Housing News Roundup: October 20, 2016
Analysis: Progress on Housing Mobility Despite “Formidable Set of Barriers” in Chicago
Interventions helped voucher holders move to a more economically prosperous area, but the assistance mechanisms could not overcome “the barriers to making an opportunity move,” according to Marisa Novara’s analysis of a Rand Corporation study. The study randomly assigned three treatments to voucher holders in the Chicago region who had requested to move: providing standard information about moving with a voucher, giving standard information and a $500 grant if the voucher holder moved to an opportunity neighborhood, or the previous intervention coupled with free mobility counseling. The study found that despite the intervention type, 11 to 12 percent of participants relocated to an opportunity neighborhood. Novara argues that this proves that voucher holders who wanted to move would do so regardless of any intervention, but counseling helped them move to more prosperous areas. However, many barriers in the Chicago region cannot be overcome with financial assistance and counseling. For greater success, Novara claims that there is a need for “higher intensity counseling with an emphasis on landlord recruitment and a longer period of time to find a unit.” Underpinning this analysis is the Metropolitan Planning Council’s belief that “all households—regardless of their income source—[should] have the greatest range of options possible and that for those who do want to make an opportunity move, we remove as many barriers as possible.”
Jobs Plus Grant Aims to Match Baltimore Residents with Sustainable Employment
The Housing Authority of Baltimore City won another Jobs Plus program grant, providing the city $2.5 million to help residents connect with employment, education, and financial literacy. The funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will target residents of Gilmor Homes, a public housing development, which is in a neighborhood with high crime rates, low education rates, and an insufficient supply of quality affordable housing. A previous Jobs Plus grant in 1999 benefited residents, such as Dana Cowen, allowing her to earn a GED and start a career with the city’s housing authority. “This is a holistic approach to ensuring that we are creating positive pathways for people in this community to achieve the sustainable and sustaining jobs that they want for themselves and their families,” said Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Source: The Baltimore Sun
New Pilot Programs Attempt to Bring Supermarkets to Food Deserts
Supermarket chains are testing strategies to combat food deserts, areas that don’t provide low-income residents easy access to supermarkets, making it difficult for that population to buy fresh and healthy food. According to estimates by the US Department of Agriculture, 23.5 million Americans live in a low-income area and must travel more than one mile to a large grocery store or supermarket. In 2011, several supermarket chains, including Walmart and SuperValu, partnered with the White House to open over 1,500 stores in food deserts, using public and private funds and tax credits to help finance the initiative. However, many of these stores closed as government funds became limited. Other pilot programs include Kroger’s “no-frills” Ruler Foods stores, which attempt to address rural food deserts; Whole Foods’s new stores in low-income neighborhoods, which use philanthropic funds and tax credits to remain profitable in these areas; and FreshDirect, which provides food to low-income communities through an online delivery service. All of these strategies attempt to address the problem that Mari Gallagher, a consultant who researches food deserts, summarizes as follows: “We can’t choose healthy food if we don’t have access to it.”
Source: The Wall Street Journal
The Challenge of Creating Affordable Housing for Teachers
The Los Angeles Unified School District has developed affordable housing for teachers to help curb the high turnover rate. However, many teachers earn more than the area median income qualifications for these homes, and service workers earn too little to qualify. Robin Hughes, president of the nonprofit development company Adobe Communities, points to a key obstacle that “there’s no special government funding out there that supports teachers.” As a result, only a portion of the below-market units that have been built with teachers in mind are occupied by teachers. Given the challenges of meeting the needs, Los Angeles and other school districts are rethinking how to encourage teachers to stay, despite increasing housing costs.
Source: LA Times
New Affordable Housing and Service Provision for Low- and Moderate-Income Families in Houston
With a new affordable housing development, New Hope Housing hopes to help address the gap in housing and service provision for low- and moderate-income families in Houston. The $36 million project will yield 187 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units for families earning between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income. In addition to housing, residents will have access to the Star of Hope Campus, which will have facilities to offer essential wraparound services, such as job training, emergency care, and mental health counselling. New Hope’s president and CEO, Joy Horak-Brown, hopes to see the project “lift people up from generational poverty” through neighborhood revitalization.
Source: Houston Chronicle
Understanding How Place Affects Health Outcomes
The For the Sake of All and the Forward through Ferguson reports present the severity of neighborhood racial health disparities in Ferguson, Missouri, and discuss potential solutions. According to the For the Sake of All report, black Americans have a higher likelihood of injury by firearm, abuse, neglect, or rape. Additionally, they are “more likely to need emergency mental health treatment and to have a chronic disease, sexually transmitted infections, and negative birth outcomes.” Both reports offer strategies for addressing these inequities, such as creating school-based health centers, and some of the reports’ recommendations are already being acted upon, like the Missouri Foundation for Health’s pilot program, which trains schools to discipline students without suspension or expulsion. Local stakeholders in Ferguson are using these reports to address the root causes of these systemic inequities.
Source: US News