Housing News Roundup: November 2, 2015
Boston Builds Student Housing to Ease Housing Crunch
Boston is building housing at the fastest pace in 15 years, due to an increase in the construction of dormitories. The surge in student housing is part of Mayor Walsh’s plan to create 53,000 new housing units by 2030, and easing the competition for housing across the city. He has pushed universities to add 16,000 more undergraduate housing units by 2030, and 2,500 for graduate students. That amount of housing development is expected to open up approximately 5,000 apartments to Boston’s working families. Mayor Walsh says, “We see it in Allston-Brighton. We see it in parts of Dorchester. We see it in Mission Hill. Every room that gets created on campus eases pressure on these neighborhoods.” Approximately 1,200 dorms are already under construction this year and several universities in Boston are exploring partnerships with private developers to address their student housing needs.
Source: The Boston Globe
Nashville’s Faith Community Builds Tiny Homes for Homeless
Pastor Jeff Obafemi Carr and the faith community in Nashville have implemented creative solutions for Nashville’s homeless. Through a fundraising campaign, Pastor Carr was able to raise $66,967 to build six 5-by-15 micro homes for Nashville’s homeless to utilize. The move came after the homeless were evicted from fort Negley, a city park. The homeless are able to live in the small homes in the backyard of the Green Street church, with access to shower facilities and food. Organizations like Room in the Inn as well as the How’s Nashville and 2016 by 2016 campaigns, have emerged to offer community-based and community-funded resources and services for the homeless. Although the faith community is making strides, leaders hope the city government will become more involved in addressing homelessness in Nashville.
Source: The Atlantic
Distressed Neighborhoods Have a New Source of Investment
Changes to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA) guidelines will allow retirement asset investments that yield social and environmental impact. A 2008 guideline revision limited investors’ ability to utilize socially conscious investment vehicles. ERISA’s revision has the potential to stimulate investment of the nation’s $25 trillion in retirement assets into affordable housing and equitable economic development. In a statement announcing the change, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stated that “investing in the best interests of a retirement plan and in the growth of a community can go hand in hand.” Asset management companies, like Trillum Asset Management, US SIF and the National Advisory Board on Impact Investing, are excited that the recent change could allow them to invest in distressed urban areas.
Allegations of Sexual Coercion in Baltimore Public Housing
Maintenance workers in Baltimore’s public housing are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development due to allegations that employees demanded sexual favors in exchange for making repairs. According to a recently filed federal lawsuit, Baltimore state’s attorney’s office has launched a criminal investigation and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City is reviewing the allegations. The eleven plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that assaults occurred at three properties: Gilmore Homes, Westport and Govans Manor. Paul Graziano, Baltimore’s Housing Commissioner, is also due to charges that the Housing Authority had knowledge of the assaults since 2006. The Mayor of Baltimore is looking forward to seeing the results of the investigation, due to the severity of the allegations.
Source: The Baltimore Sun
Julian Castro Discusses Affordable Housing With Twin City Advocates
In the third meeting of its kind in only three months, Julian Castro, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, discussed affordable housing with stakeholders in Minnesota’s Twin Cities on Friday, October 30th. Housing advocates debated whether affordable housing should be located in affluent suburbs, or in neighborhoods where many lower income families have long resided. The panel of housing experts also discussed HUD’s recent rule on affirmatively furthering fair housing, which requires municipalities to evaluate and address housing equity. The metro area is looking for solutions to its lack of subsidized affordable housing, and has recently filed complaints with HUD, arguing that affluent neighborhoods in the city have improperly avoided building affordable housing. The panel agreed that more subsidized housing is needed, but discussions continue on where and how to build it.
Source: The Star Tribune