Monica Potts

Monica Potts is a freelance writer, and former staff member of The American Prospect. A fellow with the New America Foundation Asset Building Program, her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Connecticut Post and the Stamford Advocate. She also blogs at PostBourgie.

Recent Articles

Making Homes Affordable.

HUD announced yesterday that it would give grants to nonprofit agencies that help low-income families buy, build, or rehab new homes. In exchange for grants averaging $15,000 per dwelling, each homeowner has to volunteer 100 hours in work on the home. The idea, called sweat equity, is one that Habitat for Humanity, one of the recipients, has implemented for a long time. Relying in part on volunteer labor is a real way to make housing more affordable. That, plus the federal grants that go directly toward housing, is obviously a better way to ensure families can afford to buy homes than relying solely on mortgage lenders to do so. It certainly won't solve the problem of low-income housing, but it can help. -- Monica Potts

Daddy Issues

Obama is putting action behind years of talk about fatherhood and poverty.

(White House/Pete Souza)
Of the many biographical details that shaped Barack Obama as a political figure, perhaps none is more prominent than the absence of his father during his upbringing. The president's public effort to understand Barack Obama Sr. began with the publication of his 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father , shortly after he finished his term as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review . In the book, Obama describes how difficult it was to grow up without a relationship to his Kenyan father, the man who gave him a name and a heritage but was not around to help him navigate America's complicated racial divide. In The Audacity of Hope , written after he became a senator, Obama describes his own struggles as a political father who is often physically separated from his family. At the height of the Democratic primary in 2008, Obama gave a Father's Day address at a predominantly black Chicago church. Single-parent homes are more common in the black community, and his speech encouraged young...

College on Credit Cards.

Many view the Credit CARD Act provisions that prohibit those under 21 from getting cards if they don't have an income or a parent to co-sign as the kind of law they wish they'd had. But that depends upon the idea that college students are only digging big holes for themselves during those four years, and the years immediately following, without a good reason. We imagine college students are only using credit cards to make excessive, irresponsible purchases. But not everyone is going into debt to buy TVs, clothes, or trips to Cancun. Some may use them to buy books and plane tickets home. Youth Radio's Asha Richardson reminds me that many students might face a real need for a credit card. The new rules can certainly save college students from unwise financial choices. But Richardson asks : As a first year college student I think it’s a great idea, except what about students whose parents don’t have good credit? Will they have to wait until they are older and will their parents credit...

When Fertility's Not a Problem.

Regularly, someone tries to remind women that they can't have children after a certain age. This week's effort comes from Carolyn Butler in the Washington Post , who writes about a study published in a journal called PLoS ONE telling us that we have fewer eggs by 30 than previously thought. Women start out with about 300,000 eggs, and the new study says they have 12 percent left at 30. After 35, fertility drops and potential problems rise every year, which I'm pretty sure we all already knew. Halfway through the piece, Butler quotes a scientist, Robert Stillman , and then rather belatedly tries to reassure us: 'This adds to the abundant evidence that for women, unfortunately, it's use 'em or lose 'em.' Before you start freaking out, it's important to remember that even 30,000 or so eggs remaining at the start of your 30s is still a lot. Doctors go on to talk about how this new information can help even healthy women, who may want to have children earlier if it's really important to...

A Win Against Harassment.

A JetBlue employee whose harassment case was thrown out in 2007 won an appeal last week that will revive her claim. A judge had thrown out the case, in which Diane Gorzynski provided evidence of gender, racial, and age discrimination from her supervisor and complained about it to the same supervisor she accused. The company argued she could have complained to more people within the company, according to its policy, before taking the case to court. But the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that just because the policy allowed for her to pursue other avenues doesn't mean she was obligated to. From the Connecticut Employment Law Blog : From this case, it appears that having a well-drafted sexual harassment prevention policy is not enough to escape liability in every sexual harassment cases. Rather, employers must make sure that the individuals who are designated as receiving such complaints are viewed as receptive to complaints and responsible enough to follow up. Employers should...