Hello, dedicated readers of The Inquirer Morning Newsletter. Did you catch the 76ers game or Mare of Easttown last night?

First: Now that people are returning to driving, architecture critic Inga Saffron is calling for the city to leverage the moment for a less car-dependent, people-centric future.

Then: Loan preference is interfering with the playing field for home buyers.

And: Thefts of catalytic converters — crimes that take just minutes — are on the rise in Philly. The spike is associated with palladium and rhodium prices skyrocketing and making the precious metals in the auto part worth more than gold.

P.S. It’s dry out there in Philly. Hot for you, incidentally beneficial for farmers — and strawberry lovers.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_ashleyhoffman, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

Philly needs to manage the return of the car

One of the unexpected joys of the pandemic, architecture critic Inga Saffron writes in her column, is that it let Philadelphia experience a year without cars. Instead of welcoming back vehicles, she argues, the city should retain many of its newfound public spaces and start working toward a less car-dependent, more climate-friendly, people-centered future.

As Philadelphia’s elected officials prioritize the health of the city’s economy, she writes, they also need to be thinking about the long game. For starters, they should rethink the plan to reopen Martin Luther King Drive’s three lanes to cars and take another look at a Streets Department plan that would allow everyone — cars, cyclists, walkers and runners — to share the road.

Read on for Saffron’s piece on how to handle the return of the car.

Loan preference is shutting buyers out of the hot housing market

It’s a seller’s market right now. Some buyers’ agents are suggesting clients not get FHA loans so that they improve their odds with sellers. FHA mortgages are supposed to make home ownership accessible to buyers who otherwise would face barriers to getting loans, focusing on first-time home buyers, racial groups that the conventional market traditionally underserves, and those with low to moderate incomes.

“It is of great concern,” said Morgan Williams, general counsel at the National Fair Housing Alliance. “If on a case-by-case basis sellers are setting policies that ultimately exclude an important avenue of access to credit for buyers of color, they’re ultimately setting policies that have the effect of excluding borrowers of color.”

If you’re navigating the housing market, reporter Michaelle Bond’s story tells you what buyers can do.

Helpful Resources COVID-19

What you need to know today

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

When you’re a verified celeb in the Magic Gardens, the real magic is matching your collar to the art.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout-out!

That’s interesting

🏀 This is how the story of Tobias Harris’ masterpiece Game 1 performance last night, which helped lead the 76ers to victory over the Wizards, began months ago.

🖌️ “Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable,” a fan of moderation once said. You can still see uplifting old-fashioned sayings such as this on South Jersey agricultural warehouses.

📸 Reporter Valerie Russ and photographer Tim Tai teamed up to bring you the story on self-defense lessons offered amid anti-Asian violence.

Opinions

“To a Republican establishment whose rule is increasingly based around defenses of traditional white supremacy and the patriarchy, the clear-eyed reality of free-thinking discussions around ideas like the 1619 Project isn’t just a threat to the long-standing social order of this country, but to their very being.” — columnist Will Bunch writes that Nikole Hannah-Jones is the latest highest-profile casualty of the war against knowledge and higher learning.

  • Overlooked formerly incarcerated women need more support if they’re going to succeed on the outside, columnist Jenice Armstrong writes.

  • Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, who represents the 7th District in Philly, lays out her city budget priorities to avoid going back to an unfair “normal.”

What we’re reading

Your Daily Dose of | Zoo Scene

Be the cookie you wish to see in your mouth with a joy ride through York’s D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Co. factory, celebrating 150 years of serving it up. A nibble of this story: “Towering above a carousel of empty jugs, a machine shakes crackers into a dozen different lanes. They spill over the edge, into a chute that weighs the accumulating crackers.”

They bake millions of cookies a day, such as gingerbread cookies, shortbread, dark chocolate stars, baked cheese crackers, and ginger snaps, but the parade of animal crackers for snackers reigns supreme. Get up to your knees in cookies.