Housing News Roundup: November 16, 2016
For Native Americans, Housing Shortages Impede Schooling and Well-Being
Native American populations are outgrowing the housing supply on reservations, but many prefer high levels of crowding rather than moving far from close-knit families and a culture of multigenerational living. On the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, the Northern Arapaho tribe’s population has increased to 11,000 people, but there are only 230 homes on the reservation. Heidi Frechette of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Native American Program explains that Congress hasn’t made sure that funding keeps up with inflation or tribes’ population growth, leaving more than 55 percent of the Northern Arapaho tribe homeless as they “couch surf.” Lynell Shakespeare is one of 10 to 13 people living in a four-bedroom house with her father, who has dementia. Her daughter has been on the tribal housing waiting list for two years, but Shakespeare explains, “We don’t want to go to housing. We can stack up here.” The tribal administrator, Vonda Wells, is concerned about the negative effects of overcrowding on families, such as distraction in school, domestic violence, and chronic illnesses. “People get stressed and…things happen…violence happens,” she says.
Source: National Public Radio
Advocates Wait to Hear President-Elect Trump’s Safety Net Policies
Antipoverty advocates await President-elect Trump’s plan for addressing poverty, a topic he rarely discussed during his campaign. After hearing the president-elect speak negatively about the populations that generally benefit from safety net programs, some worry that funding for these programs, especially for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will be reduced or eliminated to fund tax cuts. Others remain cautiously optimistic that the lack of discussion from Trump about his antipoverty plan will create opportunities for advocates to shape his policies. Programs and policies such as the earned income tax credit, which both Democrats and Republicans support, demonstrate the possibility for bipartisan solutions, but the biggest question for advocates as the president-elect appoints a new cabinet, says Deborah Weinstein, head of an antipoverty coalition for antipoverty advocates, is “who will he be listening to?”
Source: National Public Radio
Aging, Rural Homes Create Problems for the Elderly and Communities
Aging homes in rural areas present problems for elderly residents and their communities. In St. Louis County, Minnesota, more than half of the homes that residents own were constructed before 1960. This makes it difficult for the county’s rapidly aging population, who must modify their homes to age in place. Because of limited income in retirement, much of this population already pays more than 30 percent of its income for housing expenses, forcing many residents to decide between home repairs and other expenses, such as health care. With nearly 18 percent of the county’s residents living in poverty, others face this trade-off, leaving the community with a large supply of unmaintained or unoccupied homes. Advocates are calling for increased rehabilitation of homes instead of demolition. Investing in rehabilitation creates jobs, and workers can then reinvest in their own homes. According to a report by the Urban Institute, this creates “a virtuous cycle in the rehabilitation and upgrading of buildings in rural America.”
Source: Hibbing Daily Tribune
Neighborhood Factors Linked to Biological Stress for Children
“The effect of adverse neighborhood-level factors is measureable at the biological level, even in children,” according to a study by Katherine P. Theall of Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Theall and her colleagues observed 85 black children ages 5 to 16 from 52 neighborhoods in New Orleans. The researchers measured biological symptoms of stress, such as cortisol functioning, among children in the sample and compared results from the stress test with the density of liquor stores and incidents of violent crime and domestic violence in the children’s neighborhoods. Children in areas with a high density of liquor stores and frequent reports of violence experienced higher biological stress markers. According to Theall, “We must think about the built and social environments and how they foster violence and disorder. Changing such environments through policy changes, empowerment, or collective efficacy building are some potential ways.”
Source: Fox News
Local Election Results Aim to Preserve or Grow Affordable Housing Stock
Ballot measures to preserve or grow affordable housing passed in several cities, including those with some of the nation’s highest housing costs. Most of the measures would fund housing with municipal bonds. Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley, approved a $950 million bond to develop thousands of new affordable units for vulnerable area residents, including homeless residents, veterans, seniors, the disabled, and foster youth. Oakland also passed a $600 million bond, of which $100 million would be dedicated to affordable housing. San Francisco’s Proposition C allows the city to repurpose bond funds for seismic upgrades to acquire and rehabilitate multiunit residential buildings and convert them to permanent affordable housing. Several smaller bond measures for housing passed in Portland, Oregon; Minneapolis; Asheville, North Carolina, and Greenville, North Carolina. Cities with housing measures other than bonds include Los Angeles and Boston. Los Angeles residents approved Measure JJJ, which increases affordability requirements under inclusionary zoning for condo and other residential developers. Boston voted for a 1 percent property tax increase to preserve affordable housing.
Source: Fast Company
Low-Income Housing Does Not Bring Down Property Values
An analysis from the real-estate listing site Trulia finds that building affordable housing does not affect the property values of nearby homes. Housing value trajectories are measured from 1996 to 2006 in 20 of the nation’s least affordable cities. The analysis focuses on homes within 4,000 feet of new affordable developments constructed with the help of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. The author compares the change in housing values for homes within 2,000 feet of the affordable development with homes slightly farther away to determine if the closer homes were more negatively affected. Over 10 years, these cities constructed nearly 3,100 low-income developments, ranging from 19 in Honolulu to over 1,000 in New York City. In most cities, the values of the homes closer to low-income developments increased at the same rates as homes farther away. In only Boston and neighboring Cambridge, Massachusetts, did the property values of the closer homes see a dip. And in Denver, values of the closer homes rose faster. This article provides evidence contrary to the popular not-in-my-backyard notion that affordable housing will decrease property values and harm the neighborhood.