Housing News Roundup: August 24, 2017
Is Affordable Housing Worth the Price of a Brutal Commute?
Sheila James’s weekdays begin at 2:15 a.m. She leaves her home at 4:00 a.m. to begin her grueling 80-mile, three-hour commute, which involves taking two trains and a bus, from her home in Stockton, California, to San Francisco. The 62-year-old, who makes $81,000 a year as a public health adviser, lived in Alameda before a developer bought her building and she was evicted. She moved to the more affordable Stockton (where the median home price is $300,000 compared with San Francisco’s $1 million average), which has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of “extreme commuters,” or people who commute more than 90 minutes to work. Growing numbers are trading more affordable housing for brutal commutes, a by-product of the region’s tech boom and housing crisis.
Source: New York Times
What Happens to Renters Who Don’t Qualify for Housing Help but Can’t Afford Homes?
Kevin Scarborough was unemployed, had three children—one with a failed kidney on the list for a transplant—and lived in the UMOM New Day Center homeless shelter in East Phoenix, Arizona, when his wife found a steady job at U-Haul. The family had been on the waiting list for a Section 8 voucher and constantly on the hunt for affordable apartments. They found an apartment in Parsons Village, a complex that included housing for families with vouchers, public housing, and units for anyone who could afford them—but they couldn’t move in. Scarborough’s wife’s income, in addition to the Social Security they were living on, pushed the family income $200 over the limit to qualify for housing assistance.
Source: AZ Central
Is Massachusetts on the Brink of a Housing Crisis?
This week, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts announced $72 million in housing subsidy funds and additional state and federal tax credits for 25 projects in the state. With the state economy booming, housing costs, especially in the Boston area, are increasing so much that Massachusetts could be on the verge of a housing crisis. As of the end of June, home values in the state had gone up 7.2 percent in the past year, and the average monthly rent is $2,600. Leaders and the state legislature are looking for ways to create affordable housing units and preserve existing ones. Possible solutions include expanding or tightening the definition of affordable housing and giving tenants of certain residential buildings the right of refusal to buy their building at fair market value.
Source: Boston Globe
How Did California’s Housing Crisis Happen?
To meet current housing demands, California needs to double the amount of housing it currently has and triple it in the Bay Area. California’s widespread affordable housing shortage is forcing many to move inland or leave the state, and cities with dramatic spikes in rent are experiencing subsequent rises in homelessness. “It would take several hundred billion dollars to address the overwhelming magnitude of the problem,” said Brian Uhler, a researcher for the nonpartisan state Legislative Analysts’ office. How did this happen? Experts say the crisis originated in the 1970s, when neighbors began opposing new housing in their neighborhoods. Since then, California communities have used their authority over land-use decisions to create significant barriers to new housing construction, the recession took a toll on funds allotted to housing agencies, state tax credits have shrunk, and the cost of building has shot up.
Source: Sacramento Bee
How Does Growing Up in a Violent Neighborhood Affect Someone’s Future?
A new study from the Journal of Urban Economics that is the first to track the connection between crime and children’s prospects for climbing out of poverty, finds that violent crime takes a large toll on economic mobility later in life. The researchers looked at places where teenagers ages 14 to 17 are exposed to violent crime and their economic position as adults. They found that the economic chances of low-income children (who grow up in the bottom fifth of the economic ladder) are most severely affected by crime. The association this study finds is particularly interesting, as crime is declining dramatically in major American cities. For example, in New York City, the annual homicide total has dropped from a high of 2,100 to 300. “In neighborhoods where crime has dropped like that, the life chances of kids who start in poverty have also been transformed,” said author of the study, Patrick Sharkey.