Housing News Roundup: September 8, 2015
NYT Editorial Board: Underpinnings of Segregation Still Need to be Dismantled
The New York Times editorial board believes the growth of concentrated poverty is a sign that the mission of the Fair Housing Act has not been fulfilled. Recent research from Rutgers’ Paul Jargowsky demonstrates that neighborhoods have been growing more impoverished and economically segregated. The board argues all levels of government are creating racial and economic segregation through their policies. In particular, it cites the following as causes: locating federally subsidized public housing in places with paltry education or employment opportunities, discriminatory practices in wealthy neighborhoods, and zoning laws. The board believes HUD’s new rule that more explicitly addresses fair housing issues, coupled with a recent Supreme Court ruling on disparate impact, have the potential to address these issues. But how successful they will be in dismantling the “architecture of segregation,” remains to be seen.
Source: New York Times
Asheville's Private Sector Comes Together To Address Housing Challenges
In recent years, Asheville has experienced substantial job growth and become a popular tourist destination. However, the recession stalled the development the city needed to support its rising profile. Housing supply is not keeping up with job growth—a 2014 report found that the region’s vacancy rate was less than 1% for apartments—and housing prices are not keeping pace with wages. Members of Asheville’s Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Board, local developers, and the county’s Economic Development Coalition came together on August 27th to discuss how the private sector could address the region’s affordable housing challenges in their work. Potential strategies include encouraging large employers to provide grants to homebuyers, and help their employees with other housing costs. Lew Krause, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity executive director, says, “It’s to everyone’s advantage to come together and find a workable solution.”
A Review of Gentrification Research Paints a Complex Picture
A review of existing research, published by the San Francisco Federal Reserve, delves deeper into how the displacement associated with gentrification really works. While earlier studies of major U.S. cities show residents are displaced by gentrification, more recent studies by Lance Freeman and Frank Braconi find that lower income residents are actually less likely to move if they live in a gentrifying neighborhood, and that gentrification led to racial, economic, and educational diversity. Some studies also clarify who benefits from gentrification, reporting that it brings positive effects to middle-class and well-educated black residents while leaving behind lower income, less-educated black residents. Today’s gentrification is largely fueled by the growing interest in urban living, and creating broadly inclusive cities remains a challenge.
Opinion: On Oscar Newman, Show Me A Hero Got It Wrong
In its final episodes, Show Me a Hero fails to represent current perspectives on public housing, according to Jake Blumgart. Blumgart explains that viewers were told “the public housing theories of Oscar Newman are now widely accepted,” a point he contests. Newman’s theories about the failures of high rises largely focused on design and architecture, and failed to incorporate the sociological context of residents and neighborhoods. His theories have been dubbed “environmental determinism” and today are discredited by many scholars and practitioners. Greg Umbach, professor at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says, “He argued both that public housing was failing and that high-rise was the cause because it failed to nourish individuals ‘natural’ inclinations toward territoriality.” Even Newman himself changed his views upon working with the New York City Public Housing Authority; he concluded that the concentration of poverty, rather than building design, primarily determined crime rates.
Outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease Strikes South Bronx Public Housing
The water systems of four buildings in a public housing complex in the South Bronx, New York, have tested positive for Legionella bacteria. As of Saturday, September 5th, two of the buildings’ water systems were disinfected and restored. In the past six months, four cases of Legionnaire’s disease, which is marked by symptoms similar to pneumonia, have been traced to the Melrose Houses in the South Bronx. Three patients were treated and released, while one remains in the hospital. The outbreak comes on the heels of the largest outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in New York City history, at the Opera House Hotel, which sickened 120 people and killed 12 since July. New regulations specify that cooling towers across the city must be regularly tested for Legionella bacteria, the first of its kind in a major U.S. city.