Housing News Roundup: August 5, 2015
Conquering Veteran Homelessness, One City at a Time
In 2009, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki declared that by 2015 the United States would end veteran homelessness. While this goal was admittedly aspirational, some cities like New Orleans have achieved what is known as “Functional Zero,” meaning that they have systems in place to rapidly re-house any new homeless vets. Higher-cost cities like Los Angeles will have a much harder time reaching zero. Advocates emphasize that resources to assist homeless vets will continue to be needed, even if a city or the nation overall ends veteran homelessness. “Homelessness is a continuous process. There’s a veteran right now who is in a home who could very well be homeless tomorrow,” says Melissa Haley, director of support services at Volunteers of America in New Orleans.
Source: National Public Radio
When Neighborhoods Change, Can Schools Integrate?
In San Francisco, the Center for Cities and Schools has been focusing on strengthening schools when nearby public housing is redeveloped. Nationally, neighborhood revitalization and school integration have become the concerns of separate stakeholders. “School-district planners are not often in communication with developers,” said Heather Schwartz, an education policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Local experts point to some successes in diversifying school populations, but “there has to be a lot of work done on both sides of the fence,” according to Diane Gray, executive director of the Bayview Association for Youth.
Source: The Atlantic
Opinion: Community Development Industry Is Creating More Disadvantage
Thomas B. Edsall argues that the community development industry is largely responsible for the concentrated poverty characterizing the U.S. today. He says a growing body of research, a new Supreme Court decision, and the latest HUD regulation together call into question the practice of developing affordable housing in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The issue pits those in the affordable housing field who develop housing in such neighborhoods against those who fight for affordable housing in affluent neighborhoods; both believe they are improving opportunities for low-income families. Critics like Edsall believe development in distressed areas only isolates and magnifies disadvantage, creating neighborhoods devoid of the private market and dependent on government. Others argue for a both/and approach.
Source: The New York Times
Amazon Headquarters Continue to Cause Controversy in Seattle
As Seattle grapples with the extensive economic growth largely fueled by Amazon’s new Lake Union campus, everything from traffic to housing prices is being blamed on the internet giant. Despite its highly international workforce, Amazon is even being critiqued as a homogenizing force in the city. Local frustration with the company is exemplified by the recent creation of an anti-Amazon website, called “Flee the Jungle,” which encourages Amazon customers to shop elsewhere. Amazon workers are not immune to the same issues caused by the sudden growth; moving from all over the country, many employees are struggling to afford homes in Seattle. Amazon itself has been mum on the criticism, but opponents to it argue that the company has catalyzed investments that are improving the city for everyone. Even among those who recognize the ills of sudden economic growth say that growth is being fueled by other parties as well, like Boeing and a plethora of new tech startups.
Source: The Seattle Times
EPA Under Fire Over Environmental Racism
A report by the Center for Public Integrity released this week charges that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights is not doing enough to combat the disproportionate impact that environmental hazards have on minority communities. The report says at least 17 communities are still waiting for E.P.A. to rule on their civil rights claims, more than half of which have been waiting for longer than a decade. In addition to adjudication delays, the Center argues that the E.P.A. also makes filing complaints too onerous, writing “the E.P.A., in essence, requires complainants to have knowledge of civil-rights law and other nuances before filing a case.” In addition to the report, the Center has published rejection and approval rate data through an online interactive tool.
Hawaii Affordable Housing Advocates Call for Action on State’s Homelessness
Today, Honolulu City Council is scheduled to vote on a measure to further restrict sitting and lying down on sidewalks, a measure directed at the city’s growing homeless population. Advocates from Housing Now, a coalition of advocates for affordable housing, gathered on Tuesday to demonstrate against the sit-lie ban and argue for more affordable housing in the city. The group does not agree with the city’s policies on homelessness, like clearing encampments and banning the homeless from certain spaces. Instead, Housing Now and others argue that the city needs to solve the problem by preserving more residential housing from becoming vacation rentals and investing in public and affordable housing. Kauai Council Member Gary Hooser, who plans to introduce legislation to legalize accessory dwelling units, says “When politicians, legislators and council members tell you that there’s no money … what they’re really saying is it’s not a priority.”
Source: Star Advertiser
Renovation Displacing Hundreds of Public Housing Residents in Gainesville, GA
Plans for the redevelopment of Atlanta Street in Gainesville, GA calls for the demolition of the city’s largest public housing project. Hundreds of public housing residents could be displaced as the project’s housing mix changes to mixed-income and units are geared towards seniors and working-class families. Relocation assistance would be offered to all displaced residents, but many are uncertain about where they would go and how the new location might disrupt their daily routines. Chris Davis, Gainesville’s housing manager, believes the redevelopment is in the best interest of everyone in the community, saying “We have to start somewhere, and we are trying to work together to make things better for the community.” Many tenants would like to move into the new units, but they will not be given priority over other applicants.
Source: Gainesville Times