After the Storm: Houston’s Day Labor Markets in the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

Author
Nik Theodore
Professor, Urban Planning & Policy
Senior Associate, Great Cities Institute
Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs

Abstract
On August 25, 2017 Hurricane Harvey made landfall in eastern Texas as a Category 4 storm, causing catastrophic flooding and widespread damage. It has been estimated that Harvey inflicted nearly $200 billion in property damage, initiating a recovery that will take years to complete.

In the immediate aftermath of a hurricane, immigrant workers undertake many of the tasks that are needed to help residents and businesses deal with the damage caused to homes and other structures. In Houston, construction contractors, private households, and local businesses employ day laborers who are recruited from informal hiring sites located throughout the city. During disaster recovery, day laborers comprise a key workforce of “second responders” who take on demanding – and often dangerous – work helping residents and business owners with the removal of debris; the demolition of damaged structures; and the repair and rebuilding of houses, apartment complexes, and commercial properties.

This report examines the employment conditions of informally employed construction workers in Houston. Through a survey of 361 day laborers that was conducted a few weeks after Hurricane Harvey devastated the city, this report reveals how substandard conditions impact workers’ wages, as well as their health and safety on the job, and offers recommendations for improving working conditions during post-disaster recovery operations.

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Out and About with GCI – Union Station: A 21st Century Revival

Join Great Cities Institute (GCI) and the Urban Planning and Policy Student Association (UPPSA) for an Amtrak tour of Union Station. This tour will highlight the history and redevelopment of the facility, as well as its significance in transportation and economic development planning for the Chicago region.

Please RSVP below. Tour details and starting location will be emailed to attendees prior to the event.

Categories:

What Lurks in the Great Lakes? Pipelines, Invasive Species and Other Underwater Perils

UIC Freshwater Lab Event:

“What Lurks in the Great Lakes? Pipelines, Invasive Species and Other Underwater Perils”
Lecture by Dan Egan, author of The Death and Life of the Great Lakes and Great Lakes Reporter at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
November 15, 4:00-6:00 PM
UIC Institute for the Humanities
701 South Morgan St. Lower Level Stevenson Hall

For more information, visit http://www.freshwaterlab.org/events/

Categories:

Remaking Rust Belt Cities: Universities, Nationalism and Economic Development in South Africa

Leslie Bank is a Professor of Social Anthropology and Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Fort Hare. He is the recipient of research fellowships from Fulbright, the Ford Foundation and the Oppenheimer Trust to Emory, Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He also served as a research fellow at the African Studies Centre at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. His most recent book is entitled After Car Culture: Industry, Nationalism and Universities on the South African Rust Belt, which is in press and due to be published in 2017. He is the author of Home Spaces, Street Styles: Contesting Power and Identity in a South African City (Pluto Press, 2011) and co-editor of Inside African Anthropology: Monica Wilson and her Interpreters (Cambridge Press, 2012). He has edited special journal collections on rural development, land and regional history in Africa. He is a member of the editorial board of the International Africa Institute journal, Africa, and is the current President of the Association for Anthropology in Southern Africa.

For disability accommodations please contact Christiana Kinder, (312) 996-8700 or christia@uic.edu.

Categories:

Remaking Rust Belt Cities: Universities, Nationalism and Economic Development in South Africa

Leslie Bank is a Professor of Social Anthropology and Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Fort Hare. He is the recipient of research fellowships from Fulbright, the Ford Foundation and the Oppenheimer Trust to Emory, Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He also served as a research fellow at the African Studies Centre at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. His most recent book is entitled After Car Culture: Industry, Nationalism and Universities on the South African Rust Belt, which is in press and due to be published in 2017. He is the author of Home Spaces, Street Styles: Contesting Power and Identity in a South African City (Pluto Press, 2011) and co-editor of Inside African Anthropology: Monica Wilson and her Interpreters (Cambridge Press, 2012). He has edited special journal collections on rural development, land and regional history in Africa. He is a member of the editorial board of the International Africa Institute journal, Africa, and is the current President of the Association for Anthropology in Southern Africa.

Creative Funding Mechanisms: Paying for Large Infrastructure Projects

In an era of reduced involvement from government at all levels, how do planners get creative to fund major infrastructure projects? This topic will look at how recent and ongoing projects in Chicago, including the Red and Purple Modernization Project and the expansion of the Chicago Riverwalk, were funded and emerging trends of infrastructure funding.

Carole Morey serves as Chief Planning Officer of the Chicago Transit Authority, the nation’s second largest transit agency, where she oversees  the Service Planning , Scheduling, Strategic Planning, Real Estate, Public Art and Ridership Analytics functions of the agency. She has responsibility for planning over $6 Billion of major capital projects, including the Red Purple Modernization, the Blue Line Forest Park Reconstruction and the Red Line extension projects.  Prior to heading planning, Carole served the CTA as a Chief Attorney, as a General Manager of Construction and as Vice President, Infrastructure where she had responsibility for the CTA’s Capital Construction program, including  projects such as Red Line South and Wilson Station.  She was also instrumental in developing CTA’s design/build and alternative procurements programs.  Carole has a B.A. in Political Science and Government from Northwestern University and a J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law.

Fran Lefor Rood, AICP is a Senior Vice President at SB Friedman Development Advisors and a 2008 MUPP. Fran offers customized advice grounded in real estate market potential, financial feasibility, and community and development goals. Her strategic recommendations have been key to informing numerous policy and development decisions. Fran has analyzed the capacity of value capture mechanisms to fund transit improvements for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and led the designation of a new type of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to generate revenue in support of the first phase of the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red and Purple Modernization Program.

Michelle Woods has more than twenty years of experience in municipal government working for the City of Chicago.  Currently she is a project manager for the Department of Fleet and Facility Management where she is working on developing the Chicago Riverwalk into a viable City asset allowing uninterrupted access along the Chicago River from Lake Street to the Lake front. Previously, Michelle worked for the Department of Transportation’s Division of Engineering on the design and construction of $450,000,000 in infrastructure projects. Michelle is a graduate of DePaul University where she received a degree in Urban Studies and French.

This semester’s Real Time Chicago lecture series theme is ‘Critic(al) Infra-Structures’, examining the processes and procedures in the creation of new and renewed infrastructure and the impacts on communities from multiple scales and perspectives.

This event will be live-streamed on our Facebook page.

For disability accommodations please contact Christiana Kinder, (312) 996-8700 or christia@uic.edu.

Categories:

Creative Funding Mechanisms: Paying for Large Infrastructure Projects

In an era of reduced involvement from government at all levels, how do planners get creative to fund major infrastructure projects? This topic will look at how recent and ongoing projects in Chicago, including the Red and Purple Modernization Project and the expansion of the Chicago Riverwalk, were funded and emerging trends of infrastructure funding.

Carole Morey serves as Chief Planning Officer of the Chicago Transit Authority, the nation’s second largest transit agency, where she oversees  the Service Planning , Scheduling, Strategic Planning, Real Estate, Public Art and Ridership Analytics functions of the agency. She has responsibility for planning over $6 Billion of major capital projects, including the Red Purple Modernization, the Blue Line Forest Park Reconstruction and the Red Line extension projects.  Prior to heading planning, Carole served the CTA as a Chief Attorney, as a General Manager of Construction and as Vice President, Infrastructure where she had responsibility for the CTA’s Capital Construction program, including  projects such as Red Line South and Wilson Station.  She was also instrumental in developing CTA’s design/build and alternative procurements programs.  Carole has a B.A. in Political Science and Government from Northwestern University and a J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law.

Fran Lefor Rood, AICP is a Senior Vice President at SB Friedman Development Advisors and a 2008 MUPP. Fran offers customized advice grounded in real estate market potential, financial feasibility, and community and development goals. Her strategic recommendations have been key to informing numerous policy and development decisions. Fran has analyzed the capacity of value capture mechanisms to fund transit improvements for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and led the designation of a new type of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to generate revenue in support of the first phase of the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red and Purple Modernization Program.

Michelle Woods has more than twenty years of experience in municipal government working for the City of Chicago.  Currently she is a project manager for the Department of Fleet and Facility Management where she is working on developing the Chicago Riverwalk into a viable City asset allowing uninterrupted access along the Chicago River from Lake Street to the Lake front. Previously, Michelle worked for the Department of Transportation’s Division of Engineering on the design and construction of $450,000,000 in infrastructure projects. Michelle is a graduate of DePaul University where she received a degree in Urban Studies and French.

Shaping Urban Space in Peripheral Capitalism: Real Estate Investment in Warsaw

Developers are the primary actor shaping the space of large cities in Central and Eastern Europe. The public sector is not present as an investor and has retreated from spatial planning following the policy of progressive deregulation of the economy. As a result, social and political conflicts have sprung up around urban areas and begun to re-affect the process of shaping the space. This is particularly evident in large cities such as Warsaw, which is one of the fastest-rising real estate markets in Europe.

The object of my research are three groups of actors taking an active part in the shaping of urban space: property developers, city officials and active residents from urban movements. However, the category of developer is crucial, because the rationality of this key actor remains opaque and not well described.

The research is aimed at reconstructing the mutual perception of the actors. I will present the results of qualitative interviews with Warsaw developers. How do they define their business goals and how do they achieve them? How do they define their role in shaping urban space? Do they see themselves as modernizers or just moneymakers? How do they assess city activity and cooperation with local government? What are their normative visions of the urban order? Finally, how do they relate to the urban movements’ agenda? In the end I will confront it with quantitative data.

The main reason behind my research is the need to understand rationality behind the current selling out of urban space. This process, driven by globalization and financialization, results in privatization and fragmentation of the city, which in turn, leads to the vast evaporation of public space and broad social conflict. My ambition is to broaden the horizon of research by providing the much needed knowledge of the workings of investment capital and its relations with local authorities.

Krzysztof Gubański is an urban sociologist based in Warsaw, Poland. He has been pursuing his Phd at the University of Warsaw. His main research interests are real estate market and urban developement, which he investigates using tools of economic sociology and anthropology. He works as an expert on urban research and policy for local authorities in Poland. He was awarded with a research scholarship for up and coming researchers by the Ministry of Science and Higher Eduction of the Republic of Poland. After hours, he works in the NGO “Green Masovia” where he deals with issues of mobility and sustainable transport.