Housing News Roundup: June 2, 2016 | How Housing Matters

Housing News Roundup: June 2, 2016

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A 20-Year Wait for Suitable Housing

After 20 years on the waiting list of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), Laura Donaldson has an apartment. Donaldson, who relies on a wheelchair, turned down previous apartments in 2005 and 2008 due to the challenging commute to her doctor in the former case and neighborhood safety concerns in the latter. According to the CHA, the average wait time for a public housing unit or voucher in Chicago ranges from one to five years. The CHA has made several efforts to improve housing access for people with disabilities, including waiting list preferences, special setaside vouchers, automatic and unlimited time extensions for using a voucher, and an allotment of funds to assist landlords in making accessibility modifications. “I never thought I’d get here,” Donaldson says. “When I tell people how long I’ve waited for housing, it makes them ill. I never gave up hope, never stopped praying for it.”

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Source: Chicago Tribune

Serving an Older Homeless Population

Homelessness in the United States went down 2 percent between 2014 and 2015, but serious challenges remain in high-cost cities and for certain sub-populations, such as older adults. Adults over the age of 50 account for 31 percent of the homeless population. Older homeless people include many who have spent decades without a fixed address as well as an influx of younger baby boomers who became homeless after the economic downturn. The needs of the aging homeless population may require a shift in programs. “The programs for baby boomers are designed to address longstanding programs—mental health, substance abuse,” says Benjamin Henwood, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. “But they are not designed to address the problems of aging, and that is a big problem for homeless treatment in the years ahead.”

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Source: New York Times

The Cost of Unaffordable Housing in Boston

For Boston-area households, finding housing within commuting distance of work may mean stretching the budget beyond what is affordable. A recent ULI study found that more than 40 percent of lower-middle-class households in the area have unaffordable housing costs. This could place Boston in jeopardy of losing workers. A Trulia analysis found that the Boston metro area loses a larger share of families earning less than $60,000 per year than other high-cost cities like New York and Los Angeles.

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Source: Boston Globe

Report: Housing the Homeless Spikes then Drops Healthcare Costs

Health care costs increased in the first year after homeless adults moved into supportive housing, but dropped each year thereafter, according to an analysis of the cost of service delivery to 1,818 homeless adults in San Francisco from 2007–2008 to 2014–2015. The population studied moved into supportive housing between 2010 and 2012. “Our takeaway was that overall the city is going to incur costs, but it was a better form of costs, and what people were getting was a better form of care,” says Severin Campbell, a budget and legislative analyst for the city. The report did not track costs to nonhealth agencies, such as police and public works.

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Source: San Francisco Chronicle

New Tool for Predicting Policies’ Impact on Housing Supply

The University of California at Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation has released a beta version of a Housing Development Dashboard to estimate new housing production under various conditions for four Bay Area cities—San Francisco, Oakland, Pleasanton, and Menlo Park. The variables include affordability requirements, density, parking, permit times, fees, and population changes. According to the algorithms, San Francisco could double the number of new residential units built if it reduced development barriers across the board.

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Source: Curbed San Francisco

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