Housing News Roundup: April 7, 2015
All Employers are in the ‘Transportation Business’ — Even if They Don’t Know It
How a company designs its infrastructure impacts the transportation habits — and options — of its employees, according to Brian Lagerberg, the director of public transportation at the Washington State DOT, thinking back to a conversation he had in the mid-1990s with a large employer looking to build up to 1,400 parking spaces. “You’re telling them if they drive their car, you will store it all day. You weren’t saying to them, we’ll take that same amount of money it’s costing us and give it to you to ride the bus or walk and be healthier.” Washington State’s Commute Trip Reduction program has helped cut back on traffic congestion, car-related pollution and energy use. Employer programs to reduce single-occupant vehicle trips have included innovative approaches, such as mortgage discounts for homes near work or money to outfit home offices for telecommuters.
What Boomers Look for in Retirement Housing
Whether they’re the sort who wants to move someplace sunny or the type who desires to stay closer to the area they already call home, Baby Boomers tend to look for the same features in where they retire. In addition to a paid-for mortgage and lower housing expenses overall, Boomers want a home that offers convenience — such as through renovations that bring modern technology — and where they can be on their own, while still staying connected to loved ones.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Castro: Housing Crisis Needs ‘Swift and Bold’ Action from Feds
Silicon Valley may be one of the poster communities for the nation’s ongoing affordable crisis, but it’s far from the only area suffering, illustrating the importance of ongoing “swift and bold action,” according to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. HUD estimates that approximately 7.7 million low-income households live in substandard housing, pay at least half of their income toward rent, or both. “These are families who are dedicating $1 out of every $2 they earn just to keep a roof over their head. And the more they spend on housing, the less they have to invest in their children’s education, build up savings and shop at local businesses.”
Lower-Income Households Hurt More by Inflation in Housing and Food
Do you think inflation has been a problem over the last few years? Your answer may depend on your income. New data from the Department of Labor illustrates how people with lower incomes are more affected by inflation than those with higher incomes, in part because of the greater portion of their incomes those with lower wages need to put toward housing and food costs. The analysis also details how spending habits change as people grow older.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Cost of Artificial Land Scarcity
In high-cost areas, residential demand clashes with a constrained supply — creating a recipe for increased housing prices. Much of the supply limitation is artificial, driven by regulations on height and density. These limits can, in turn, lead to reduced local employment. According to the article, urban growth limitations in the U.S. cost about $1-2 trillion in GDP. High-cost areas also create barriers to economic advancement for their residents, as buying a home is prohibitively expensive yet still the leading way to build individual wealth.
Source: The Economist