Housing News Roundup: August 17, 2016 | How Housing Matters

Housing News Roundup: August 17, 2016

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HUD’s New Funding Strategy for Homeless Services Causes Unintended Consequences

As the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) continues to shift funding for homeless services toward programs that offer long-term housing solutions, agencies must abandon their transitional housing programs. Local organizations that only offer short-term programs must cut staff and beds while waiting for permanent units to be built. Three hundred new permanent housing units are built each year in Los Angeles, and that rate could triple if voters approve a new funding measure in November. During this transition in homeless services, many people experiencing homelessness will be left without shelter or services because “the permanent housing that will replace transitional beds doesn’t exist today and won’t for years.”

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Source: Los Angeles Times

Lack of Jobs Increases Economic and Racial Disparities in Milwaukee

An ongoing decline in jobs is associated with an increase in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s vast economic and racial disparities. Despite a thriving downtown area flush with new investments, surrounding areas such as Sherman Park experience significant economic decline. In 2006, the Tower Automotive factory, which provided jobs to area residents, shut down and left thousands unemployed. Even with construction of a new business park on the site of the old factory and the 3,000 jobs it promises to bring, some residents claim that investments like these are not enough. One resident lamented, “Those who can leave have left. I don’t blame them—I’d leave if I could too.” This trend has led to increased racial disparities in the metropolitan area, as 90 percent of black residents live within the city limits, marking the lowest black suburbanization rate in the country. Milwaukee’s development commissioner claims that to improve the conditions in the area, “you introduce the component that is missing, and that is jobs.”

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Source: The Wall Street Journal

Home Modifications Make Aging in Place Possible

Aging baby boomers are fueling the residential remodeling industry by choosing to age in place. Many elderly people are making home modifications to make aging in place possible. Despite the growing demand for modifications, aging in place can pose challenges for older residents in rural areas (who may experience isolation in lesser-populated areas) and older adults in cities (who may have difficulties retrofitting old and small residences). With the number of elderly residents soon to outnumber the school-age population, Bob Adams of Virginia Accessible Housing Solutions claims, “One of the biggest challenges over the next decade is how we will accommodate the growing senior population.”

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Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Sales of Mortgages May Disproportionately Target Black Homeowners

A lawsuit alleges that HUD sold insured delinquent mortgages along racial divides to people in the private market. Private investors bought mortgages from HUD as the agency tried to reduce the strain on its insurance fund, which is a backstop for loans issued to low-income homeowners that become delinquent. In New York, “more than 61 percent of the government-backed mortgages sold to investors were in predominantly black neighborhoods…only about one-third of federally insured mortgages overall were issued in those same neighborhoods.” While the battle continues in court, housing advocates question the practice of selling these mortgages to private entities. They claim “the agency is contradicting its mission by selling mortgages to investors” who advocates believe drive homeowners into foreclosure.

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Source: The New York Times

Homeless Families Struggle in Temporary Residences

Temporary housing creates additional problems for homeless families in Boston. As the only right-to-shelter state, Massachusetts relies on motels and hotels as short-term residences for unstably housed families when the demand for shelter-beds exceeds supply. Many families living in these temporary units are isolated from the services they need, lack kitchens to cook for themselves, and don’t have access to transportation. Governor Charlie Baker is trying to end the practice of using hotels and motels as a last resort, but many worry about the effects of another relocation for these families as they move from motels and hotels, particularly as the school year starts. City Councilor Matt O’Malley echoed this sentiment: “The uncertainty and anxiety that comes with not knowing where you are going to live two weeks from now is something we find very concerning.”

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Source: The Boston Globe

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