Housing News Roundup: August 11, 2015
Opinion: Concentrated Poverty More Harmful than Income Inequality
Richard Florida argues that although a national discussion about economic inequality is valuable, concentrated poverty and its associated segregation pose much greater risks to the stability of America’s neighborhoods. According to research by Paul Jargowsky, director of the Center for Urban Research and Urban Education at Rutgers University, the number of people living in concentrated poverty almost doubled between 2000 and 2013. In particular, blacks and Latinos are much more likely to live in high poverty areas than whites, with poor black children at the most risk. Much of the change can be linked to deindustrialization across the Midwest; the cities with the highest rates of concentrated poverty across racial groups, Syracuse and Detroit, are indeed known for their industrial heritage and “Rustbelt” status. Florida believes that building more affordable housing in urban centers, raising the minimum wage, and investing in transit to connect distressed areas with job centers will go a long way in addressing concentrated poverty.
Housing Costs Can Hurt Seniors’ Health
According to a new Urban Institute report, more adults today are able to live independently and avoid poverty, but increasing health care costs threaten this security. Older Americans spend more than twice as much on housing than health care, and as seniors age, their health needs often increase, making them unable to afford either their home or their healthcare. Long-term care is a particular concern, since 17% of people turning 65 today will end up spending over $100,000 on such services. The report explains, “The single greatest financial risk that older people face is the possibility of developing disabilities and needing long-term services and supports, because this care is expensive and there are few financing options.” The Urban Institute supports in policy interventions for low-income seniors that help cover healthcare and housing costs.
Source: Senior Housing News
Strong Jobs and Housing Numbers Signal a Strengthening Economy
Strong economic and housing data released last week have some experts saying the Federal Reserve is likely to increase interest rates soon. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell more than expected, and the number of people receiving benefits for more than one week dropped by 112,000, revealing that people who have experienced long-term unemployment may be finding work. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits also fell 15,000, reversing three weeks of increases. Furthermore, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index stood at 60 this month, the highest that this measure of housing confidence has been since November 2005. Ratings above 50 mean that builders view market conditioners more favorably than not.
Former Walter Reed Army Medical Center to House Homeless Vets
The Walter Reed Army Medical Center closed in 2011 and merged with Bethesda Naval Hospital, leaving this historic hospital empty and unused for the past four years. Currently, the Army and the city of Washington, DC are negotiating a deal to use the facility to house homeless veterans. A nonprofit plans to renovate the hospital into 75 single-occupancy apartments, which will be considered supportive housing because veterans’ rent will be subsidized by public and private funds and veterans will be able to live there as long as they want. Help USA, a homeless services organization founded by Andrew Cuomo, plans to provide the veteran housing with nursing staff and transportation to medical services. The plan to include veteran housing in the redevelopment of the Medical Center comes alongside the Obama administration’s re-commitment to ending veteran homelessness by the end of this year.
Source: New York Times
Louisville Addresses Concentrated Poverty
According to a new report, about 43 percent of Louisville’s poorest black residents live in neighborhoods with a federal poverty rate of 40 percent or higher, making its concentrated poverty the tenth worst in the country. Cathy Hinko, executive director of the Metro Housing Coalition, argues that these patterns are the consequence of the foreclosure crisis, saying “We haven’t recovered from that and some of the people left behind were people in subsidized housing who really didn’t have a place to move and didn’t face foreclosure.” The city’s Metro Council special land development committee is considering a plan to create incentives for multifamily development in areas currently zoned for only single-family homes. Council members have already approved minor changes to zoning rules that allow more multifamily properties in office-residential districts and loosened requirements on attached housing.
Source: The Courier-Journal