Housing News Roundup: August 10, 2017
What Is the Connection Between Mental Illness and Homelessness?
Many Los Angeles residents are unhappy about the $1.2 billion program they fear will bring housing projects for the homeless too close to home. Could this stem from their preconceived notions about the homeless population, particularly the mentally ill? Only 13 to 15 percent of homeless people nationwide are mentally ill, but people often think these numbers are higher because symptoms are so prominent. Most homeless people do not qualify for federal disability payments, so they lack necessary care. Tod Lipka, executive director of Step Up, a supportive center that houses chronically homeless mentally ill people, says that 97 percent of his clients want housing “if the system we had to get into housing wasn’t so complicated….Housing becomes something not in homeless people’s realm of possibility. The system has failed them, and then we blame it on them.”
Source: LA Times
When It Comes to Your Health, Is Your Zip Code as Important as Your Genetic Code?
Shannon McGrath went to her first obstetrics appointment at Kaiser Permanente at 36 weeks and was required to fill out a “life situation form” upon arrival. She noted on the form, which asked about rent, debt, child care, and other social factors, that she had been homeless when she became pregnant. McGrath was then assigned a “patient navigator,” who helped her set up rides to appointments, connect with a nonprofit that helped her with rent, and provided other assistance to help keep her healthy and keep Kaiser’s medical costs low. Patient navigators stem from the growing belief among the medical community that social factors have as large an effect on health as genetics. Ultimately, McGrath says, “I’m able to look at life and not feel overwhelmed or burdened.”
This Inclusive Approach Could Transform Affordable Housing
The Denver Housing Authority (DHA) has turned the recently completed Mariposa District into a place where people of different races, ages, and abilities can find affordable housing based on their income level. In 2012, before construction began, the public housing site spanned 14 acres and was home to 252 low-income residents. Now, around 1,500 people reside in the 581 contemporary, mixed-income units. Each unit has the same new amenities, but the rent depends on tenants’ income. The rents fall into three bands: affordable (public housing), workforce housing (Low-Income Housing Tax Credit), and market rate. “For us this is more than a housing development,” said Ismael Guerrero, executive director of the DHA. “We truly set out to make a new neighborhood transformation.” Guerrero believes this approach, which promotes diversity and inclusivity, will be a catalyst for investment in neighborhoods.
Source: Denver Post
Austin Public Housing Renovations Are Met with Mixed Emotions
Lisa Martinez is excited to be standing in her newly renovated Manchaca Village apartment, freshly equipped with a new washer, dryer, and dishwasher. The apartment complex is the first of 18 public housing properties that Austin’s public housing authority is renovating as part of its major plans. Martinez was lucky: her repairs were done in three weeks, and in the meantime, she lived in an apartment across the hall. Others worry they may not be so lucky. Though the housing authority’s goal is to have residents back in their home within 60 days, extensive renovations could take up to 18 months. “A lot of people don’t like change, especially the elderly people that live here,” Martinez says. “They’ve been here so long and everything is the way they have been doing it for years.”
Source: KUT 90.5
As a Rough Hurricane Season Approaches, the Future of the National Flood Insurance Program is Unclear
With hurricane season fast approaching, the pressure is mounting on Congress as they struggle to reform and reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. Created to mitigate risk and expand flood insurance, the program’s policies and effectiveness have been called into question for years. Its collection of low premiums that are racking up debt and costing taxpayers and its policies for repetitive lost properties, which essentially encourage people to reside and rebuild in areas that are constantly getting flooded, has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle. “The most basic purpose of government going back millennia is to protect its citizenry,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of the nonpartisan budget-watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “But here you have a program that is subsidizing people to live and develop in harm’s way.”
Source: The Atlantic