Housing News Roundup: January 3, 2019
Massachusetts Passes Short-Term Rental Regulation
On Friday, Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation to regulate the short-term rental housing market in Massachusetts. This new legislation requires rental hosts to register with the state and carry insurance, and it allows for local taxes in addition to a new 5.7 percent state tax—the same tax hotels pay—on properties renting for more than 14 nights a year. The first-of-their-kind rules will take effect on July 1, 2019.
Public Housing Authorities Explore Partnerships with the Health Care Sector
As large health insurers such as UnitedHealth Group invest millions in affordable housing, public housing authorities are increasingly pursuing health investments in housing. “Partnerships with the health care sector are the most effective way for public housing authorities to serve the health needs of their residents,” said Sunia Zaterman, executive director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities.
As the Nation’s Rural Subsidized Housing Stock Declines, Residents Will Have Nowhere to Go
In many rural communities across the country, US Department of Agriculture subsidized housing, which typically covers 70 percent of low-income residents’ rent, is the only available form of affordable housing. But recent reports found that the program will lose 20,000 units by 2027, and by 2050, the overall supply is expected to drop 90 percent or more. “We want to sound the alarm,” said Lance George, director of research for the Housing Assistance Council. If these properties disappear, “there are no other options,” he warned.
Source: Christian Science Monitor
Bay Area Construction Costs Prevent Development of Low-Income Housing
Habitat for Humanity says it cannot raise money quickly enough to cover the gap between what low-income residents can afford and the rising construction costs in the Bay Area. “If you look broadly at affordable housing, it’s never been more expensive than it is right now to build,” said Janice Jensen, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley. In addition to construction costs, Jensen attributes the development difficulties to high land prices and a shortage of government subsidies. Other affordable housing developers in the area are experiencing similar barriers.
Source: Mercury News
King County Receives Mixed Reactions to Turning a Jail into a Homeless Shelter
To house its growing homeless population, King County has explored turning unconventional spaces into shelters. Its newest conversion will be sheltering at least 100 homeless people in a wing of the county jail—one of eight unused government spaces that will be utilized for this purpose. “If I have the opportunity to ensure a warm, safe place for even one additional person, I have a moral obligation to act, and I will,” said King County executive Dow Constantine. However, some have reacted strongly against the image linking homelessness and incarceration. “This is a really, really charged image of placing people who are experiencing homelessness in a facility that is part of this haunting optic,” says Sara Rankin, director of Seattle University’s Homeless Rights Advocacy Project.
Months After Hurricane Michael, Panama City Residents Have Limited Access to Shelter
Hurricane Michael damaged or destroyed 9 in 10 homes and businesses in Panama City, Florida, according to local officials. Months later, many residents still struggle to find shelter because of the mass destruction and the relief workers occupying hotels. “The struggle is not over. I see on the TV they say we’re going back to normal. We’re not going back to normal,” said Latoya Jackson, a resident of Massalina Memorial Homes, an east-side public housing complex hit hard by the storm.
Source: Tampa Bay Times