Housing News Roundup: December 7, 2015
Eviction Rates in Baltimore among Nation's Highest
According to a new study from the Maryland-based Public Justice Center, more than 6,000 renters are evicted in Baltimore City each year. Only Detroit’s eviction rate is higher. Baltimore’s rent court defendants tend to be black women, living on less than $2,000 a month. Of 300 renters facing eviction, 78 percent reported one or more health and safety violations in the property, including infestations, peeling paint, and plumbing leaks. “Reform really needs to begin with legislature,” according to former District Administrative Judge Keith E. Matthews. “Maryland is the easiest state to evict someone, because that’s the way the laws are. If the rent is due on the first, on the second you can file for eviction. It’s easy for a landlord to get an eviction. Other states make it hard.”
Source: Baltimore Sun
Increasing Affordable Housing for Artists
To keep cities affordable and creative, some affordable housing developments are limiting residence to verified artists. The “subsidize-artists” movement’s popularity is fueled by studies showing that low-income creative spaces, in cities like Reno, Nev., raise property values and increase property and sales taxes. “By targeting artists, you create a community that has a broader impact on a city. Not every affordable housing project has that,” said Jim Kelly of 4Culture, a quasi-public agency in King County, Wash. However, the movement draws ire as an unwarranted preference or even “planned gentrification.”
Source: Investor’s Business Daily
Opinion: Seizing the Opportunity in LA's Land Holdings
The cancellation of Los Angeles County’s 710 corridor extension left the California Department of Transportation (“Caltran”) a sizable stockpile of homes and property, slated for demolition to accommodate a freeway. In his Los Angeles Times column, architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne urges seizing the opportunity to stimulate equitable growth and development. Hawthorne envisions a combination of new parks and affordable and market-rate housing in the 710 corridor. The land holdings are an asset that few cities have. With creativity, Hawthorne argues that the land could spark a self-funded venture that connects communities separated by previous freeway development and increases the stock of affordable housing in the region.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Surviving as a Low-Income Single Mom
The number of single-parent households, largely headed by women, have nearly tripled since 1960. Meanwhile, government benefits have dropped by more than a third for these extremely-low-income households between 1983 and 2004. Those with government assistance face time limits and work requirements, with little childcare assistance to make that possible. How do low-income single mothers survive? Strategies involve “piecing together help from family and friends, letting bills stay unpaid, and in some of the more dire situations, they doubled up with friends and other family members because housing is such a big cost,” according to Kristin Seefeldt, a professor at the University of Michigan and co-author of a recent paper on the topic.
Investing in Restoring Detroit
The extent of abandonment in Detroit mean that homes may be sold for as little as $500 but the past-due municipal bills and the costs of extensive repairs are likely to add up to well more than a buyer will pay. These ingredients, plus the unwillingness of many appraisers to even visit a property in the city, make it nearly impossible to get a mortgage. According to Dekonti Mends-Cole, director of policy at the Center for Community Progress, this “can essentially collapse a neighborhood.” A small Michigan-based financial institution, Talmer Bank, is among those focused on restoring housing opportunities in “tipping point” neighborhoods in the city. “It takes more than well-wishers,” said Patrick Ervin, executive managing director of Talmer Bank. “Well-wishers are wonderful, but it takes capital. It takes money to move in the right direction.”
Source: Next City