Housing News Roundup: April 25, 2019
Work Requirements Did Little to Improve Income for Chicago Public Housing Residents
In 2009, the Chicago Public Housing Authority piloted work requirements for housing as part of their Moving to Work demonstration. The policy required all nondisabled adults ages 18 to 54 to work or participate in employment-related activities for 20 hours per week. A recent study by the Urban Institute found that of the 5,232 public housing residents subject to work requirements, only 6 percent didn’t meet the requirement. The annual income of those subject to these work requirements increased over time, from $11,568 in 2010 to $12,712 in 2017, but the role work requirements played in that increase is unclear, and researchers found the requirement did not push residents to work who didn’t already want a job. Residents noted that barriers such as a lack of access to affordable child care and a shortage of well-paying jobs were the greatest challenges to securing more stable employment.
High Housing Costs Force California Teachers to Move Out of State
A new analysis by EdSource found that in nearly 40 percent of the 680 school districts in California that reported salaries to the state, first-year teachers did not earn enough to rent an affordable one-bedroom apartment, and in 39 districts, first-year teachers spent more than 50 percent of their incomes on a one-bedroom apartment. In high cost regions like the Bay Area, even the highest paid teachers could only afford a one-bedroom apartment. These prices are forcing teachers to leave the state. Sarah La Due, a highly regarded teacher in El Cerrito, is moving to Las Vegas to continue her profession. As she put it, “I’m a 35-year-old professional woman, and I shouldn’t have to live with roommates. Why am I sacrificing so much to live in the Bay Area when there are other cities with culture and good food?”
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
King County Program Tackling the Homelessness to Jail Cycle
In King County, Washington, prosecutors, nurses, case managers, and housing and mental health specialists are working together to help break the homelessness to jail cycle for people struggling with serious mental illness and chemical dependency. Through a program called Vital, county agencies are coordinating to help stabilize people booked into jail at least four times in one year in two of the past three years by connecting them to housing, health resources, and comprehensive case management. Since the launch of Vital, participants went to jail about a third less often per year compared with the three years before their enrollment. Although the program is showing early promise, it only serves 60 people at a cost of $1 million a year. With more than 3,200 adults estimated to be homeless because of serious mental illness in King County, addressing the issue will take significant financial commitment and political support.
Source: Seattle Times
New Report Illustrates Realities of Chicago’s Affordable Housing Landscape
Though the demand for low-income rental units in Chicago dropped from 2015 to 2017, a sharper decrease in the supply of these units has fueled affordable housing shortages in the North and Northwest sides, according to a new report. In these areas, high-income households and developers are replacing two- and four-unit buildings with million-dollar homes and luxury apartment buildings. As the city undergoes political transition, many will watch for mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot and the city council’s next steps to address the problem.
Source: Chicago Tribune
Garages Could Be a New Source of Affordable Housing in Los Angeles
In 2017, California enacted a law that allows almost any homeowner across the state to convert their garage into an accessory dwelling unit. At a time when more houses with three car garages are being built than there are one-bedroom apartments, garages are an underutilized source of naturally occurring affordable housing. In Los Angeles alone, researchers estimate about 400,000 single-family homes in Los Angeles have two car garages that could be converted into apartments. Although families would have to park cars in their driveway or on the street, these garages could help ease the housing and homelessness crisis in Los Angeles and provide new sources of income for landlords and homeowners.
Source: City Lab