Housing News Roundup: September 17, 2015
Teachers in Seattle Reach Agreement with City Over Wages, Performance Evaluation
Seattle Public School District’s 53,000 students begin classes on Thursday, September 17 after a nearly week-long teachers’ strike. Disagreements over wages, hours and professional evaluations prevented classes from starting and forced many working parents to improvise childcare arrangements. The chief grievance of teachers, as cited by Mike Rosenberg, was the lack of a cost-of-living raise in six years, despite Seattle’s surging housing and living expenses. According to Seattle’s Education Association teachers’ unions, the tentative agreement includes a 9.5 percent salary increase for teachers over three years, compensation for additional teaching hours, and an end to the practice of linking teachers’ evaluations to test scores. The agreement comes on top of a state-approved 4.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment.
Advocates Concerned by Boston Mayor Baker's Plan for Homelessness
Governor Charlie Baker has proposed changing Massachusetts’ eligibility requirements for state-funded emergency housing. Although advocates for homeless families remain skeptical, Baker’s administration is moving forward with efforts to secure long-term housing solutions for struggling families in the nation’s only right-to-shelter state. In a joint interview, Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, and Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services, say the administration is working to change rules that tend to force families into emergency housing. Advocates, legislators, and the Baker administration agree that emergency housing, such as hotels and motels, are deeply inadequate options for families, but remain unable to agree on whether proposed changes are best for Massachusetts families.
Source: The Boston Globe
Homeless Students Are Vastly Undercounted and Underserved
Homelessness among public school students across the country rose by 8 percentage points between the 2012–2013 and 2013–2014 school years, according to a recent report, the latest in a continuous rise since the Great Recession. The number of homeless students has now doubled since the recession started in 2008. Advocates for homeless people say that the U.S. Housing Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of homelessness is geared toward adults rather than children and does not identify children as homeless if they are “doubled up with others.” That means children are considered homeless if they live in a shelter, but not if they are living with friends. The Homeless Children and Youth Act, a bipartisan bill that seeks to revise the definition to include “doubled up with others” in order to increase eligibility for homeless assistance programs, is at the committee level in the U.S. House and Senate.
Source: The Washington Post
Editorial: Housing Discrimination Prevents Wealth Formation Among Minorities
Discriminatory housing practices are alive and well, according to a report by the National Fair Housing Alliance. Researchers performed an experiment in which black, Latino, and white testers acting as homebuyers approached a real estate company in Mississippi. Agents showed more houses to white customers than to their black and Latino peers and also subjected minority customers to more onerous requirements. Testers were also guided to look at neighborhoods where the majority population had the same ethnic background as themselves. The New York Times Editorial Board argues that despite the fact that institutionalized discrimination formally ended in the 1960s and 1970s, it was replaced with more subtle practices. The board argues that discriminatory practices have slowed wealth accumulation among minorities over the long term.
Source: The New York Times
HUD Secretary Castro Judges 50 Years of Agency Policy
Fifty years after the creation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), HUD Secretary Julian Castro reflected on the department’s past and future challenges. During his September 9 keynote speech at the Reimagining Cities Conference in Austin, Texas, Castro noted the revival of cities while reminding his audience of the need for HUD to assist low-income families and facilitate racial and economic integration. Using the example of the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles, Castro said HUD needs to tackle difficult issues in low-income neighborhoods in order to prevent similar situations from arising. Research shows that past housing policies have failed to address—and in some cases have reinforced—segregation and fair housing issues across the country.
Home Matters Announces Design Competition Winners
Home Matters announced three winners of its Re-defining Home: A Design Challenge context, which aims to support communities and address housing affordability. Winners were selected based on how well the design went beyond housing and also addressed community life. First place winner was “HomeWork”, by Geoff deOld & Emily Andersen of DeOld Andersen Architecture. Jerry Kler of Jerry Kler Architects won second place with his project “Cross Pollination,” and Ben Tillman won third place with “New Leaf.” All winners received cash prizes. The first place winner incorporated space for small businesses into its neighborhood design.
Source: Multifamily Biz