Housing News Roundup: August 8, 2019
New Study Finds That Vouchers plus Low-Cost Supports Increase Access to Opportunity
A new study of public housing agencies in Seattle found that implementing a few additional low-cost services can enable Section 8 vouchers to work more effectively as a pathway to opportunity. Fourteen percent of control group families who received just a voucher moved to high-opportunity neighborhoods over a yearlong period, but 54 percent of families participating in the trial moved. “We’re learning that there’s something that can be done, and the status quo doesn’t have to curtail these families’ freedom,” said Christopher Palmer, assistant professor of finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
New Chicago Plan Would Target Tax Credit Dollars to Areas of Greatest Need
On Tuesday, mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration released a Qualified Application Plan that will target $60 million in low-income housing tax credits to Chicago areas in greatest need and give developers clearer application rules. “We have a major mismatch between the need and the tools that we have. Given that data, we’re trying to make some data-driven policy decisions through this request,” said housing commissioner Marisa Novara. The plan seeks to broaden the range of incomes the program currently serves.
Source: Chicago Sun Times
HUD’s New Rule Adds Steps for Proving Housing Discrimination
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has proposed to make it more difficult to bring fair housing claims against landlords and other defendants under the Fair Housing Act. The new rule would require parties initiating lawsuits to prove that a housing policy has a discriminatory effect and that its effect is “arbitrary, artificial, and unnecessary” in achieving its objective, and they must show that there is a “robust causal link” between the policy and the discriminatory effect. Civil rights groups worry that the change will make it more difficult to challenge discrimination.
Source: New York Times
Lynchburg, Virginia, Has an Eviction Problem
In the past 10 years, the Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority (LRHA) has moved to evict more residents than any other landlord in the area. The authority houses about 1,000 low-income residents and last year filed eviction lawsuits against nearly a third. Executive director of the LRHA Dawn Fagan said the money it collects from rent keeps its operations running. Right up until the day they go to court, we’ll usually accept the payment,” she says. A recent analysis by the Virginia Legal Aid Society found that an average of three Lynchburg families face eviction every day.
Source: The News and Advance
FEMA Will Impose New Restrictions on HUD Aid for Puerto Rico
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said it will impose new restrictions on nearly $8.3 billion in HUD natural disaster mitigation funding to Puerto Rico that will go toward housing and infrastructure projects to prepare for future disasters. This decision comes in the wake of the resignation of Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Roselló. Federal data show that as of May, only $14 billion of the $42 billion Congress approved for Puerto Rico’s recovery was spent.
Source: Washington Post