Housing News Roundup: January 19, 2017
Opinion: Secretary Designates of HUD and HHS Must Collaborate to Improve Minorities’ Health and Housing
Doctors Ben Carson and Tom Price, secretary designates of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), respectively, must work together to address health problems experienced by minorities though inclusionary policies, according to Richard V. Reeves and Dayna Bowen Matthew of the Brookings Institution. Substandard housing can lead to health conditions and difficulties that “disproportionately affect low-income and minority families.” But policies that segregate low-income individuals, such as exclusionary zoning, can also negatively affect the health of communities and their residents. By implementing fair housing policies, Dr. Carson could address the “upstream factors that are associated with health,” reducing the burden on the country’s health care system and prompting Dr. Price to focus his efforts on the social determinants of health. Reeves and Matthew call for Carson and Price to jointly push for President-elect Trump to sign a Health Equity Executive Order. This would strengthen antidiscriminatory regulations and mark a first step for collaboration between the two departments to prevent discrimination and promote equity, a “vital” role for the federal government, according to the authors.
Source: Brookings Institution
San Francisco Struggles to House Families
Reasonably priced homes large enough for families are few and far between, writes Heather Knight for the San Francisco Chronicle. The article notes that three-bedroom units accounted for less than 10 percent of the over 23,000 units built in San Francisco since 2005. Of the total housing stock, families with children occupy only 30 percent of the city’s units with three or more bedrooms. Unrelated roommates, couples with adult children, or single adults live in many of the rest. Two-bedroom apartments often rent for $4,000 or more per month. These factors contribute to the statistic that children make up only 13.4 percent of San Francisco’s population, the smallest share of any city in the country. Local officials have produced a report that seeks to define family housing to encourage developers to build more flexible and family-appropriate housing. The report includes other recommendations, such as helping seniors downsize from larger single-family homes and constructing more mid-rise buildings with shared outdoor space. “If you’re building a city for kids, you’re building a city for everyone. The things you want your kids to have make it better for everyone,” says Sheila Nickolopolous, a Planning Department official.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Artspace Seeks to Develop Affordable Housing and Workspace in Colorado
The nonprofit Artspace, which provides affordable spaces for artists to live and work, is making plans to develop in several Colorado cities, including Fort Collins. Artspace has already completed one fully leased property, the Artspace Loveland Lofts with 30 live/work spaces, and expects to complete another next door to the Lofts in 2018. Artspace worked with Fort Collins’s Downtown Development Authority and the Bohemian Foundation to assess the need and feasibility of building affordable spaces for artists. Multiple factors drive the increased development in Colorado. One is the large number of artists. In Colorado, nearly 65 percent of adults perform or create art. Another is the desire to provide more affordable and safer accommodations for artists. “We see our artists living and working in substandard conditions, so it’s not an unusual thing. Safety doesn’t come to the top of people’s consciousness until tragedies like [the Ghost Ship fire] in Oakland,” notes Wendy Holmes, senior vice president for consulting and strategic partnerships at Artspace.
Source: The Coloradoan
Residents of DC Neighborhood Seek Balance in the Face of Gentrification
Long-term residents of the Shaw neighborhood in Washington, DC, see both challenges and benefits that come with the influx of new residents. Between 1980 and 2010, the black population in Shaw fell from 78 percent to 44 percent, and the average family income rose from around $50,000 to $145,000. With the changes, long-term residents have seen many of their neighbors move away, and churches have seen their congregations dwindle. The neighborhood has also experienced decreases in crime and increases in services, citing a new recreation center with programs targeted toward all residents. The residents interviewed express apprehension about the lack of affordable housing, expensive retail, and a lack of communication between old and new residents. Virginia Lee, who has lived in Shaw for 17 years, says, “All that goodness that has come with gentrification…has been material in nature, and very little has been done to preserve the human aspect of a city that’s being transformed….The fact that we use the same sidewalks and streets has very little to do with ongoing communication.”
In New York City, People Struggle to Find Housing after Leaving Prison
People discharged from New York State’s prisons or New York City jails have three options for places to live if they cannot return home or live with family, reports CityLimits.org “They can go to the shelter system, three-quarters houses, or to the street,” says Ann Jacobs, director of the Prison Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Shelters and three-quarters houses can harbor problems that make it difficult for people who were formerly incarcerated to transition to life on the outside. One three-quarter house, Wards Island Shelter, had 27 felony assaults in 2013. Another, Narco Freedom, only found permanent housing for less than a quarter of its 1,000 residents and was indicted for insurance fraud and for stealing $27 million from Medicaid. Even when formerly incarcerated people are given special vouchers developed to help house homeless adults and victims of abuse, the vouchers may not be accepted by landlords across the city. The lack of instability in housing could result in a “revolving door” between shelter and prison. After completing a 10-year sentence for bank robberies, Fred Henderson says that “[t]he shelter system is worse than prison. At least in prison, you know how long you’re gonna be in there, and then you get released. In the shelter system, you’re allegedly free, but you’re not. It’s like doing another sentence.”
Source: City Limits