Housing News Roundup: November 30, 2016 | How Housing Matters

Housing News Roundup: November 30, 2016

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Nonprofit Developer Pitches Local Residents to Invest for Returns and Social Impact

Homes First, a nonprofit housing developer, is attracting local residents to financially support affordable housing in Thurston County, Washington, through social impact investment, rather than charitable donations. The organization’s “social impact investment initiative” is soliciting investments from local residents who would earn a return as high as 3.5 percent over five years and would receive interest payments quarterly. The initiative hopes to raise $2 million to purchase 15 properties that could house 100 people. Trudy Soucoup, CEO of Homes First, said of the initiative, “Everyone says we need more low-income housing. We are asking the community to make an investment in housing.”

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Source: The Olympian

Colorado Task Force Recommends a New Position to Help the State’s Aging Population

With Colorado’s population of residents ages 65 and older expected to double by 2030, the Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging recommended strategies to address this growing elderly population in hopes of saving the state money in the future. According to the group, the government must help older Coloradans remain independent for as long as possible to reduce the strain on services. A new executive-level position in the state government, which was the report’s key recommendation, would coordinate public, private, and nonprofit services (e.g., those related to affordable housing and promoting saving for retirement) for seniors. Christian Itin of the Metropolitan State University claims, “If we ignore these issues, we are certain to be spending lots more money on this.” There is no indication of the governor’s position on the recommendations.

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Source: Denverite

School Districts in Southwest Washington State Respond to Rise in Student Homelessness

School districts in Clark County, Washington, are assisting a growing population of more than a thousand homeless students. Housing costs in the county have increased significantly, prompting voters to pass a new affordable housing levy that will provide $6 million a year over seven years to preserve and create affordable housing. But the measure’s effects will take time to be felt by families currently without a home, causing school district officials to worry about how the distractions of being unstably housed will affect students’ educations. Melanie Green of the Evergreen Public Schools’ Family and Community Resource Centers says, “Learning begins in the home, but what happens if you don’t have a home?” In response, the Evergreen Public Schools now offer goods and services to homeless students and their families that include and go beyond what is required under the federal McKinney-Vento Act, including transportation, food, job and housing resources, tutoring, and clothing. Charlotte Pellens of the Vancouver Public Schools, which also provides assistance for homeless students and their families, said, “I think what we need to keep in mind is we’re not trying to give these students anything more than a normal student would have. We’re just trying to equal the playing field.”

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Source: The Columbian

Opinion: HUD Is Not a “Second-Tier Department”

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) work in poverty, housing finance, fair housing enforcement, and data collection makes it one of the nation’s most important agencies, argues Andrew Flowers of FiveThirtyEight. Noting that housing is an essential step to combat poverty, Flowers describes how the new HUD secretary could move the fight against poverty forward by helping the 75 percent of Americans who are eligible for housing assistance but don’t receive it. The author also describes the importance of the Federal Housing Administration in underwriting mortgages, the significance of HUD’s enforcement of fair housing practices that protect residents from discrimination, and HUD’s role in providing data through the American Housing Survey to inform programs and policies. With these four essential functions, Flowers claims that HUD is not just a “bureaucratic backwater,” but rather “one of the most important [departments] in the federal government.”

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Source: FiveThirtyEight

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