Housing News Roundup: June 1, 2015
Federal Reserve: Half of U.S. Households Couldn’t Cover a $400 Emergency
Nearly half of the U.S. households surveyed by the Federal Reserve said they would be unable to afford an emergency expense of $400, or would be forced to sell something or borrow money. “Even prior to the [Great Recession], and more acutely after the recession, it’s true, American households are vulnerable,” said Gregory B. Mills, senior fellow at the Urban Institute. “Depending upon the measure you use, somewhere between one-third and one-half of households are at great risk — as in, they would be unable to fend off hardship.” The Urban Institute has also determined that the number of households that use alternative credit products such as payday loans, refund-anticipation loans and rent-to-own services climbed 7% from 2011 to 2013.
The Best Use of a Dollar to Address Homelessness
Funding for homeless services may be better spent on shelters rather than easing the difficult of living on the street, according to Ron Book, volunteer chairman of Miami-Dade’s Homeless Trust. “Anything that makes it easier for the chronic population to remain on the streets is not in our interest,” said Book, in commenting about a program that provides sleeping mats in a gated courtyard. “I would never buy a mat with a trust dollar. Never, never, never.” A little more than 1,000 people were homeless in Miami-Dade in January.
Source: Miami Herald
Giving Up on Shrinking Cities
There’s a great deal of talk about how major cities are preparing to grow in the coming years with changing demographics and household preferences. But what about the cities that are shrinking? According to The Economist, reinvestment will not shore up demand in shrinking cities. Better transit from struggling cities to thriving ones may help, but many may need demolition and a return to nature. Instead, the authors urge solutions that help smaller city residents relocate to more economically vibrant areas.
Source: The Economist
The Problem with ‘Zombie Properties’
Much like the name suggests, “zombie properties” are a lingering housing issue that communities across the country are struggling to combat. A zombie property occurs when both the owner and the lender walk away during foreclosure, both believing the property is the responsibility of the other party. The result is an abandoned piece of property left to decay. “It’s still very difficult for folks locally to identify where they can go to make something happen to a property,” said Annie Carvalho of the National Community Stabilization Trust.
Source: Next City
State Direction of NYC Housing Funds Raises Concerns
While New York Governor Andrew Cuomo previously pledged $100 million in state funds to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the specific use for the funds wasn’t designated. NYCHA had hoped to put it toward $300 million in significant repairs to public housing over the next three years. Now, however, the state is directing the funds toward smaller projects such as playground equipment and landscaping. City officials have taken issue with the move. “After years of federal and state disinvestment, these residents deserve an aggressive vision to tackle one of the greatest problems affecting their homes,” said mayoral spokeswoman Ishanee Parikh.
Source: New Jersey Herald
Opposition to Luxury Housing Puts Affordable Development in Jeopardy
Demonstrating the fact that new affordable housing units aren’t set in stone until they’re actually open, a planned low-income housing development in San Francisco is now facing a $10 million shortfall due to community opposition to a luxury tower. The developer scaled back the tower a second time, cutting around $10 million from its “in lieu” payment into the city’s affordable housing fund. The previous amount of $19.6 million was set to go toward a 103-unit affordable housing project. “It is disappointing,” according to Don Falk, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation. “I had hoped that their project might find political acceptance, in which case our affordable family project at Eddy and Taylor would have really benefited.”
Source: San Francisco Chronicle