Housing News Roundup: August 12, 2015
Sparking Revitalization through Choice Neighborhoods in Boston
In July, one of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, the Quincy Corridor, hosted a ribbon cutting for the first development completed under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods program. The program provides grants for comprehensive efforts to redevelop blighted areas that are home to HUD developments. “The key innovation of Choice is really to go beyond housing. You’re also focused on entrepreneurialism and education,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said. “It is a blueprint that a lot of cities can benefit from—show other communities how they can do what Boston has done.” The redevelopment of the Quincy Corridor includes scattered-site housing and a shared use commercial kitchen and food business incubator.
The Case for New Affordable Housing in High-Poverty Areas
As result of the Supreme Court’s recent decision on disparate impact and research on neighborhood inequities, conversations about affordable housing increasingly focus on moving families into “opportunity neighborhoods.” Since neighborhood conditions contribute to economic, health, and educational outcomes, why not help low-income families move out of high-poverty areas? Some developers and residents argue that low-income communities need investment, and residents may not be interested in moving from where they grew up and have social ties. “You take a black child out of a very loving community where you see people who look like you teaching and in leadership positions, and then you stick them in a school where no one looks like them—it’s like a culture shock,” said Kellee Coleman, a resident of M Station, a new affordable housing development in the high-poverty neighborhood of East Austin. According to Julian Huerta of Foundation Communities, there is no single solution. “We take both approaches. There’s the mobility model, which gets people out of concentrated poverty, and there’s the redevelopment model, which tries to make [poor] neighborhoods better,” said Huerta. “We do both of those things. They both can work.”
Gentrification of The 606 Draws Criticism of Mayor Emanuel’s Housing Strategy
Gentrification trends in Chicago are casting doubt for many on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s housing strategy. Emanuel said The 606 trail, an urban park that crosses abandoned train tracks on the North side of the city, would improve property values in the neighborhood but that his administration would keep existing residents from being pushed out. Upon closer examination of the mayor’s affordable housing programs, many say they only preserve affordable units a significant distance from the park, and leave space along the park open to gentrification. The administration defends its approach, and highlights its preservation of housing in the Humboldt Park and Logan Square neighborhoods near the trail. Elizabeth Langdorf, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said in a statement, “In the next two years, six more multi-family projects with 355 affordable units will be built near the 606 through $77.9 million in City of Chicago financial assistance.”
Source: Chicago Tribune
Battling Infectious Disease through Housing Design
The Archive Institute, an architectural and design firm, uses building design to prevent disease in the developing world. Archive stands for “Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments” and its founder, Peter Williams, says their mission is to “bring attention to the built environment and how it is a transmission vehicle for the spread and control of a respiratory illness like TB.” Urban overcrowding is a major culprit when it comes to the spread of tuberculosis, from the streets of New York and London to developing places like Haiti and Bangladesh. Ventilation is another issue Archive is tackling by emphasizing cross-ventilation and designs that take advantage of existing air patterns like rising hot air. In addition to constructing healthy buildings, Archive also engages with policymakers to encourage changes to housing policy that would make health an integral aspect of building design.
L.A. Making Unprecedented Effort to Reduce Housing on Skid Row
Los Angeles city and county are working together to tackle the most concentrated homelessness in the country, which is in the city’s skid row. Their goal is to reduce homelessness there by 25%, by staffing the streets with teams of mental health, medical and substance abuse professionals five days a week. These teams spent the past year providing services to the homeless, but quickly realized their weekly schedule was insufficient. The new initiative will have a budget of $3 million and may grow as the county considers providing more services like sober centers. Critics of the plan say that it does not include enough housing, a critical aspect of solving homelessness. “If there’s no housing at the end, they could have 200 outreach workers, and they’re not going to take people off the streets,” says Mark Rosenbaum, director of a pro bono law firm in L.A.
Source: LA Times