Housing News Roundup: August 23, 2018
In Austin, concerns that Opportunity Zones will lead to displacement
Last week, Texas governor Greg Abbott released a list of 628 low-income census tracts across the state that qualify as “opportunity zones” for investment incentives; 21 of the qualified census tracts are in the fast-growing city of Austin. Though local officials designated four of the opportunity zones, they are concerned about displacement risks if the investment incentives lack clear safeguards. “Often, it’s not a lack of capital. It’s the lack of the right kinds of capital in fast-growing areas like Austin,” said Christine Maguire, Austin’s redevelopment division manager.
Source: Next City
Fair housing lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) dismissed in federal court
On Friday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against HUD regarding the removal of a fair housing assessment tool. The advocates who filed suit argued that the removal of the tool, which enabled compliance-focused oversight, effectively dismantled the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule and undermined their organizations’ ability to enforce the rule. In her ruling, the judge noted that many components of the rule are still active and that “HUD’s withdrawal of the tool does not ‘perceptibly impair’ the plaintiffs’ abilities to carry out their missions.”
Source: Washington Post
HUD accuses Facebook of housing discrimination
HUD filed a complaint on Friday accusing Facebook of engaging in housing discrimination through its targeted advertising. According to the complaint, Facebook’s collection of personal data allows home sellers and landlords to discriminate based on disabilities and family status, among other things. As Anna María Farías, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equity said in a statement, “when Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it’s the same as slamming the door in someone’s face.” Facebook officials say they plan to address this complaint in court and will work with HUD officials to address their concerns.
HUD’s new Landlord Task Force aims to boost voucher acceptance among landlords
Recent studies by the Urban Institute and Johns Hopkins outline landlords’ low rate of acceptance for housing vouchers and unwillingness to participate in the program in several urban housing markets across the country. This Monday, HUD announced the creation of a “Landlord Task Force” to identify solutions. The task force will host a series of listening sessions to obtain landlord feedback on the reasons for low participation. The first session will be held in Washington, DC, on September 20th, followed by meetings Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Salem, Oregon. The task force will conclude its work with a series of policy recommendations for Secretary Carson.
Source: Housing Wire
Atlanta BeltLine Partnership refocuses efforts on affordable housing
The Atlanta BeltLine Redevelopment Plan was announced back in 2005 with the goal of redeveloping the BeltLine with increased transit access, new parks and trails, and a substantial amount of affordable housing. However, the promised 5,600 units of affordable housing has fallen by the wayside with only 2,642 units built or preserved over the lifetime of the project; calling into question the equitable nature of the development. Atlanta BeltLine Inc., the agency responsible for the development, recently released a report from a cross-sector working group outlining how the agency can reach and potentially surpass their affordable housing goals. As the new interim CEO, Clyde Higgs emphasized, “this is absolutely the focus for the organization.”
Source: Next City