Housing News Roundup: September 7, 2017
Harvey Creates More Obstacles for Houston’s Homeless
After sheltering in Houston’s convention center for nearly a week, Justin Jones is heading back to the streets. One of thousands who was homeless before Harvey hit, Jones applied for federal aid, but his chances of getting it are slim. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will prioritize people who had homes before the storm. “People from above moving down into the apartments we were using to move up [could be an issue],” said Marilyn Brown, chief executive of the Coalition for the Homeless. This could have serious ramifications for the 11,000 homeless people for whom Houston has found housing in the past five years.
Denver’s New “Trauma-Informed” Apartment Building
Built to house 60 chronically homeless people, Sanderson Apartments will open its doors to residents in the coming weeks. The specially designed affordable rental community boasts large sun-filled hallways, a “safe courtyard” in the center, and common areas with high ceilings and open walls. The “trauma-informed” apartment building was constructed for members of Denver’s persistently homeless population who have been in and out of jail for such crimes as illegal camping and trespassing. Many suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, and posttraumatic stress disorder from living on the streets for years. “Our purpose is to help them find recovery in whatever way that means to them,” said Takisha Keesee, the Mental Health Center of Denver’s program manager.
Source: Sun Herald
If You Live in King County, Your Neighborhood Could Indicate How Long You’ll Live
A new study shows that people who live in wealthier neighborhoods of King County—Washington State’s most populous county and home to Seattle—live 14 to 18 years longer than people in poorer areas. Beyond genetics, many factors affect your health, including (or especially) where you live. “It’s not the fact that you’re living at a certain latitude or longitude,” said Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health—Seattle and King County. “It’s all the other things associated with that neighborhood, like socioeconomic conditions, quality of housing, maybe education levels.” Though the local economy is booming, residents in certain areas are disproportionately dying from cancer and drug overdoses at rates that match some of the country’s least-healthy counties.
Source: Seattle Times
How Some Subsidized Housing Landlords Are Getting Away with Housing Code Violations
A dwindling, aging stock of affordable housing units in Bloomington–Normal, Illinois—particularly subsidized housing—is giving landlords greater leeway for housing code violations and to take advantage of tenants. Tenants experience daily struggles, from filthy living conditions, to inoperable smoke alarms, to missing windows, to security deposits being withheld, yet they don’t move out. “Quite frankly, they have no other options,” said Emily Petri, an attorney for Prairie State Legal Services. “They have no other money or resources. They have given the landlord whatever money they did have to start paying for rent, and they just have no other options.” The housing authority doesn’t expect the systematic exploitation to change anytime soon.
Lessons Atlanta Can Learn from Its BeltLine Failures
Though the Atlanta BeltLine has made successful strides toward sustainability, transit, and urban revitalization, it is struggling to maintain its affordable housing promises. The organization that manages the project is required to fund at least 5,600 affordable homes along the trail by 2030, but had only developed 785 by 2015. An investigation this summer found that the project is falling behind and may not meet the requirement. Meanwhile, home prices near the BeltLine are swelling, and the metro area’s population is skyrocketing. What lessons can the BeltLine’s challenges provide, and how is the city addressing them?