Housing News Roundup: October 15, 2015
Gentrification Does Not Improve Public Schools
Research reveals that middle-class families that move to poor neighborhoods tend not to improve local schools. Contrary to the assumptions of many policy makers, gentrifying populations usually do not send their children to inner-city schools, thereby perpetuating the achievement gap and segregation. According to Nikole Hannah-Jones, citing a 2013 study, wealthier newcomers often send their children to private schools or use school choice programs that send children to schools outside the city rather than to failing urban schools. In addition, some cities have created separate unzoned public schools that the children of wealthier families attend instead. These alternative public schools can further divert resources away from the distressed public schools that need investment the most.
Source: The Times-Picayune
EPA Study Finds Lead Poisoning in Philadelphia Neighborhood
A study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that children living in the Philadelphia neighborhood surrounding the former site of the John T. Lewis National Lead/Anzon factory are six times more likely than children nationwide to have elevated levels of toxic lead in their bodies. For more than a century—1848 to 1996—several companies manufactured lead products at the factory, which continuously expelled lead dust through smokestacks. Although the factory was required to remediate soil contamination on its property, it was not required to assess or clean up any contamination of the broader neighborhood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is leading the study, which also found dangerously high levels of lead in the soil where children play. Proposed solutions to prevent future exposure include soil cleanup and creating a barrier between people and the soil. However, solutions are dependent on the source of the lead, which is still being evaluated.
Source: USA Today
Older Buildings Can Be Green, Too
Although highly energy-efficient luxury apartment buildings continue to crop up in Boston, they are not necessarily more efficient than many of the city’s oldest homes. The city of Boston has released a report with energy and water use data from many of the city’s buildings with more than 50,000 square feet of space. Surprisingly, the Energy Star score associated with the city’s old brownstones—both for residences and office space—are often higher than for newer buildings. Explanations for the high ratings include the fact that older buildings have fewer modern conveniences like central air conditioning, as well as fewer windows. Also, many older buildings were built with higher-quality materials than those used in newer buildings. The team working on the project is currently deciding how to use the data.
New Data Shows Wide Health Disparities Across Brooklyn
According to neighborhood health profiles released by the New York Health Department Wednesday, East New York has the highest rate of diabetes and other ailments in the city. In Brownsville, Brooklyn, residents have a life expectancy of 74, almost ten years less than nearby neighbors. The health disparities highlight ongoing disparities in wealth across Brooklyn. Health Commissioner Mary Bassett says her department will release the data for all 59 of Brooklyn’s community districts in the coming weeks, adding “It’s clear that longstanding rising income inequality [and] the history of racial residential segregation has led to starting health inequities across the neighborhoods of this city.” The data is expected to be used to plan community health programs.
Source: New York Daily News
Basketball Arena Development Threatens Affordable Housing
A new plan to place a Washington Wizards basketball arena in Southeast D.C. is making some doubt the commitment of the District’s Mayor, Muriel E. Bowser, to affordable housing. A slew of new development is proposed for the southeast D.C. neighborhood of Congress Heights, and four rent-controlled apartment buildings would need to be razed. Residents, many of whom live on fixed incomes, say they feel pushed out of both their homes and their neighborhood. Housing advocates say that the city housing department should maintain control of a property in arrears at 3200 13th St. SE, and use it to reshape the development to be more affordable to residents.