Housing News Roundup: April 13, 2017 | How Housing Matters

Housing News Roundup: April 13, 2017

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Budget Cuts and Changes to the Tax Code Threaten Prescription Housing

Health care providers increasingly use federal programs to prescribe housing to chronically ill patients, but expected budget cuts and changes to the tax code threaten this strategy. Jamal Brown, a formerly homeless person with substance abuse problems, visited the hospital over 30 times in eight months. Last July, the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers helped him move into a one-bedroom apartment with a federal housing voucher, and he has not used emergency health care services since. Other providers, like UnitedHealthcare and the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, use Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to develop affordable housing to improve health outcomes. In both cases, Megan T. Sandel of the Boston Medical Center explains, “it’s actually a housing diagnosis, not a medical diagnosis.” But the Trump administration may cut funding for housing vouchers, and a rewritten tax code may trim back the LIHTC, which worries health care providers who use housing as a prescription. According to George Kleb of Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, “That would mean you have more people living in substandard housing and/or housing they can’t afford. That would impact people’s health.”

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Source: New York Times

School Selection Is Linked with Increased Exposure to Segregation for Children

Children are exposed to segregation more than adults, according to a new study. Ann Owens of the University of Southern California examined census data for the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas to measure segregation, looking at families with children to understand the link between segregation and schools. She found that families of all races factor neighborhood racial composition into their decisions about where to live, creating segregated schools because most public school students attend their neighborhood school. But, as the study notes, because of economic disparities among races, “higher segregation among children and adults suggests that more minority children than minority adults are exposed to neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage.” Factoring race into decisions about deciding where to live drives the growth of within-district and between-district segregation. The report recommends, “A policy that breaks the link between school attendance and neighborhood residence…is necessary to break the cyclical relationship and reduce inequality among both [school selection and segregation].”

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Source: Houston Chronicle

Severe Lack of Affordable Housing Leaves Many Unsheltered in Las Vegas

As part of its ongoing recovery from the housing crash, Las Vegas is searching for housing solutions for its large homeless population. In 2015, the city launched a homelessness strategy that focused on a commitment to Housing First, which provides housing to the 60 percent of the city’s homeless who are unsheltered, regardless of such conditions as sobriety or employment. This new commitment to homelessness led to the creation of the Corridor of Hope, which offers a centralized place for homeless people to obtain ID cards, establish mailing addresses, and receive counseling. But many worry that steps like these will be temporary solutions, as the city severely lacks affordable housing. Only 12 rental units exist for every 100 very low income households. To create housing for those living on the streets and for the many who are one paycheck away from eviction, city officials are looking at opportunities to return vacant properties to active use, converting motel rooms into apartments, and forging partnerships with casinos to provide extra food and unused supplies for homeless people. “Housing is the foundation,” explains Kathi Thomas-Gibson, a city official. “We have to make an absolute commitment to make affordable housing accessible.”

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Source: Curbed

Housing Difficulties for Residents Hurt County’s Health Ranking

Despite high overall rankings for Ventura County in the annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps study, the county falls short in measures of the environment, including air, water, housing, and commuting patterns. According to this national study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Ventura County was 7th best among California counties in the length-of-life measure, but in areas related to the environment, it fell to 43rd. Data from 2009 to 2013 show that one in four households in Ventura County experienced difficulties with the costs of housing, lived in crowded units, or lacked adequate kitchens or plumbing. Robert Levin, the Ventura County public health officer, reflected, “Imagine how much better our health outcomes would be if weren’t held back by some of these physical environmental issues.”

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Source: Ventura County Star

New Study Shows the Affordability Crisis by Profession

Rapidly rising housing prices in San Francisco are even pricing doctors out of San Francisco, according to a new report by Trulia. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Trulia analyzed the income of teachers, first responders, restaurant workers, and doctors, in almost 100 US metropolitan areas, comparing these professionals’ incomes with housing prices and determining how many homes in the areas studied were affordable. The report shows that in San Francisco, where home prices are increasing at a rate more than twice that of wage growth, only 41.6 percent of homes in the city were affordable for doctors, compared with 90.7 and 99.6 percent of homes in Chicago and Dayton, respectively. Trulia’s analysis also reveals that 0 percent of homes in San Francisco were affordable for restaurant workers, 0.4 percent were affordable for teachers, and 2.6 percent for first responders.

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Source: Business Insider

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