Housing News Roundup: March 4, 2015
Federal Program Helps Public Housing Residents Grow Incomes and Savings
While renting rather than owning does provide certain benefits, it can also make it extremely difficult for people who want to be homeowners to save enough to one day afford to buy. The five-year Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS), offered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, helps low-income households with certain types of housing assistance increase both their incomes and their savings. A 2011 study found that FSS enrollees’ average annual incomes climbed from $19,902 to $33,390.
Ann Arbor is Working to Meet the Housing Needs of a Diverse Community
The city of Ann Arbor, as home to the University of Michigan, experiences some of the same affordable housing challenges faced by other college towns: Ensuring that all its residents, no matter their income, can afford to call the city home. The city intends to add approximately 2,800 affordable rental units by 2035, with an additional 340 non-student units planned in the city and nearby.
Source: Next City
NYC’s Planned ‘Affordable’ Housing May Not Be for Many Residents
One of the first steps to discussing “affordable housing” is agreeing on a definition of the term. While New York City Major Bill de Blasio plans to “build or preserve” 200,000 such units, there is some concern that the “affordable” rent won’t actually be attainable for people with low-incomes or who are living in shelters. The plan defines affordable rent as $41,500 annually but the city’s median four-person household income is only $63,000.
Source: Huffington Post
D.C. Officials Want the Hard Data on Rent Control
One side says rent control supports affordable housing, while the other says it hurts the overall market — and the data isn’t much help in determining who’s correct because there isn’t much in the way of data. In Washington, D.C., public officials are hoping to create a clearer picture of rent control’s effects by developing a searchable database of the city’s approximately 80,000 housing units subject to rental control.
Source: Washington City Paper
Owners of Florida’s Least-Expensive Housing are Paying for it in High Property Taxes
While Florida’s property taxes are overall among the lowest in the nation, a new study finds that people living in the least-expensive housing — defined as owners of condos or houses worth less than $50,000 — pay a higher percentage of property taxes than any other demographic, except million-dollar property owners. One contributing factor is the state’s lack of income tax, leading to a high reliance on property taxes for basic revenue needs. Florida’s property taxes are not the most regressive nationally, however. That distinction instead falls to Washington State.
Source: Orlando Sentinel