Housing News Roundup: September 6, 2018
Court Rules That Sleeping on Streets Can’t Be Criminalized When Shelters Aren’t Available
On Tuesday, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that, under the Eighth Amendment (which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment), sleeping on the streets cannot be criminalized if shelter is inaccessible to homeless people. This goes against ordinances in Boise, Idaho, that make it illegal to sleep on a sidewalk or use sidewalks or other public property as “camping places.” “Our real goal is not to protect the right of people to sleep on the streets, but a conversation about how we can address the core of the problem, that people don’t have a place to sleep,” said Eric Tars, a lawyer in the case who works for the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.
Investigation Finds Houston Land Bank too Lax on Buyer and Resale Restrictions
The Houston Land Bank, which spent the past 15 years and $15 million on a plan to acquire lots in blighted neighborhoods and sell them at below-market rates to developers to build and sell homes to low-income households, has not met its goals. Not only that, but a recent investigation learned that the program has been operating with little to no oversight from city officials and that dozens of buyers’ incomes were too high to qualify for the program. “We are faced with such an affordable housing crisis. To know that those who could afford market-rate housing are given the deep subsidies that really should go to the lowest-income folks—that’s outrageous,” said Chrishelle Palay, Houston director of Texas Housers.
Source: Houston Chronicle
The US Department of Agriculture Will Provide Housing to Fight Opioid Misuse
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is partnering with the Kentucky nonprofit Isaiah House to provide transitional housing for people recovering from opioid misuse and their families. The nonprofit will rehabilitate two USDA-owned homes and provide treatment services that incorporate job skills training. Isaiah House guarantees full-time employment to participants who graduate from the long-term recovery program. It aims to combat the opioid epidemic in Kentucky, a state in which 54 counties are at risk for outbreaks of HIV or hepatitis because of misuse.
Source: American Agriculturist
Local Leaders Are Optimistic about Their Plan to Address Charlotte’s Affordable Housing Shortage
In August, the Charlotte, North Carolina, city council approved a framework to guide investments by the city and private and nonprofit partners to tackle Charlotte’s affordable housing crisis. The framework prioritizes investments in housing for families earning up to 60 percent of the area median income and aims to expand job opportunities and serve families at risk of displacement. It includes robust strategies to accomplish these goals. “It takes an all-hands-on-deck approach, meaning the local government will never be able to solve it on its own,” said Pam Wideman, director of housing and neighborhood services for the city. This fall, voters will be asked to approve a ballot measure directing $50 million in municipal bond proceeds to support these efforts.
Working While Homeless
According to surveys of homeless Californians conducted to supplement the annual homelessness count, many of the state’s homeless residents work. A 2017 survey of homeless people in San Francisco found that 13 percent of respondents reported working part- or full-time. In 2018 surveys, about 10 percent of the homeless population in San Diego said they were currently working, and 8 percent of homeless adults in Los Angeles County said the same. Many don’t want their boss to find out. “I don’t want him to have a different view of me, and to think that [it] is going to affect my work life,” said Nereida, a single mother of two. While policy action would provide a broader solution to the root causes of the housing affordability crisis, worker protections and employee assistance programs can also help.
Source: Capital Public Radio