Affordable Housing

  • Affordable housing program costs more, shelters fewer, By Laura Sullivan, May 9, 2017, National Public Radio: “On the south side of Dallas, Nena Eldridge lives in a sparse but spotless bungalow on a dusty lot. At $550 each month, her rent is just about the cheapest she could find in the city. After an injury left her unable to work, the only income she receives is a $780 monthly disability check. So she has to make tough financial choices, like living without running water…”
  • Section 8 vouchers help the poor — but only if housing is available, By Laura Sullivan, May 10, 2017, National Public Radio: “Farryn Giles and her 6-year-old son Isaiah have been living in a crumbling apartment building with her ex-husband, who’s letting her stay for a couple months. Pigeons have infested the walls of the courtyard. Before she lived here, she was sleeping on and off in her car. But Giles, 26, says she recently felt like she hit the jackpot. She was awarded a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, which will pay the difference between her rent and what she can afford…”

Racial Disparities in Subsidized Housing

  • The one area where racial disparities in housing have disappeared, By Tracy Jan, May 5, 2017, Washington Post: “Racial disparities in subsidized housing — which once saw poor black families overwhelmingly housed in large public developments — have essentially disappeared after decades of inequality, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins University researchers. But low-income black families are still far more likely than poor whites to live in segregated, impoverished neighborhoods…”
  • Better housing as a path out of poverty: a tough test in Houston, By Simon Montlake, May 4, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “Iyoba Moshay had just started her shift when she got a text from Alvin, her 7th-grade son. His school was on lockdown after a shooting, he said. There was a body prone on the street outside, visible from his classroom window. Ms. Moshay gulped, and went back to her job tending bar downtown at the Houston Astros’ stadium. It was the second shooting that month near the school, which has an F grade from Texas regulators. For Moshay, a single mother, it was one more reason to wish she could move to a different part of town, far from the crime and poverty of her all-minority neighborhood…”

Affordable Housing Projects

Talk of federal tax cuts chills affordable housing market, By Elaine S. Povich, April 25, 2017, Stateline: “The planned A.O. Flats housing development in this city’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood was billed as an oasis for low- and middle-income families, a place where they could get affordable housing in an increasingly affluent area. Financing was nearly in place and construction was set to begin until President Donald Trump and Congress started talking right after the election about delivering the biggest overhaul of the federal tax code in more than 30 years. Those plans include simplifying tax law as well as cutting taxes, especially for the better-off and for corporations. Suddenly, because of the proposed slash in corporate tax rates, federal low-income housing tax credits, the key to financing almost every affordable housing project in the nation, looked like they might be worth less to investors…”

Section 8 Housing Vouchers – California

Despite Section 8, affordable housing’s doors still slamming shut, By David Downey, March 31, 2017, Press-Enterprise: “After reopening last summer following a 13-year absence, Long Beach’s Section 8 housing program is finding plenty of takers. But more than 1,000 voucher holders can’t find a place to live, a report says. And 17,000 others are on a waiting list, said Alison Whyte King, Long Beach Housing Authority bureau manager…”

Low-Income Housing – Wisconsin, Texas

  • Scott Walker’s budget would limit low-income tax credits to those who work, By Jason Stein, February 13, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker’s budget would require able-bodied adults to work to receive a low-income housing credit — part of broader proposals in the bill to move more people into jobs. Starting in 2018, able-bodied adults below the age of 62 will need to earn money to claim the state’s Homestead Credit. The disabled and seniors would be exempt from the requirement…”
  • State lawmakers take aim at low-income housing, By Lydia DePillis, February 15, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “Two bills filed this month in the state legislature would make it harder to develop affordable housing in Texas, imposing onerous new requirements on the projects and giving neighbors broad powers to oppose them. Although the chances of passage are unclear — thousands of measures are filed during the four-month session and only a few become law — the bills would be consistent with many other restrictions the legislature has placed on affordable housing development. Meanwhile, helping low-income people access housing is a rising concern for Texas cities, as a flood of new residents has boosted the cost of both rental and for-sale units…”

