Housing News Roundup: May 8, 2015
How Renting Contributes to the Wealth Gap
The effects of the housing crash continue to linger in myriad ways, including contributing to the nation’s wealth gap. A home has traditionally been an American’s largest asset, but with more and more people renting rather than buying, many are missing out on the ability to accumulate wealth. “Unfortunately, due to an underperforming labor market, insufficient housing supply and overly stringent underwriting standards since the recession, homeownership has plunged to a rate not seen in over two decades,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.
NYC Mayor’s Ambitious Plan to Expand Affordable Housing Stock
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing a new housing plan that would require developers to designate 25% to 30% of all new units as affordable housing. The proposed regulation is part of an overall strategy to build or preserve 200,000 affordable housing units over the next decade. “This can’t be a city of just penthouses and luxury condos,” said De Blasio. “We are turning the page, and making sure the same pressures that have pushed New Yorkers out of their neighborhoods are harnessed to build the next generation of affordable housing.”
Source: New York Times
A Tiny Shelter for One Could Lead to Shelters for Many
What began as one man’s project to build a small, mobile shelter for a 60-year-old homeless woman named “Smokie” has become something bigger. Elvis Summers raised online donations to create the tiny home, recording the process along the way. The video has since been viewed more than 5.3 million times and more than $50,000 in donations have flooded into his Tiny House, Huge Purpose project. Summers has said he hopes to use the funds to build more. “Being homeless is not a crime. The true crime is how we as human beings look at and treat people that are homeless,” he said.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Affordable Housing as a Tech Giant Sales Pitch
The tech giants of Silicon Valley are increasingly using affordable housing to sell communities on their expansion plans. Facebook is in the midst of building a $120-million, 394-unit apartment community that will include only 15 affordable housing units at first, but the company is considering expanding its plan to a total of 3,500 units. At the same time, Google’s plan for 1.5 million square feet of new office space would also include 150 affordable housing units; another 1,800-unit project being considered may also include affordable housing.
Source: Business Insider
D.C. Has the Worst Economic Inequality in the Country
The nation’s capital has the highest economic inequality among the 50 states and District of Columbia. The top 20% of earners in Washington, D.C. make more than $151,132 annually, while the bottom 20% earn less than $20,151. The District is followed by Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts and Mississippi. The Corporation for Enterprise Development’s findings are based on an analysis of U.S. Census data.
Americans' Unmet Demand for Walkability
America in 2015, a survey of more than 1,200 Americans on community values and preferences, found an unmet demand for walkable places. While many Americans want a pedestrian-friendly community, more than half said retail and entertainment is not within walking distance of home. One-quarter reported that traffic made walking unsafe in their area.