sarah Almond (UNC/NCSU joint MA program in public history and archives and records management) will discuss the work to date on the design of the asylum (by Alexander Jackson Davis, one of the most successful and influential architects of the mid-nineteenth century,) and on the records of the first half-century of the asylum’s operation.



View of downtown Raleigh from Dorothea Dix Park.

View of downtown Raleigh from Dorothea Dix Park.



Transfer of Development Rights & Water Quality Trading: A Comparative Assessment for Creative, Market-Based Environmental Policies

Todd BenDor

Todd BenDor

The UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies presents:

A Brown Bag Lunch Seminar by Todd BenDor, PhD
Associate Professor and Director of PhD Program, City and Regional Planning, UNC-Chapel Hill
Spring 2018 CURS Scholar-in-Residence

Reading Room, New East 211 | Friday, February 16, 2018, 12:30-1:45 PM
Beverages and light dessert provided

Programs such as California’s AB32 carbon cap-and-trade market and the U.S. Clean Water Act’s wetland mitigation program are increasingly popular and attractive market-based environmental and land use policy instruments. However, the performance of trading programs is uneven. BenDor will present on-going work examining the barriers to, and opportunities for, transfer of development rights and water quality trading programs in the U.S.

Lessons from the American Underground: A planner-led startup incubator in Durham, North Carolina

Nichola Lowe

Nichola Lowe

In the December 2017 issue of the American Planning Association’s Planning magazine, CURS Faculty Fellow Nichola Lowe dives into the story of a technology startup incubator based in Durham, North Carolina that put diversity and inclusion into its DNA.

“Technology Entrepreneurship is rarely uttered in the same breath with terms like racial diversity or socioeconomic inclusion,” writes Lowe, associate professor of city and regional planning at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Less than 20 percent of American technology start-ups are minority owned. African Americans account for only seven percent of the U.S. high-tech workforce and one percent of (nonfounder) technology executives; numbers for Latinos are equally low. According to recent reporting out of Silicon Valley, women also struggle for equal representation. But American Underground, a startup incubator in Durham, part of the Research Triangle region, is rapidly pushing to change that. In early 2015, American Underground leadership publicly committed to creating ‘the world’s’ most diverse entrepreneurial hub. Within one year, it had increased its share of female- and minority-led firms by more than 30 percent. Today, 75 of their 257 companies are female led and 73 are minority led.”

Read the full article here to learn more about American Underground’s success in diversifying high tech.

CURS Offers Scholar-in-Residence Program

With support from the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts & Sciences, the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) is pleased to solicit applications for its Scholar-in-Residence Program. The CURS Scholar-in-Residence Program provides an opportunity for faculty members in the College of Arts & Sciences to concentrate on developing major research proposals by providing funds for a course buyout and for proposal development expenses. In addition, the CURS Scholar-in-Residence will have full administrative support from the Center’s financial and clerical support staff. This opportunity will be provided during either the fall semester 2018 or spring semester 2019 based on the candidate’s preference. Todd BenDor from the Department of City and Regional Planning is our Scholar-in-Residence for 2017-18. As a result, faculty from that department are ineligible for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 program. The complete details of the program and applications are available at

DEADLINE: Deadline extended one week due to snow. Applications are due no later than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 30, 2018. The candidates will be notified of the outcome of the selection process in mid-March 2018. 

For further information or an application contact:
Todd Owen, Associate Director
Center for Urban and Regional Studies
Hickerson House; CB# 3410
Phone: (919) 962-3076   Fax: (919) 962-2518

Urban Planning Helps to Control Air Quality for Chinese Cities

The Hai River in Tianjin.

The Hai River in Tianjin. (thatreec/Shutterstock)

What is the relationship between urban planning and air quality in China?

Rapid growth and greatly expanded motor vehicle ownership and usage have contributed to serious air pollution across China. In 2013, 96 percent of key cities did not meet the national ambient air quality standard. In 2014 alone, Beijing endured more than 20 days with almost ten times the national ambient air quality limit, causing public health issues. Scholars from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Program on Chinese Cities (a program hosted by CURS) recently published a paper in the Journal of Planning Education and Research evaluating this question.

Read their blog post in Planetizen. In this new series, Journal of Planning Education and Research (JPER) articles will be made available to Planetizen readers subscription free for 30 days. This is possible through collaboration between SAGE Publications and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. This blog post will have open access until December 7, 2017.

Spread Far, Stretched Thin

On October 26, 2017, CURS Researcher Michael Webb made a presentation to the North Carolina Housing Conference. Titled “Spread Far, Stretched Thin,” Webb mapped affordable housing needs in North Carolina. The three main points of the presentation, as illustrated in his Urban 2 Point 0 blog post, are:

  • Living in substandard or unaffordable housing has effects that can last a lifetime.
  • Lack of safe, decent, and affordable housing is a statewide issue in North Carolina.
  • Lack of affordable housing is getting worse for many in the state.

Webb’s presentation drew, in part, on CURS’s recent Extreme Housing Conditions in North Carolina report.

Michael Webb presenting his research.