Conference Reading: Poll: Affordable Housing Shortage Worries Montgomery Co. Voters

How big a problem is the lack of affordable housing in Montgomery County? It’s so significant that a recently-completed poll of county residents listed affordable housing as the issue they’re most concerned about other than education. The poll of 425 county residents, taken Oct. 16-Nov. 2 for the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington, showed 16% of Montgomery County residents listed the scarcity of affordable housing as their No. 1 issue (29% listed education). (Md. Matters)

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Ransom: LifeBridge Acquisition of Bon Secours is a Win for West Baltimore

Too often, the news in west Baltimore isn’t very positive. For a part of the city that faces myriad challenges, this month marked a major win—a new partnership between Bon Secours and LifeBridge Health. Earlier this month, Bon Secours, Mercy Health, and LifeBridge Health completed LifeBridge Health’s acquisition of Bon Secours Hospital. This merger will result in improved health services and an important investment in an area of our city that is deeply in need. At the same time, Bon Secours will continue to its community works program to deliver critical services and housing in west Baltimore.

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Conference Reading: Education secretaries - Do what’s tough to do, what’s right in diversifying Howard County schools

Throughout history, students have often led the way for civil rights and social justice — from participating in the Freedom Rides challenging Jim Crow and demanding the desegregation of interstate buses to leading the campaign to dismantle apartheid in South Africa. Even as adults hesitate to act, students are boldly leading the way on issues from common sense gun reform to climate change. Right now, in Howard County, there is a debate on school diversity. In fact, almost three-quarters of the high school students from low-income backgrounds in Howard County attend just five of the county’s 12 high schools; just over a quarter of students are spread across the remaining seven high schools. (Balt. Sun)

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Conference Reading: Where Civility Is a Motto, a School Integration Fight Turns Bitter

The planned community of Columbia, southwest of Baltimore, has prided itself on its ethos of inclusion ever since it was founded more than half a century ago. Racially integrated. Affordable apartments near big homes. “The Next America” was its optimistic, harmonious motto. But a recent proposal to restore some of that idealism by balancing the number of low-income children enrolled in schools across Howard County, including those in Columbia, has led to bitter divisions. Protesters in matching T-shirts have thronged school board meetings. Thousands of letters and emails opposing the redistricting plan, some of them overtly racist, have poured in to policymakers. One high school student made a death threat against the superintendent of schools, Michael J. Martirano. (NYT)

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Ransom: Now is the time to think about your Health Insurance

This is the season for Health Insurance Open enrollment. Many employers are having employees make decisions and general open enrollment to buy, change, or renew a qualified health plan for 2020 began Friday, November 1 and runs to Sunday, December 15 for healthcare starting on January 1, 2020.  MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society, encourages all individuals to sign up for health insurance for themselves and their families.

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Post-Conference Reading: Two families — one black, one white — shared a harrowing history. Then they met.

The King family stepped carefully up the concrete steps, through the narrow doorway and into a two-story log cabin with a painful past. Inside, they examined every inch. The low ceiling. The peeling chestnut walls. Then, the second floor, a tiny space under a pitched cedar-shake roof, where sunlight slips through small windows onto uneven oak floorboards. John B. King Jr., education secretary for President Barack Obama, climbed up the wobbly ladder for a depressing glance at the sleeping quarters. But he quickly came down and crossed his arms, wondering about the people who lived in this cramped space more than 150 years earlier: His enslaved ancestors. Lydia King. Charles King. Anne King. So many Kings once lived here, on this Maryland farm, still owned by direct descendants of the slaveholder, Thomas Griffith. (Wash. Post)

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Post Conference Reading: Professor Rucker Johnson on why school integration works

Brown v. Board of Education was hailed as a landmark decision for civil rights. But decades later, many consider school integration a failure. UC Berkeley professor Rucker C. Johnson’s new book Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works shows the exact opposite is true. The book looks at decades of studies to show that students of all races who attended integrated schools fared better than those who did not. In this interview with Goldman School of Public Policy Dean Henry E. Brady, which took place on Jan. 9, 2019, Johnson explains how he and his team analyzed the impact of not just integration, but school funding policies and the Head Start program. (Berkeley News)

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Post-Conference Reading: Region’s elected officials urge their governments to commit to affordable-housing targets

Washington-area elected officials voted Wednesday to push their local governments to address the region’s affordable-housing shortage by setting individual targets to increase production of low- and medium-cost housing by 2030. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) said the region needs to add 320,000 housing units between 2020 and 2030 — 75,000 more units than forecast. Of those, at least three-quarters should be affordable to low- and middle-income households, according to a resolution approved unanimously by the COG board, which means they should cost $2,500 a month or less. (Wash. Post)

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