Star Tribune Series on Poverty

  • Taking risks to pursue the American dream, By Adam Belz, December 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “Ethrophic Burnett escaped the South Side of Chicago, moved to Minneapolis ‘to have a life for my kids’ — and wound up in a social experiment.  In the late 1990s, when the oldest of her children were just in elementary school, her family was one of hundreds that was moved to the Twin Cities suburbs as the result of a federal fair housing lawsuit. Her children thrived, she said. They developed new ambitions that otherwise might have seemed distant.  Then, three years ago, as her oldest daughter entered college, Burnett lost eligibility for the home she was living in and moved the family back to the poorest area of Minneapolis…”
  • Prosperity grows out of small-town America, By Adam Belz, December 29, 2016, Star Tribune: “Sylvia Hilgeman grew up no-frills on a farm in Red Lake County in northwest Minnesota, where flat fields are broken by steel grain bins, stands of aspen and abandoned farmhouses.  Her dad cultivated rented land and her mom raised cattle and milked cows at a neighboring farm to help pay the bills. They raised their children in a double-wide mobile home across a gravel driveway from her great-uncle’s homestead. ‘My parents, they worked harder than anyone I’ve ever met,’ Hilgeman said. The work paid off for their children. Sylvia went to college, got a job in accounting and later joined the FBI. Today, she investigates white collar crime in New York City…”
  • Poor forced to make extreme choices as affordable homes erode, By Adam Belz, December 30, 2016, Star Tribune: “Kendrick Bates fought his way out of poverty to within two semesters of a bachelor’s degree. Now he needs an apartment. He’s been accepted at a college in suburban Roseville, but he hasn’t been able to find a home in a good neighborhood that he can afford. Bates, who now lives near the southern Minnesota town of New Ulm with his two daughters, grew up in poverty in Mississippi and is wary of the trade-offs of urban life. He is looking beyond the metro area and likes Stillwater, Hudson and New Richmond in Wisconsin…”

Affordable Housing – Minneapolis, MN

As Minneapolis gentrifies, some of the last neighborhoods for the poor are now getting squeezed, By Adam Belz, November 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “A light snow fell outside a brown apartment building on Pleasant Avenue, where tenants gathered to protest something that’s become inevitable in Minneapolis: rising rent.  The company that manages seven buildings just south of Lake Street told residents in a letter that their rent will rise by as much as $125 per month, to $775.  For many of the families there, that will be too much, and nearby options are limited. Only a handful of apartments in the area rent for less than $900 per month…”

Section 8 Housing – Seattle, WA

Section 8 tenants flee Seattle’s high rents, compete for housing in smaller cities, By Vernal Coleman, November 18, 2016, Seattle Times: “On a recent Saturday morning, Elmika James settled into a couch inside the subsidized, three-bedroom apartment she fears she could soon lose and began searching for a new home.  She scoured housing websites on her phone, looking over listings friendly to participants in the federal Housing Choice voucher program, otherwise known as Section 8.  Many of the listings were old, the apartments advertised already rented. Others were scams. Some property managers have told her flatly they did not accept the vouchers at all.  James, a 43-year-old UPS package handler and mother of five, said rejection has become part of her daily routine. And she’s not alone…”

Intergenerational Poverty – Utah

  • Report: 1/3 of impoverished Utahns spend 1/2 of their income on housing, By Marjorie Cortez, September 29, 2016, Deseret News: ” As the single mother of two young sons and a college student, Isabell Archuleta’s plate is full.  Her life may be hectic, but Archuleta has very specific goals in mind: completing her studies at Salt Lake Community College, then transferring to a university to obtain a degree in elementary education.  She wants to be a first-grade teacher and to provide for her sons, ages 4 and 6, a childhood that is healthier and more economically secure than her own spent in poverty…”
  • Utah kids living in intergenerational poverty could fill 1,611 school buses, By Lee Davidson, September 29, 2016, Salt Lake Tribune: “Isabell Archuleta of Kearns is in the third generation of a family living in poverty. Her sons, Juelz, 4, and Marcelo, 6, are the fourth. But Archuleta is confident she is about to break the cycle for generations to come.  ‘I’ve started to go back to school to become a teacher,’ she said. ‘I think my sons seeing me go to college will make them want to do the same thing.’  She said the Next Generation Kids program of the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) helps her find solutions on everything from nutrition to child care and preschool. ‘It has given me a little bit more support and someone to talk to.’ And after seeing her example, others in her family have entered college, too. A new state report says that while such success stories are increasing, Utah still has far to go…”

