Housing News Roundup: May 7, 2015
Distance to Work is Keeping Many Locked in Poverty
The farther a low-income worker lives from their place of employment, the less likely they will be able to pull themselves out of poverty, according to a long-term Harvard study. In fact, commute time is the strongest factor when it comes to calculating the odds of escaping poverty — above even crime, elementary-school test scores or the percentage of two-parent families in a community.
Source: New York Times
D.C. Bridge Project Wants to Stop Gentrification Before it Happens
The organization behind an ambitious bridge project that would link two very different Washington, D.C. communities is taking steps to ensure residents won’t be pushed out because of post-project gentrification. Scott Kratz, director of the 11th Street Bridge Park project, said the idea to form an equitable development task force came after he saw how similar projects affected their communities. “It’s really critical that we’re thinking presciently about how to ensure that the thousands of people who have helped shape this project can be the ones that benefit from it, while at the same time mitigating any potential displacement,” he said.
Source: Next City
Lead Paint Still Haunts, Sickens Low-Income Baltimore Families
Nearly four decades after the use of lead paint was banned by federal legislation, tens of thousands of people — the vast majority of them low income — still live in homes laced with the dangerous neurotoxin. The problem is especially severe in Baltimore, which saw 65,000 children with dangerously high levels of lead in their blood from 1993 to 2013. In addition, studies in 1998-1999 and 2006 found that while fewer white families were living in homes with lead paint, the number of black families was actually higher. This is despite ongoing public health efforts. “When we tell people we’ve had a 98 percent reduction, I sometimes get applause,” said Ruth Ann Norton, president and CEO of the Baltimore-based Green & Healthy Homes Initiative. “But the rest of that sentence is that we still have 535,000 children a year being poisoned in the United States.”
When an Affordable Housing Search is Hostage to a Criminal Past
No one knows how many people are kept out of affordable housing or from getting jobs because of a criminal past that the government expunged years ago, yet still exists on private servers. Philadelphia resident Helen Stokes needed to move from her three-bedroom to a subsidized apartment, but arrest reports from a background company led two senior living facilities to reject her applications. She has filed a federal lawsuit. “These private background-check companies are really undermining all this significant effort on the part of the states to create this new reality so that people can move on past their criminal records,” said Maurice Emsellem, a director at the National Employment Law Project.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Public, Private Partnership on Affordable Housing Needed in Miami
Public officials and local developers need to come together in a joint effort to solve Miami-Dade County’s affordable housing crisis. If not, low-income workers could be forced out of the county entirely, according to speakers at the Homes for All Housing Summit at Miami Dade College. “Frankly, our government resources are not enough to address the problem,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “Government cannot do it alone.” Approximately 40% of the area’s working households spend at least half of their income on housing.
Source: Miami Herald