Housing News Roundup: September 21, 2015 | How Housing Matters

Housing News Roundup: September 21, 2015

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Leaders Discuss How to Improve Resiliency in New York City

Enterprise Community Partners and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gathered 300 leaders this summer in response to Superstorm Sandy at the event “Ready to Respond: Building Resilience in Affordable Multifamily Housing Communities.” The storm affected thousands of low-income apartment dwellers and damaged hundreds of affordable housing properties, both privately held properties and those managed by the New York City Housing Authority. New York City faces a unique challenge because many properties are located in flood-prone areas, and agencies are tasked with retrofitting aging, fully-0ccupied buildings. The City is also supposed to make improvements to buildings without raising rents. By focusing on lessons learned from Sandy, participants formulated some approaches for increasing the resilience of New York’s affordable housing.

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Source: City Limits

New Affordable, Energy-Efficient Housing Designed in Kansas City

Daniel Umscheid, Design Director of Clockwork Architecture & Design, was recently interviewed about the design and construction of affordable two-bedroom, two- bathroom modular homes in Kansas City, Kansas. Initiated by Neighborworks America and developed in conjunction with Community Housing of Wyandotte County, the unique homes are designed to appeal to young professionals and blend seamlessly into the existing neighborhood. Easily duplicated, smaller in size, and extremely energy-efficient, the homes have minimal interior finishes and allow for customization ranging from paint color to converting the attic into a bedroom. Design details also maximize the usable living space and minimize energy consumption. The homes have gained attention not only for their design, but because of the low construction costs that help make them affordable: they can be constructed in under 10 weeks for less than $150,000.

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Source: The Kansas City Star

The Workforce Going Homeless in Silicon Valley

The rising cost of housing in California’s Silicon Valley has led to homelessness among many local workers. In particular, bus drivers for many of the area’s tech companies like Apple and eBay have resorted to sleeping in their cars. With average rents over $2,000, many workers cannot afford apartments within a reasonable distance from work, but their wages and salaries are too high to enable them to qualify for subsidies. Affordable units are snatched up immediately, and landlords are able to be very picky in choosing their tenants, often favoring people with dual incomes and good credit. Moving elsewhere can be a difficult transition to make, because workers cannot risk going without a paycheck for any period of time. Without an increase of affordable housing, homelessness among low-wage workers in Silicon Valley is likely to rise.

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Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: Views On Concentrated Poverty Misguided

Susan Greenbaum, professor emerita at University of South Florida, argues that the recent discussions of concentrated poverty since Paul Jargowsky released his research on the topic is misguided and echoes the sentiments held during the controversial HOPE VI program. In the 1990s, policymakers also believed that the best way to improve distressed neighborhoods was to relocate public housing tenants to private housing in more affluent areas. However, the outcomes from that program are mixed at best, and Greenbaum believes the same policy prescription today will fare no better. She cites the fact that many relocated tenants returned to their original neighborhoods, and argues that low-income neighborhoods hold more social capital than many researchers are willing to recognize. She says that since the vast majority of residents have the same outcomes whether they live in distressed neighborhoods or affluent neighborhoods, efforts should be focused on improving distressed areas rather than moving residents out of them.

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Source: AlJazeera America

Rent-Stabilized Tenants Struggle with Ongoing Construction

Tenants of rent-stabilized New York City apartments increasingly feel that construction is being used to encourage them to leave their buildings. To receive a permit, New York property owners are required to notify the city before executing work on their buildings, and to disclose whether the building is inhabited. If tenants are present, they must submit plans for protecting tenants from excessive construction debris and noise. However, the city does not have a system in place for verifying building occupancy, and many rent-stabilized tenants feel that owners are declaring their buildings vacant to receive permits illegally. Many tenants paying rent-stabilized rates feel that property owners hope to replace them with new tenants who will pay more. The city has investigated complaints and are considering taking more aggressive action against violators who intentionally or accidentally submit incorrect permit filings.

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Source: The New York Times

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