Housing News Roundup: March 17, 2016
Study Shows Fiscal Benefits of New Housing in Massachusetts
New housing development yields fiscal benefits, according to research published by the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Arguments against new housing often cite strain on local schools and other services, yet a study of six mixed-income housing developments in Massachusetts found that half were net revenue generators for the locality while the net negative effects in the other three cases were modest and could be offset by the additional state tax collections that the developments generated. “In fact, less than one in three of those net new state dollars would be required to make these communities whole,” says Michael Goodman, director of the Public Policy Center at UMass Dartmouth. The study was released as the legislature considers a bill to streamline zoning revisions that would facilitate multifamily housing development and give the new zoning districts access to state funds to offset education and infrastructure needs. “[In] order to encourage municipalities to allow for density, you have to address their financial concerns. They think the additional housing is going to bring additional schoolchildren and that it’s going to be cost-prohibitive for them to expand,” says the bill’s cosponsor, state representative Kevin Honan.
Balancing Air Quality and the Need for Jobs in Inland California
Recent decisions by the board of California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) have ignited a debate about balancing air quality and job growth for residents of the state’s Inland Empire. AQMD fired executive officer Barry Wallerstein and is backing down from proposals to tighten regulation on businesses that draw diesel trucks. “My job on the governing board is to ensure we have good air quality and that we do it in such a way that we’re not losing jobs in the area,” says Highland, California, mayor and AQMD board member Larry McCallon. The region is home to several warehouse distribution centers. Environmental health advocates argue that the board has placed economic interests above the lives of residents. The air in San Bernardino, Riverside, and other Inland Empire communities exceeded federal ozone standards more than 50 days in 2014—well above downtown Los Angeles’s seven ozone violation days. “This is a concerted effort to deregulate and leave our communities in harm’s way and it’s very disturbing,” says Penny Newman, executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Engaging Homeless Youth through Drop-In Centers
Based on research showing that homeless youths are more likely to seek assistance from a drop-in center than a shelter, Washington, D.C., is adding funds to open new drop-in centers and allow existing centers to expand their hours. Homeless youth are regularly undercounted, leading to a shortage of resources to support their needs. Just 16 unaccompanied youth were found in Washington, D.C., during the point-in-time homeless count in January 2015, but a youth-focused count later in the year found 330. Many of these youth avoid shelters and may therefore miss receiving other services they need. Drop-in centers offer a more casual setting for youth to take a shower, get some food, spend time with friends, and access social service systems. Natasha Slesnick, an Ohio State University professor of human development, found that just 18 percent of homeless youth who were referred to a shelter actually went, compared with 80 percent of homeless youth who were referred to a drop-in center. “Drop-in centers aren’t the complete answer, but it’s a first step,” says Slesnik.
Source: Washington Post
Women's Leadership in Affordable Housing
Among the firms on Affordable Housing Finance’s Top 50 Developers list, 18 percent are led by a woman. This puts affordable housing development slightly ahead of the real estate industry as a whole. A recent study by the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) at the Urban Land Institute (ULI) found that just 14 percent of CEOs who are ULI members are women. The WLI study also found that female ULI members in the United States reported that informal opportunities for career growth were more important to them than formal programs. “This includes giving women challenging job assignments so they can rise to the occasion and prove themselves,” says Ellen Mendelsohn, ULI’s director of leadership. The article includes profiles of ten women leaders in the affordable housing industry, including Terri Ludwig of Enterprise Community Partners, Shola Olatoye of the New York City Housing Authority, Jane Graf of Mercy Housing, and Priscilla Almodovar of JPMorgan Chase.
Source: Affordable Housing Finance
Seattle's Homegrown Homeless Population
Seattle’s rising homeless population is homegrown, according to data collected by King County homeless-service providers. A common intake questionnaire for publicly funded service providers asks homeless clients for the last ZIP code of residence. Around 86 percent of people who used King County homeless services in 2014 listed a ZIP code within the county. Another 6 percent provided a ZIP code elsewhere in Washington. These numbers match a consistent trend across the United States, according to Barbara Poppe, a consultant to Seattle’s mayor and former head of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. Communities regularly find that around 80 percent of the clients at homeless service providers are local and around 90 percent are from the same state.
Source: Seattle Times