Housing News Roundup: January 12, 2017
New Affordable Housing Development Designed for Those Needing Mental Health Services and the General Public
Lakeview Health Services’ new 60-unit development, Woodland Commons in Macedon, New York, will designate half its units for residents recovering from mental health difficulties and the remaining units as affordable housing for the general public. Harry Merryman, CEO of the health care provider, said, “Some of the biggest issues for people who are trying to recover is they need a place to live. Our organization is focused a lot on housing for these folks and the skills they need to integrate into their communities.” Woodland Commons will house people already receiving care from Lakeview Health Services for 18 to 36 months, providing residents with around-the-clock support, which includes supervision and life-skills training like “cooking, managing finances, and finding employment.” When the development opens in the spring, Lakeview Health Services will be able to serve its clients at one facility instead of at the scattered sites it currently uses while combatting affordable housing problems experienced by the surrounding community.
Source: Finger Lake Times
Working-Class Households Struggle to Find Affordable Housing in Williamson County, TN
The lack of diverse housing options in Williamson County, Tennessee, creates an affordability crisis for working-class families. Lorraine Dunlap, a 22-year resident of the city of Franklin and an administrative clerk for the county’s juvenile court, looked to purchase a home because of rising rents but could not find any affordable options with her salary. “I live in one of the most modest apartments in town…and everything was just going up, even when my income is not,” she said. According to Steve Murray of the Community Housing Partnership, residents in the county who earn up to 60 percent of the area median income, which is $104,367, can struggle to obtain affordable housing. For-profit developers exacerbate the county’s problem by purchasing large amounts of land to build more expensive developments, forcing nonprofit affordable housing developers to build homes outside the county, which displaces the county’s workforce. With little political will to promote housing affordability in the county, the problem will worsen. Susan Minor of the Franklin Housing Authority said, “For any community to be sustainable long term, you have to have a diverse mix of housing options, and we are getting close to not having that diversity of housing.”
Source: The Tennessean
Rising Housing Costs Turn Colorado School Districts into Landlords
The convergence of tight school budgets and tight housing markets has created or exacerbated teacher shortages even outside high-cost cities. In Colorado, three rural school districts and the Denver Public Schools are looking at how to subsidize teacher housing. “This year when it comes to hiring season, I will probably struggle to replace four to six teachers because of housing,” said David Blackburn, superintendent of Colorado’s Salida school district. “It’s in the middle of every conversation about quality staff.” State representative Jim Wilson, a Republican whose district covers Salida, is planning to introduce legislation to add a state tax credit for employer-assisted housing.
Carson Could Bring Tough Love, If Confirmed as HUD Secretary
Ben Carson has espoused a tough love approach for struggling families that may influence his work if confirmed as secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Though Carson and his family grew up in a poor neighborhood near families receiving housing assistance, he continues to be guided by his mother’s view that “[y]ou’re the captain of your ship, so agree with the same, if you travel downward, you have yourself to blame.” Interviews with colleagues and friends suggest that Carson may want to roll back “government-engineered” programs aimed at racial integration, such as the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, and may seek to put time limits on housing assistance programs, many of which have none. Criticisms of his nomination have emerged from both housing advocates and acquaintances. Housing policy advocates argue that government aid should be expanded, not cut, given rising rents and increasing inequality, while a former classmate wonders why an accomplished surgeon with no housing policy experience would be picked as head of HUD.
Source: The New York Times
Balance Shifts in Elderly Disabled Housing in Connecticut, Causing Problems for Housing Authorities and Residents
In the fourth part of a series on issues concerning elderly and disabled housing in Connecticut, reporters describe how the state’s housing authorities are struggling to balance their budgets while meeting the growing and distinct needs of these two populations. The local station reports that the number of younger, disabled residents in assisted housing is increasing, while the number of elderly residents is decreasing. The director of the Stratford Housing Authority noted that for every nonelderly disabled tenant they house, they receive about $300 less in rent. That shortfall makes it difficult for the housing authorities to keep up with maintenance requests or pay the staff. Many nonelderly disabled residents require additional supportive services that the housing authorities cannot provide. The reporting shows that until recently, the elderly made up most of the residents in elderly disabled housing, and while their relative proportion in assisted housing is falling, their numbers are growing. Connecticut’s elderly population is expected to grow 57 percent by 2040. But the financial concerns associated with the changing balance could lead many housing authorities to either raise base rent or cut the number of units before then.
Source: WTNH (New Haven, CT)
Nashville Nonprofit Helps Former Offenders with Housing and Jobs
After struggling to help people recently released from prison find stable housing in the private market, Nashville nonprofit Project Return developed a program to house and support this at-risk population. With help from a $284,000 grant from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA), Project Return plans to buy and redevelop 12 units in 2017 to rent them exclusively to former offenders who have completed an employment program that the nonprofit also runs. In addition to housing and workforce training, Project Return offers mentoring, literacy training, and direct employment by hiring its participants to help rehabilitate properties. The article points out that affordable housing is a growing challenge in the area, even more so for the formerly incarcerated. But THDA director Ralph Perrey notes that “this pilot program has great promise to address a serious concern about the lack of housing options for people who have paid their debt to society and sincerely want to find a better path for themselves.”
Source: The Tennessean