Homelessness and Housing – Madison, WI

  • ‘We are failing’: Need overwhelms patchwork of homeless service providers, By Dean Mosiman and Doug Erickson, August 28, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “Death, for Roy and Cindy Jacobs, had become preferable to the grind of living on the streets from their 1983 Chevy van.  For months, since their lease was not renewed in the summer of 2015, they sought housing, chased meals, struggled to stay clean and find restrooms, saw degrading and illicit behavior, and engaged the elements as part of a small group of homeless living out of beaten vehicles parked on East Side streets.  By late March, the couple were on the verge of suicide, their despair unbearable by Easter morning. ‘Things were just out of control,’ Roy said. ‘We were right there. I even wrote a goodbye letter.’ That morning, they showed up early, as usual, for volunteer work at First United Methodist Church Downtown, which was providing a meal for the homeless later in the day…”
  • Shelter, at a cost: Madison’s outmoded homeless shelters can be dehumanizing, demoralizing, By Doug Erickson and Dean Mosiman, August 31, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “As Madison looks at potentially big changes to its homeless shelter system, its current hodgepodge of ill-suited, outdated drop-in sites has fallen far behind what experts recommend for shelters that promote dignity and contribute to a person’s recovery.  The shelters have long been considered deficient, their flaws readily acknowledged and bemoaned by those who run them.  None of the sites was built as a shelter. Homeless men sleep in church basements. The facility for single women and families is a former Catholic school.  In many areas, from the degree of privacy to the number of toilets and the amount of storage space, they come up short compared to facilities in other cities and models espoused in the field…”

Affordable Housing

  • The financial pain of middle- and low-income renters, By Aimee Picchi, June 22, 2016, CBS News: “Even as home prices continue to recover from the last decade’s housing collapse, there’s another crisis developing: sky-high rent burdens. About 11.4 million American households are paying more than half of their incomes to afford their rent, a record high, according to a new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies…”
  • 11 million Americans spend half their income on rent, By Kathryn Vasel, June 22, 2016, CNN Money: “More Americans are struggling to make rent.  The number of renters dedicating at least half of their income toward housing hit a record high of 11 million people in 2014, according to the annual State of the Nation’s Housing Report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.  A total of 21.3 million are spending 30% or more of their paycheck to cover the rent — also a record high…”

Section 8 Housing Vouchers – Pittsburgh, PA

For those with Section 8 vouchers, finding suitable housing difficult, By Kate Giammarise, June 20, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “It can take years to get a Section 8 voucher in Pittsburgh. But it takes just four months to lose it. Pittsburgh’s voucher waiting list has about 5,000 families on it, but once a family gets one, the clock starts ticking. The recipient must find a qualified residence within 120 days and, because of a shortage of units and willing landlords, that’s often very difficult. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly referred to as Section 8, is the largest federal program for assisting low-income people to find affordable housing in the private rental market…”

Wisconsin State Journal Series on Homelessness in Madison

Homeless in Madison | A City Challenged, series homepage, By Dean Mosiman and Doug Erickson, June, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “They sleep in beaten vehicles and tents in the woods. Doubled up with family or friends in worn apartments and ratty motel rooms. Huddled under bridges and in crowded shelters. The stereotype is a weathered denizen of the Capitol Square. In reality, perhaps half are children, most out of sight. Despite the efforts of many, perhaps 2,400 men, women and children are homeless on any given night in Madison. Statewide, that number swells to 20,000— enough to fill the Kohl Center, and then some. The number of homeless people seeking help in the state grew by 18 percent this decade…”

