Housing News Roundup: September 3, 2015
HBO Miniseries Tells the Story of De Facto Segregation
In 1980, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the city of Yonkers, New York, and its board of education, claiming they had created segregated neighborhoods and schools by discriminating against people in public housing based on race. The defendants were declared guilty in 1985 of violating the Fair Housing Act as well as the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The drama has been captured in the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero, which chronicles the battle against housing and education discrimination and its impact on families. In the context of the recent Supreme Court decision on disparate impact, the miniseries offers a rare insight into the types of fair housing battles that could erupt again.
Source: Education Week
Public Housing Authorities Push Back Against New HUD Policy
Housing authorities across the country are fighting back against a recent Obama administration order that they find ways to remove wealthy tenants from their rolls. The Public Housing Authorities Directors Association told Julian Castro, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, that the Inspector General report that triggered the policy was deeply flawed. Timothy Kaiser, executive director of the association, wrote, “To reverse course on the basis of a deeply flawed Inspector General report . . . and ill-informed commentary from some pundits would be a major policy mistake.” The group’s letter emphasizes the benefits that higher earners bring to public housing authorities, such as valuable funding that would need to be replaced with more subsidies
Source: The Washington Post
New Design Floats Affordable Housing Over Parking Lots
Elevate Structure, a company that builds small housing, is designing housing units that can hover over parking lots. Using a trunk-like base, the micro units are propped up in the air, minimizing its footprint. The idea is that these small homes could utilize space in parking lots that are currently underused. The company envisions the small homes as environmentally-friendly units sporting features like green exteriors and storm water collection. Co-founder of Elevate Structure, Nathan Toothman, says, “There are massive, oceans of concrete. In some cities, I think a third of the area is parking lots. We’re trying to bring more usage into that area.”
Source: Next City
Public Investment and Gentrification
“Building less divided and more inclusive cities will require a different and far more extensive set of public investments, along with a renewed federal commitment to addressing the root causes of persistent poverty and concentrated disadvantage,” according to an analysis by Richard Florida. Research from the Fed has found that transit investments can spark gentrification by allowing upper-income households to trade in cars and spend more on housing — while also signaling to others that new investments are occurring in the area. Public investments in schools, parks, open space, and major redevelopment efforts can also lead to rising home values that displace lower-income residents. Knowing this chain reaction can allow a more balanced set of public sector activities to invest in community wellbeing while retaining inclusion.
Affordable Housing Fight Brewing in Chicago
As Chicago prepares for more-stringent affordable housing rules to kick in, resistance from local developers could jeopardize this part of Chicago’s five-year housing plan. Chicago developer Boyne Development and the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago are suing the city, arguing that its Affordable Requirements Ordinance is unconstitutional because it takes private property without just compensation. If heard, the case could endanger similar ordinances around the country. The Home Builders Association provided policy recommendations to the city in 2014, detailing what they believed would encourage builders to create more affordable housing, but many were rejected.