Housing News Roundup: July 24, 2015
New Hampshire has Fastest-Growing Income Gap
New Hampshire has the fastest growing income inequality in the nation. From 2007 to 2013, the state’s income inequality grew 5.07%; the nation’s gap overall grew 2.6%. Beth Mattingly, a researcher at the University of New Hampshire explains that the change does not mean that low-income people are faring worse, but that there is growth among the higher-earning population. Economist Ross Gittell disagrees, arguing that New England has experienced increasing income inequality because of growth among top earners as well as a shrinking middle class. Gittel believes the region’s changing socioeconomic patterns has its root in the economy’s movement away from the manufacturing industry and into high-tech. The Granite State’s income inequality grew especially during the recession, when the top 1% of earners represented 83.3% of income growth, up from 35.5% in previous years.
Source: New Hampshire Business Review
Chicago Calls For New Ideas on Inexpensive Housing
The Chicago Infrastructure Trust is accepting proposals for a $250,000 grant to build two affordable homes for Strides on Peace, an anti gun-violence group. Plans call for the winning structures to ultimately be replicated across 20 vacant lots; long-term plans call for 1,000 affordable homes over the next decade. The contest requires that proposals design single-family and two-unit homes (referred to in the Chicago area as a “two flat”) to sell at $125,000 and $150,000 respectively, without public subsidies. “If we’re going to solve the city’s affordable-housing problem, we have to build them for less than they sell for, not more,” said Charisse Conanan Johnson, director of the trust. When it comes to design, the Trust is open to unconventional materials, such as repurposed shipping containers. “We need to let the market determine what an affordable house is like.”
Source: Crain's Chicago Business
The Link Between Property Taxes and School Quality
For the vast majority of children, where they go to school is determined by where they live. For children in low-income and impoverished neighborhoods, that means attending schools in areas where the cheaper property values don’t generate the tax revenue needed to provide quality educations. “Intentional or not, these invisible walls often concentrate education dollars within affluent school districts, and ensure that low-income students are kept on the outside,” according to a report from EdBuild, a national nonprofit focused on public education. Research shows that less funding can lead to less qualified teachers, higher teacher turnover, and lower student academic achievement.
A Lack of Affordable Housing Affects Teachers
An annual salary of $70,000 may be higher than the national average teacher salary of $56,000, but it’s not enough to allow Jennifer Marlar to live in the same community as her seventh graders at Jackson Hole Middle School in In Jackson, Wyoming. In fact, it’s not even enough to live in the same state – Marlar commutes one hour each way from her home in Driggs, Idaho. She says the commute is both “brutal” and unsustainable, highlighting how the affordable housing crisis impacts our nation’s teachers. “I’ll probably have to resign there and try to get work on this side so that I can be a part of my community that I live in,” she says. Marlar’s story highlights how teachers are members of the essential workforce who face affordable housing challenges in high-cost markets.
Source: Marketplace Education
Anticipated Miami Affordable Housing Project Remains in Limbo
Miami’s Marshall Williamson neighborhood is in “desperate” need of affordable housing, according to one local activist, but acre after acre still sits undeveloped. The neighborhood’s Madison Square development project has faced so many challenges that its planning has now spanned a decade. While Madison Square was proposed as a 40-unit project, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation established a 75-unit density requirement for tax subsidies, and has faced challenges in zoning and other regulations. “There is some housing here and there…the rents on those houses…continues to rise and the quality of the homes are not getting any better,” said Pastor Rodney James. As Marshall Williamson continues to debate its housing regulations, the neighborhood continues to lose residents.
Source: The Miami Herald