Housing News Roundup: September 28, 2015
Transgendered People Face Housing Discrimination
Despite the increasing acceptance of transgender people across the country, and government rulings declaring discrimination against them illegal under the Fair Housing Act, transgender individuals continue to struggle to secure housing. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, 20 percent of transgender people in the United States have been discriminated against when seeking a home and more than 10 percent have been evicted from their homes because of their gender identity. Legal protection from discrimination varies by state: only 19 states and the District of Columbia offer legal protections for transgender people in employment and housing. Many transgendered people experience harassment from both landlords and neighbors. Even in states with protections, transgendered people often do not know what their rights are and are often afraid to pursue them.
Source: AlJazeera America
Data Missing on Important Source of Affordable Housing: Mobile Homes
According to the recent U.S. Census there are nearly 8.5 million mobile homes nationwide, however there is almost no data on evictions in mobile home communities. Sociologist Esther Sullivan from University of Colorado focuses her research on evictions in these communities and says that mobile homes make up the largest portion of non-subsidized affordable housing in the country. Her research shows that evictions are increasing as owners pursue more lucrative redevelopment opportunities. The only state that tracks mobile home park closures is California, where nearly 4,800 mobile home lots closed between 1995 and 2014. Advocates are petitioning the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to compile data on mobile home communities to better understand and address what many believe is an increasing scarcity of mobile homes, which is adding to the national affordable housing crisis.
With Little Support, Seniors Struggle to Age in Place
Approximately 26.8 million households were headed by someone 65 or older in 2013. States in the northeast, like Maine and Pennsylvania, are experiencing challenges supporting increasing numbers of seniors who are remaining in their homes instead of pursuing alternative housing options. Although a 2014 AARP poll found that seniors prefer to age at home, they are often not adequately supported by family or community services. In addition, the housing stock in the northeast is among the oldest in the nation, which poses further maintenance and safety issues to residents. According to researchers, many seniors age in place out of necessity rather than choice: 88% of U.S. residents in assisted living pay out of pocket, and the national median monthly rent is more than $3,500. Policy makers are grappling with how to better assist seniors through programming. Maine, Kentucky, New York and Pennsylvania are currently enhancing programs that provide services like meal delivery and housekeeping for seniors aging in place.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Micro Units Become the New Starter Homes
Homeownership has become a difficult goal for many Millennials to attain. According to the US Census, homeownership for people under age 35 has been dropping, down from 39 percent in 2009 to 34.8 percent in 2015. Faced with student debts and ever increasing rents, it is hard for them to save enough for a down payment. With costs high and supply low, many young people are not finding their ideal first homes. In Boston, micro units are becoming a popular type of starter home, with starting prices in the $200,000 range, about a third of the cost of condos in comparable locations. Experts recommend young buyers in this difficult market carefully prepare their finances, consider more affordable neighborhoods, and be patient in their home search.
Source: The Boston Globe
Alliance Forms in Central Ohio to Tackle Affordable Housing
Eleven housing organizations in central Ohio have come together to create the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio. Their central goal is to add 27,000 apartments affordable to low and moderate income households in the next 10 years. The group estimates that 54,000 households in central Ohio cannot afford market-rate rents in the region, and data shows that the homeless population more than doubled from 2010 to 2014. In one of its first events, this week the Alliance is hosting Megan Sandel, associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University’s School of Medicine and Public Health. Sandel is a reknowned expert on the relationship between health and housing, and will be advising the group on how to address the region’s affordable housing challenges.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch