Housing News Roundup: January 26, 2017
Carson Nomination Moves Forward to Full Vote
The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee has advanced Ben Carson’s nomination for secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The date of the full Senate vote has not been determined. The committee’s ranking Democrat, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, continued to express concerns about Carson’s lack of experience, but “will give Dr. Carson the benefit of the doubt based on commitments he has made to me in person and to this committee in his testimony and written responses.” Carson asserts that, despite interpretations of his prior statements, concerns about his ideological fit are unfounded. “What has happened too often is that people who seemingly mean well have promoted things that do not encourage development of any innate talent in people,” he said. “Hence, we have generation after generation living in dependent situations. It’s not that they’re bad people, it’s that this is what they’ve been given, and it’s all they know in some cases.”
Source: Washington Post
Government Conference Rooms Become Code Blue Shelter in Portland
During a cold spell, Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, Oregon, ordered the city’s main office building to open its doors as an emergency shelter. For two weeks, approximately 100 to 120 people a night slept on rugs and in sleeping bags in the building’s second-floor conference rooms. Four people living on the streets died of hypothermia. “It’s been brutal cold, and there’s been a lot of bad,” said Bill Madyou, one of the people sheltered in the building. “But this has been part of the good. This was the only humanitarian thing to do. We got to go somewhere.”
Opinion: Stronger Homeownership Policy Would Improve New Yorkers' Economic Security
In an opinion piece, Karen Haycox, CEO of Habitat for Humanity NYC, avows the importance of maintaining affordable options for homeownership for New York City’s working and middle classes. The city’s homeownership rate is 31 percent, less than half the US rate. City policies that emphasize rentals limit households’ capacity to build assets or escape the instability of possible rent increases and gentrification. Haycox argues that allocating more of the city’s housing subsidies to affordable homeownership programs, such as community land trusts and down payment assistance, would improve the New Yorkers’ economic security as they age.
Source: New York Daily News
New Study Documents Renters’ Displacement Risk from Gentrification
While the connection between gentrification and displacement is stronger in perception than in reality, new research has looked more closely at displacement as it relates to property taxes and whether a household owns or rents its home. Gentrifying neighborhoods were defined as having an increase in housing prices and a greater rise in the share of the adult population with a college education compared with the county. The study, published in Urban Affairs, found that renters in gentrifying neighborhoods are about twice as likely as owners to face an involuntary move. While home price increases allow owners to choose to sell at a profit, renters may face a rent increase or eviction. Only when property taxes consumed a large share of income did owners face a modest increase in displacement risk.
Cost-Burdened Community Faces Opportunity and Threat of New Transit
Langley Park, Maryland, will get two new transit stops when the planned Metro Purple Line is complete, but a new report refers to this as “both an opportunity and a threat” for residents. The transit addition is expected to lead to new development and improved housing, but the immigrant community may lose the affordability of its older housing stock. Three-quarters of households are renters, and nearly 90 percent express concern about how they will pay next month’s rent. A community agreement from 2015 called for affordable housing as one of the Purple Line corridor goals. The agreement, however, is nonbinding and had not been signed because of a federal lawsuit challenging the project based on environmental reasons.
Source: Washington Post
ACA-Supported Group Home Supports Healthy and Productive Life for Mentally Ill
Way Station, a nonprofit affiliated with Shepard Pratt Health System, serves more than 5,000 people across Maryland with services including community-based group homes for people with mental illness. The coordinated care made possible by the Affordable Care Act’s provision for Medicaid health homes has allowed its residents to jointly access mental health services and primary care. In Frederick, Maryland, David Weiss, who was homeless for years, uses coordinated care at Way Station to manage multiple diagnoses, including bipolar disorder, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and heart disease. Joe Fitzgibbon, a neighborhood parent who previously opposed the group home, said, “Looking back on it, it was ignorance on my behalf.” Despite serious mental illnesses, the residents can maintain jobs and are encouraged to find and pursue a passion. “We all need to feel like part of a community. We need to feel meaning in our life. These programs acknowledge these basic human needs,” said Jackie Goldstein, a retired psychology professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.
Source: Washington Post