Housing News Roundup: August 31, 2017
Insured and Uninsured Homeowners Alike Could Be Devastated by Hurricane Harvey
Houston has just over 800,000 occupied housing units, but only about 119,000 are covered by flood insurance policies backed by the National Flood Insurance Program. Many households without insurance—often because it’s expensive and not required outside extremely high–risk flood areas—are unaware that their homes have a 25 percent chance or higher of facing flood damage. And given National Flood Insurance Program’s $24 billion debt and other issues, even those with insurance may not receive full support for future claims. Most people who lose homes in Hurricane Harvey won’t have the money to replace or repair them, which accentuates the need to have a workable program to deal with future natural disasters.
Source: The Atlantic
Will Reno Make Homelessness Illegal?
As housing costs rise rapidly in Reno, Nevada, business owners and city leaders are taking major steps to revitalize downtown areas. An increase of the homeless population has accompanied increased costs of living (the cost of single-family homes has doubled since 2012, and rents have risen 25 percent), and a newly proposed ordinance that targets people living and sleeping downtown would essentially make being homeless illegal. The ordinance would outlaw climbing, sitting, or laying on public structures not designated for that purpose and make it illegal to sleep on public or private property without permission. “This legislation seeks to punish people for their class status rather than their behavior,” said Jennifer Cassady of the Reno Initiative for Equality and Shelter. Meanwhile, developers like Eric Raydon say homeless vagrancy “impinges upon our right as taxpayers to live in a clean, safe city free of filth, free of fear, fear of harassment.”
Source: Next City
How Predictable Is Gentrification?
Gentrification can desolate an area’s most vulnerable populations, and by the time its indicators appear, it’s usually too late to do anything to help those disadvantaged. Is it possible to see gentrification before it happens so cities can prepare for changes and advocates can reserve affordable housing units and teach renters about their rights? Using big data, which allows researchers to go beyond housing prices to study human behavior, could be the answer. A 2015 study tracked geotagged tweets to observe Louisville, Kentucky, residents’ mobility patterns, while a recent study in Spain used data from cell phones and credit cards to track shopping trips across rich and poor neighborhoods. Access to these data provides the opportunity to help those hurt by gentrification, but it comes with risk.
San Diego’s New Plan Will Help Move Low-Income People into High-Income Areas
At the start of 2018, more low-income people will be able to live in high-rent San Diego neighborhoods. The San Diego Housing Commission plans to base housing voucher values on three levels: low-, middle-, and high-rent areas. The concept is similar to a recently suspended US Department of Housing and Urban Development plan that would have based voucher caps on zip codes to create greater equity. President and CEO of the housing commission, Rick Gentry, believes San Diego’s plan will be easier to roll out, saying, “It would have been hard to administer, expensive to administer, prone to errors and would have given lawyers a field day.” Others, including Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi, an attorney who practices subsidized housing law, believe the commission should have stuck with the original plan because studies have shown that basing values on zip codes is the best model.
Source: San Diego Tribune
Will Charlotte Fulfill Its Affordable Housing Promises?
After last year’s city council promised to accelerate its affordable housing goals, Charlotte, North Carolina, is facing an unexpected crisis. A new report reveals that the city has a serious shortage of low-income affordable housing units, but enough units for people with modest incomes. “You can’t build this city on the backs of people and then push them out,” said the Reverend Ray McKinnon, a commissioner for the Charlotte Housing Authority. Though the city is on track to meet its goal of building 5,000 affordable units in three years, most of the city’s very low–income workers will not be able to afford them. The report shocked many, including councilmember Ed Driggs. “I’m kind of startled,” Driggs said. “I thought the need extended all the way up to workforce housing.… But clearly the deficit is concentrated.”
Source: Charlotte Observer