Housing News Roundup: July 12, 2018
More Than 800 Children Living in NYC Public Housing Test Positive for Elevated Lead Levels
After the New York City Department of Health announced that 820 children younger than 6 living in New York City Housing Authority units tested positive for elevated lead levels between 2012 and 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered that all the housing authority’s apartments be tested for lead. City councilmembers and some state congressional members are requesting billions in federal investment in public housing to fix dangerous conditions such as lead exposure.
Michigan Experiences the Greatest Decline in African American Homeownership
New research found that the share of African American homeowners dropped more in Michigan than in any other state between 2000 and 2016. Mark Treskon, a research associate at the Urban Institute and author of the report, noted that the decline was especially prevalent in Detroit. “The city and the region was a destination for people to build wealth and equity. The loss of that equity has really harmed the ability of region’s residents to build wealth for themselves and their families to set themselves up for the future,” said Treskon.
Source: The Detroit News
With a Severe Affordable Housing Shortage, Workers Turn to Motel Living
Shannon Cronin lives in an extended stay motel in Branson, Missouri, with her three children and pets. They share a king size bed, and she does laundry in the bathtub. Branson is a rural town where there’s little affordable housing for workers and jobs revolve around tourism. During the winter, unemployment rises to three or four times the state average. Though many fall into a trap of thinking extended stay motels mean a gateway to a better life, they realize that’s not always the case. “The smell of poverty is very relevant around here. And so it’s really hard for people to see past the outer shell to just see that person needs a chance,” said Carla Perry, who works for a nonprofit that connects residents to housing, job training, and health care.
A Technicality That Makes Homebuying Harder for Americans with Student Debt
Income-driven repayment plans allow borrowers to pay less for their student loans each month based on their income and family size, but some mortgage lenders don’t take these discounted payments into consideration, which can lead to mortgage denials. After calls to change their assessment policies, mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did so in 2017, but the Federal Housing Administration loans program still doesn’t factor this in. “In the treatment of student debt, we made a policy decision not that long ago to treat deferred student debt as debt all the same, and in the case of your question—whether we would forecast timely student-debt repayment that might ultimately lead to the forgiveness of a portion of that debt—our rules just don’t contemplate that,” said US Department of Housing and Urban Development spokesman Brian Sullivan.
Source: The Atlantic
Gentrification without Displacement in Philadelphia
Residents in Germantown, a demographically and economically diverse neighborhood in Philadelphia, are mobilizing to rejuvenate the area while avoiding displacement. “I made a commitment that I needed to have people around me who were different than me,” said Christian Heyer-Rivera. “Germantown enticed me too because the population was that diverse. People thought differently, people had different experiences.” They’re striving to accomplish this by building strong communal spaces and engaging with small-scale developers to create a mix of market-rate and affordable housing—focusing on the latter. But ensuring that the affordable housing created stays affordable will be a challenge.