Housing News Roundup: August 10, 2016 | How Housing Matters

Housing News Roundup: August 10, 2016

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Federal Funds Could Grow the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood

The St. Paul Promise Neighborhood is seeking federal funds to expand the services it provides, which are currently funded by private businesses, nonprofits, and the state government. People living in the community benefit from the initiative because it provides “all the assistance [residents] had been struggling to pull together…in one place,” such as stable housing and early educational services. While standardized test scores do not reflect improvements in educational outcomes, local stakeholders point to services like the neighborhood’s summer programs, which kept 96 percent of participants at the same reading level or better during the summer. After showing some signs of success, many want to see the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood expand to other parts of the city and provide educational services to middle school students and beyond. “It’s working,” says St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman. “And we’d like to see it work across the city.”

 

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Source: Star Tribune

Racial Disparities Determine Access to Health Care in Philadelphia

Philadelphia neighborhoods with large concentrations of African Americans have less access to health care, according to new research in Health Affairs. Using mapping tools and census tract information, researchers determined that “nearly one-third of the city’s low-access areas were neighborhoods whose populations were at least 80 percent African American.” The study described areas as “low access” if five or more census tracts that had the highest ratio of adults to primary-care providers were adjacent. Despite expecting the study to demonstrate segregated access to health care, the magnitude of the results surprised the researchers. Suzanne Cohen of the Health Federation of Philadelphia attributed the results to shifting demographics, claiming that it is difficult to move health care facilities to meet the new needs of the city’s residents.

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Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Neighborhoods Oppose Auxiliary Homes

Communities are resisting the construction of auxiliary homes, even as an alternative way to produce affordable housing. Some homeowners in high-rent markets such as Los Angeles want to use a portion of their yard to provide a small additional home—a “granny flat” or accessory dwelling unit—to either house a family member or generate rental income. This strategy allows for affordable units to be produced without city resources. However, residents claim that constructing additional homes changes the composition of neighborhoods. This opposition is rooted in the notion that “secondary units threaten the concept of ‘single-family’ living that has long been sacrosanct in America, conjuring the idea of one family living in one home surrounded by other single-family homes.” Despite the California Legislature enacting state laws allowing the construction of second-family homes, local ordinances prevent building these units.

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Source: Washington Post

Social Impact Investors Allow Preservation of Affordable Housing

Equity contributed by social impact investors will support the preservation of a 112-unit apartment building in the Minneapolis and St. Paul region. The developer, CommonBond Communities, will hold the rents down without government subsidy by offering the impact investors a rate of return below the market standard. The apartments will be available to households earning between $33,000 and $47,700 per year. This new purchase “is pioneering locally a new strategy just rolling out around the country.”

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Source: Star Tribune

Opinion: Ending Senior Homelessness Should be a National Priority

Ending homelessness among seniors needs to be a national goal, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Health and Housing Task Force. The Homeless Research Institute projects that the number of homeless older adults will climb by 15,000 people between 2010 and 2020, unless shelter and poverty rates improve. Seniors may experience homelessness for the first time in their old age because of financial hardships or poor health, while others continue to live without stable housing, unable to escape chronic homelessness in their senior years. The task force calls for a “housing-first” solution that provides homeless seniors with permanent supportive housing and for “harnessing the resources and energy of all sectors of society.”

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Source: US News & World Report

Cross-Sector Coordination Revitalizes Chicago’s Pullman Neighborhood

New investments from multiple sectors have begun to revitalize Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood and benefit low-income families. On the housing side, the Chicago Neighborhood Initiative invested more than $5 million in historic home renovations, and Mercy Housing spent more than $15 million on the adaptive reuse of the Pullman Wheelworks—transforming it into 200 apartments for low-income families. On the commercial side, the green cleaning product manufacturer Method Home built a new manufacturing facility there, creating more than 100 jobs. The plant’s rooftop garden produces vegetables for local distribution. In addition, plans call for surrounding areas to become natural open spaces. The lessons from Pullman suggest that for urban revitalization, “no one sector can do it alone.”

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Source: Next City

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