Housing News Roundup: May 25, 2017
Proposed Budget Threatens Federal Grants, Could Lead to Work Requirements
President Trump’s budget proposal calls for $6.2 billion in funding cuts to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the most dramatic cuts to HUD since the Reagan administration. The proposed budget cuts would eliminate the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program and an additional $1 billion in other grant programs that focus on neighborhoods, affordable housing, and low-income homebuyers, among other areas. Also, by increasing tenants’ rent contributions, establishing a minimum rental payment, and eliminating utility reimbursements, rental assistance programs would be reduced by $2 billion. The proposed budget also creates the possibility for work requirements in 2019 for rental assistance beneficiaries. According to Diane Yentel of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, work requirements would cause 250,000 households to lose their vouchers. “Focusing on work requirements in a punitive manner is not helpful and doesn’t get at the crux of the problem, which is that people don’t earn enough to afford housing costs throughout the country,” she explained.
Source: The Washington Post
Opinion: Price and Carson Can Create a Comprehensive Approach for Health Care
As physicians in charge of HUD and the US Department of Health and Human Services, Ben Carson and Tom Price can address the link between health and housing to improve patients’ health and reduce health care costs, according to Prabhjot Singh. Practicing medicine in East Harlem, where residents live 10 fewer years than those residing blocks away in the Upper East Side, Singh scans his patients for their housing conditions during exams, recognizing that if they are unstably housed, health is a secondary concern. For instance, to afford rent, one of his patients reduced the frequency of taking insulin, causing her to be hospitalized. Although states will directly connect health and housing services, Carson and Price can take three steps to provide a more comprehensive approach to health care at the federal level, according to Singh. They can allow states more flexibility to use Medicaid funds to support non–health care programs, use health impact assessments more frequently, and provide incentives for mixing public and private resources to improve housing affordability for populations that experience the worst health outcomes because of housing.
Ben Carson Discusses the Role of Government Assistance in Addressing Poverty
Following the release of President Trump’s proposed budget, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary Ben Carson discussed poverty and government assistance during a radio interview on Wednesday. After initially describing poverty as “a state of mind,” Carson clarified his statement, saying, “I think the majority of people don’t have that defeatist attitude, but they sometimes just don’t see the way, and that’s where government can come in and be very helpful. It can provide the ladder of opportunity, it can provide the mechanism that will demonstrate to them what can be done.” In the interview, Carson also suggested that HUD be renamed the Department of Housing and Community Development to reflect the agency’s mission to assist rural areas, not just cities.
Source: The Washington Post
New Report Examines Factors that Contribute to Ending the Cycle of Poverty
Just 16 percent of children who are persistently poor, youth living in poverty for more than half their lives before age 17, will become “successful young adults,” according to a new report from the Urban Institute’s US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty. Using data from the University of Michigan’s Panel of Income Dynamics, the authors examined factors that would help persistently poor children be either consistently employed or in school and not poor from age 25 to 30, the study’s measure of success. The report finds that parents’ employment, neighborhood and school segregation, and time spent living in poverty, among other factors, influenced these children’s success as young adults. This analysis allowed the authors to recommend policy interventions to help the more than 1 in 10 American children who are persistently poor, including connecting parents in poverty with programs and services before the birth of their child. “There shouldn’t be millions of children whose probability of success is lowered simply by virtue of being born into certain circumstances,” explained Caroline Ratcliffe, one of the report’s authors.
Denver Announces a Comprehensive Housing Strategy to Help All Residents
City officials in Denver announced a new housing strategy on Friday that will focus on programs and services to address the housing needs of all residents. “We don’t just want people to have a home. We want them to be able to stay in it, build their lives and families, and build their futures. That means we must go beyond putting a roof over someone’s head,” explained Mayor Michael Hancock. To address the current need of 21,000 additional affordable housing units, this strategy, which the new Office of Housing and Opportunity for People Everywhere (HOPE) put forth, includes 30 short-term action items to be completed by the end of 2017, such as expanding jobs programs and homelessness services. This announcement followed the creation of the city’s first dedicated local funding source for affordable housing earlier this year. “A good home, a good job, and good health are the keystones to a good life,” said Erik Soliván, the executive director of HOPE.
Source: The Denver Post
Boston’s Strategy for Public Housing Renovations Creates Neighborhood Debate
Residents in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood are pushing back on a plan to rebuild a public housing complex in the neighborhood. To fund the project, the Boston Housing Authority would allow a developer to build 2,100 market-rate apartments on the site of the complex and use the profits to create 1,100 new public housing units. But the additional market-rate units cause concern among neighbors. “This is going to be like a tsunami that comes in and flattens Charlestown,” claimed Eric Philippi, who lives near the complex. But the market-rate units are critical for the renovation, explained Bill McGonagle of the housing authority. “My primary interest here is replacing the 1,100 deeply affordable units we have in Charlestown. All those market-rate units help me do that,” he said. While this debate has resulted in a three-month moratorium of the project, residents of the public housing complex still must live in buildings that need repair. Mimi Tovar, a resident of the complex, said, “There’s mold. There’s dust. There’s poor ventilation. We’re looking forward to the project. We don’t want to live in these conditions for another five or 10 years.”
Source: The Boston Globe