Housing News Roundup: January 7, 2016
Tropical Diseases Put Low-Income Texans at Risk
High temperatures and poverty have combined to put low-income Texans at risk of tropical diseases. “We found that most of the world’s neglected diseases — meaning worm infections, meaning Chagas disease, meaning leishmaniasis and leprosy — actually occur in G20 countries, the 20 wealthiest economies in the world,” says Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine in Houston. Substandard housing, limited access to health care, and low awareness of tropical diseases among U.S.-trained healthcare professionals can cause infection to fester and spread. Tropical disease infection, in children, may be mistakenly diagnosed as a learning difficulty. “People don’t realize that right here in Texas, in wealthy cities like Houston, we have families who live in conditions like this,” says Hotez.
Source: Dallas Morning News
School Boundary Change amid Brooklyn Gentrification
The New York Department of Education’s proposed plan to alleviate crowding at Brooklyn’s Public School 8 by redrawing the school’s boundaries was approved amid much controversy. Taking effect in the 2016-17 school year, the move will shift the up-and-coming Dumbo neighborhood out of boundary for P.S. 8, which has a student population that is 68 percent white and 16 percent receiving public assistance. Residents of the area would instead be zoned into Public School 307, which is 90 percent African-American or Latino and 90 percent receiving public assistance. Parents from the Dumbo neighborhood have expressed concerns about low test scores at P.S. 307. Similarly some parents currently in the P.S. 307 zone fear that that the influx of wealthy families will eventually lead to families in subsidized housing to be zoned into another school change. The revision highlights issues of race, class and gentrification as a result of rapid growth and development in this portion of Brooklyn.
Source: New York Times
Baltimore’s Housing Voucher Program Shows Signs of Success
Baltimore’s Housing Mobility Program has assisted approximately 2,000 voucher recipients in moving out of racially and economically isolated neighborhoods through a combination of housing counseling, higher rent payment standards, and a broad set of “opportunity” indicators. Recipients are required to remain in these neighborhoods for at least two years, after which they can use their vouchers for any neighborhood of their choice. Recently released interactive maps by University of Maryland researcher, Eli Knapp, show variation among the metro area’s Census tracts in terms of various indicators of opportunity, such as education, social capital, public health resources, employment opportunities, and a composite of the above. When compared with results from the Moving to Opportunity demonstration, Baltimore’s mobility program have remained in their new neighborhoods for a longer period of time. Although encouraged by the findings, housing options in very-high opportunity neighborhoods are still lacking, as is transportation between suburban neighborhoods and jobs in the central city. Knapp describes the results as “progress that we shouldn’t be satisfied with but progress that we should be proud of.”
Study: Zoning Restrictions Increase Segregation for Entire Metro Areas
While a body of evidence has shown that land use regulations drive up costs and lead to segregation, a new study shows how land use restrictions affect segregation for entire metropolitan areas. Looking at data from 95 metro areas, Michael C. Lens and Paavo Monkkonen of UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Health clarified existing knowledge in four principal areas, leading to the following conclusions: 1) density regulations lead to concentrated affluence, not necessarily concentrated poverty; 2) restrictive zoning matters as much in cities as in suburbs; 3) multiple layers of approvals and high levels of local involvement exacerbate segregation, while delays, supply restrictions, and open-space requirements do not; and 4) higher levels of state involvement are associated with lower levels of segregation.
$2 Billion Proposed to House Homeless in California
California state senators are proposing allocation of $2 billion to create or rehab 10,000 to 14,000 units of permanent housing for mentally ill people experiencing street homelessness, and providing $200 million in rent subsidies in the meantime. Construction funds would come from state-issued bonds combined with federal and local resources, while the state’s general fund would support the rent subsidies. The bonds would be repaid over a 20- to 30-year period by Proposition 63 revenue for mental health services, which yielded about $400 million in 2015. With more than 60 percent of California’s homeless population living on the streets, the proposed units would operate on a “housing first” model that does not require individuals to receive psychiatric or substance abuse treatment as a condition of receiving housing.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Segregation Declines in Chicago, but Remains High
New American Community Survey data show that racial segregation has declined in the Chicago area, but the city ranks as the third most segregated in the United States, according to William Frey of the Brookings Institution. Milwaukee is the most segregated large U.S. city, followed by New York City. Chicago’s reduction in segregation reflects both an increase in white and Latino households moving into traditionally black neighborhoods and an increase in African American families moving to the suburbs. However, most people live in neighborhoods that are barely more diverse than a decade ago and remain largely segregated. Segregation by income, education, and occupation further reinforce racial segregation.
Source: Chicago Tribune
Housing for Teachers Reaches beyond High-Cost Areas
While the difficulty of attracting and retaining teachers in high-cost areas has led communities to create new affordable housing options designed specifically for this group, the model is expanding as teachers struggle to afford even modestly priced communities. In Silicon Valley, the 70-unit Casa de Maestros housing development was created with tax-exempt financing. In Los Angeles, a new apartment complex targeted to L.A. Unified School District employees opened on school grounds, and two more complexes are pending. Teachers’ housing is an emerging part of the housing stock in western Colorado and the San Francisco Bay area, but also in Milwaukee and Odessa, Texas. “It’s not just a San Francisco-New York-Seattle story. It’s in many cities, large and small, and in most parts of the country,” says Stockton Williams, executive director of the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing.
Source: Associated Press
Finding a Pathway out of Segregation in Dallas
Newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) and a requirement for fair housing assessments by 2017 are generating increased attention in the Dallas area on counteracting longstanding housing segregation. The Dallas Housing Authority has expressed interest in partnering on a regional fair housing assessment with other local housing authorities. Meanwhile, a local advocacy group, the Inclusive Communities Project (ICP), believes that the refusal by landlords to accept vouchers is a major impediment to desegregation. Localities in Texas are not permitted to require landlords to accept vouchers, and ICP’s efforts to offer incentives and guarantees have not yet been fruitful.
Source: Texas Tribune