Housing News Roundup: September 27, 2018
500 Refugees Were Temporarily Homeless after Evacuating from Uninhabitable Apartments
Late last week, about 500 refugees from Myanmar were removed from an apartment complex that Omaha, Nebraska, city inspectors deemed uninhabitable when they found gas leaks, vermin, and other unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Nearly 200 refugees were forced to stay in temporary shelter, while others found shelter with friends or family. “Today, I feel like we became a refugee again,” said resident Myint Sein. After inspectors found more than 1,000 code violations, the city called its effort to intervene “a humanitarian effort.” The city stated it will work with the complex’s landlord if he is willing to dedicate the time and money to fix the property.
Source: Omaha World-Herald
Senator Warren Introduces Bill to Tackle the Housing Crisis
On Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which would dedicate half a trillion dollars over 10 years for affordable housing programs. The bill aims to lower the cost of developing housing so that landlords can lower rents and eliminate zoning laws that made developing expensive initially—laws that limit low-income households’ ability to move to wealthier neighborhoods. Among many other tenets, it expands Fair Housing Act protections and qualifies families in formerly segregated communities for down payment assistance, in an attempt to close the historic racial wealth gap. It is funded by raising the estate tax to levels seen during the Bush administration.
Source: The Atlantic
Largest City in the Bay Area Will Soon Vote on Massive Local Housing Bond
In November, voters in San Jose, California—the biggest city in the Bay Area—will decide on one of the biggest local housing bond initiatives in recent years. The $450 million bond would direct funds into affordable housing production and preservation to create thousands of new affordable units. At least $150 million would serve residents earning less than 30 percent of the area median income. Mayor Sam Liccardo aims to reach homeowners who may be undecided. “Even among those more satisfied and affluent residents, they have concerns about the ability for their children to be able to afford to live here when they’re grown,” he said.
North Carolina Is Slow to Distribute Aid to Homeowners
Deborah Maynor is one of 106 homeowners in Lumberton, North Carolina, who is still waiting for federal aid to reimburse her for losses she experienced two years ago during Hurricane Matthew. North Carolina is on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s list of “slow spenders”; it has been slow to distribute money Congress earmarks to help low- and moderate-income homeowners. After Hurricane Florence, North Carolina is now “recovering from two historic storms in two years that affected many of the same people,” said Sadie Weiner, a spokesperson for the governor. Meanwhile, “there are 106 families in this town who have been told, over and over, help is on the way,” said Chris Howard Jr., a Lumberton councilman. “My constituents have basically gotten nothing, so far.”
Source: New York Times
An Antipoverty Initiative Expands to Chicago
The Family Independence Initiative, which for 17 years has strived to fight poverty and improve the quality of life for families in 14 cities across the country, is moving into 10 neighborhoods across Chicago. Participants provide monthly financial reports, attend monthly community meetings, and can earn up to a $3,200 stipend if they stay committed to the program. The organization is based on the principle that communities know what is best for the people who live there and leaves most decisionmaking to residents. Families use an online platform that helps them chart their financial progress. The Preservation of Affordable Housing, a nonprofit developer, has partnered with the organization.
Source: Chicago Sun Times