Housing News Roundup: June 11, 2015
Can NYC’s Affordable Housing Be Saved?
New York City is struggling to keep up with the demand for affordable housing, in part due to the outdated policies that are based on housing conditions from the 1970s. A new brief from New York University’s Furman Center analyzes what might happen if New York City were to launch a new affordable-housing incentive centered on property taxes. The Furman Center suggests a scenario in which property owners agree to 30 years of rent stabilization in exchange for a waiver of property taxes for the same length of time. Certain rent increases would be permitted and all tenants would be means-tested. Still unknown is what will happen to property values in that time, which would impact taxpayers or landlords differently depending on market conditions.
Legalizing Bootlegged Apartments in L.A. Could Generate More Affordable Housing
Los Angeles lawmakers are taking steps to help legalize “bootlegged” apartments that have long existed without municipal approval. Rules will be established to give many of those apartments a smoother path to legalization; right now the process of relieving an apartment of zoning requirements can take up to nine months and cost upwards of ten thousand dollars. The process would ensure that apartments do not disturb neighborhoods or endanger tenants, but most illegal apartments are safe and violate rules like parking requirements. If approved, the city would start with apartment units first since it has a systematic way of inspecting them every four years.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Innovative Fund Seeks to Ease the Housing Shortage through Adding Services
One of the largest problems facing owners of affordable housing is frequent tenant turnover. The Turner Multifamily Impact Fund has developed a plan to combat the nation’s weakening supply of workforce housing by decreasing resident turnover. Turner is investing $56 million in providing health care, education and security services in a community in the Washington, DC metro area that Bobby Turner hopes will become a test case for the rest of the nation. “The biggest expense of owning workforce housing is vacancy, it’s turnover,” he said. “If you have all of those things provided at no additional cost, families will want to continue to rent there.” With decreased turnover, landlords will save the costs associated with maintaining vacant units—an impact he believes will keep the property viable and decrease the chances of it being sold and transformed into more expensive housing.
Source: Washington Business Journal
Controversy Over Bid to Diversify Wealthy Neighborhoods
The Obama administration is moving forward with regulations designed to diversify America’s wealthier neighborhoods, drawing fire from critics who feel that the proposal is an executive overreach. The regulations would use grant money to build affordable housing in more affluent areas while upgrading community facilities such as schools, parks, libraries and grocery stores in poorer areas. Opponents to the plan argue that people should be free to choose their communities and that the federal government should not have authority over local zoning regulations. Civil Rights advocates praise the plan, arguing that it’s needed to combat neighborhood segregation and provide better opportunities for children.
Source: The Hill
Home Prices Soar in Houston
It is getting harder and harder to buy a home in Houston. The Houston Association of Realtors reports that the average cost of housing has hit more than $233,000, a new record for May. A decade ago, the median price of a home in Houston was only $144,000. To blame is the area’s sustained population growth and job creation over the last decade, combined with only modest increases in the housing stock. Many buyers are being pushed out of the market because of these soaring prices, increasing the need for more affordable housing. The Realtors Association is expecting the economy to soften and home sales to stabilize, pointing to weak job numbers as evidence.
Source: Houston Culture Map
ULI Announces Finalists for the Robert C. Larson Leadership in Housing Policy Awards
Palm Beach County’s Workforce Housing Program (WHP) and Connecticut Housing Finance Authority’s (CHFA) Multifamily Rental Strategy Program have been named finalists for the Urban Land Institute’s 2015 Larson Awards. The programs represent innovative ways to support affordable and workforce housing in their communities. The WHP was designed by committee of stakeholders from the development community and county government, and provides flexibility to developers as they incorporate workforce housing into their projects. The Multifamily Rental Strategy Program is a suite of programs designed to better utilize small multifamily properties as a source of affordable housing throughout Connecticut.