Housing News Roundup: March 17, 2015 | How Housing Matters

Housing News Roundup: March 17, 2015

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Study: Rent is Climbing Faster than Income in Most U.S. Metro Areas

Over the past five years, increases in rent outpaced increases in income in 66 of 70 metro areas analyzed by the National Association of Realtors. New York City led the way — while income is up only 8% since 2009, rental costs have climbed 50%. Nationally, rent climbed 15% and household income climbed 11% from 2009 to 2014.

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Source: CNN Money

DOE: Graduation Rate Continues to Narrow, But More Work Is Needed

While educational disparities remain large, high school graduation rate gap is narrowing for black, Hispanic, and American Indian students, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education. The overall graduation rate for four-year high school students in the 2012-13 school year was 81%. All racial and ethnic groups saw gains between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school year, but groups with a larger graduation rate gap had a larger increase. “While these gains are promising, we know that we have a long way to go in improving educational opportunities for every student — no matter their ZIP code — for the sake of our young people and our nation’s economic strength,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

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Source: Huffington Post

Social Isolation as a Public Health Issue

New research on the physical and mental effects of social isolation could potentially have a profound effect on how developers approach community design, including housing options, locations, and programming. In an analysis of 70 studies that followed people for an average of seven years, researchers at Brigham Young University determined that people who were socially isolated were 30% more likely to die during the study period. “The key point that I hope others will get from this is the recognition that this is an important public health issue,” said study leader author Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad. “Social isolation significantly predicts risk for premature mortality comparable to other well established risk factors. Thus, we need to take our social relationships as seriously for our health as we do these other factors.”

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Source: New York Times

‘Tactical Urbanism’ Authors See More Equity in Putting Ideas into Action

Selling someone on a new idea is easier when they have the chance to experience it for themselves. Tactical urbanism — “an approach to neighborhood building and activation using short-term, low-cost and scalable interventions and policies” — takes this realization to heart. The authors of a new book on tactical urbanism see the streamlined approach to neighborhood change as a way to make planning more inclusive and equitable than the typical model of multiple community meetings. The challenge is ensuring that a faster process still gives space for community concerns and technical analysis. According to one of the co-authors, Mike Lydon, standard hearings don’t “represent the full public sphere.” With tactical urbanism, “we’re trying to get more equity into the process.”

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Source: Next City

Building Permits Up, But Housing Starts Down in February Due to Rough Winter Weather

While building permits were up in February, housing starts themselves reached their lowest mark in a year, with severe winter weather believed to be the culprit. “It was just the weather, basically,” said Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial Corp. in Birmingham, Alabama. The increase in permits was powered by growing interest in multifamily housing over single-family developments, but multifamily was also hurt more by construction lags. Multifamily starts were down 20.8 percent to 304,000 annually, while single-family starts dropped 14.9 percent to 593,000. According to ReMax CEO David Liniger, “we are looking for continued jobs growth, wage growth, new construction, increased affordability and responsible lending to all propel the housing industry in 2015.”

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Source: Bloomberg

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