Housing News Roundup: June 28, 2018
Seattle Landlords Offer Free Rent and Even Electronics to Renters to Avoid Vacancy
In the wake of a construction boom in Seattle, the record number of new apartments has led to the city’s highest vacancy rates since the recession: a quarter of all apartments downtown are now empty. Pressed to find tenants, landlords are offering “freebies,” such as a free month’s rent, gift cards, and free electronics to renters. Renter Gabriel Mathews noted, “It was the easiest (apartment) hunt I’ve ever had in Seattle by 10 miles.” This is a stark contrast with the area’s tight for-sale market.
Source: Seattle Times
$117,400 Is Now Considered Low Income for Affordable Housing in the Bay Area
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new income threshold now qualifies four-person households that make $117,400 as “low income” in the Bay Area. In the three Bay Area counties of Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo, the median family income is $118,400. “The market produces housing for those at the top. It just demonstrates how broken and unsustainable our housing market is. More and more people are unable to afford housing,” said Amie Fishman, executive director of the nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California.
What Will Displaced Puerto Ricans Do When Housing Support Runs Out?
On June 30, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) expires for Puerto Rican families displaced after Hurricane Maria. As of May 31, nearly 2,000 families were receiving TSA, and 656 of those families are in Florida, the most in any state. Many who make minimum wage in Orlando worry they won’t be able to afford expensive rentals. “Prior to the hurricanes, Orlando had one of the country’s most severe shortages of rental homes for the lowest-income people. The influx of low-income people from Puerto Rico who are also in need of affordable housing exacerbates the shortage,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Source: NBC News
Atlanta Landlords Are Relying on Eviction Filings to Force Tenants to Pay Up, Analysis Finds
Though the number of eviction filings in the metropolitan Atlanta area has declined, a recent analysis found that the number of serial eviction filings has risen since 2010. In fact, more than a third of the 1 million cases filed since then were serial filings. Most of these filings resulted in tenants paying court costs and late fees to stay put, rather than actual eviction. “Eviction is not being used as the court of last resort. It’s being used as the court of first resort in many of these cases,” said Matthew Desmond, head of Princeton University’s Eviction Lab.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Lincoln, Nebraska, Halved Its Homeless Population Thanks in Part to Housing First
Though many of Lincoln, Nebraska’s homeless suffer from mental illness, local housing advocates are seeing progress, as the population is half of what it was six years ago. They attribute the decrease to the city’s adoption of a Housing First model, in which service providers log and track homeless people on a registry and then connect the most vulnerable with housing every week. “We put a roof overhead, and then we meet those other needs,” said Denise Packard, a past chairwoman of the Lincoln Homeless Coalition. “And those are the two key words: And then we meet those other needs.”
Source: Lincoln Journal Star