Housing News Roundup: March 28, 2019
Extreme Weather and Flooding Leave Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Residents Stranded
After a serious bout of snow and flooding, many residents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota—which has a population of about 20,000—have been stranded in their homes for nearly two weeks with emergency rations. Oglala Sioux tribe officials say they lack the training, infrastructure, and personnel to deal with the crisis, but strained relations with the state and federal government mean that help has been slow to arrive. The crisis has hit the community hard—half of the reservation’s residents live in poverty, and many live in aging houses.
Source: New York Times
The Affordable Housing Crisis Isn’t Just an Urban Problem
In the past decade, nearly a quarter of the country’s most rural counties have experienced an increase in severely cost-burdened residents. Some struggle with affordable housing because a loss of high-paying jobs or an influx of new workers limits available rental housing. For many, federal incentives to include affordable units have expired or will expire soon. In fact, a recent study found that between 2006 and 2016, more than 2,000 properties left the federal program.
Study Finds That Landlords Use Serial Eviction Filings for More Than Tenant Removal
A new study from Georgia State University concluded that landlords in the metropolitan Atlanta area frequently use serial multifamily eviction filings as a tool to enforce rent and fee collection—not just to begin the removal process. “Serial filers may cater to tenants who are economically fragile, and, like banks charging overdraft fees, they may have identified a way to capitalize on this fragility,” the authors write. One of their primary policy recommendations to combat this pattern is to increase the supply of quality, safe, and affordable housing for low-income renters.
Poor Mental Health Shortens Life Expectancy
According to US News & World Report and the Aetna Foundation’s Healthiest Communities rankings, poor mental health reduces life expectancy nearly as much as diabetes, smoking, or lack of exercise. Communities that ranked healthiest reported strong housing quality. “We often think about health as the four hours we spend in a doctor’s office a year, but health is about so much more than that,” said Aetna Foundation President Garth Graham.
Nonprofit Gives More Than a Forever Home to People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness
Community First! Village has taken a unique approach to serving about 40 percent of the people experiencing chronic homelessness in Austin, Texas: it’s giving them a long-lasting community, in addition to a home for the rest of their lives. The nonprofit provides 100 RVs and 125 microhomes and plans to build an additional 301 units. “The village also includes an art studio, blacksmithing shop, and more to teach residents new skills that could become a source of income. We believe that housing will never solve homelessness, but community will,” said founder Alan Graham.