Housing News Roundup: March 25, 2015
Health Solutions Start in America’s Neighborhoods
Health outcomes are influenced by more than just medical issues. Income, housing, education and many other factors play roles in the health and well-being of millions of Americans. In an opinion piece, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President Risa Lavizzo-Mourey and Stacey Stewart, the U.S. President of United Way, put forth a challenge: “Too many critical players, particularly non-profits, still view these issues through yesterday’s lenses: Health care. Education. Transportation. Income. Housing. Jobs. Diet. Exercise. These factors belong in one sentence rather than strung along as a series of isolated fragments.”
Source: USA Today
Sprawl Costs the U.S. $1 Trillion a Year
Sprawl significantly increases land consumption, automobile use and the need for government-funded infrastructure, while displacing agricultural lands that could otherwise contribute to the economy, according to a new report which concludes that sprawl costs the country more than $1 trillion annually. The report’s authors hope their findings will help convince developers to focus more on compact housing (which residents increasingly want) and smart growth.
Study: Work and Home Are Farther and Farther Apart
The distance between work and home continues to grow, according to a new study from the Brookings Institution, which found that approximately 60 million suburban residents live in areas that are becoming more distant from jobs, compared to 33 million urban dwellers. For the country’s 96 largest metro areas, the number of jobs within a typical commute of residents dropped by 7 percent. Thirty of these metro areas experienced job losses. Thirty-seven saw an increase in jobs, but a reduction in jobs near residents. And 29 metro areas ran counter to the trend, experiencing greater proximity of jobs and residents. The length of a typical commute varied greatly by metro area, depending on transportation options, infrastructure and the area’s size.
Source: Business Journals
Retirees Increasingly Looking to Stay in Long-Time Private Homes
What happens when large numbers of households age in place? You get a “NORC.” NORC — or naturally occurring retirement community — refers to a neighborhood or housing development where longstanding residents are aging together. Community connections, the desire to have space for visitors and accumulated memories are among the top reasons that these retirees remain in homes that are often larger and expensive to maintain, but local housing options can also affect residents’ likelihood of staying. NORCs will affect communities’ needs over time, for example by reducing school enrollment and car usage while increasing demand for transit, sidewalks and home retrofit services.
Source: Washington Post
New Housing Construction Would Help Ease Renters’ Financial Strains
New construction will be needed if communities hope to meet the housing needs of people who are seeing their monthly rent increases outpace their incomes. The typical rent has climbed 15% over the past five years, while the average renter has only seen an 11% increase in income. “With rents taking up a larger chunk of household incomes, it’s difficult for first-time buyers — especially in high-cost areas — to save for an adequate down payment,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.