Housing News Roundup: October 5, 2015
Ikea's Solution for Shrinking Apartment Spaces
As the cost of real estate increase in major cities, the square footage of apartments continues to decrease. Ikea is currently developing movable walls as a solution for individuals who occupy small spaces. The walls hover about an inch above the ground and are attached to runners secured to permanent walls. Today, the average size of a two-bedroom apartment built in Sweden, home to Ikea’s headquarters, is 580 square feet, down from 670 in 2001. Ikea believes the walls could be used to temporarily create small rooms in cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Boston, which have all experienced even larger declines in average square footage. Preliminary tests of the walls have been positive, but they will require probably three more years of refinements before going to market.
Creative Affordable Housing for Seniors
As the cost of living and demand for housing increases in the Bay Area, many seniors on fixed incomes are being priced out of the region. Oakland’s Lakeside Senior Apartments opened in June and boasts 90 affordable units exclusively for seniors to address this growing issue. The architects and developers collaborated by exploring creative solutions to secure the land and financing to engage a strategy that employed patience and flexibility. The exterior’s design blends into the neighborhood without obstructing views and the interior’s design caters to senior tenants’ needs. The development boasts support service programming for senior and is a potential model for addressing the affordable housing needs of seniors in other communities.
Public Housing Destroyed by Ike Finally Returns to Galveston
Seven years after Hurricane Ike, subsidized housing will return to Galveston through two mixed income housing sites. The sites will bring the total number of subsidized units in Galveston to 145, which is 384 less units than the original 569 present before the storm. A 2010 agreement between the state of Texas, HUD and two advocacy groups–Texas Appleseed and the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service–established that all damaged units would be replaced, but continued conflict stalled the re-development. Public housing remains a highly contested issue in the Galveston community. Many residents feel that redeveloping public housing units could lead to a concentration of poverty, whereas others contend that efforts to stall the development of public housing are racially motivated.
Source: The Houston Chronicle
Efforts Underway in St. Louis to Increase Homeownership Among Immigrants
In St. Louis, a report from the Immigrant Housing Project’s report was recently released that found that 40 percent of St. Louis’ foreign-born community are homeowners, a lower proportion than native born residents in St. Louis and immigrants nationally. The Mosaic Project in St. Louis is currently seeking to transform the city into the ‘fastest growing metro region for immigrants,’ because many leaders believe that immigration stimulates the regional economy. Community organizations see the findings as an opportunity to improve the housing market, and have come together to form the Immigrant Housing Center. In order to increase homeownership, the Center will offer immigrants financial assistance regarding how to build credit, and how to access savings accounts and down payment assistance.
Source: St. Louis Public Radio
Census Data Shows White Residents Return to Downtowns
Whites increased their numbers in the largest U.S. cities, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census data by William Frey, demographer with Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program. Between 2010 and 2014, the white population grew in almost half of the country’s 50 largest cities, with declines in only five cities. The growth stands out from the prior decade in which only 15 cities experienced gains in the white population and 35 experienced declines. Millennials lead the way in moving from the suburbs to the city, with Baby Boomers close behind. Frey notes that there have also been upticks in populations of people of color, saying that it’s unlikely “the nation will see substantially whiter big cities in the future.”