Housing News Roundup: February 11, 2015 | How Housing Matters

Housing News Roundup: February 11, 2015

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Are Multifamily Tax Breaks Helping or Hurting NYC Affordability?

While tax breaks, zoning and other policies encourage the multifamily housing development in New York City, there is a growing concern that the programs feed the already hot high-end condo market rather than supporting essential housing supply. Room for Debate presents expert voices on the pros, cons, and in-between of the 421a tax break. “The 421a tax break forfeited $1.1 billion in forgone tax revenue to the city in the last fiscal year alone. That is $1.1 billion that would otherwise have gone to public services like schools, infrastructure, hospitals — and affordable housing.” Yet development incentives may support housing diversity. “Given high costs of land, construction and maintenance, it is hard to make rental projects feasible without incentives like 421a.”

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Source: New York Times

Homeownership Remains an Important Way to Build Wealth, but …

Despite the losses felt by many when the housing bubble burst, homeownership remains one of the best ways to accumulate wealth. It can also often give people access to safer neighborhoods with better schools and more opportunities. However, as the market has still not returned to pre-bubble levels, economists and policymakers are looking for other ways Americans can build their savings.

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Source: The Atlantic

The Rising Renter Majority in Large U.S. Cities

In nine of the 11 largest U.S. cities, renters are in the majority. That’s up from five of the top 11 cities in 2006. What’s driving this change? A desire for flexibility among new transplants, individual economic challenges and the aftermath of the mortgage crisis are all likely culprits.

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Source: Wall Street Journal

Poverty ‘Simulation’ Offers a Better Look at Families' Challenges

While many people may witness poverty, only those who experience it day-in and day-out can truly understanding its effects. Piedmont CASA, of Virginia, has organized a half-day simulation to increase understanding of the unique challenges faced by people living in poverty. In a recent simulation, one participant discovered how economic strain affects kids’ schooling. “Our energies were so focused on keeping body and soul together that helping her with her homework was just not something we had the time and the energy for.”

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Source: WVTF Public Radio

Homelessness and Mental Illnesses Keep Many in Jail Needlessly

Roughly 731,000 people were housed in jails on an average day in 2013. The majority were there for minor violations — think shoplifting or driving with a suspended license — but forced to stay for even longer periods because of the inability to pay court-imposed costs, according to a new report from the Vera Institute of Justice. The MacArthur Foundation has announced $75 million in grants to help 20 jurisdictions find alternatives to excessive jailing of people who can be homeless, mentally ill or otherwise unable to look after themselves without community assistance.

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Source: New York Times

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