Housing News Roundup: March 23, 2017
Portland Turns to Creative Affordable Housing Solutions
The Portland area is employing creative affordable housing solutions by exploring ways to add units in and around churches, libraries, schools, and backyards. Many churches in the Portland metropolitan area own significant amounts of land debt free, making these locations attractive sites for affordable housing. “It really opens the doors for so many more units because of how much land [churches] own….Everything begins with the land, and in the metro area, land is harder to find,” explains Rob Justus of Home First Development, who is working with multiple churches in the area. Other solutions include building senior affordable housing above libraries, and a new bill in the Oregon legislature would create a pilot program that constructs affordable units for seniors on school grounds in exchange for their time helping in classrooms. But these solutions will take time for implementation, so other areas are looking for more immediate solutions. Homeowners in Multnomah County can receive a free accessory unit for their backyard if they use it to house a currently homeless family.
Source: The Oregonian
Housing Demand Exceeds Supply in Seattle, Even with Significant New Construction
Despite growth in Seattle’s housing stock, significant housing demand still drives up rents and home prices. In 2016, the Seattle metropolitan area issued permits for 25,516 new housing units, the seventh most in the country. With scarce land, 63 percent of new units constructed last year are multifamily, the seventh-highest rate in the country among big regions. But the city’s housing demand because of job growth outpaces the creation of this new housing stock. Employmarket.com found that average new housing construction in Greater Seattle was slightly below average when adjusted for job growth. This is seen with historically low apartment vacancy rates and available homes for sale. Although single-family home construction is at a level nearly half that of the years leading up to the recession, experts are optimistic that the surge in permits for multifamily units, currently double the average from the past two decades, will slow the growth in rental prices.
Source: The Seattle Times
Allowing Youth to Stay in Foster Care Longer Is Expected to Reduce Homelessness
A report by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) calls for the state legislature to make changes to support older foster youth. Many youths struggle to transition to living on their own after they turn 18, the age limit for foster care in Louisiana. Breanna Bullock, one of the 140 youths to age out of the state’s foster care system explained last year, “I didn’t have any financials, I didn’t have a job, and my worker told me it was my responsibility.” But the DCFS report makes recommendations to better assist older foster youth transition out of the system, many of whom faces challenges, such as homelessness. Most strikingly, the report calls for foster care services to be available to youth until they are 21 instead of 18. The report describes the benefits of extending the age limit, which includes allowing children to mature and preventing them from becoming homeless, among other benefits, noting that 23 other states and one federal tribe have already extended the age limit. “A child isn’t ready at 18. Reality doesn’t click in. Legislation should do something to extend it, give them somewhere to go, a foundation, affordable housing so they can get started,” said Delia Penten, a foster parent in the state.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Affordable Housing Will Support Miami’s Growing Health District
Wagner Creek, a new affordable housing development in Miami’s health district, will house low-income students, medical professionals, and others upon whom the city’s growing health sciences and biotech industry depends. Most of the 73 units are designated for people earning 60 percent and 33 percent of the area median income (AMI) or less, with a small number of units serving people earning up to 120 percent of the AMI. Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and private and public capital combined to finance this project. “Wagner Creek’s waiting list of over 350 people is indicative of the demand, and while we’re proud to be providing a vital need to the community, it’s obvious that more needs to be done to address the shortage of affordable housing in Miami,” said Matthew Rieger of the Housing Trust Group who constructed Wagner Creek.
Source: Affordable Housing Finance
Ending the Community Development Block Grant Would Affect All States
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funds community-based activities that affect millions of residents in every state in the country, according to Erik Sherman of Forbes. The CDBG is a block grant to states and municipalities that often supports the work of community-based nonprofits who offer such programs as meals to seniors and day care for low-income families. To estimate the effects of President Trump’s proposed elimination of this program, Sherman totaled the amount each state received in CDBG funding, divided those totals by each state’s population to form a per capita funding statistic, and examined whether Democratic or Republican states (based on their most recent political leaning) would fare worse because of these cuts. Sherman’s findings reveal that large states, regardless of political leaning, would be most affected, but that all states would be affected by the proposed cuts. On a per capita basis, the most affected states tend to be more urbanized, such as New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania—two of which went Republican and two Democrat in the 2016 presidential election.