Housing News Roundup: July 27, 2015
Chicago to Change Parking Requirements to Promote More Bicycling
Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to change the city’s transit-oriented development ordinance to expand the areas eligible for city incentives. The reform would no longer require developers to build the standard one parking spot per unit if they instead offered bike parking or a bike- or car-sharing station. Reducing parking requirements saves developers money and boosts potential profitability. According to the city, so far, eight residential projects worth more than $132 million total have taken advantage of the ordinance. Mandy Burrell Booth, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Planning Council, explains, “we want to use the assets the city has to attract more people and counter population loss that we have experience over the past decade.”
Source: The Chicago Tribune
HUD Rule Could Be the Key to Ending Segregation in Fresno
A new U.S. Department of Housing and Development rule could end Fresno’s long history of concentrated poverty and start giving minorities and the impoverished greater access to wealthy neighborhoods. The rule would require entities such as City Hall and the Housing Authority to craft detailed analyses of “fair housing issues in its geographical area” to illustrate patterns of integration, segregation, and racially/ethnically concentrated areas of poverty. “Too many Americans find their dreams limited by where they come from, and a ZIP code should never determine a child’s future,” according to HUD Secretary Julian Castro. A history of fair housing struggles in Fresno make the new HUD rule potentially controversial there.
Source: The Fresno Bee
Community Programming is Critical to Reducing Recidivism
At this year’s annual NAACP gathering, President Obama suggested that the fundamental challenge in reforming the nation’s criminal justice system is the lack of opportunities that former inmates have when they return to society. In 2008, the Washington, D.C. based Urban Institute created a pilot program – Safer Return Demonstration – focused on inmates returning to a small area of West Chicago; it found that successful reentry into society depends largely on community-centered programming. The program coordinated with private foundations, churches, civic groups, and community members to provide a suite of services such as employment, housing and healthcare. Jocelyn Fontaine, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, said that if “we can concentrate our resources where people need them the most, we can go a long way to lowering recidivism.”
D.C.'s Solar-Powered Future
Several cities are already on board with President Obama’s new initiative to deliver solar power to low-income households, including Washington, D.C., which is set to receive an investment of $6 million. However, it could still take a while for residents to reap the benefits, for a variety of reasons. For instance, the District’s Department of the Environment is still deciding how to set up a subscriber system for residents and whether small businesses should be included in the program. The city already has a Solar Advantage Plus program, which allows a household of four that makes under $60,245 to have solar panels installed for free, but does not have a program in place to help non-owners. Department of Environment Director Tommy Wells said the upcoming solar program will focus on the District’s poorer Southeast neighborhoods when it finally launches.
Results Are In: Rapid Rehousing in St. Louis
Last year the city of St. Louis provided 51 homeless veterans with housing; one year later, the program is providing organizers and other communities a chance to see what went right and what can be improved. While many residents are still living independently with jobs, more have been transferred into a HUD Housing Voucher program offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Gywanna Montague, case manager for the program, explains that successful rapid-rehousing projects bring unique challenges and require landlords who are willing to work with tenants. The program’s supporters insist that such programs are worth the investment because stable housing keeps veterans out of a negative, vicious cycle. Head of St. Louis’ human services department, Eddie Roth, explained, “having somebody in stable housing often proves to be much less expensive than having people live outside, churning through the system.”
Source: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch