• Top News Stories

Where Do We Begin To Solve The Affordable Housing Problem? Here Are Some Suggestions

Source: Miami Herald

It is a universal rule of business, mathematics and life, that you cannot solve a problem unless you can define it. One of the biggest undefined and misunderstood problems affecting our community today is the state of housing affordability. The difficulty in defining the problem, and thereby developing solutions to address the housing affordability crisis is that the entire conversation becomes quickly politicized by syntax. Many people automatically shift gears from “housing affordability” to “subsidized housing” in the same breath. Some even go all the way to thinking affordable housing should solve homelessness (it won’t, the roots of homelessness are a different set of problems beyond the economics of shelter). Policy makers have added a new word to the lexicon in the past decade to avoid using the term affordable by labeling it “workforce housing.” You often hear the term “workforce housing” spoken in tandem with some of our most respected public servants like police, firefighters and teachers to engender community support and public urgency to address the problem because no one wants to envision a society without police officers or teachers. More...


There Doesn’t Go the Neighborhood: Low-Income Housing Has No Impact on Nearby Home Values

Source: Trulia

In the nation’s 20 least affordable housing markets, low-income housing built during a 10-year span shows no effect on nearby home values. Some of the nation’s least affordable markets are also ground zero for the fight against building affordable housing – which opponents say, among other things, depreciates nearby home values. Resistance to affordable housing development has surfaced in tight housing markets across the country such as San Francisco, New York, and Seattle. Given low inventory and high prices in these tight markets, we set out to uncover how much homeowners really have to fear. More...


The Great Rent Squeeze

Source: CityLab/Richard Florida

“The rent is too damn high” is more than a political slogan. It reflects the harsh reality of increasingly unaffordable housing in America today. Ever since the economic crisis of 2008, American has been in the midst of a “great housing reset”—a shift from home-ownership to renting. But it’s not just that home-ownership that’s become increasingly unaffordable. Renting has too. Between 2001 and 2014, the number of renters who spend more than half of their income on rent grew by more than 50 percent, from 7.5 million to 11.4 million renters. A new study by Denise DiPasquale and Michael Murray published in the Journal of Regional Science provides some answers for this growing rent squeeze. The study uses data from the U.S. Census and especially the Consumer Expenditure Survey to chart the share of income devoted to rent and other expenses over the past 80 or so years.  More...


Architects Achieve High-end Design on Limited Budgets

Source: Affordable Housing Finance

The bar for the quality of architectural design in affordable housing is being raised. In most instances, new affordable housing developments are indistinguishable from higher-end market-rate communities, no longer looking like the boxes of the past. “What we’re seeing now is a continued improvement of the quality of the design for affordable housing,” says Fernando Villa, a principal at Magnusson Architecture and Planning. “It should look as beautiful as any market-rate project. You really want to push the envelope in design with a limited budget.” Michael Wiencek, president of Wiencek + Associates Architects + Planners, agrees. “No matter what the budget, we should be able to win an award. If you don’t hit the envelope and create innovative ways [to achieve] higher end, you end up with the affordable housing of the past.” Architects also work to ensure that developments connect with the surrounding community as well as residents’ needs. “Being creative is a necessity because it’s not just about building housing or apartments, but about creating a home and a community that work for residents in harmony with the broader neighborhood,” says David Obitz, design principal at KTGY Architecture + Planning. More...


House Vote: Beyond the Presidential Race

Source: Trulia

On Nov. 8, voters in some of the nation’s most expensive housing markets will have a say on how their communities respond to housing shortages, affordability and the homeless. With the U.S. presidential election dominating the headlines, it is easy for voters to overlook the choices facing them Nov. 8 when it comes to housing in their communities. In some of the nation’s housing-starved cities, a number of ballot measures – from proposed tax increases to construct public housing, to new rules for developers to offer low-income units – seek to address the pressing need for affordable housing and services for the homeless. More...


Miami Moves to More Incentives for Affordable Housing

Source: Miami Today News

To face head-on the serious lack of affordable housing in the City of Miami, city commissioners are preparing to offer further incentives to developers in order to encourage construction of housing that everyone can afford. Last week, commissioners unanimously gave preliminary approval to a zoning amendment that defines various types of affordable housing and offers added incentives to companies for the development of projects providing housing for mixed-income populations. This latest proposal is sponsored by Commissioner Frank Carollo, and could receive its final vote this month. The proposal focuses on affordable housing categories, and Commissioner Carollo said the city “desperately needs” projects that deliver in each category. He said the amendment also adds incentives for projects that mix all categories. More...


Report: Gentrification Responses: A Survey of Strategies to Maintain Neighborhood Economic Diversity

Source: Furman Center

This report examines strategies used by local governments to address rising housing costs and displacement of low-income households in gentrifying neighborhoods. To assist tenants at risk of displacement, the report details strategies to regulate the landlord/tenant relationship well as strategies to provide assistance for households that move. To create and preserve affordable housing, the report explores ways to use city-owned land and other resources strategically to promote affordable housing in areas where costs are on the rise. It also examines ways to harness the market, such as inclusionary zoning and linkage fees. The report is part of an ongoing series of work by the NYU Furman Center on gentrification, but is the first to provide an overview of policy responses to the effects rapidly rising rents. More...


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