Housing News Roundup: September 24, 2015
New Research Predicts Cost Burden for Renters Will Increase
The United States is experiencing record-breaking rental rates and rental costs. Pent-up demand caused by the crash in multifamily housing during the Great Recession is driving up prices, resulting in large financial burdens for renters. Zillow reports that Americans now pay an average of 30.2 percent of their income on rent, the largest share since 1985. According to new research from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and Enterprise Community Partners, the number of renters who spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing will likely rise 11 percent by 2025, from 11.8 million to 13.1 million households, with people over age 65 and Hispanics being most affected. The projected increases come as federal, state, and local governments already struggle to meet the need for housing assistance.
Trash Issues in DC Neighborhood Highlight The Pope's Environmental Message
As the nation’s capital prepares for Pope Francis’s visit, his disapproval of today’s “throwaway culture” is particularly germane for nearby residents. The Washington D.C. neighborhood of Brentwood has battled a trash transfer station in their community for over three decades. Processing trash from D.C. and neighboring states, the site continually fills the neighborhood with odorous fumes; also, an increase in vermin, and health-related complications is associated with the transfer station. The area was very attractive to the private trash industry in the 1980s due to an abundance of inexpensive industrial land, but longtime residents fear for the health and safety of their families. Brentwood embodies the world’s failure to adapt “the circular model of production” promoted by the pontiff and highlights the need to develop sustainable recycling and production solutions.
Source: National Geographic
Infographic Shows Lack of Housing Diversity in Major American Cities
The housing stock varies dramatically in cities across the country. For instance, D.C. is dominated by rowhouses and modest apartments while Detroit is characterized by single-family homes. Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post created an infographic that visually presents the percentage of different home types in the 40 largest American cities. While the single-family home remains the most prevalent home type, it is not the most practical for addressing rising demand. The data reinforce the notion that cities should consider diversifying their housing stock to better address local realities. Since 25 of the 40 largest cities are still dominated by single-family homes, the authors contend that most cities have room to densify.
Source: The Washington Post
Opinion: Housing Costs Are a Source of Community Instability
J. Ronald Terwilliger discusses the dynamics of the current housing market, and paints a grim picture of the future. Research shows that households are paying increasing percentages of their income on housing: more than a third of households pay more on housing than the recommended 30 percent of their incomes, and a quarter of renters spend more than 50 percent. Terwilliger says the situation should concern all Americans because it affects not only individual families, but communities and the country as a whole. Many communities are losing their essential workers, such as firefighters and nurses, who cannot afford to live where they work. Children in families that can barely afford their homes tend to complete less schooling, leading to lower earnings and fewer economic prospects. Terwilliger notes that high housing costs will only increase in the future if major policy interventions are not taken.
Source: Bipartisan Policy Center
Affordable Housing Planned for New York City Community Garden
In Manhattan, an affordable housing plan for elderly residents is threatening a beloved, tranquil half-acre public green space. The garden is publicly-owned and being used as a storage area and outdoor showroom by the Elizabeth Street Gallery, which leases the space for $4,000 a month. Neighbors, who utilize the garden, and some community board members are advocating to preserve the local oasis. City Councilwoman Margaret Chin is pushing for development, and envisions the space as a seven-story building with 60 to 75 apartments and ground floor commercial space. The space is argued to be the perfect location for seniors and their families who have been in the neighborhood for years. With affordable housing advocates on both sides opposing one another, meetings with community and elected officials will be conducted in order to determine the garden’s fate later this year.
Source: The New York Times