Housing News Roundup: November 9, 2016
Opinion: Increasing Affordable Rental Housing Must be a National Priority
“Expanding access to affordable housing must become a critical national priority” as a new administration and Congress take office, according to Ron Terwilliger, chairman emeritus of Trammell Crow Residential and the chairman and founder of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families. Focusing on the housing market in Dallas, Terwilliger explains that despite a thriving economy and relatively affordable single-family home prices, 38 percent of children in Dallas live in poverty, and 27,000 residents are employed full-time but earn incomes below the federal poverty level. This contributed to almost 25 percent of renters in the region being severely rent burdened in 2014. With demand for affordable rental units outpacing supply, Terwilliger recommends ways for policymakers to alleviate rent burdens for low-income families through expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, removing land-use restrictions to construct more affordable housing, and implementing new policies such as a federal renters’ tax credit. “Unless we expand the supply of affordable homes, we should expect rents to rise and rent burdens to increase,” says Terwilliger.
Source: The Dallas Morning News
Hampton, Virginia, Public Schools and Housing Authority Share Data to Improve Services for Students and their Families
Sharing data about almost 3,000 students residing in public housing, the Hampton City Schools and the Hampton Redevelopment and Housing Authority (HRHA) joined together to improve services for students and their families. The HRHA will receive student data about “basic demographic characteristics, percentage of students who passed Standards of Learning exams last school year, and suspension, expulsion, and chronic absenteeism rates.” After families give consent for data sharing, the HRHA will analyze the data and determine which services students and families living in public housing need. According to school board chairman Jason Samuels, “When students leave Hampton City Schools, they go home to the communities, so we are sharing the students that we serve, and I think it’s a perfect opportunity for us to collaborate and make sure that our students receive the resources to be successful.”
Source: Daily Press
When Public Housing Closes, Residents Face Steep Relocation Hurdles
The closure of the Atlanta Street public housing complex in Gainesville, Georgia, is creating difficulties as former residents are forced to relocate. While some were transferred to available public housing units elsewhere, many received a voucher to use in the private housing market, which has an insufficient supply to accommodate the surge in demand. The housing shortage, exacerbated by landlords’ ability to decline the assistance payment, has forced some residents to relocate from Gainesville. Julio Albaladejo, a member of the last household to move from the public housing complex, initially thought the relocation would be beneficial, but has since struggled with the loss of the voucher, uninhabitable housing stock in his price range, and eventually getting the voucher restored but needing to be granted an extension to use it in time. “We thought we could find a place, something better…but that didn’t happen,” said Albaladejo.
Source: Gainesville Times
Measure HHH Will Fund Housing First, Supportive Housing in Los Angeles
Voters in Los Angeles approved Measure HHH, which allows for the sale of $1.2 billion in bonds to fund supportive housing for “medically vulnerable” homeless residents. A new property tax of $10 for every $100,000 of assessed value on average will repay the bond, or $32 a year for the median-valued home. The funds are anticipated to create 1,000 apartments a year for 10 years. The county will add supportive services. According to Philip Mangano, who worked on homelessness for President George W. Bush, “It’s one of the few investments in social problems that research—not conjecture, not anecdote—shows will lead to an increase in people housed, a decrease in suffering, and savings for the taxpayers. That’s a trifecta you can’t get at Santa Anita.” With the bond sale approved, the proposed development sites could still be thwarted by opposition to the selected locations.
Source: Los Angeles Times
New Affordable Homes Sold with Sweat Equity and a Mortgage in Rural Rhode Island
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley have worked with residents and additional funders to build new affordable homes in Burrillville, Rhode Island. The USDA’s Mutual Self-Help Housing Program nearly halves the cost of development by relying on the future owners’ sweat equity. To qualify, potential homeowners must earn between 50 and 80 percent of the area median income and meet other employment and credit criteria. The families also get financial literacy and home maintenance training. The development’s first 7 of 30 planned homes will be ready for move-in this year. The owners have put in around 30 hours a week for more than a year. Deed restrictions ensure that on resale, the next owner meets the same income guidelines.
Source: Providence Journal
How a Church in South Jersey Plans to Combat Veteran Homelessness
Pastor Donnie Davis from the Amazing Grace Ministries is developing transitional housing for veterans on a former campground site in New Jersey. The project, Operation Safe Haven, has received funds and in-kind donations from local tradespeople, Home Depot, 4-U Corporation modular homes, and a GoFundMe campaign. Ida Gonzalez, a Gold Star parent, donated in memory of her son Michael, saying, “It’s not just giving the veterans a home…it’s an entire package.” The project expects to grow to provide rent-free housing, mental health services, and job supports to 60 veterans, selected by the Veterans Administration, for up to two years.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Opinion: Housing Issues, American Voters, and a Trump Presidency
Nela Richardson, chief economist for Redfin, describes in a Q&A why “America’s future is tied to its housing policy.” With 11 million Americans spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent, housing prices hold back the nation’s economic growth. Richardson asserts that there will have to be a “bigger and bolder” housing policy that is disruptive rather than tweaks around the edges. Richardson argues that the Trump administration will need to contend with the clash between a tightened immigration policy and its effect on housing markets, both on the supply side through construction labor and on the demand side through a reduction in buyers. She posits that the American people feel the burdens of housing issues, but the housing industry needs to articulate its value better for voters to advocate for change. “I think the voter feels it, especially the working class. They feel it every time they go home, every time they write the rent check, every time they send their kids to a school and they wish the school was a bit better. They see it every single day, but they don’t connect it to where they live.”