Author Archive

Alana Semuels


The Utter Inadequacy of America’s Efforts to Desegregate Schools

In 1966, a group of Boston-area parents and administrators created a busing program called METCO to help desegregate schools. They thought of it as a quick fix to a passing problem. But the problem hasn’t passed, and METCO isn’t enough to fix it.


Is This The End of Recycling?

Americans are consuming more and more stuff. Now that other countries won’t take our papers and plastics, they’re ending up in the trash.


The End of the American Chinatown

How renewed interest in downtown living is threatening neighborhoods that long provided a first stop for new immigrants.


When Elon Musk Tunnels Under Your Home

The billionaire is drilling for futuristic transit under Los Angeles. He didn’t have to ask the neighbors first.


The Homeless Can’t Escape San Francisco’s Smoke-Ridden Air

As wildfires burn out of control, they are impacting the state’s other crisis—the growing number of people living on the streets.


Tech Billionaires’ Obligation to the Cities Around Them

California voters are being asked to tax big corporations to solve local problems. But is that the companies’ responsibility?


Can Philanthropy Save a City?

In California, the cash-strapped city of Stockton is hoping so, courting millions of dollars from private investors to solve a whole host of social problems.


Trump’s Complaints About Amazon Have a Historical Precedent

The fraught history of government-subsidized package delivery.


A Small Town Kept Walmart Out. Now It Faces Amazon.

How can local businesses compete with a company so local it lets people shop from their couches?


What Amazon Does to Poor Cities

The debate over Amazon’s HQ2 obscures the company’s rapid expansion of warehouses in low-income areas.


Could a Local Tax Fix the Gig Economy?

A group in New York is calling for a fee on all gig-economy transactions in order to provide workers with benefits like paid sick leave.


The Barriers Stopping Poor People From Moving to Better Jobs

Highly educated people still relocate for work, but exorbitant housing costs in the best-paying cities make it difficult for anyone else to do so.


Trump Administration Puts on Hold an Obama-Era Desegregation Effort

The rule would have helped poor Americans move to more expensive neighborhoods with better schools.


Are Pharmaceutical Companies to Blame for the Opioid Epidemic?

Recent state, local and tribal lawsuits are asking courts whether the current crisis is comparable to the one over tobacco in the ’90s.


All the Ways Retail's Decline Could Hurt American Towns

As brick-and-mortar stores close, local governments in struggling regions lose much-needed tax revenues.


The Unworkable Math of Trump’s Budget

Economists say the document doesn’t account for the costs of tax cuts and its other policy proposals.


Could Small-Town Harvards Revive Rural Economies?

Less-populous places with colleges are thriving, but reproducing that success elsewhere is difficult.


Why Would Congress Bail Out Miners’ Pensions?

If legislators on Capitol Hill don’t act by the end of April, miners will lose their health-care benefits. They may soon lose their retirement benefits, too.


Why It’s So Hard to Get Ahead in the South

In Charlotte and other Southern cities, poor children have the lowest odds of making it to the top income bracket of kids anywhere in the country. Why?


How Trump's Budget Would Impact Cities' Poorest Residents

Programs that help low-income Americans are not among the administration’s priorities in its just-released budget.