Housing News Roundup: June 8, 2017
The Real Cause of San Francisco’s Housing Crisis
Despite some in San Francisco calling for moratoriums on new construction, million-dollar luxury housing is not the root cause of the city’s housing crisis, according to new analysis from the Urban Institute’s Graham MacDonald. In fact, he writes, “in 2016, at the height of the million-dollar home market of the past eight years, only 10 percent of homes sales worth a million dollars or more were located in new complexes.” Cutting back on construction would not make a difference to the housing crisis—and cutting back could make the crisis worse. Meanwhile, tenants continue to feel mounting pressures of eviction as rates spike. Is the spike in evictions the result of unaffordable rents or a means to raise them in the future?
Source: Next City
How Cutting Federal Housing Assistance Could Hurt People’s Health
New research reveals that receiving housing assistance from the federal government in the form of vouchers, public housing, and subsidies for multifamily homes is keeping people healthier. The study, which used data collected by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), found that housing assistance programs increased people’s likelihood of having access to regular care and health insurance, and it increased their chances of seeking care when needed. The study’s suggestion that housing programs and health are inextricably linked is timely given the proposed cuts to the HUD budget. “To the extent that the new budget passes and leads to people losing their housing assistance, we’re also talking about people losing their health care,” said Andrew Fenelon, one of the paper’s authors.
Middle-Income Families Can’t Afford Homes as Prices Rise
Family incomes cannot catch up to the rapidly rising home prices in Portland, Oregon, meaning that Tanisha Doyle may be priced out of her dream home in Beaverton. “It’s crazy to see Portland go from a small town to a place where it’s cool,” the single mom of three and lifetime Portland resident shared. “I think at first it was exciting and then you start to feel the impact of what that means for you, when Portland becomes the desired place to move.” Doyle hopes to stay in Beaverton, where she works, but as home prices continue shooting up—the average Portland family can afford a $330,000 house, yet the average home price in Portland city limits was $428,000 in April—it is a diminishing reality. The increasing prices, combined with a market full of cash buyers, is shutting people out of homeownership. “We’re going to turn into a little San Francisco,” said Holly Martin, lending director for the Portland Housing Center. “Only the wealthy will be able to afford to live here and everybody else will be pushed out.”
Source: KWG Portland
Permanent Supportive Housing in Fort Collins Could Result in Savings
After fleeing domestic violence, Twila Freel lived on the streets of Fort Collins, Colorado, plagued by hunger and health issues for more than a decade until she finally secured housing. This month, the Murphy Center, an organization dedicated to facilitating collaboration between homeless service providers, is launching a Housing First Initiative to target at-risk people who are falling through the cracks just like Freel. David Rout, executive director of the organization that manages the Murphy Center, says finding housing for these people will generate “significant cost savings in the community at large.” Stable housing often alleviates health issues—Freel went from taking nine medications to taking three—and increases people’s access to nutritious food. The Housing First Initiative will draw on best practices directed at other homeless populations and will use data to track and show progress to service providers, city officials, and the broader community.
Combatting Effects of Gentrification in Public Schools
Rising housing costs are displacing residents in Denver and segregating public schools. In response, the city’s school board has established a 42-member committee to make policy recommendations to fuel racial and economic integration, a process expected to take six months. “The research is very clear that integration benefits all kids,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. Denver Public School parents compose more than half the committee, and more than 60 percent of members are people of color. The committee also includes city staffers and former school board members. The committee will make recommendations on school boundaries, academic programs, enrollment, and other issues, and will place importance on working with the city and creating a space to have dialogue, with the goal of fostering integration. “We recognize that schools do not exist in a vacuum,” explained Boasberg.