Housing News Roundup: August 6, 2015
Lottery Data Shows Overwhelming Demand for Affordable in New York City
Data on the city’s affordable housing lottery system shows that there were 696 applications for every affordable apartment offered in the city’s last 72 lotteries. However, affordable housing advocates say if you take a closer look, many of the “affordable” apartments are not actually less expensive than comparable market-rate housing. Lefferts Avenue in Brooklyn is a case in point; its studios rent at $1,900 a month, much higher than the neighborhood average. Phil DePaolo, an advocate, argues that even less affordable housing is available than it seems, saying “When the city goes into low-income communities the Trojan horse is always affordable housing. But when the smoke clears how many of these units are actually affordable to members of the community? Usually it’s not a lot.”
Source: New York Daily News
Final Rule on Clean Power Plan Makes Some Question Obama’s Commitment to Environmental Justice
President Obama announced Monday that states will need to take a large role in his Clean Power Plan, a policy designed to reduce pollution from existing power plants. The administration claims that the final rule reflects years of community engagement, but environmental justice advocates feel it does not go far enough to protect populations most affected by pollution. States have until 2022 to reduce their carbon pollution levels by 32%, and are given a lot of leeway in how the reduction is implemented. Most contentious is the fact that the rule allows states and power plants to reduce carbon pollution through trading, a system many believe harms low-income communities. Some states have made strides towards environmental equity through programs that provide renters with solar energy or invest funds into vulnerable communities, programs which could be replicated elsewhere.
Survey Shows Real Estate Industry Not Adequately Serving People with Disabilities
To mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, Century 21 conducted a “Persons with Disabilities Home Buying Survey,” which analyzed responses from 503 adults interested in buying a home accessible to people with disabilities. Most respondents indicated they felt real estate agents did not have adequate knowledge of accessibility issues. Mike Callaghan, Century 21’s chief marketing officer says “[The findings] are somewhat of a call to action that real estate professionals have to do a better job for the families with disabilities.” In October, Century 21 is launching a professional development program for its agents on the issue, a task which Callaghan says is not easy. He explains, “It’s a complex situation, and the needs vary widely.”
Source: Chicago Tribune
D.C. Program Supports Home Buyers
An innovative program managed by the DC Housing Finance Agency, DC Open Doors, has provided more than $100 million in mortgage funding for District residents. The program provides forgivable loans for down payments, as well as mortgage loans with below-market interest rates. Designed to help middle-class workers who do not normally qualify for subsidized housing or other housing programs, DC Open Doors is assisting people who may have a steady job and good income but do not have enough savings to buy a home. Applicants must have a minimum credit score of 640 and a 45 percent debt-to-income ratio.
Source: Washington Post
In the Bay Area, Rentals Up 50 Percent in 5 Years
For most of the Bay Area, rental prices are up 10 percent in the last year, and up a whopping 50 percent since 2010. An average monthly rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is most expensive in San Mateo County at $2,884, and least expensive in Contra Costa at $1,835. A $2,500 apartment requires an annual salary of approximately $90,000, an income that is well beyond that earned by many critical workers. Resident Diane Nesom explains, “I earn too much income to qualify for any kind of affordable housing but not enough income to actually afford anything else, so I’m stuck in this middle craziness.” Even well-paid professionals like the Hubbards, who earn a combined income just under $100,000 a year have taken to living in a trailer on church grounds to save money for a down payment.
Source: Mercury News