Housing News Roundup: June 30, 2016
Unspent Homeless Service Funds Returned in Syracuse
The Syracuse (New York) Housing Authority has returned more than $5 million in unspent federal homeless services grants. The grants were for the Shelter Plus Care program, which provides housing to homeless people suffering from mental illness, substance use disorders, and other disabilities. Officials with the housing authority state that the program did not receive enough referrals from local homeless shelters. The program may have become a last resort: Melissa Marrone, coordinator of the Housing and Homeless Coalition, says shelter operators refer people to other programs that have fewer delays.
Source: Syracuse Post-Standard
Imbalance Fuels Nation’s Hottest Housing Market
The housing market in Portland, Oregon, is booming. For the past seven months, Portland’s home prices have posted larger annual gains than those in any other market in the United States. The area’s inventory of homes priced at less than $279,200 is down 40 percent on an annual basis—the largest drop in lower-priced homes among the 35 largest U.S. metro areas. The average and median home sales prices have reached new highs for the region. “There’s no fundamental law that says it has to end anytime soon. And it won’t end until we have more balance between supply and demand in the housing market,” says Tim Duy, economics professor at the University of Oregon.
Source: The Oregonian
New Orleans Housing Advocates Join Opposition to Short-Term Home Rentals
In New Orleans, the number of short-term home rental listings through services such as Airbnb and HomeAway is growing, despite local regulations that effectively prohibit such rentals. The City Council is poised to consider legalizing the practice, sparking a heated debate while the planning commission develops its recommendation. After an initial silence, the city’s two biggest housing advocacy groups have both weighed in against legalization. First, the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance, an umbrella group for affordable housing developers and advocates, declared its opposition to the conversion of entire homes into vacation rentals, and more recently the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center has also come out in opposition. In its statement, the Fair Housing Action Center said it “recognizes that without action, short-term rentals will surely exacerbate the housing affordability crisis that existed prior to their proliferation in the New Orleans area.”
Source: The Times-Picayune
Opinion: Engage Communities to Manage Gentrification
Despite the increasing number of upper-income city dwellers, poverty still defines many urban neighborhoods, leading some urbanists to call for gentrification as a solution, as long as the process avoids displacement. In an opinion piece, urban planner and Forbes contributor Pete Saunders argues that the strategy that Oak Park, Illinois, applied to counter the destabilizing force of white flight in the 1950s and 1960s can help communities manage gentrification. The key is community engagement. Through an intentional process of identifying concerns and negotiating a resolution, he asserts, gentrification can be managed to benefit all parties.