Lawrence Journal-World Series on Affordable Housing

Affordable Housing in Lawrence, series homepage, By Nikki Wentling, May, 2016, Lawrence Journal-World: “This five-part series explores the shortage of affordable housing in Lawrence, which is designated through national health rankings as a ‘severe’ problem in Douglas County. We’ll cover the attention that issue has received in the past year and what measures city leaders and others are proposing, moving forward, to improve it…”

Affordable Housing

Renting a Chicago apartment becoming less affordable, study says, By Gail MarksJarvis, May 25, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “The average renter in the Chicago area does not earn enough to comfortably afford a modest apartment, a study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition reported Wednesday.  With rents climbing sharply since the housing bust, individuals — and especially families — are having to stretch further on rent. Consequently, higher housing costs are forcing people to skimp on other necessities such as food, child care and transportation, said Andrew Aurand, vice president of research for the coalition…”

Section 8 Housing – Minneapolis, MN

Proposal would open more Minneapolis apartments to Section 8 housing vouchers, By Eric Roper, May 11, 2016, Star Tribune: “Landlords can be picky about pets, credit scores and rental history, but Minneapolis officials are looking to bar another common stipulation of apartment listings: ‘No Section 8.’  A proposal by two City Council members would make Minneapolis the first city in the metro area to say landlords cannot turn away tenants solely for paying rent with government housing vouchers. A preliminary meeting with landlords about the idea is slated for Thursday, with a tenant-focused public meeting on Friday.  Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, a co-author of the ordinance, said rejecting applicants who are using vouchers makes unfair generalizations about the program and those who rely on it…”

Affordable Housing

  • In Baltimore, hopes of turning abandoned properties into affordable homes, By Pam Fessler, April 26, 2016, National Public Radio: “Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods have long struggled with a lack of decent housing and thousands of abandoned homes. Things recently took a turn for the worse: Five vacant houses in the city collapsed in high winds several weeks ago, in one case killing a 69-year-old man who was sitting in his car.  The city needs to do more about decaying properties if it wants to revitalize neighborhoods like those where Freddie Gray grew up, says Marvin Cheatham, president of the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association in West Baltimore…”
  • In wealthy pocket of Connecticut, an innovative approach to affordable housing, By Matt A.V. Chaban, April 25, 2016, New York Times: “The offices of Hobbs Inc., a third-generation home builder here, are lined with awards and framed articles for the firm’s decades of work. “2008 Best Residential Remodel Over $3 Million.” “2010 Outstanding Home Over 12,000 Sq. Ft.” “Imus in the Afternoon.” “Living Very Large.” In his wood-paneled office on Thursday, Scott Hobbs was going over what may be his most challenging project yet: the Millport Apartments, a 73-unit affordable housing complex in the center of New Canaan. In addition to being president of the family business, Mr. Hobbs is chairman of the housing authority for this town of 20,000 — a place more often associated with Philip Johnson’s Glass House and Waveny, the 300-acre estate of a founder of Texaco, not to mention custom-built Hobbs homes on half- to four-acre lots…”

Homelessness in Minneapolis, MN

Homelessness increases despite decade-long push to end it in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, By Steve Brandt, February 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “A decadelong quest to end homelessness in Minneapolis and Hennepin County has yielded discouraging results: The number of people without homes hasn’t dropped. It has risen. There are 231 more homeless people — living in the streets, in emergency shelters or in transitional housing — in Hennepin County in the final year of the push than when it began in 2007. Last year’s count found 3,125 homeless people in the county, which accounts for two of every five homeless Minnesotans. Homeless counts also are up statewide for the same period, despite an 11 percent drop nationally…”

Affordable Housing and Transportation Costs

Section 8 housing not so affordable once transportation costs are counted, study says, By Brandon Formby, February 19, 2016, Dallas Morning News: “More than two-thirds of supposed affordable housing units in the Dallas area aren’t really that low-cost once transportation expenses are figured in, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Texas at Arlington professor.  The federal measure of a housing unit’s affordability solely looks at whether or not the home’s cost is at or below 30 percent of the residents’ gross income. That threshold is a key part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s section 8 housing vouchers…”