Housing News Roundup: September 10, 2015
Opinion: Edsall on the State of Racial Integration
Thomas B. Edsall discusses the historical challenges faced in the U.S. of racial and economic segregation, and the uncertain progress the country has made toward becoming integrated. He discusses how economic and sociological research has analyzed the mechanisms behind segregation, and found that small racial preferences can be exaggerated on the neighborhood level. For instance, researchers have identified a racial “tipping point,” a point at which a racially mixed neighborhood can suddenly become homogenous. While some say the surge in concentrated poverty is a sign that segregation is retrenching, others argue neighborhoods are more ethnically diverse than ever. While Edsall thinks we have a ways to go toward racial integration, he believes substantial progress has been made.
Source: The New York Times
Cottage Neighborhood Offers Walkability and Affordability
The Sitka, Alaska, Community Development Corporation recently unveiled plans for a 13-cottage neighborhood on the footprint of the Old City Shops property. Caitlin Woolsey says of her vision for the community, “Imagine a condominium where every room is a separate house.” The architecture student’s design includes small cottages located on land held in trust to provide affordable housing for median-income Sitka residents. The project’s design seeks to attract multigenerational owners, ranging from young families to the aging population, and offers a pedestrian-friendly environment. Randy Hughey, the corporation’s board president, plans to maintain affordability by limiting cottage owners’ profits from sales and maintaining separate deeds on homes and land.
Urban Schools Use the Community to Improve School Quality
Under pressure to improve 62 New York City schools rated as low performing by the New York State Education Department, the De Blasio administration has launched a strategic initiative centered on community involvement and inclusion. By using door-to-door outreach and offering community services at schools, among other measures, the administration expects to improve student test scores and graduation rates. A key component of the administration’s strategy is increasing parental involvement through training parents and hiring staff to support these outreach efforts. The strategy is centered on the belief that parental involvement will decrease absenteeism and discipline problems while increasing academic support at home and motivating parents to petition politicians for resources and funding.
Source: The New York Times
Julian Castro Gives Speech Commemorating HUD's 50th Anniversary
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD secretary Julian Castro delivered a keynote speech at the 2015 Reimagining Cities Conference, held at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Service at the University of Texas. The speech recalled that Johnson’s exposure to extreme poverty in the hill country of Texas helped motivate his creation of HUD. Regarding the agency’s mission today, Castro said, “The United States faces a growing gap between the rich and poor. Too often a child’s zip code determines a child’s future.” Castro acknowledged that despite its many accomplishments, the department had more work to do. To support its mission, the agency’s 2016 budget will be 8.7 percent larger than in previous years.
Source: The Daily Texan
Seattle's Teachers Strike Over High Cost of Living
Seattle teachers went on strike on Wednesday, September 9, for the first time in 30 years. The teachers say their wages are not high enough to cover the costs of living in Seattle, particularly when it comes to housing. The city has not offered a cost-of-living increase to teachers in six years. The strike has left 53,000 students without classes to attend, and the city has responded by offering childcare at community centers and after-school programs. Many blame rising costs of living on the city’s recent tech boom, and the job growth of companies like Amazon and Facebook. The teachers’ union and the city have not yet come to an agreement; while the teachers have asked for a 10.5 percent increase in the next two years, the city has only offered to pay 9 percent over three years.
Source: ABC News